Open enrollment has always been a challenge for employers, but Obamacare has made it even worse.
With health care more accessible than ever, the value of a firm’s benefits is often diminished in employees’ eyes.
But if you offer a solid benefits package, open enrollment is a prime opportunity to sell workers on how impressive your offerings are.
Unfortunately, many firms fail to cash in on this opportunity. Here are the top open enrollment mistakes to avoid:
Failing to engage workers
Despite the fact that healthcare offerings are becoming more and more complex, employees aren’t spending any more time reviewing their options.
Case in point: Nearly half (46%) of Americans take less than 30 minutes to make benefits decisions and 89% simply choose the same plan as they had last year, according to Aflac.
What employers can do: Tell workers to schedule specific blocks of time for benefits review during the workday.
Example: Suggest workers put aside 45-60 minutes on their calendar to review benefits materials. Then, tell them to block off another 30 minutes for the actual benefits decision. Why? Research shows that the specific act of scheduling can make a person more likely to follow through.
Trying to cover too much
It’s tempting to try and cram every aspect of your benefits package into an open enrollment meeting.
After all, it’s one of the rare times you do have employees’ attention. But if you overload employees with information, they’re just going to tune you out and make benefit selections without putting in much thought.
What employers can do: Focus on a few key messages during the presentation and supplement your enrollment materials with targeted benefits tips for different demographics.
Examples: “Benefits every millennial needs to use” for young workers or “10 ways to make your HSA work for you” for staff with families.
Not dumbing it down
Benefits pros are adept at navigating the acronym-filled world of healthcare jargon. Employees are not.
What employers can do: To prevent confusion, ask your benefits team to look through every part of your open enrollment materials and look for any opportunity to simplify things further.
For specific examples on simplifying benefits terms, this resource can help.
Fielding routine questions
Employers waste a lot of precious time each year answering the same questions, which can make it difficult to cover all the essentials.
What employers can do: Create a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) handout and distribute it to all before the open enrollment meeting and ask employees to check the FAQ before asking any questions.
Failing to address the ACA
There’s still plenty of confusion about how the ACA impacts workers.
What employers can do: Touch on all of the aspects of the law that apply directly to employees (e.g., the 1095s that employees will be receiving for the first time next year).
It’s also a good idea to use the ACA to show workers just how rich your company’s benefits are. One company did an apples-to-apples comparison of the coverage it offered versus how much it would cost to find similar coverage on an exchange.