3 Essentials for Empowering Employees During Open Enrollment
  • Benefits Strategy

3 Essentials for Empowering Employees During Open Enrollment

Employee benefits are supposed to invoke feelings of comfort and protection. Yet more than 40 percent of employees would rather be subjected to three hours of hot yoga or other uncomfortable activities than have to research their own benefit options during open enrollment.¹

Why? It's the fear and anxiety of choosing the wrong plans that will make them spend more than they really need to in the end.

Often, employers circumvent that stress by opting for a passive enrollment strategy. But it's also important to consider whether this route would be doing a disservice to employees. While stress relief is a pro, the con is that employees will just carry on with the same benefits instead of taking the opportunity to seriously evaluate their current situation and potential future needs. 

Whether you choose to do a passive or active enrollment, there are several employee benefit services you can take advantage of to turn apprehension into empowerment and engage employees so that they're eager to learn more about their benefits during open enrollment.

3 Essential Employee Benefit Services for Open Enrollment

1. Benefits Service Center Support

A recent study from SHRM reported that for employers with a population of 1,000 to 10,000 full-time employees, HR professionals are outnumbered roughly 1:100 on average.² Keep in mind, this study is also taking into account HR roles like recruiting, business partners and others who typically aren't the ones answering employees' calls and emails during open enrollment. When you consider that, the ratio for benefit professionals to employees is likely somewhere closer to 1:500. 

At such a confusing yet important time for employees, you want to be sure they feel they can reach out and get answers to put their minds at ease. That's why many Benefitfocus customers look to our Benefits Service Center team during open enrollment.

With dedicated, certified professionals trained in your benefits program that act as empathetic ambassadors of your company, that crucial one-on-one support can be just a phone call away for your employees.

Learn more about why employers like GEO Group trust the Benefitfocus Benefits Service Center to be there for their employees.

2. Mobile Access 

Another contributor to employees' open enrollment anxiety is finding the right time to select their benefits. Maybe they want to consult with their spouse first before they make any moves, but they don't have a computer at home. Maybe they're traveling for work with limited access to internet. Or maybe their day-to-day job is spent working away from a desk, such as in a retail store, with their smartphone being their only online connection. 

The ability to enroll and access benefits on a smartphone has become an essential service and almost expected as evolving technology continues to remind us that "there's an app for that." Fortunately, employers using BENEFITFOCUS® Marketplace can tell their employees there's an app for benefits enrollment and education. The BENEFITFOCUS® App puts the resources employees need to make informed benefit decisions right in the palm of their hands.

This type of convenience can empower employees not only during open enrollment, but also throughout the year as they use their benefits or even need to update their benefits due to a qualifying life event.

Watch this video to see the Benefitfocus App in action!

3. Guided Shopping Tools

Think about shopping for clothes online. You almost always have a size chart that you can reference to compare your measurements against. And if there wasn't, and you weren't familiar with the brand, would you buy it? Maybe if they offer free returns. Unfortunately, there are no returns or exchanges for benefits after the open enrollment period (with the exception of a qualifying life event), so it's understandable why the decision can be stressful for employees.

Putting benefits into context through decision support tools is vital to empowering employees. Imagine presenting your employees with top recommendations based on a quick BuzzFeed-style quiz that matched their personal preferences with plan attributes. Add in the ability to compare plans side by side and estimate costs based on personal historical claims data, and you've essentially turned the plan selection process into an Amazon-like shopping experience that leaves employees confident that they're making the best decision for their own physical and financial well-being.

Get more tips and tricks on guiding and empowering employees through benefits enrollment in this on-demand webinar


1.2018 Aflac Workforces Report