Open enrollment: Early engagement with clients is the key to an effective open enrollment seasonArticle added by Tye Elliott on June 20, 2014
Tye Elliott

Tye Elliott

Joined: March 21, 2014

Today’s fast-paced, 140-character culture can have a positive effect on business — workers are quick and nimble, and can multitask. While some things can be done well and quickly, others should take time and be planned in advance. Among them is deciding which health care benefit options your clients will make available to workers during open enrollment. Even though the open enrollment period is months away, savvy decision-makers should start strategically thinking about health care benefits and how they can affect the business. By having the conversation now, advisors can help clients understand the changing health care landscape and assess the needs of their workforce to offer the best health plans to employees.

Balancing employer and employee needs

This year, advisors may be challenged by the fundamental misperception that benefit options don’t have an impact on a workforce or a business overall beyond the bottom line. By discussing benefits early, advisors can help employers understand that providing smart benefits that improve the financial situation of employees is not simply a social responsibility issue — it’s good business. There is a direct link between productivity, loyalty and employee stress. According to the 2014 Aflac WorkForces Report (AWR), personal financial issues are the top non-work-related issue that distracts employees while they’re on the job.

As an example, your clients may leave voluntary insurance policies off their benefits menus because they don’t believe workers are interested in such plans, but research shows otherwise. The 2014 AWR revealed that 88 percent of employees consider voluntary insurance an important part of a comprehensive benefits plan. Even more importantly, 52 percent who do not currently have access to voluntary benefits say they’d be likely to purchase them if their employers made voluntary plans available.1

Advisors should work with clients to offer several types of voluntary policies that will be a win-win for both the company and their employees. These policies include:
  • Plans with no direct effect on bottom lines. Most voluntary plan premiums are paid by workers who apply for coverage, not the employer.

  • Variety of plans available to meet the unique needs of an employee. Offering multiple products allows workers to apply for coverage that is specific to their situation and is within budget.
Why voluntary insurance makes for better business

Advisors should help clients understand the impact health care decisions will have on their company’s future as a successful and profitable business. Employers who decide to add voluntary insurance to their benefits menu can become a more attractive employer to both current and future employees since top-tier companies offer an array of benefits options.

In fact, companies listed on Fortune’s “Best Companies to Work For” had three things in common related to benefits offerings:
  • They retained or expanded their benefits offerings throughout the recession.

  • They researched new benefits options that yielded the most “bang for their buck.”

  • They selected benefits that met the needs of particular employees instead of selecting a “one-size fits all” plan.
Achieving open enrollment success

For clients to have a successful open enrollment period, advisors need to start talking with clients today. Careful planning and research will ensure that their benefits options will help meet the needs of their workforce and in return make them a more desirable employer.

1The 2014 Aflac WorkForces Report is the fourth annual Aflac employee benefits study examining benefits trends and attitudes. The study, conducted in January 2014 by Research Now, captured responses from 1,856 benefits decision-makers and 5,209 employees from across the United States.

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