We may be wrapping up Annual Enrollment this month, but we are already looking to 2018 and what’s in store for the year ahead. A New Year brings renewed resolutions and updated calendars, but it’s also an opportunity to strategize for success in the coming year.
It is a time to assess what our industry needs to prepare for, and to uncover what are estimated to be the trends in 2018. For benefits administration, technology continues to evolve and push us onto a path changing faster than ever before. We have to be nimble and agile to respond to the needs of our customers, so that we can delight them in the days ahead.
For benefits administration, it goes back to Annual Enrollment and ways we can make improvements for the next year. This is a critical moment in time when we must provide employers with the most effective technology, but we must be strategically using those resources and tools year-round.
Here are my predictions for what benefits administration tools are most needed for employers, and how to best integrate them for a successful program:
A holistic approach: In a recent survey of Fortune 1000-ranked companies by Pacific Resources, 83.2% of employers indicated that communication, employee education, and engagement are integral to their overall health and welfare benefits delivery strategy. It is critical to adopt programs that educate and engage employees year-round in the benefits selection process. Employers need to develop a strategy that creates touchpoints throughout the year – not just come September – to effectively educate employees on their benefits. This could be done through lunch-n-learns, a monthly newsletter, or desk drops. These education and communication tactics will result in a smoother and simpler enrollment period.
A recommendation tool: It’s no secret that benefits selection can be confusing – and that’s not changing come 2018. What will change, though, is how employers help employees make the right decision when it comes to their personal benefits. A vast majority of employers (88.8%) feel that decision-support, cost calculators, and plan-comparison tools were at least somewhat effective in benefits selection. In a society that expects personalized experiences, employees will be grateful for a recommendation engine to guide them through the selection process. Provide your employees with another tool to encourage success and a positive benefits enrollment period.
A mobile approach: To some it may be unbelievable that employees would enroll in benefits via mobile. However, this year’s Annual Enrollment showed a significant increase in benefits enrollment via mobile, and it’s likely to only increase. Employers need to be prepared for the demand for mobile-friendly enrollment, and begin planning for that now rather than when it’s too late. This can be done by better communicating the mobile offering through internal memos or signage leading up to Annual Enrollment. You might even consider hosting office hours on how to use mobile benefits, as it will be a new experience for many.
A user-friendly experience: Administrative ease is a driving factor in selecting benefits administration software, and it ranked as the top selection reason for 61.4% of employers. As everyone knows, benefits enrollment can be a frustrating or confusing process, so making the design and layout of the website pages easy to navigate can make a significant difference. User experience is not a thing to ease up on; it’s imperative to create a successful enrollment, and it should be tested every year for efficiency.