Open enrollment season (and the months leading up to it) can be a stressful time for employers and employees alike. On the company side of things, there are concerns about finding affordable plans that provide team members with what they need while making your company attractive to potential hires — and then facilitating successful signups. Team members, meanwhile, find themselves concerned with selecting plans that align with their budgets and future needs — while, in some instances, also factoring in considerations for children and spouses.
Rest assured your BCH team is here to help. In this blog, our employee benefits professionals will walk you through tips for a streamlined open enrollment season that keeps everyone informed and on the same page, advice you can pass along to team members preparing to make plan decisions — and guidance regarding what to look out for when selecting the right benefits offerings for your company.
Top Employer Tips: Ways to Streamline the Open Enrollment Process
Even if this isn’t your company’s first open enrollment undertaking, chances are you anticipate some stress and confusion up to (and through) the season. Here are a few things your team can do to keep things moving efficiently and effectively forward.
- Start Early and Communicate Clearly: Employees should never be forced to make important plan decisions on the fly during open enrollment meetups. A week (or more) ahead of your company meeting, announce that open enrollment is coming up and provide each person with their specific plan options. Send out regular reminders and make sure team members know who they can turn to with any questions or concerns. Utilize various communication channels such as emails, posters and even one-on-one sessions, if possible, to ensure employees are well informed.
- Consider Available Digital Solutions: Modern-day technology can go a long way toward simplifying enrollment. Offer an easy-to-navigate online portal where employees can access information about their benefits, compare different plans and make selections. A user-friendly interface can significantly reduce confusion and save valuable time.
- Organize an All-Hands Meeting to Cover Available Plans: People often feel out of their element when discussing matters such as health insurance. Create a meeting agenda that ensures you’ll cover the issues that matter most to your crew, and work hard to stay on track. And encourage everyone to ask questions. (If there’s something one person doesn’t understand, chances are they aren’t alone.) In addition, make sure the team has a point of contact they can consult with questions after the fact — whether they need guidance filling out paperwork, checking in on flexible spending account balances or something else entirely.
BCH Tip: Our Open Enrollment Education Opportunities sheet offers meaningful tips for making the season more manageable. Download yours today and use it to guide your open enrollment prep.
Selecting the Right Benefits and Health Insurance: Open Enrollment Tips for Team Members
Many employees feel overwhelmed when selecting their benefits packages simply because there’s no telling what the future might hold. Selecting a high-deductible plan often means lower monthly payments but can result in tight finances if a major injury or illness comes into play. At the same time, hedging one’s bets with a lower-deductible plan might mean unnecessary out-of-pocket spending if a person winds up not needing a trip to the doctor. Here’s some advice we recommend passing along to team members to make determining the best benefits and health insurance open enrollment options for their circumstances.
- Review Last Year’s Choices: Take a moment to evaluate the benefits you selected during the previous year. What was your deductible? How much of that deductible did you use? Have your needs changed? If you expect significant medical expenses in the coming year, a low-deductible health plan might be more suitable. Meanwhile, a high-deductible plan could save you money if you’re generally healthy.
- Educate Yourself Regarding Available Plans: Understand the details of each benefit option available to you. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or seek guidance from HR or benefit experts to make informed decisions. There’s no denying plan verbiage can be confusing to those who don’t deal with it each day. A benefits professional will be able to lay things out in a way that’s easy to understand.
- Factor Finances into Your Planning: Many employee benefits packages include tax-saving opportunities such as flexible spending accounts (FSAs) or health savings accounts (HSAs) to reduce your taxable income and save for future medical expenses. Ask about any such options available to your company — and if you’re unclear about how they work, ask questions! Your HR or benefits coordinator will be happy to help.
- Understand Basic Insurance Lingo: As we’ve already mentioned, benefits packages are filled with language that’s more than a bit confusing. Understanding key concepts makes deciphering plan options more manageable. Here are a few phrases to get you started:
- Deductible: A specific dollar amount you pay out of pocket before benefits are available through a health plan. Under some plans, the deductible is waived for certain services.
- Copayment: A flat fee that you pay toward the cost of covered medical services.
- Out-of-Network: Health care you receive without a physician referral, or services received by a non-network service provider. Out-of-network health care and plan payments are subject to deductibles and copayments.
BCH Tip: Our Open Enrollment Glossary of Terms serves as a great resource for team members looking to enter open enrollment season better informed. Download it today to share with your team!
Considerations for Open Enrollment: Health Insurance Benefits and Beyond
Unlike work environments from just a decade or two back, when it comes to open enrollment, health insurance isn’t the only thing team members are looking for. Today’s workers want companies that support their overall wellbeing, and maybe even that of their loved ones. Here are some employee benefits options to consider incorporating into your company’s offerings.
- Mental Health Support: In today’s fast-paced world, taking employee mental health into consideration is essential. Employee assistance programs (EAPs), counseling services or mindfulness resources can all help employees cope with stresses both inside and outside of the workplace — and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
- Wellness Initiatives: Encouraging employee wellness is a win/win for your company and colleagues alike. Team members who pursue healthier lifestyles often feel better and find themselves spending less on medical care. Companies benefit from the fact that employees who look after their own wellness are often more focused and productive at work. Meanwhile, the company itself can often get better rates. Consider incorporating wellness programs, gym memberships or yoga classes into employee benefits packages.
- Parental and Family Benefits: Family-friendly benefits are becoming increasingly important as workers seek out companies that care about their overall well-being. Paid parental leave, childcare assistance and flexible work arrangements can significantly contribute to employee satisfaction and retention. And the good news is, in a post-pandemic world, flexible work structures are easier than ever to incorporate into operations.
- Financial Education and Retirement Planning: Financial stress can have tremendous impacts on employee well-being. In fact, the mental strain associated with tight finances can have physical impacts, too. Offering financial education resources and retirement planning assistance can place minds at ease by empowering employees to make better financial decisions.
- Professional Development: Employees value opportunities to grow within their careers — and work tends to be much more interesting when new challenges and learning opportunities enter the mix. Consider offering training programs, workshops or tuition reimbursement to support continuous learning and development. Team members will feel more confident and content in their roles, and the company will likely benefit from team members’ expanded skillsets.
Open enrollment might seem stressful, but it plays a crucial role in ensuring team members have what they need to keep themselves — and their families — healthy. And on a related note, providing a quality benefits package also helps make companies more desirable to quality hires. If you have questions about any of the above, or if you’re interested in learning how BCH can assist with your employee benefits needs, feel free to contact our team. We’re always happy to help!