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While the disruptive power of the Internet has upended scores of industries and created new ones from scratch over the last two decades, HR Professionals are still struggling with the ongoing dilemma of how best to engage with and educate their employees about their benefit options.  

Experience has provided evidence that an educated and informed employee will make better benefit decisions and enroll in the benefit programs appropriate for their personal situation. Offering your employees a multi-pronged benefit enrollmentmulti prong benefits enrollment approach process where education and enrollment outlets can be found online, over the phone and perhaps even in the worksite help to achieve the best results in the benefits selection process. When implemented effectively, this kind of approach will boost employee awareness of your benefit offerings, appreciation of the investment you are making in them and yield higher participation in targeted programs like Wellness, Flexible Spending and HRA's.

To maximize the value of your benefit programs and create a more informed population a multi-pronged benefits enrollment approach is best executed when the following components are in place.

Effective Communication & Engagement
The decision of which benefit options an employee enrolls in is not a spontaneous one. Human resources and benefits professionals would do well to recognize this by clearly communicating the start and end dates for Open Enrollment, describing what changes may be taking place for the following year and what actions the employee needs to take. For most employers, these steps may seem obvious and routine.

Include these additional items to help shore up the pre-Open Enrollment communication campaign;

  • Personalized employee benefit worksheets
  • Benefit calculators
  • Employee benefits FAQ's guides

Delivering your message can often be more difficult than crafting it and the move to eliminate paper is at the core of most benefits enrollment streamlining efforts. Thankfully there is a balance to be struck through the intelligent combination of web-based employee portals, email notifications and the traditional paper based booklet or guide. How you choose to communicate with your employees will be often be dictated by your work environment and population.

The important thing to remember is make your content Coherent, Concise and Consistent across all distribution channels.

Multiple Avenues to Success
Like your communication process, which should take advantage of different media formats, we encourage employers to offer employees a choice of enrollment processes. Personal preferences for making benefit decisions, varying levels of access to and/or comfort with the Internet and the desire for guided assistance are different for everyone. Utilizing an intelligent combination of the web, call center and worksite based counseling, will offer your employees a multi-pronged benefits enrollment process providing the various avenues for communications and enrollment solutions to satisfy almost every need.

Employee Self Service
The growing functionality of web-based enrollment tools has resulted in many employers offering this option exclusively. If you plan on offering a self service portal exclusively for Open Enrollment, ensure the tool offers a highly-personalized experience and provides features such as benefit calculators and easy access to benefits communication materials. Additionally, your tool should provide employees a step-by-step guided enrollment procedure further supported by a click-to-chat feature to connect with a live benefits counselor to field any questions.

Just a Phone Call Away
Another option which should not be overlooked is enrollment by phone. Whether you leverage the services of a 3rd party or an internal group of HR personnel, a dedicated phone number for enrollment related events will provide those with limited Internet access or seeking the guidance of a benefits professional the attention they need. Make sure that you plan your resources and hours appropriately to deal with expected increases in volume and that proper training is conducted for your support personnel.

Personalized Benefit Counseling
With major plan changes on the horizon and employers wanting to provide a more comprehensive solution for their employees, group or one-on-one enrollment in the worksite can be the most effective way to communicate your benefit programs by providing your employees with the guidance of a professional licensed benefit counselor. In a recent white paper Colonial Life highlighted the positive response employees had to worksite benefit counseling.

Satisfaction All Around
Benefit Enrollment is often the most chaotic time of year for HR and benefit professionals. The tools exist today for you to streamline that process while also improving the quality and breadth of services available to your employees. A multi pronged benefits enrollment approach will help you accomplish that.

Winston Benefits provides solutions and services which help organizations automate, streamline and reduce the overall costs associated with employee benefits communuications, enrollment and administration.

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