As we come towards the end of the year, it’s time to redesign your employee benefits to get a jump start before the next enrolment period. So much has happened during this past year with the coronavirus pandemic. We have seen a lot of movement in employee status, with some taking a leave of absence, others furloughed, and new employees hired in some cases. This means the demographics of the average work environment have changed considerably over the past months. Employers need to reevaluate their employee benefits before moving into the next open enrollment period.
Now is a good time to take stock of exactly what you will be offering your employees to meet employees’ needs and determine employer contributions.
Planning Ahead to Avoid the End-of-Year Rush
Most companies schedule their open enrolments period to end before the enrolment forms need to be submitted to their chosen benefits provider. For instance, if a company benefits plans start January 1st and end December 31st, they would most likely schedule an open enrolment period in November. However, there’s a lot of work to be done before then.
Budgets need to be finalized, plans assessed, and feedback from employees to be gathered is just the start. It’s easy to let things slide and suddenly find yourself in a rush to check all the boxes if you leave planning to the last minute.
Finalizing Your Employee Benefits Budget for the New Year
Firstly, you need to determine your health care budgets and how much you can afford in contributions. Without finalizing your budget, you could be wasting time chasing plans that are not realistic. Most benefit providers will have adjusted their limits and thresholds due to inflation; therefore, the previous years’ budget might not be adequate to provide the same level of employer contributions.
The COVID-9 pandemic has also changed how providers, employers, and employees see the pandemic’s fallout. HR professionals are experiencing a unique challenge moving towards the new year when there is still much uncertainty about how the pandemic will play out in the future. There is also a great deal of concern among employees how changes in their health care plans will affect them and their families. Equally, employers are mindful of the responsibility for their employee’s financial and wellness in addition to their emotional and physical needs.
Getting Good Feedback From Teams on Open Enrollment Season
The problem is how HR professionals can best communicate healthcare benefits with their employees about their options since many employees don’t fully understand how benefits work. An effective way to inform employees of what their options are is to involve them in the process.
Before locking your plans in place, it’s critical to ask your employees for feedback on the last enrollment period and what you can do as an HR professional to make open enrolment easier for employees before the next enrollment period. Since the world has changed due to the pandemic, it is essential to ask your employees what their concerns are moving into the next enrolment period. What was important to them pre-COVID-19 no doubt will have changed. What was important to them before may be quite different now, especially when discussing pre-existing conditions and the effects of a global pandemic.
As part of your planning strategy before the next open enrollment period, download the following checklist 8 Steps to a Successful Open Enrollment will put you in the driver’s seat. Call Innovative Broker Services 916-932-2356 to discuss how you can make it easier for yourself and your employees to deal with the multitude of questions that will naturally arise concerning health care benefits and the fallout of COVID-19.