New Benefits: 5 open enrollment wrongs you can right

by Jovan Hackley | Mar 29, 2017

If you’re in human resources, or have worked anywhere near it, there’s no doubt you’ve been a part of the “why employees leave ‘money’ on the table” discussion.

From 401k matches to vacation days, modest stats show that upwards of 55 percent of employees leave some usable benefit untouched.

In addition, an AFLAC Study showed that workers put 8 times more effort into computer selection than choosing their benefits.

Why? The truth is that the window when an employee cares about benefits is pretty small. For many, enrollment is a small must-do item on a long list that’s disconnected from most of their life (at the time when they select it).

The weight is on benefits administrators and teams to help employees make the right decisions. Here are five common places where open enrollment goes wrong that are easy for HR to help make right.

WRONG #1: THE BURIED BENEFIT LEAD

BBC Health data from 2012 showed that internet exposure definitively changes the human brain. One of the biggest changes, according to a study by Microsoft, is that our attention span globally has dropped from 12 to 8 seconds – meaning it’s now shorter than a goldfish.

When it comes to benefits, most enrollment materials include endless language to make sure participants get all the details. The problem with this is that many times the real “payoff” gets buried in the effort to be clear. This results in unused benefits and wasted dollars for both employees and companies.

RIGHT #1: SELL IT IN THE FIRST 6 SECONDS

If HR wants to get roll out right, they’ve got to bring the real “lead” (a.k.a. what the benefit offers) to the first few words and images in every communication message.

From the lead (first) images to subject lines and words ask, “Would my average employee understand what I’m offering in under six seconds?”

WRONG #2: THE ABSENTEE PAYOFF

Data from the Society of Human Resources showed that only 15 percent of employees could properly estimate the value of their benefits. Why? It’s probably because they haven’t been told.

RIGHT #2: DON’T FEAR THE DOLLAR, USE IT

A similarly timed study from MetLife showed that sixty-eight percent of workers would spend more time on benefits enrollment if they knew they could save money. While companies spend thousands to help provide benefits, when the ROI is missing from the enrollment experience, the data says participation/consideration will follow.

WRONG #3: ROLL-OUT BUNDLING NEW BENEFITS

The golden calf of mass-benefit rollout processes stems from a well-intended place. Employers handle the administration at once and employees get to handle all of their signing up simultaneously.

RIGHT #3: STAGGER THE STAR ADDITIONS

The problem here is that for new, less-common benefits like student loan help or fertility support, participants are often fatigued from sign-up related to more critical benefits like health insurance. For companies releasing new benefits, one way to drive adoption is to rollout new benefits off open enrollment cycle to give their new star additions the attention they deserve.

WRONG #4: PAPER, PDFS, AND THE REST OF PASSE

AFLAC 2017 data showed that one of the biggest opportunities for HR is to retire the sign-up processes and tools when possible.

RIGHT #4: AMAZON-IT

When surveyed, fifty percent of employees wanted their benefits sign-up process to work more like Amazon. The report showed that Amazon’s easy way of comparing products would make for an improved rollout for companies and participants.

WRONG #5: ONE-TRICK TRAINING

Last, but not least, of the benefit roll out “wrongs” is probably the most critical. Employee benefits data showed that the majority of companies today are increasing their investment in open enrollment and benefits administration.

RIGHT #5: FOLLOW THE 2-PLUS RULE

According to Trevis Parson, Chief Health and Benefits Actuary at Willis Towers Watson, “These are supposed to be attraction and retention tools to improve the experience of people who are bearing more responsibility every single year.”

As the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) conversation and other overwhelming amounts of data hit employees who are seeing increased costs, improved tools for training education have become more necessary than ever.

NEED ROLL OUT IDEAS?

At Student Loan Genius, we’ve worked with hundreds of HR directors to design benefit rollouts for companies large and small. While every company doesn’t offer student loan benefits, here are some of our favorite, lesser-known sources for rollout considerations and ideas:

Human Resources Executive Online
Willis Towers Watson’s Blog
Cammack Retirement’s Knowledge Center

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by Jovan Hackley | Mar 29, 2017

by Jovan Hackley | Mar 29, 2017

by Jovan Hackley | Mar 29, 2017