Benefits are an important part of employees' compensation packages. Yet many companies miss the importance of the benefits enrollment process to overall employee satisfaction. A human capital management strategy takes into account the opportunities to improve the employee experience, while balancing that impact against budget and resource constraints. The good news is that companies don't necessarily have to offer more benefits to effectively meet employee needs. Let's take a closer look at five steps companies can proactively take to create a positive benefits enrollment experience.
Start benefits enrollment communications early
Employees often need time to consult with family members or financial advisors to determine which benefits packages or elections are right for them. Provide as much lead-time as possible for employees to review information, ask questions, and think about their benefits enrollment. As you design your benefits enrollment process, build a schedule that focuses on getting information to your employees as early as possible. Work with your vendors to find out when the latest information will be available and schedule info sessions well in advance of enrollment deadlines.
Provide information and education through multiple channels
Many employees don't understand the full range of benefits available to them, or don't feel that they have enough information to make smart decisions. It's important to provide information in different formats and through multiple channels. Consider making benefits information available to employees in a number of ways: an employee benefits website, enrollment emails, newsletters, home mailings, and onsite presentations. It's also often helpful to provide information in multiple formats, such as written policy descriptions and provider videos outlining coverage.
Employ self-service for ease and flexibility
Many employees want the option of self-service for benefits enrollment. For employees who are on the go, self-service makes it possible to enroll in benefits programs without too much stress. Self-service functionality also enables employees whose benefits enrollment is straightforward or involves minimal or routine changes to quickly make those adjustments online. It can save both your employees and your HR team valuable time during busy work periods.
Support self-service with available expert support
While many employees want the flexibility of self-service, it's also important for employees with questions to have available HR support. Three strategies can help companies achieve this balance. The first is inviting providers to make presentations where employees can ask questions directly to plan reps. The second is offering set office hours or internal meetings with trained HR reps to discuss benefits plans. Finally, the third is providing an email address or phone number where employees can find answers to individual questions they may have leading up to enrollment. Employees are more likely to embrace self-service when they know they have access to a person who can answer questions when needed.
Review the process and focus on improvements
Take the time to review your benefits enrollment process. Find out what's working well and where there's room for improvement. For example, were there areas where employees were consistently confused or needed more information? Identifying gaps and opportunities for improvement year to year is the best way to continuously upgrade your process.
The employee benefits enrollment process can be easily managed with a few strategic steps. Start the communications process as early as possible and provide materials through a number of channels. Guide your employees to self-service enrollments where possible, with ample support from your HR team and management. Finally, look for ways to improve the process each year as a dedicated element of your human capital management strategy.