- Employees spend 30 minutes or less reviewing benefits materials before open enrollment, according to an Unum poll of 1,227 workers. Respondents in the online survey said that signing up for benefits made them feel stressed (21%), confused (22%) and anxious (20%).
- According to Unum, an employee benefits provider, making auto-enrollment the default option would ease the open enrollment process and give employees beneficial coverage, while allowing them to opt out. "Navigating the sea of coverage options can be overwhelming for employees," said Jenelle Tomazin, director of Consumer Marketing at Unum. "Auto-enrolling employees in disability coverage on an opt-out basis can help nudge employees in the right direction while preserving their freedom to choose."
- Other survey findings show that 88% of Americans think employers should offer disability insurance to protect their finances if they couldn't earn a paycheck due to sickness or injury; and 56% of workers say they'd even pay the full premium for disability coverage, but only 26% sign up for it.
Open enrollment is one of of the most stressful times of the year for employers and employees alike. Some of the anxiety employees experience could be eliminated by communicating benefits information year-round, not just prior or during open enrollment, and adopting auto-enrollment.
Employees often have difficulty truly understanding their benefits, which adds to the anxiety during open enrollment. In the Guardian Insurance Company's 2016 study, “Closing the Gap,” 80% of workers said they understood their benefits "very well." But in a test of their knowledge, the results concluded that only 49% actually understood their benefits.
Employers can communicate benefit options through in-person means, such as town hall meetings and small group sessions with benefits specialists; the company intranet; plan providers' websites; and one-on-one meetings with HR representatives. Employers should leverage technology, which gives employees access to their benefits 24/7 and allows them to receive information based on their preferences, including instant messaging, email, telemedicine, social media, smartphones and teleconferencing.