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3 Top Tips for Communicating a Change in Employee Benefits

3 Top Tips for Communicating a Change in Employee Benefits

Changes to employee benefits can be difficult to manage. If they aren’t handled correctly, employee morale can suffer and employees may be more hesitant to participate in group plans. Not all employees are averse to change. There are some who experience dissatisfaction with their current benefits. According to a study by Clutch, 52% of them wish their employer would increase a benefit they already have, while 14% want their employers to offer completely different benefits.

While changes to benefits often occur annually in order to stay competitive and meet legal requirements, some employees may not view those changes as welcome, especially if there are substantial changes in coverage or the premiums increase. These top tips will help you help your employees through the changes.

Share information about employee benefits changes early and often.

The earlier you can alert employees to changes coming down the pike, the more time they have to prepare for it. Let them know you are keeping them in the loop by sharing information on the changes as often as possible. If you don’t provide information and are slow to offer updates you could be perceived as secretive and untrustworthy.

In other words, employees may begin to wonder just what you’re hiding. The more transparent you are, the more trustworthy you appear. When you have the trust of your employees, they will be much more likely to accept the changes to benefits, allowing you to advise them and guide them.

 

 

 

Explain the reasons for the change.

Typically, people appreciate honesty and transparency. Explaining the reasons for key changes in employee benefits can help with increasing understanding. When they can understand why the change was necessary and why the decision was made, they will often be much quicker to accept them. When you can show them the advantages of the change for them and for the company as a whole, it may be met with more positivity.

You may want to create a list of frequently asked questions, with the answers, to give to affected employees. This way, your words are supported by a written document that they can take with them. It gives them time to read and process the information, so they can better understand it. If they forget a portion of the changes, they will have the document as a reference.

Show compassion and empathy – This is people’s money.

Often employee benefits changes mean personal changes for the employee, such as a bigger chunk taken out of their budget due to increased premiums or changing their primary care doctor. When these changes are looming, it is natural to be upset and even panic. When humans are afraid or frustrated they may not show their best side. Showing some compassion and empathy can quickly diffuse the situation and help make the change a little easier.

Remember, you are dealing with people’s money and that can be a touchy subject for them. Having to pay more can be a source of fear and changing doctors can be frustrating. The calmer you are, showing sensitivity to what that person is going through, the easier you can make the transition for them.

 

Visit our website and download the free checklist, 8 Easy Steps to Your Best Open Enrollment Ever.

 

 

Changes in benefits can be a sticky situation, no matter your industry or organization. We can help. Innovative Broker Services offers innovative human resources tools that will help you make the process smoother for your employees. Call 916-932-2864 today to talk to one of our knowledgeable, experienced representatives and find out how we can help.

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3 Reasons Paperless Employee Benefits Are on the Rise

3 Reasons Paperless Employee Benefits Are on the Rise

The days when you received a massive stack of paper to mull over during open enrollment time every year may be coming to an end. Each year, more workplaces are moving towards a more streamlined approach, that allows employees to review selection choices for the year online. There are a number of benefits to both the employee and the business, making it unsurprising that this convenient method of making annual selections continues to gain traction. The growing need to protect personal information and show full compliance with HIPAA and other data protection standards is crucial. When annual elections are completed online, you reduce the chance of an employee accidentally seeing private information and can even reduce the overall cost. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes the significant surge in the cost of employee benefits, which may be the most compelling reason of all for making the shift. We’ll discuss 3 key reasons why employee benefits are moving from paper to a digital format.

1. Year-Over-Year Comparisons

Annual benefits elections can be a bit confusing, and trying to remember what you selected for years past is challenging. When benefits elections are moved online, employees appreciate the ability to look back over their previous year’s usage of benefits to compare and contrast which plan will be most effective for their needs. This year-over-year comparison is especially important in years when benefits change significantly.

 

 

2. Employee Benefits Elections Can Be Completed Anywhere

Today’s diverse workforce may spend every day in the office, a few days a week — or none at all! Remote employees and those who work from home at least a portion of the time may find it difficult to get to a traditional employee benefits meeting to receive printouts and ask questions. Instead, an online employee benefits portal provides them with the information that they need to make an informed decision while keeping their personal details at their fingertips. Final benefits decisions can then be made from any computer with internet access. This flexibility reduces the time and attention required by the HR department, while still offering a superior experience to employees. Allowing employees to self-service on an online portal can also reduce the elapsed time needed for benefits enrollment, as employees can find answers to their questions on a website portal any time during the day or night instead of during the work day with paper forms.

going paperless

3. Reduce Compliance Concerns

Regulatory requirements are strict and expanding to become more rigorous each year. When you utilize an online benefits portal for your employee elections, you are able to maintain a clean audit trail. This protects the organization as well as reducing the administrative overhead on your human resources team. Paper-based systems require a lot more manual effort and can lead to a lack of consistency both in the data input and in overall confidentiality. It would be difficult to prove that no one took a peek at someone else’s benefits information when using a paper system — but much easier to provide a measure of integrity with a login-based system.

Protecting your organization and providing the best possible experience for your employees during open enrollment shouldn’t be mutually exclusive goals. With online employee benefits programs, you are improving your overall process and reducing the burden on human resources professionals.

For more open enrollment tips, download our complimentary checklist, 8 Easy Steps to Your Best Open Enrollment Ever

 

 

Learn more about our Paperless HR solution:  www.gopaperlesshr.com 

If you’d like to learn more about how our easy-to-use online benefits portal will help your business be successful, then give our benefits specialists at Innovative Broker Services a call to schedule your benefits review at 916-932-2864 or email info@innovativebroker.com.

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How to Reduce Confusion During Open Enrollment Season

How to Reduce Confusion During Open Enrollment Season

There are so many changes taking place with employee benefits and insurance; open enrollment is more confusing than ever. HR departments across the country are taking steps to try and cut down on the misinformation while ensuring that employees have what they need to make informed decisions. Research by Digatate shows the importance of organized, clear onboarding:

  • New hires are twice as likely to seek new job opportunities in the near future when their organizations do not handle onboarding well.
  • 25% of new hires who have a poor onboarding experience will have a negative view of the company and will be unlikely to recommend it to friends or family members.

 

Be available to answer questions

An open door policy is always a good idea. It makes you approachable and gives employees a place to turn for answers to their questions. Depending on the size of your organization, you may choose to request that employees make an appointment which will help ensure employee privacy as well. You may also be able to answer some questions over email or phone.

 

Educate employees on their options

Not all employees have the same needs so be prepared to present options for different demographics, starting with the first contact. Employees need to see the different options that they have from the onset. This can be explained in general terms in the early stages of open enrollment, but make sure you have targeted information for each group (family, single, nearing retirement age, etc.) so they know what is available to them.

 

 

Communicate regularly, clearly, and concisely

It doesn’t matter if you are working with 100 employees or 1,000, your communication needs to be as clear as possible. Keep the conversation going, don’t stop after one meeting or a single email discussing the open enrollment period. The survey report, What Your Employees Think About Your Benefits Communication, noted that 49% of employees said making decisions about their health insurance was very stressful and 41% said it was extremely confusing. Make the process as easy and clear as possible by providing information in a variety of formats such as face-to-face meetings, email, handouts, and a web-based employee information portal.

 

Make information available in a variety of formats

In today’s tech-heavy world, you have a number of communication methods right at your fingertips. Choose several; it isn’t wise to have just one. Handouts or brochures, email, text, and even video can all help you get the message out and keep the message clear. Prepare beforehand, and organize your material so that distribution is easy. You may find it useful to create a website where employees can download information and schedule an appointment to talk to you.

 

Bring in a third party to talk to employees

Bringing in a third party to talk to employees can minimize confusion and increase the power of your message. They may address things you haven’t considered or things you didn’t think were important. Sometimes it helps to see the situation through a fresh pair of eyes. They may even be able to help you create the educational material and prepare for meeting with individuals to discuss their enrollment options. Representatives from specific insurance companies can better address employee questions and concerns about certain programs and policies.

Minimize the confusion surrounding open enrollment season. Let us help. Contact Innovative Broker Services today at 916-932-2864 or via email to info@innovativebroker.com.

You can download our free checklist “8 Easy Steps to Your Best Open Enrollment Ever” for some tips to help you and your team prepare for the busiest time of the year.

What are your pain points during open enrollment? What strategies do you use to help your employees better understand their options?

 

 

 

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How Your Benefits Broker Should Guide You During Open Enrollment

How Your Benefits Broker Should Guide You During Open Enrollment

 

The period leading up to open enrollment is an excellent opportunity for your Human Resources department staff to reconnect with individual team members. You can learn about exciting new developments in their lives and see how you can serve the organization’s needs more effectively. Here’s how your benefits broker should be helping to guide you to have the best open enrollment yet.

Encourage Early Adoption

A seasoned benefits broker should be able to offer some insight on how to get your late adopters on board super early in the season. If they’re able to provide you with a communications timeline and suggested messaging, it will save you time and effort during the busy open enrollment period. Consider offering perks to specific individuals who have a history of being the last to fill out their benefits information — you might be surprised how a small benefit can bring people around quickly and save you frustration!

Train the Trainer

Training the trainer is a concept that works well for a variety of different projects. When your benefits broker takes the time to run through the entire program thoroughly with the HR team, they’ll feel much more confident answering questions from staff as they arise. Your broker should provide you with the solid documentation and communication structure that you’ll need to be successful.

 

 

Proactive Technology

Technology can make life so much easier, and open enrollment is no different. However, when technology is introduced late or not fully de-bugged before introduction, it can cause a great deal of added stress to a period of time when you are already struggling with priorities. Plus, users are not likely to adopt technology solutions for their open enrollment process that they don’t trust to be foolproof. They need to have a high level of confidence that everything is going to work exactly as planned so they don’t end up with missing information on their open enrollment forms once they’ve been processed. When your benefits broker introduces technology early enough to test and fully work out the bugs, you’re in for a much more pain-free process throughout the enrollment period.

 

From technology to training and communication, your benefits broker is a key part of ensuring that your organization’s open enrollment period flows smoothly and flawlessly. You can always be confident that you are receiving the best possible service from a knowledgeable professional when you work with Innovative Broker Services. Their brokers are experienced in helping businesses just like yours work through a pain-free open enrollment period. Contact Innovative Broker Services today at 916-932-2864 or via email to info@innovativebroker.com.

 

 

 

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3 Ways to Drive Employee Engagement During Open Enrollment

3 Ways to Drive Employee Engagement During Open Enrollment

Keeping your employees engaged, productive and happy is a major factor in the success of your company. According to GuideSpark, “86% of employees say that benefits play a significant role in the decision to stay with their employer.”

The best HR departments not only create strong benefits packages, but they also know how to get their employees enrolled. What good is a benefits package if no one signs up?

A successful open enrollment leads to better employee retention, saving your company time and money. Here are three ways to help increase engagement during open enrollment.

Present the Benefits Clearly

Let’s face it: the ins and outs of benefits packages can be a snooze.

How do you communicate important information to people who aren’t all that interested in the details? HR professionals are up against short attention spans when trying to educate employees. Eyes glaze over and minds drift once you get down to the nuts and bolts of it all.

The first step to holding your audience? Summarize the benefits in a clear, direct way. Keep it simple! Use language people understand. Translate any industry lingo into layman’s terms.

There are many tools and outlets available to communicate with your employees. From old school brochures to cutting-edge apps, explore and use all your available options.

Two particularly successful tools for marketing your message are video and FAQ sheets. Why not film a quick tutorial? And a cleverly written FAQ sheet can show off highlights and positive results of your company’s package.

 

 

Make Them Hustle (a little) for the Win

It doesn’t matter how old we get: everyone loves prizes. Make a dry topic more fun by introducing added incentives and a little healthy competition. Raffles, company giveaways, and contests are all great ways to increase engagement. Create a company-wide challenge to see which departments win for participation and early open enrollment.

Introduce some fun into your open enrollment! Host a lunch-time movie after your benefits presentation or order pizza for a Q & A session. Get creative and make it entertaining.

Build in Added Perks to Your Program

Do your employees already have the option to work remotely?

According to the New York Times, over 40% of Americans spend some of their time working offsite. It’s a perk that costs you little, but packs a huge value. Reducing a commute, saving on gas and being around to walk the dog adds up to a much happier, more productive employee.

Flexible hours are another big draw. Not only will your employees appreciate the time, you might be surprised how much more focused they are if they hit the gym or go to that yoga class before they clock in.

With proper planning, clear messaging, and some outside-the-box thinking, open enrollment can be an exciting, productive and successful time. Providing the right benefits and doing the work to get your whole company on board really is a win-win for everyone.

 

 

 

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7 Tips for Setting Clear Expectations During Open Enrollment

7 Tips for Setting Clear Expectations During Open Enrollment

Many people love a surprise, but surprises related to health insurance and other employee benefits are not usually well received. Open enrollment is a prime opportunity to not only help employees with their insurance needs, but also to provide them with the information that they need regarding coverage changes, when they should receive their ID cards, and other concerns. This is not a time to wing it, having a well-structured plan is the best way to approach employee benefits. As a result, your staff will feel more confident and relaxed while your employees will be better informed.

 

1. Give ample notice of the open enrollment period with a timeline and plan.

Let employees know well in advance when the open enrollment period will begin and how long it will last. A checklist or planner will help them prepare and seek assistance if needed. Include information on coverage needs and budget constraints, any changes to the current plan, comparisons to other plans, and be available to answer questions.

 

2. Create a list of potential questions and answers.

If you anticipate certain questions, assemble them with their answers in a handout that you can provide in the employee benefits packet prior to the beginning of open enrollment. Include information for contacting you to discuss the specifics of their own situation. This can also be used by your staff to help them prepare for fielding questions.

 

3. Provide usable information that employees can apply to their own circumstances.

It is okay to compile more general information for employee packets, but when talking to employees individually, you want to speak to their specific situations. Give them information that they can apply to those situations that they can actually use.  A person’s work environment has a significant impact on how they receive, process, and use information – and the type of benefits they need, so keep that in mind when you meet with them.

 

4. Structure your messaging to be transparent and informative.

Just as coverage can change from one enrollment period to the next, so can people’s needs. Maintain a practice of transparency about coverage changes and cost increases while providing vital information on the benefits. Helping employees identify key features that fit their own unique needs means providing a lot of information. Calculators and tools that allow for comparing plans are very useful for this purpose. Avoid passive enrollment and help employees get the coverage that they actually need.

 

 

5. Identify different employee groups and create packages that speak to each one.

Employees who are nearing retirement have needs that are different from employees with growing families. Look for specific target groups within the organization such as young singles, single parents, and empty nesters, then structure your packages to meet each group’s unique needs. This is also a good opportunity to introduce ancillary benefits like life insurance, disability, and illness and injury plans.

 

6. Be prepared to field benefits questions.

Preparation is absolutely vital when discussing benefits with employees. You should have all necessary tools and information on hand so that you can access it quickly and easily. The process of discussing and selecting coverage should be accomplished quickly and easily.

  • Educate your team on messaging and preparation.
  • Structure messaging to address why benefits are set up the way they are.
  • Highlight the organization’s big picture benefits strategy and how it all works to the employee’s advantage.
  • Find value points such as promoting retirement savings or encouraging wellness measures through the use of the benefits.

 

7. Don’t overcomplicate it.

Employees are smart but can get overwhelmed with complex messaging. Keep it as simple as possible.

  • Provide visual aids such as charts and infographics, as well as decision support tools, information packets, and checklists.
  • Choose several key messages to highlight. This allows employees quickly see what they need to know, but still provide access to all details that they can review at their leisure. Being drawn into an exhaustive explanation of benefits may cause them to glaze over.

Remember: The objective is to help employees choose the best coverage for them, so keeping the message clear, simple, and brief is a best practice.

 

The opportunities that are presented to you during open enrollment are priceless. You can use this time to not only help employees get access to health benefits or upgrade their benefits, you could be the motivation they need to take charge of their health and take better care of themselves and their family.

 

Download our free ebook 8 easy steps for your best enrollment season ever for more useful tips.

 

 

 

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