OPEN ENROLLMENT: HERE’S WHAT YOU PROBABLY NEED TO FIX!
Most organizations that offer employee benefits designate a Plan Year that coincides with the calendar year, so that elections and changes are effective on January 1. This means that we’re now entering the busy season for Open Enrollment: the annual period during which employers roll out new plans, make changes to existing plans, and ask employees to make selections and choices for the new year. Since benefits are typically among an organization’s highest operating costs (between 30.5% and 37.5% of total compensation spending per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics) , and therefore can greatly impact profit & loss, even small strides toward better management of these expenses can make a huge difference in financial performance. Here are some tips for doing it right!
- Manage your benefits strategically. Think about why and how you offer benefit plans, and your long term goal (3 to 5 years ahead). Are you utilizing limited company resources in ways that best attract, retain, and motivate the talent that you need today? Next year? In three years? What steps might you take each year to get where you need to be? Incremental change is typically easier to manage, implement and be accepted than significant change all at once. How long has it been since you considered meaningful benefit amendments and updates? Unfortunately, most organizations are resistant to change, don’t want to “rock the boat,” and wait far too long – thereby putting the company’s future in jeopardy and creating chaos with upheaval changes at the last minute.
- Be creative. Understand how your current benefit offerings are being utilized, what’s important to the people you’re trying to attract and retain, and what other types of plans or specific benefits are available that may very well be more attractive to your employees as well as your leadership team. For example, we helped a self-insured client who was struggling with out of control healthcare costs by introducing a medical value travel plan. After identifying common non-emergency surgical procedures among the covered participants, we partnered with centers-of-excellence for those procedures and negotiated fixed price fees as well as guarantees on outcomes: typically unheard of in the traditional health insurance world. This was a creative approach at attempting to control costs and also helped the employees understand how they could play a part in the effort.
- Craft a communications plan. Whether you make significant changes to benefit plans or not, organizations generally do not adequately communicate the plans themselves and the enrollment process. HR and benefits professionals are typically overwhelmed with many tasks and duties (these departments are smaller than ever before yet offer 3 to 4X as many benefits options as 10 years ago). Studies show more than 60% of businesses are overwhelmed with the complexity of benefit plans – and if the HR or management team isn’t comfortable with them, how will employees possibly be able to understand and confidently enroll in their plans? Benefit plan communications are extremely important to do well: they represent a significant investment by the employer, and the plans play a big role in the health and overall well-being of the employer’s team. Effective communications not only strive to help each participant to understand, but to utilize the benefits to maximum effect and maintain a healthy and productive work/life!
Have questions or would like to chat about how to make a big impact in this area? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .