Failure to Communicate Tops Enrollment Concerns

January 30, 2007 ( - Employers and workers are not of like minds when it comes to evaluating what works - and doesn't - in the benefits enrollment process.

Employers said the areas that could stand to be improved in the benefit enrollment process are employee communications, health information and benefit decision support. On the other hand, employees were most concerned that the enrollment process was too complicated, according to a recent survey by consultant Watson Wyatt Worldwide.

The survey of 67 organizations showed that employee communications topped the list of concerns for 63% of the respondents during enrollment, while 36% of employers cited engaging employees as their greatest difficulty, according to a press release on the survey.

What’s Working

Employers were more pleased with the transactional components of benefits enrollment, with three-quarters saying they were satisfied with the completeness and accuracy of elections, but were less enthused with the effectiveness of health-improvement information, decision-support tools and costs and quality information.

“Annual enrollment has changed significantly at most companies,” said Jeri Stepman, Watson Wyatt’s national leader for health and welfare administration, in the release. “It’s moved from a transactional or registration-like process ­­­­­­ – where the goal has been to automate and to increase efficiency – to an engagement and decision-support process – where the goal is to engage employees as benefits consumers.”

Process Complexity

According to employers, the complexity of the enrollment process and the number of plan changes were major concerns for their employees, with roughly a third (30%) of employers reporting problems in those areas.

Employer satisfaction improved – slightly – when they had the internal and external resources to help employees maneuver the complicated enrollment process. Half of the organizations staffing the enrollment process with only local HR representatives were either neutral or dissatisfied with the process, and compared with 42% of organizations that primarily relied on the use of outsourcing providers to support employees.

The complete results of the survey report can be purchased at .