3 open enrollment strategies for a changed workforce

The past year has brought a flurry of changes to the workplace. As the pandemic entered a new phase and the economy began to heal, the labor market underwent its own evolution. Employers have faced fierce competition among companies to attract and retain talent, and employees have gained more leverage to seek jobs with their desired combination of flexibility, pay and benefits. Employee needs have shifted, too, with increased emphasis on overall wellbeing, including physical, financial and mental health.

Simply put, the members of the workforce are paying more attention to what their employers have to offer, including benefit accounts that help them save money and prepare for the future. As open enrollment season begins, it’s more critical than ever for employers to provide support and education to help employees understand their benefit account options. And, by extension, benefit administrators face increased pressure to provide the right materials, tools and strategies to assist their employer clients in this process.

Here are 3 key open enrollment strategies benefit administrators can implement to help employers increase employee fluency in and engagement with health benefit accounts.

1. Simplify education

HR professionals play a vital role during open enrollment, ensuring employees know their options and motivating them to act; coordinating with brokers and vendors; developing processes; and tracking enrollment data.

Whether you provide account educational and decision-support materials directly to employers, or give them to your broker network to disseminate, your clients will thank you if they can quickly and easily find what they need. Be sure to deliver resources to your clients in the simplest, most accessible format.

Consider building a digital resource landing page to house your health benefit account educational materials in one place. Put your most impactful and well-received open enrollment materials front and center. Adopting the “less is more” mantra here isn’t a bad thing. Remember, in addition to health benefit accounts, HR professionals must educate about health, dental and life insurance, along with a myriad of other possible ancillary benefits. By providing a one-stop-shop landing page organized by account type, you’ll make it easier for brokers and employers to self-service based on their needs and the type(s) of benefit accounts they offer.

2. Position health benefit accounts prominently

Typically, a company’s health insurance offering is the primary focus of its benefit guides (the giant packets detailing benefit offerings that employees receive during open enrollment). And while most health plan details may include a blurb about which type of health benefit account is available for each plan, they often neglect to showcase the full value of these accounts. Without a baseline understanding of how the different accounts work and how much the employer contributes, employees struggle to make sense of and compare their options. Help your clients understand the importance of placing health benefit account information alongside the health plan details, rather than burying it deeper into the guide.

Aside from making enrollment decisions, employees must also decide how much money to contribute to their account(s). Although everyone’s situation is different, sharing some basic contribution strategies based on high, medium or low healthcare consumption can help remove some of the mystery and provide relatable guidance. Recommend that employers provide additional decision support tools designed to help employees make smart contribution decisions.

3. Emphasize digital engagement

The pandemic changed how and where people work. When much of the workforce shifted to a remote environment in 2020, employers had to change how they conducted open enrollment. Many pivoted their engagement strategies to virtual benefit fairs, chat rooms, Zoom calls and webinars.

With the rise of remote work and an increased focus on mental health and wellbeing, employees are reevaluating what they need to maintain a work/life balance. In fact, nearly two-thirds of employees would choose a permanent work-from-home situation over a $30,000 raise. As such, engaging with a remote, or hybrid, workforce during open enrollment could remain the norm for the foreseeable future.

Benefit administrators have an opportunity to ease the burden for their brokers or employer clients by personally engaging with employees via virtual benefit fairs, webinars or even remote office hours. These newer channels not only help support employers, but also increase fluency among the eligible population and boost enrollment. Creating a human connection, even in a socially distant world, can make a difference.

If you’d like to learn more about the value we can provide during the open enrollment season, please contact us.