Halloween is already frightening enough, but what really scares benefits professionals are the ways employees can mishandle their benefits. Here are eight of the biggest mistakes, with tips on correcting them.
Participants don’t review any annual enrollment materials
Why it’s scary: Employees are making or not making decisions based on little or no knowledge.
Potential actions: Employers can implement a strategic communications campaign to educate and engage employees in the media and format appropriate for that employee class, or consider engaging an enrollment counselor to work with participants in a more personalized manner.
Employees don’t enroll in the 401(k) or don’t know what investment options to choose
Why it’s scary: U.S. employees are responsible for much of their own retirement planning and often leave money on the table if there is an employer match.
Potential actions: Employers can offer auto-enrollment up to the matching amount/percent; consider partnering with a financial wellness partner; and provide regular and ongoing communications of the 401(k)’s benefits to all employees.
Employees don’t engage in the wellness program
Why it’s scary: The employee is potentially missing out on the financial and personal benefits of participating in a well-being program.
Potential actions: Employers need to continuously communicate the wellness program throughout the year through various media, including home media. Employers also should ensure the program is meeting the needs of the employees and their families.
Employees don’t update ineligible dependents on the plan
Why it’s scary: Due to ambiguity where the liability would reside, either the employee or the plan could have unexpected liability.
Potential action: Employers can require ongoing documentation of dependents and periodically conduct a dependent audit.
Employees don’t review their beneficiary information regularly
Why it’s scary: Life insurance policy proceeds may not be awarded according to the employee’s wishes.
Potential action: Employers can require beneficiary confirmation or updates during open enrollment.
Employees do not evaluate the options for disability — whether to elect a higher benefit or have the benefit paid post-tax
Why it’s scary: Disability, especially a short-term episode, is very common during one’s working life; maximizing the benefit costs very little in terms of pay deductions, but can reap significant value when someone is unable to work.
Potential action: Employers can provide webinars/educational sessions on non-medical benefits to address those needs.
Employees do not take the opportunity to contribute to the health savings account
Why it’s scary: The HSA offers triple tax benefits for long-term financial security, while providing a safety net for near term medical expenses.
Potential actions: Employers can select the most administratively simple process to enroll participants in the HSA and allow for longer enrollment periods for this coverage.
Employees do not use all of their vacation time
Why it’s scary: Vacation allows an employee an opportunity to recharge for the job.
Potential actions: Employers can encourage employees to use their vacation and suggest when the workload might be more accommodating to time off for those employees who worry about workloads.
As many as tens of millions of women may never return to the labor force, even after a vaccine is found. Altogether, global gross domestic product could be $1 trillion less in 2030 than it would be without a gender unemployment gap.
By Olivia Rockeman, Reade Pickert and Catarina Saraiva