Employees Want a Better Open Enrollment Experience

A survey reveals issues employees have with open enrollment season.

With skyrocketing health care costs, it’s not surprising that most employees value quality health care as part of an effective and lucrative benefits package. A survey by Namely, a human resources platform focusing on mid-sized employers, found that employees are even willing to sacrifice perks many companies thought were “must-haves” in exchange for better health care benefits.

However, they were less inclined to give up 401(k) matches (5%). This suggests a majority of employees find value in benefits packages that allow their employers to help them maintain physical and financial wellness.

The same survey also revealed some key findings about how employees prefer to be introduced to their benefits options during open enrollment season. It also showed employers have room for improvement in this realm.

According to the survey, 36% of respondents gave their companies a “C” grade or lower when it comes to open enrollment. Only 27% gave their employers an “A”, and most (57%) said their companies prepared them “pretty well” to understand their benefits offerings.

The biggest issues employees had with open enrollment season were frequent changes in plans (34%), material that’s hard to understand (19%), and the rushed process (19%). Millennials were especially frustrated with complex jargon in enrollment material, and Baby Boomers were particularly daunted by the lack of time they were given to choose the right benefits.

Across all age groups, the firm found that one month was the most desired time frame for open enrollment, with 34% of survey takers choosing it. Only 17% preferred a week, and a mere 1% preferred a day.

Suggestions for improving open enrollment

Namely notes, “With this in mind, be sure to start your open enrollment preparations far in advance to give employees the time they need to understand their selections. Make sure your communication strategy supports your open enrollment time-frame with initiatives like weekly email reminders, Q&A sessions, and informational materials around plan offerings.”

To simplify the process, the firm suggests HR departments should “avoid the use of jargon in informational resources, and start the process early to ensure employees have ample time to ask questions and make thoughtful selections.”

Namely is also looking to improve its open enrollment services with the addition of Matthew Monahan, the new vice president of Benefits. He joins the firm after spending more than a decade at Aetna. Namely is also aiming to support 2018 benefits decisions with the launch of its updated enrollment wizard. This solution allows employees to make their selections, while viewing side-by-side comparisons. It also breaks down complicated jargon and allows users to learn at their own pace.

“Employees want great benefits choices, ample time to make their selections, and a knowledgeable HR representative,” says Monahan. “Namely’s new open enrollment technology delivers all three. I’m thrilled to join Namely to continue helping mid-sized companies maximize the return on their benefits spend.”

The survey report may be downloaded from here.