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2021 Open Enrollment: Evaluating Value and Success

Throughout the 2020 economic crisis and an ever-shifting working landscape, benefits administrators and employers continue to adjust their approach to employee benefits offerings. The global pandemic changed the world in many ways, and some of those changes will be with us for the foreseeable future.  

This past year, Benefitfocus saw how brokers, employers and health plan providers relied even more on digital enrollment platforms to deliver seamless, personalized experiences in diverse and dynamic conditions. As we reflect on the most recent open enrollment, here are three areas where the value of a benefits platform really came through and how that value can be realized throughout the year and not just during open enrollment.  

Improving Open Enrollment Communications  

A big take-away from this year is the critical role technology played in supporting communication needs. With fewer opportunities for in-person discussions, employers turned to chat capabilities and other communication tools to support employees with benefits enrollment decisions — to great success.  

Using benefits platforms and the intuitive content tools they employ to communicate more directly with employees to increase enrollment numbers is a positive trend we won’t want to leave behind. Employees are consumers and are making purchase decisions that are focused on protecting their overall wellbeing. A strong communication strategy that can engage with them directly, like chat functions, is essential to helping ensure they enroll and actively engage with their benefits all year round.   


Supporting the Changing Needs of Employees  

With COVID-19 affecting the lives of millions of Americans, employers turned to benefits catalogs as a way to help their employees find access to additional benefits to manage and confront the impact of the pandemic. Benefitfocus Benefit Catalog saw a significant rise in employers offering and employees enrolling in hospital indemnity benefits, as consumers responded to increasing pandemic-related illness concerns. Voluntary life insurance enrollment also rose, with employees seeking more coverage to adequately protect their families.1  

Going forward, employers can continue to meet the diverse needs of employees by offering voluntary benefits. The uptick of enrollment in these types of benefits shows that employees are focused on finding the best solutions to achieve a sense of overall wellbeing by meeting their specific health and wellness needs. Employers should be sure to evaluate their benefit offerings throughout the year to help ensure the right mix of products are available to address employees' changing needs.  

Meeting the Needs of Diverse Employees 

Understanding the individual needs of different users across various demographic and generational groups was even more vital this past open enrollment, with benefits decisions taking on greater urgency in a turbulent year. As a leader in facilitating the enrollment and administration of employee benefits, Benefitfocus has a distinct line of sight into the practices of over 150,000 employers in the United States, representing over 25 million Americans. This insight allows us the ability to create a seamless enrollment experience for a large number of users.  

Benefitfocus’ customer experiences show that SaaS technology platforms for open enrollment — coupled with communication and guidance from expert benefits administrators — provide the agility necessary to support each employee benefit need. In our changing world, benefits platform solutions are becoming an essential tool for employers and benefits administrators tasked with providing the best possible benefits for a diverse workforce.  

Although 2021 open enrollment was very different from all the rest, it’s still essential to take a moment and assess how the process went and what lessons can be brought forward into the next year. Use our Open Enrollment Scorecard to see what areas you can focus on for improvement.  

While the next open enrollment period will be very different, lessons learned from this one will help employers and health plans continue to increase the efficiency of their operations and meet the needs of their employees and members.