Worksite Benefits: Open Enrollment or Off-Cycle?

Employee Benefits, War For Talent

Now that Affordable Care Act (ACA) distractions have quieted (somewhat), and there are no major benefit disruptions in the foreseeable future, your organization has decided it’s a good time to introduce worksite benefits.  So, what’s next?

Best to offer these types of voluntary programs off-cycle from the regular open enrollment time, right? Employees are more likely to buy if they aren’t distracted by their core benefits, or so the thinking has gone.  But maybe it’s time to challenge that assumption.

Why offer worksite plans? What purpose do they serve?

Broadly, worksite plans are designed to protect employees from the financial risk that they’re exposed to by medical deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses.

Offering Worksite Benefits During Open Enrollment

One line of thought follows that it makes the most sense to talk about these programs in the same breath, at the same time, as medical. When employees are paying the most attention to the decisions they’re making about their medical plans, shouldn’t they also be aware of the other tools in the benefits arsenal?

For instance, if I know I can pay a few bucks for an accident policy, maybe I’ll feel more secure opting into a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) and participating in an Health Savings Account (HSA).  Or maybe I’d be more inclined to enroll for a $5,000 critical illness benefit when I have a heightened awareness of my $6,000 out-of-pocket max.  Consider the impact this type of attention can have on participation, not to mention employees’ overall understanding of their benefits.

Another great reason to enroll worksite benefits at open enrollment is benefit technology.  If an employer is looking for a benefits administration solution, they can often secure it at minimal cost if they offer a couple of new voluntary plans simultaneously from a partner carrier.  And, oh by the way, through the course of an enrollment and benefits education process employees can also be taught how to use the new system, far reducing the number of “I don’t know how to do this” phone calls to the HR team.

Creating Off-Cycle Enrollment for Worksite Benefits

Of course, sometimes there’s just too much noise during open enrollment – too many other important things to talk about and worksite isn’t a top priority.  It happens.  And in those situations, we can, of course, enroll worksite off-cycle after the open enrollment period has cooled down.

Whatever You Decide, M3 Can Help

In either case, a strong pre-enrollment communication strategy is key in helping employees grasp why the worksite benefits your organization offers are a good fit. Your M3 Account Executive can help you determine how worksite benefit options can best fit into your organization’s overall benefit plan.

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