End-of-year benefits enrollment demands huge amounts of time and energy from a company. Because a quality benefits package is critical to a company’s ability to compete for talent, it can be devastating, come enrollment time, to realize that the benefits being offered are met with less than an enthusiastic response from employees. Why not work to avoid this result by closely examining the “fit” of your current benefits package and taking steps well in advance of open enrollment to prepare for benefits renewal?
Sometimes it will be very clear that your benefits package is in need of an overhaul; other times the hints are more subtle. Any of these occurrences can signal that it’s time to make changes to your benefits offerings:
- Changes in workforce demographics. A shift in your employee population can call for changes to the benefits you offer. Sometimes merely the passage of time triggers this: for example, yesterday’s college grad new hires are today’s parents, interested in flex time schedules, day care accounts and supplemental life insurance options.
- A significant change in the number of employees. If your company has acquired a competitor, or opened up a new location, your larger workforce can mean that you might qualify for better pricing on some of your benefits options.
- Grumbling by employees, or poor enrollment numbers. You might hear through the employee grapevine that your workers are dissatisfied with their benefits choices, or this sentiment could make itself known through enrollment results. Either way, you need to find out why, or your investment in employee benefits isn’t being put to the best use.
- Your benefits costs rise annually, and you aren’t sure you’re getting the best value for your money. If your company is in any of the above situations — or if you just have a gut feeling that the investment you’re making in benefits isn’t delivering the desired results — now is the time to take action, well in advance of the open enrollment/benefits renewal period.
- Determine what benefits employees want by conducting employee surveys and focus groups. Chances are you can’t satisfy every employee whim, but you’ll build goodwill through this communication process, and will be better able to craft a benefits package that’s on target with your workforce’s needs.
- Benchmark your benefits offerings against those of your competitors. The benefits you offer should help attract new employees and engender loyalty among those already on your payroll. It’s hard to achieve these goals if your competition offers a selection of well-priced, diverse benefits and your company does not.
- Benchmark your benefits costs. Your benefits advisor should be able to supply data that will give you a sense of whether what your company pays for medical, dental, etc. is in the ballpark of competitively priced benefits. If you find that your costs are too high — or if you simply want to see whether you can do better — it’s time to begin the Request for Proposal process.
- Consider adding benefits you have not offered before. This doesn’t have to be a costly proposition. You can bring in supplemental benefits on an employee-pay-all basis, or add pre-tax flexible spending accounts for health care and/or dependent day care. Surveys show that employees appreciate when employers make these types of benefits available to them, even if the employer isn’t contributing to the cost.
In addition to examining the content of your benefits program, a midyear review of “how” your company conducts open enrollment can help to make this process run more smoothly in future years. Consider your communications; how you can help employees make the best enrollment decisions; and whether you are using enrollment technologies and outside resources as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. All the planning you do now will make for a smoother enrollment experience, both for your company and for your employees.