‘Tis the season for IRS limit research, presentation prep and collateral creation. After all, it’s open enrollment season for many employee benefits brokers and companies alike.
This is easily one of the most exciting (and honestly, confusing) times in the industry. With new mandates, rising pressures to cut costs, emerging benefits to consider and a competitive landscape — it can be hard to boil everything down into one streamlined package.
Here’s what benefits professionals need to know:
5 Open Enrollment Survival Tips:
1. Brokers and Clients Must Connect Early
Broker-client relationship management should be a year-long practice, but as open enrollment approaches it’s wise to reach out to meet early and reassess current needs.
In addition to benefits, these meetings can be a forum to review retention goals, engagement, productivity and hiring trends. Identifying employee demographics, life stages and job functions within the organization, will help you brainstorm tailored benefits options to accommodate all of the employee groups, while creating the right plan to achieve business goals.
Unsure of any of objective? Employers may consider conducting an employee survey. Brokers often have research and survey templates at-hand to help their clients streamline this process.
2. Know The 2018 IRS Limits
The annual changes to everyone’s favorite acronyms are always a pressing concern. Most of these changes will be announced in October; subscribe to our blog for updates. Here’s what we do know:
For more information, visit www.IRS.gov for the latest on contribution limits.
3. Make Time a Top Initiative
For every open enrollment resource, interaction or insight you offer — ask yourself “how much time must be devoted to this?” Benefits professionals are stretched to the limit during open enrollment, ensuring their time is spent wisely is important during the chaotic season.
Putting the time into preparing your communications and a collateral tool kit is critical to a successful open enrollment. Information sheets, email communications, presentations and enrollment guides can seem rather streamlined at first. Unfortunately, what seems obvious and clear to a benefits professional, may lack clarity to the average employee/consumer. It is important to review pre-existing collateral for potential breaks in the message or experience. This attention-to-detail is a critical step in the process and the responsibility of both employer and broker. Failure to put the time and effort into the communication aspects of open enrollment may have a significant impact on the success of any benefits program.
4. Identify Emerging Benefits
New benefit options are popping up every day, but the ones that really stick focus on three primary objectives: adding value, cutting costs and saving employees time.
- Health and Wellness:
Weight loss, exercise and stress-reduction benefits are top picks among employers. These benefits can help reduce healthcare costs and improve productivity.
- Identity Theft Protection:
Often embedded as part of a financial wellness initiative, employee identity theft protection offers a high-value, low-cost way to reduce stress and promote financial security. Willis Towers Watson reports it’s the fastest growing employee benefit.
- Pet Programs:
Veterinary cost-savings programs and dog walking services have skyrocketed recently, as they meet a real lifestyle need and help employees stay focused at work.
- Incentive Programs:
Employers love when they can incentivize employee actions with perks. These range from tuition reimbursement to gym memberships to action-based rewards.
5. Get Creative About Costs
Employers often feel too barraged by rising costs to appropriately allocate benefits funds. So, it’s up to brokers to help them determine how and where to cut costs while creating value.
Investigate dependent benefits, even for auxiliary perks. With a typically small monetary increase in spending, employees can share benefits with loved ones. This profoundly impacts their daily lives which can cause employee satisfaction to skyrocket.
Pair offerings with unique tactics to maximize rewards. Benefits don’t have to be handed over, instead, they can be offered as an incentive or embedded as a pay-to-play. By strategically positioning a new offering, you can also help spark engagement.
Remember, employees won’t see value in their benefits if they don’t know about or understand them. Therefore, it’s important to clearly explain new benefits, re-advertise existing offerings and provide regular follow-up. A thorough pre-open enrollment analysis of engagement will help to identify which benefits may need an extra push.
A Partner in Best Practices
As the leading provider of employee identity theft protection, EZShield works with employers and benefits brokers to add value to employee benefits packages with low-cost, high-value identity theft protection.
With these best practices leading the way, we’ve helped our partners streamline open enrollment to boost satisfaction and reach business goals more effectively.
For more information on EZShield Identity Protection, schedule a demo today.
What’s Your Biggest Open Enrollment Obstacle?
Let us know in the comments section below!