Did your clients breathe a sigh of relief when open enrollment ended? This article will help you help them understand why an integrated benefits and HR system will enable them to have a smoother open enrollment next year.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2016, almost 56 percent of all U.S. citizens had insurance coverage through their employers. And, Aflac says 72% of employees say a benefits package offering is extremely or very important to their job satisfaction.
Seventy-eight percent of companies with 25-49 employees offered health benefits, and 92% of companies with 50-199 employees did (Kaiser Family Foundation; 2017). So, companies are listening. But, that's a lot of insurance coverage being provided, which translates to thousands upon thousands of open enrollment seasons. Some, undoubtedly, went as smooth as silk with zero hiccups. Other, however, were likely complete disasters. So, how did your clients do? If they're like most companies, the answer is, "Eh… it was okay." Or, "I'm SO GLAD it's over for the year."
So, why is that? Why isn't every one of your clients' open enrollments a case study in perfection? The likely answer is that their systems are working against them. We hear from a lot of companies, and most of the HR folks that we talk to are always looking for ways to improve the process they use to offer benefits to their employees.
Here are a few questions you can ask your clients to help determine how their open enrollment went; what, if anything went wrong; and what you can do to help them fix it.
Did they have any challenges with employees enrolling in benefits?
If they didn't educate their employees about their offerings before open enrollment started, that's a miss. Benefits conversations should be held year 'round, so there are no surprises come enrollment time.
It's important that your clients' benefits programs are also integrated with their payroll and time systems. Having their systems set up this way enables their employees to make elections at their own convenience, without having to consult HR for assistance. Further, if their benefits plans' rules and rates are configured to match their providers' plan documentation, this will also simplify employee enrollment, and have elections completed before the open enrollment deadline.
Was their open enrollment process held online?
Paper forms are a hassle, and they can be fraught with errors. Plus, who has all of that file drawer space? If your clients are still in the Stone Age, it's time to drag them into the joys (okay, that might be a stretch) of modern day benefits enrollment. The online open enrollment process can enable your clients to have a single portal with educational decision support tools to help employees make educated decisions about their benefits selections, especially around the complexities of health insurance. Plus, easy-fill, pre-populated forms mitigate errors in data entry and eliminate double (or even triple) information entry, making HR practitioners' jobs so much easier. Once information is entered, online systems can quickly and easily create concise individual benefit statements for employees describing the coverage elected and waived. An online system will also enable your clients to generate benefit census reporting for carriers, billing reconciliation, and going to market for new plans, which will make your life easier.
Did they have to send employee elections manually to their benefits providers?
Depending on the size of your clients' companies, manual processing is time consuming and can be a real pain. After all the benefit election information is updated in your system, there is still the matter of notifying carriers. Paycor's Carrier Connect pushes all enrollments directly to the carriers for a small additional fee. Instead of having to update benefits in multiple places, you only have to do it once.
How satisfied were they with benefit coverage provided to employees?
Or do they even know? Your clients should have the ability to access employee data to develop a competitive benefits strategy (especially when it comes to voluntary benefits), and help ensure they are best positioned to attract and retain top talent. But, designing highly tailored programs, products, benefits plans, services and rewards takes time and can cost a great deal of money. Human resources data analytics tools can eliminate the guesswork, drilling down into claims data and workforce demographics to help identify gaps in coverage and better understand what their employees value the most. This data enables you to develop a highly specific, comprehensive benefits strategy that addresses the needs of each one of your client organizations, and helps them get the most competitive rates.
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