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It’s Not Too Late to Polish Your Annual Enrollment Strategy

It’s Not Too Late to Polish Your Annual Enrollment Strategy
Posted on Monday, October 15, 2018 by Josh Holman
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Annual Enrollment is the “Super Bowl” for many HR and benefits pros.

AE-strategy-tips-It’s the busiest time of year, calling everyone to pull together. Although AE is predictably seasonal, planning can sometimes take a backseat to the other jobs that keep us busy throughout the year. But for strategic thinkers and teams that are resilient, it’s never too late to fine tune your Annual Enrollment plans for a more successful season. Here are some simple steps you can do today to put some polish on your plan.  

Health Literacy Matters

October is Health Literacy Month. Health literacy is how individuals have the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. Being on the benefits team, you likely know there is a knowledge gap when it comes to how your employees understand different medical coverage options. In fact, recent data from Accenture, found that 52 percent of U.S. consumers have low health literacy.

You’d think that a knowledge gap would provide incentive for your employees to want to understand and learn about their options right? Wrong. We’ve discovered that your employees will dedicate more of their time to surfing Netflix than choosing their benefits. Because of this lack of understanding, it’s likely that your employees will blindly enroll in the same package year after year without considering other options that may be a better fit to their lifestyle. Be sure you go back to basics with some of your communication strategies. Remember, your employees are not benefits experts like you. Cut out jargon and simplify your language for better understanding and retention.

The latest trends – HDHP

The upward trend of high deductible health plans (HDHPs) shows no signs of slowing down. Consumers with HDHPs can start saving for the future in conjunction with health savings accounts (HSA) and health reimbursement arrangements (HRA). These savings accounts can provide your employees more control, flexibility, and discretion on how their healthcare dollars are spent, as well as provide a tax-advantaged way to save for future medical expenses. Plus, HDHPs help save you, the employer, an enormous amount of premium spend, which positively impacts your bottom line.

Sounds like a great option right? Yes, but your employees may not be aware of the benefits of HDHPs and therefore ignore the option. (It’s a lot easier to ignore something you know very little about.) As a benefits team, confront this knowledge gap with communication that will reach your employees at the right time for them to truly understand the different plan options available to them. Mobile apps have shown an amazing means of real-time knowledge transfer. Ask your benefits administrator about situational recommendation engines that can help get to the real needs of your employees, to help them know which bundle of benefits is best for their families.  

There’s an app for that. 

Most employees don’t have the time or energy to understand everything about their benefits, let alone read a 20-page insurance benefits guide. As a benefits team, you should know that it’s not that your employees don’t want to read the material you provide to them, it’s that they may prefer to digest your content in a different way. With five generations in the workforce, you have to consider 5 different ways your employees want to communicate.

You can mitigate this issue by giving them the information they need in a different format that they relate to. For example, their mobile device or via email. In all walks of their employment, what employees value is a personalized experience. Leverage this fact to ensure their benefits enrollment feels personal.

Get centered around goals.

The trick to AE success is to take the time to agree on your end-goals as a team. Are you driving enrollment into a particular plan? Do you use benefits to retain your talent? If so, have you communicated a total compensation message to employees? If you can make benefits a personal decision and help your population understand the value of the benefits you provide, you will ensure they take the time to make the right choices for the year to come.

In a time where there is too much to do with too little time, focus on what you can control. Understanding the strategy around your most valuable product and communicating through easy-to-use tools will help your anxiety tremendously.

Need more help during Annual Enrollment? Check out our AE Guide here.