As open enrollment season looms, HR departments need to prepare to help employees with questions and give them the information they need to make the best decisions about their benefits.
In fact, according to data from MetLife’s Employee Benefit Trends Study, 76% of workers who understand their benefits are happy and 82% believe their benefits give them a greater sense of overall stability.
To help employees this open enrollment season, here are the biggest barriers to a successful open enrollment season for employees – plus, how HR can help break down the barriers.
What’s holding employees back
MetLife’s research found that employees who take the time to understand their benefits and engage in conversations about them have an increased comprehension of their benefits – leading to more informed decisions, reduced anxiety and improved happiness.
However, there are some significant barriers that MetLife’s research found that get in the way of a successful open enrollment season for employees.
- Education: 62% of employees say understanding how to use their benefits would give them a greater sense of overall stability. Meanwhile, 50% say having a better understanding of their benefits would make them more loyal, meaning providing benefits education is a win-win for employees and the business.
- Procrastination: Last year, 31% of employees procrastinated when selecting their benefits, and 37% wish they’d had more time to make the right choices. What’s more, one in six employees regret their benefits elections from last year, signaling a need for better preparation and planning to avoid procrastination.
- Consultation: Nearly half of employees (44%) didn’t consult others before enrolling in benefits last year – and this group was also less likely to fully understand their benefits and more likely to worry about unexpected health and financial issues.
“Employee benefits play a massive role in employees’ lives both at and outside of work — and a big part of this is not just the benefits themselves, but also the awareness of how they are used,” said Jamie Madden, senior vice president of workforce engagement and benefits connectivity at MetLife said. “Understanding benefits leads to more informed open enrollment decisions, better utilization, and a happier, more stable and generally more satisfied workforce.”
How HR can help employees with open enrollment
Benefits education is more important this year than ever as 77% of employees say they intend to be with their employer in a year in what’s called “The Big Stay” – meaning employees may be more intentional about their benefits selection this year to maintain job satisfaction.
“With two-thirds of today’s workforce saying open enrollment is more important this year given the current economic situation, it’s critical that employers take steps to empower their employees to make more confident open enrollment decisions and ultimately, have a happier experience at work,” said Madden.
Here’s how HR can help bridge the gaps to make open enrollment season easier this year:
- Utilize benefits communication and education year-round to ensure employees are prepared when open enrollment season rolls around
- Use multiple channels and communication strategies so all employees get the information they need
- Set clear deadlines early to avoid procrastination
- Share resources that make benefits easier to understand such as plan comparisons or scenarios, and
- Hold education or consultation sessions during the season for employees to ask questions.