Open Enrollment Is Over. Now What?

For HR benefits management professionals, open enrollment season is the most critical (and hopefully wonderful) time of the year, the culmination of months of hard work, planning, and preparation.

Once it’s over and top-line performance results are reported, however, many leaders charged with managing employee benefits often shift focus to other priorities until the following summer.

Going into open enrollment “hibernation” for the winter could be a missed opportunity to assess results, identify employee needs, improve benefits offerings and uncover the best ways to educate employees about benefits throughout the year.  

Here’s how taking a little time now could pay off now and in the future, helping your employees thrive and your business meet its goals. 

Look Closely at the Data

When you examine participation data not just as a whole but by segments, it can tell a revealing story about your benefits offerings and who they’re reaching.

With five generations in the workforce together for the first time in history, you might find that some employee benefits solutions are favored more by older workers than younger, and vice versa. For example, 67% percent of Gen Z workers say that personalized financial coaching is important to them—but only about half of Gen X workers and only 39% of Boomer workers say the same1.

You might also see that benefits penetration and preferences differ across genders and ethnicities. And you may be able to pinpoint disparities in choices between workers at various job levels and in various functions. How does participation differ, for example, between warehouse workers versus office workers or executives?

Going a bit deeper into the numbers can help you identify—and close—some gaps, so that more of your benefits can appeal to more employee segments. 

Listen Carefully to Your Employees

After you’ve absorbed participation data, consider going right to the source and surveying your employees, a step 48% of employers say they’ve taken2. Probe to better understand their financial needs and goals, and what benefits they want most today.

Popular new additions to employee benefits platforms include personalized financial wellness programs, caregiver benefits (including flexible work hours for employees who are caregivers), telehealth, mental health benefits, and equity compensation.

Additionally, nearly two-thirds of employees have already reported that as a result of the pandemic, they’re paying more attention to the benefits their company offers3. So COVID-19 is likely to continue impacting the way you approach benefits design and planning in the coming years. 

"Going a bit deeper into the numbers can help you identify—and close—participation gaps."

Learn Which Communication Methods Work Best

After open enrollment, take time to evaluate which communication and education methods were most effective in reaching employees and helping them make more informed benefits decisions. Again, it may be helpful to analyze by segment, to determine where particular channels—like email, webinars or live virtual events—perform better.

Consider also whether new or different platforms need to be more emphasized going forward, especially given the changing workplace post-pandemic. The growing adoption of remote and hybrid work arrangements and the ongoing need for social distancing may prompt increased use of virtual group meetings, and electronic and video communication. Rather than managing large in-person information sessions, for instance, ensuring attendance at virtual events can be the focus. 

Make Open Enrollment a Year-round Focus

Evaluating participation data, surveying employees and evaluating communications and education strategies soon after open enrollment ends can help you determine what’s working best—and what you can improve or optimize.

With a deeper view of your company’s employees and their preferences, you can provide more personalized communication and education about benefits offerings throughout the year, and build employee appreciation and loyalty. 

Empower Your Workforce

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