Here we are again! September is just around the corner, heralding the onset of fall, cooler temperatures, and preparation for open enrollment. Since the Affordable Care Act went into effect, open enrollment has become a bit more complicated, challenging both employers and employees to make appropriate decisions relative to respective needs. Here are a few tips that may help improve the process and, perhaps, provide a bit of ease for all concerned.
Summarize benefit options and any differences from the previous year so that employees can begin thinking about their choices ahead of the enrollment window. Consider inviting plan administrators to the organization to discuss available benefits. Open the sessions to spouses, partners, parents or anyone else that may assist the employee in making informed decisions. In addition, review inquiries posed by employees from previous years and develop a cheat sheet that answers frequently asked questions. Continue the benefits dialogue throughout the year by communicating early, simply, and often, which will help increase employee understanding and participation.
Provide employees with an explanation to highlight the total value of salary and benefit packages. Employees are often unaware of the thousands of dollars employers spend each year on benefits, which often results in considerable push-back from employees when it becomes necessary for employers to pass along a portion of the premium increases. Benefit value statements can provide an effective means to educate employees and perhaps incent more cost effective usage of benefits programs as well as reinforce employee importance to the organization.
Technology has enabled employers to leverage efficiency when it comes to electronic enrollment; however, benefit selections can be somewhat daunting for some and employees may still need access to a person to help them through the process. In addition to multimedia strategies such as videos or webinars, social media platforms, emails or instant messaging, intranet messaging, desktop dashboards, popups, and others, encourage in-person interactions and offer employees one-on-one access to benefit specialists to provide additional support.
For many organizations, open enrollment can evoke the same visceral reaction as filing taxes or responding to mandatory reporting requirements. Carefully crafted initiatives to help employees and their families make the best benefit selections will go a long way toward enhancing the morale barometer of the organization.