Employers tend to put a lot of effort into open enrollment. From strategy to planning to execution, a typical HR team pulls out all the stops to ensure the OE period is a success. But does all their hard work drive business results like lower costs and better health and financial outcomes?
Understanding the true impact of OE and the effort HR teams put into it requires employers to track and analyze a variety of metrics. As a broker, you are ideally placed to support this process — advising on which metrics to track and helping employers understand and act on their results.
Why is it Important to Track Open Enrollment Metrics?
Delivering a competitive benefits program is more than just "the right thing to do.” It can be a powerful way to compete for and retain top talent. Equally, a strong benefits program helps ensure employees remain happy, healthy, and productive — essential ingredients for an organization to thrive.
But what is a strong benefits program, and how can employers tell if their program meets employee expectations?
This is where measurement comes in. Program metrics can help employers identify:
- What’s working well, and should be kept as-is
- What isn’t working, and should be tweaked
- What is likely to never work, and should be retired or replaced
Well-chosen, consistently tracked, and — most importantly — acted upon metrics can be the difference between a benefits program that delivers ROI as a differentiator and supporter of the employee population and one that gradually spirals downhill into a cumbersome resource hog.
8 Metrics Your Clients Should Track and Assess This Open Enrollment
Broadly, you can think of benefits metrics in two categories:
Program metrics that identify successes and room for improvement in the design and implementation of a benefits program
Experience metrics that identify successes and room for improvement in employees’ experience of a benefits program.
Below, we’ve suggested four of each that your employer customers may consider tracking this OE period to determine the success of their program. For best results, they should benchmark and track the same metrics year-to-year, making program tweaks and changes as needed to maximize their results.
1. Medical and supplemental plan enrollment and participation rates
These are the basic metrics that underpin any attempt to track OE success:
- Which plans are most popular?
- Are new plans successful, or are employees simply allowing the same plan to roll over year after year?
- How popular have any voluntary benefits been with the employee population?
Compare these results against what the employer considers to be “optimal,” and you’ve got a starting point to inform program improvements.
These stats can also be an indication of how successful education and communication programs are. If an employer has aimed to increase participation in HDHP + HSA/FSA plans, but there’s no increase in uptake, that suggests it may be worth looking into alternative methods of engaging with the employee population.
For HSA and FSA plans, it’s also worth tracking account contributions. Employees can only benefit from these plans if they fund their accounts — so if your employers note a trend of consistently low contributions across their populations, you may consider advising them on additional education and communication programs that support employees to get the most out of their chosen benefits.
2. Selection of coverage tiers (e.g., single, plus spouse, plus spouse and dependents) for all plan types
While employers usually have a reasonable idea of the “status” of employees, things change. Coverage tier metrics help employers better understand their employee population, helping them make informed decisions about what health and voluntary benefits to offer in the future.
3. Voluntary benefits adoption and participation
Voluntary benefits are an excellent way for employers to support their employees’ specific needs and differentiate from other employers. However, if these programs are underutilized, they can become an administrative and financial burden while simultaneously failing to achieve their objectives.
Again, poor uptake may suggest the need for increased communication and education. However, it may also suggest an employer’s offerings don’t speak to the needs of its employees. This is another area where brokers can add enormous value to their customers — helping them identify the ideal voluntary benefits for their employees and refine voluntary benefits programs over time.
4. Complete vs. incomplete enrollments
Tracking these rates can help employers identify potential benefits education gaps or roadblocks in the enrollment process, allowing them to make improvements for future OEs.
It’s worth breaking these metrics down by demographic to identify whether certain groups may need additional support or education to help them choose and enroll in benefits — for example, younger employees may not have prior experience with health and voluntary benefits.
Tracking the timing of employees’ participation in OE can also help determine if employees are making informed decisions and that the company is meeting the needs of its workforce. For example, if a high proportion of employees enroll at the last minute, it may suggest the need to improve the process or surrounding communication.
The specific employee experience metrics worth measuring will vary by employer. However, some of the most common include employees' perception of...
5. Benefit offerings — did they meet employees’ needs and expectations?
6. Benefit education materials — were they easy to find, consume and understand?
7. Benefit and OE communications — were they sent through the right channels, and were they clear and easy to understand and act on?
8. Enrollment process — did employees find the process convenient and easy and feel like they had enough support?
Employee experience metrics can be essential for refining and improving a benefits program over time. Underutilized and poorly chosen benefits, low-impact communications and awkward enrollment processes all stand in the way of employees gaining maximum value from their benefits. Consequently, they can eat into the value of a benefits program for employees and their employer.
No matter how great a benefits program may be, if employees struggle to understand, choose and use their benefits, the program is unlikely to achieve its objectives. It’s possible your employer customers can improve performance purely by increasing the perceived value of the benefits they offer and removing friction from the employee experience. Ultimately, that means they may be able to improve the ROI of their programs without spending more on new or improved benefits.
Measuring OE performance takes careful planning and consistent execution. Done well, it can provide insights that fundamentally improve an employer’s benefits program over time. As a trusted advisor, you have the opportunity to guide employers through the process.
One way to do this is by sharing our Assess for Success: Employee Benefits Enrollment & Engagement Playbook with your clients. It provides:
- A ready-made game plan for tracking OE success
- Useful metrics, including administrative, communication, enrollment, utilization, and more
- Our top five tips for improving next year’s OE enrollment process
- and more!
Plus, don't miss the resources displayed below!