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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

How HR Managers Can Ease Open Enrollment Stress

By Randy Stram, Senior Vice President, Group, Voluntary and Worksite Benefits at MetLife

Open enrollment season is coming up, and employees across the nation will face benefits enrollment decisions that will impact their families, finances, and themselves.

Choosing the right benefits is arguably one of the most important decisions employees will make for the coming year. However, many employees are confused by the process. According to MetLife’s 14th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study, nearly half (44 percent) of all employees report feeling stressed by the enrollment process, and 42 percent say they are confused about some or all of the information they receive regarding their benefits.

As benefits enrollment coordinators for their organizations, HR managers are well-positioned to add value to the process and, as a result, improve outcomes for both their employees and employers. Here are a few simple ways they can do so:

·       Offer a wide variety of benefits. Employees want choice in their benefits to meet their specific needs. In fact, more than half (55 percent) of employees say they are interested in having their employer provide a wider array of non-medical benefits that they can choose to pay for on their own, and over two-thirds (70 percent) strongly agree that having benefits customized to meet their needs would increase their loyalty to their employer, according to the study. To drive loyalty among employees, especially during enrollment season, HR managers should keep this top-of-mind.

·       Clearly communicate the practical and financial value of benefits. According to the study, only one-third (37 percent) of employees find that their company’s benefits communications are easy to understand, which underscores the confusion and stress that employees feel during open enrollment season. Additionally, just 47 percent understand that non-medical benefits can help them limit their out-of-pocket medical expenses. To address this, HR managers must clearly articulate the practical and financial value of their benefits offerings, helping employees understand how they can reduce financial concerns and have a tangible impact on their lives.

·       Explain how less traditional benefits work. According to the study, the majority of employees understand how traditional benefits such as medical insurance and 401(k)s work, but fewer report understanding how less traditional benefits work. For example, one in four employees say they do not understand critical illness protection and nearly one-third (30 percent) do not understand hospital indemnity insurance. To diminish confusion and encourage increased enrollment in these benefits, HR managers should provide employees with materials that explain how less traditional benefits work and how they can positively affect their employees’ personal financial situations.

By implementing these initiatives this enrollment season, HR managers have an opportunity to drive engagement and loyalty by helping their employees make benefits decisions that will positively impact their lives.

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