As 2021 open enrollment approaches amid the continuing pandemic, employers are striving to find a difficult balance.
How can you provide the benefits and advice employees deserve and also achieve the needed return on benefits investments?
And it’s a critical challenge. In multiple surveys, over half of employees say health coverage is the greatest factor in job satisfaction.
And more than three-quarters say the quality and affordability of benefits options influence their engagement and productivity at work.
The COVID-19 crisis is magnifying those challenges and changing what benefits employees need at an incredible speed. A recent research study highlights those pressures:
This is the background as we enter the final months of 2020 and benefits teams continue adjusting plans for a very uncertain 2021.
Here’s a framework you can use to help optimize open enrollment this year.
Building the open enrollment blueprint one question at a time
The issues you’ll face during this year’s open enrollment are going to test your skills and creativity. And one of them is getting leadership to think carefully about those challenges and the choices your organization faces.
They’ll need you to be the calm center of their daily storm of challenges and rely on your expert advice to build the best possible mix of benefits options.
They hope you have all the answers but they absolutely need you to help find the RIGHT questions to ask.
Part of your job is to keep pulling them back to data-driven decision-making.
Here are some questions that you’ll want to drill down on.
- What are critical requirements versus nice to have?
- From the employer perspective? From the employee perspective?
- If some attractive options are simply unaffordable in the current business climate, are there less expensive, albeit more limited, alternatives available?
- Should you implement auto-enrollment to ensure a minimum level of participation before the deadline?
- What processes are automated now?
- What MUST be automated immediately to compensate for the pandemic’s impact on in-person interactions?
- Can non-critical processes be automated cost-effectively?
- Where does the voluntary benefits discussion fit in the enrollment process?
- Is your EAP prepared for an increase in emotional and behavioral health demands?
- Are there third party apps or other services, such as financial management, that can be included at little or no upfront cost?
- Are you prepared to launch and manage a comprehensive digital communication campaign?
- What needs to be different this year? Cadence? Frequency, reminders?
- Will any/all of these changes be permanent?
As you ask these questions, challenge any easy answers and get leadership and your team to dig a little deeper.