- A new benchmark study by Employee Benefit Adviser (EBA) found that employers with open enrollment dates in 2018's first quarter are seriously underprepared. EBA's Open Enrollment Readiness Benchmark showed that employers dropped two points in overall readiness to 39 out of 100 points.
- Planning and designing communication plans was employers' biggest stumbling block, according to benchmark results. In all, the report highlighted 12 "red flag" categories of preparedness, an all-time high since the study began in January.
- The study also showed that more than one out of four small companies (50 to 150 employees) hadn't met with their benefits specialist to begin planning open enrollment, 15% of midsize employers hadn't yet shopped for health plans and 21% of large employers had no plan for boosting enrollment.
Explaining benefits is one of HR's most difficult tasks, and based on EBA's benchmark study, employers still aren't doing a good enough job. Employers can't underestimate the value of communicating clearly and effectively with workers.
Technology has given workplaces more tools for reaching out to employees than ever before. What's more, communication can be tailored so that employees receive information the way the want it, whether through mobile apps, email, texting, voicemail, video or teleconferencing.
A recent Guardian study found that although most employees — an overwhelming 80% — said they understood their benefits, only 49% actually did. Whether employees tuned out during open enrollment or paid attention to their benefits only when they need them, they want to know and understand their benefits.
Employers should also keep benefits information in front of employees long after open enrollment ends. Employees often make quick selections during open enrollment without much research. Many feel the deadline pressure and just want to get through the process. Communicating with employees and leaving benefits information out all year long will help them make informed decisions when open enrollment comes around again.