Tips for Benefits Education During Open Enrollment
This open enrollment season, employees might have new questions on their minds as they face unprecedented health concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Certain benefits they’ve never thought about before—like telemedicine and mental health—might be top of mind this year if their circumstances have changed. This is why it’s more important than ever to keep communication and benefits education top of mind this open enrollment season. Here’s how.
What is the Importance of Benefits Education?
According to Unum, nearly half of all U.S. employees spend 30 minutes or less selecting their benefits. The amount of time is about an average lunch break, even though the benefits choices that employees make have a much longer lasting impact. Aside from qualifying events—like losing coverage due to turning 26 or a change in the household—this period is the only time in which workers are permitted to adjust or update important benefits like healthcare coverage and voluntary life insurance.
What are Ways HR Can Help?
Now more than ever, it’s important for HR teams and employers to recognize the impact that benefits selection has on their employees’ wellbeing. Keep these tips in mind when helping your teams select their benefits.
- Communicate Often. Increase employees’ confidence while selecting benefits by offering plenty communication opportunities and asking if your employees understand the benefits being offered. How you conduct these education sessions will depend on how your workforce is currently operating and how your employees engage with information—usually in-person meetings are the norm, but this year the presentations will most likely happen over virtual meetings if your team is working from home. This is why it’s especially important to let employees know who to reach out to with questions and how. For instance, is email the preferred channel for open enrollment communication? Or does your company use an internal chat system like Slack? Schedule time on your calendar dedicated to answering those questions through email or one-on-one meetings. If your team has internal communication resources, like a company newsletter, use it to spotlight benefits information and key dates during enrollment.
- Provide Resources. Health insurance can be full of unfamiliar words and phrases, adding confusion to the enrollment process. This is especially true if you have a multigenerational workforce with employees ranging from seasoned pros to first-time policyholders. Introduce your teams to an HR Glossary filled with benefits-related keywords that they can reference rather than ignore certain benefits.
- Introduce Any New Benefits. At minimum, employers should communicate the scope of available benefits to each employee as well as the premium that will be charged to the employee and how that premium will be paid. However, are your employees aware of all the offerings available to them? Does your company offer employee assistance programs (EAPs) or wellness programs? There might be some benefits that your employees don’t even know exist. For example, if your company is offering benefits that aren’t always obvious—like pet insurance or loan refinancing—be sure to highlight these offerings to employees who might want to take advantage of them.
- Make it Accessible. If selecting benefits is a chore, most employees will put it off until last minute and perhaps make hasty decisions. Make enrollment accessible and easy by adopting an HRIS to save time, reduce errors, expand offerings, and increase employee satisfaction.
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