Open Enrollment Best Practices for Employers

For employers, open enrollment is an opportunity to examine your benefits package and assess whether it delivers on the things your employees value most. In today’s competitive job market, a carefully considered set of benefits is an important retention tool. Employees who believe their employer is looking after their needs are much more likely to feel satisfied with their job.

That’s why it’s essential not only to have a compelling benefits package, but also to showcase it effectively – because if your workforce doesn’t know exactly what they’re being offered, they’re not going to appreciate or take full advantage of it! Ensuring your employees understand the benefits available to them engenders trust and a better experience overall.

Before establishing your benefits package for this year’s open enrollment, you’ll want to establish a realistic budget. Even though health benefits are expensive to provide (and getting more so), they’re increasingly viewed as table stakes by job seekers and job holders.

If you’re a small employer with a limited budget, consider affordable alternatives to a group health insurance plan, such as a qualified small employer HRA. A QSEHRA provides employees with a tax-advantaged way to pay for healthcare, while helping your company control costs.

Another way to save on premium costs is with a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) and supplemental HRA, a combination that offers tax advantages and, in many cases, lower total out-of-pocket expenses.

Once you’ve decided on your benefits package, you’ll need to communicate this to your employees with ample time for them to digest and consider their options. As you build your communications plan, keep these tips in mind:

  • Get to the point – Employees lose interest quickly when trying to make sense of complex benefit options. Stick with concise, jargon-free language.
  • Use real-world examples – Help employees understand their benefit accounts in a way that resonates with their situation.
  • Use various types of media – Interactive tools, videos and graphics can help get your message across to different types of learners.
  • Clarify changes – If you’ve made changes to your existing benefits, highlight these updates with a side-by-side comparison sheet.

Further, you’ll want to provide your employees with educational resources that arm them to make wise decisions. A recent study found that 40% of consumers want to take a more active role in their healthcare finances, but 33% ranked lack of knowledge as a barrier to doing so.

As a supplement to any resources provided, it’s a good idea to host group meetings, town halls or one-on-one meetings with the HR team or benefits specialists so employees can get their questions answered.

Crafting a thoughtful benefits package, communicating early and often, and supporting employees during open enrollment are keys to ensuring a positive experience – now and long after the enrollment window has closed.


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