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4 Types of Benefits Open Enrollment Questions to Ask

After your open enrollment concludes, it’s always best practice to survey employees to gauge and benchmark success. An open enrollment (OE) survey can give you insight into what worked, what didn’t work and where you should consider changes for next year. You’ll want to ask some of the benefit open enrollment questions yearly, like how employees would rate their overall experience. You also may want to focus on a different area each year to learn about new ways to improve and reduce survey fatigue. For example, one year you might want to focus on communication preferences and the next year you may need to gather feedback on the online tools used. 

The following are some of the top question types and examples to use in benefits open enrollment surveys: 

Question Type 1: Overall Enrollment Experience 

This is the big one. Here you’ll want to get a rating to compare to previous years but also allow for open-ended responses so you can identify areas for improvement. You can also ask questions about the ease of enrollment and the enrollment period timeframe.

Note that it’s important to be able to compare your employees’ sentiment about open enrollment from one year to another. If you use the same rating scale every year, you can quickly get an idea of your OE success. You could use a scale of 0-10 where 0 is very dissatisfied and 10 is very satisfied, or simplify to a scale of 1-5.

Example questions: 
How satisfied are you with your overall benefits open enrollment experience?

  • 5: Very satisfied
  • 4: Somewhat satisfied
  • 3: Neutral
  • 2: Somewhat dissatisfied
  • 1: Very dissatisfied

To what extent was the benefits enrollment process easy or difficult to navigate?
•    5: Very easy
•    4: Somewhat easy
•    3: Neutral
•    2: Somewhat difficult
•    1: Very difficult

What could be better during open enrollment (open-ended question)? 

Question Type 2: Education and Guidance

The specific questions may change each year, but the overall idea is to understand if your employees have the information they need to understand and choose their benefits. You can explore with questions around what resources/tools they used to select their benefits (e.g., decision support, emails, benefits guide, etc.) and which were most helpful. Checking if they know where to go if they have questions is another area you might want to probe. This is the perfect opportunity to get feedback on any new tools you’ve introduced.

Example questions: 
During our last open enrollment, I was provided adequate information about my benefits.

  • 5: Strongly agree
  • 4: Somewhat agree
  • 3: Neutral
  • 2: Somewhat disagree
  • 1: Strongly disagree

What helped you the most when selecting your medical plan for this open enrollment (select only 1)?

  • Benefits guide
  • Decision support tool
  • Intranet
  • Coworker
  • Spouse
  • Previous claims data
  • Other

Want to receive feedback on a new tool like decision support? There are a couple ways to do this. Regardless of your approach, make sure you share results with your technology vendor so they can continue to enhance their solution.

You could embed a specific survey at the end of the tool and ask your employee’s overall rating of the tool and include open-ended questions around how to improve the tool. Or you could ask questions about the tool in your overall survey. For example, how helpful was the new decision support tool in helping you make your benefit decisions?

  • Extremely helpful
  • Very helpful
  • Somewhat helpful
  • Not so helpful
  • Not at all helpful
  • Didn’t use the tool

What is your preferred method for receiving  benefits education (select up to two)?

  • Written/printed materials
  • Company website/intranet
  • Enrollment tool/app
  • Presentations/webinars
  • Team meetings
  • Other

Question Type 3: Benefits Offered 

This is an opportunity to understand which benefits are most important to your employees and where you may be falling short. You can also look at enrollment analytics to understand actual numbers and compare to how important employees say specific benefits are to them. To get a feel for benefits that might be missing, you can give employees a list of potential new benefits or gauge how employees view the current benefits your organization offers compared to other employers.

Note that you can use different rating scales depending on how many benefits you want feedback on. Also, you would probably get more helpful feedback if you had employees rank benefits outside of medical or core offerings.

Example questions:
Rank the following benefits from 1-10 where 1 is the most important and 10 is the least important. Please rank the following benefits in order of importance, with 1 being the most important:

  • Major Medical Insurance
  • Dental Insurance
  • Vision Coverage
  • Voluntary Accident Insurance
  • Critical Illness Insurance
  • Hospital Indemnity Insurance
  • Identity Theft Protection
  • Legal Insurance
  • Pet insurance
  • Permanent Life Insurance
  • Voluntary Life Insurance
  • Voluntary Short-term Disability
  • Voluntary Long-term Disability

Are there other types of coverage you’d like the company to consider offering next year? (Open-ended question)

Question Type 4: Communication 

This question type will help you understand your workforce’s preferences. It’s helpful to receive feedback on the timing (do they like to learn about benefits weeks before or as they enroll), frequency and channels of your open enrollment communications and education materials. You could discover the need to increase your communications, broaden your audience to spouses or try new channels.

Example questions:
What is your preferred method of receiving benefits communication from HR (select up to two)?

  • Email
  • Text messaging
  • Announcements on company website/intranet
  • Corporate social media channel(s)
  • Direct mail to your home address
  • Office signage
  • Enrollment tool
  • Other

Are there any benefit areas in which you’d like to receive more/better education opportunities (open-ended question)?

Additional resources

For more examples of open enrollment questions, see our OE Survey Template. You can also look for some creative ideas on how to increase engagement with your employee surveys.