How Important is Open Enrollment for a Company?
If you are the owner of a successful company you know how valuable your employees are to you and your business. So, if you have any of those really valued employees employed by your company and you are providing benefits you may or may not be communicating that information regarding your benefit options. Many companies forget the importance to communicate what their employees have for valuable benefits and how to take advantage of them. The open enrollment period is important because it is one of the few times you can make changes to many of your employer provided benefits.
Open enrollment is usually a few weeks to a few months during the year that allows employees to make changes to their various benefit plans. These changes usually cover benefits such as health insurance, vision, dental, disability and life insurance. But, don’t forget to add such items as vacation, sick time, education reimbursement, 401(k) and travel reimbursement to name just some of the recruitment and retention tools. During open enrollment employees have the option to enroll in benefits for the first time, change their current plans or coverage amounts, or to drop coverage completely. These decisions have a significant financial impact so it’s important to weigh your options carefully.
Most group benefits (through an employer) only have the option to elect once during the year and you are bound to that option for an entire year unless you have a qualifying event such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child, adoption, and loss of coverage elsewhere.
So, what are some of the things to consider during open enrollment? For most people the largest component of their benefit package is health insurance. When you enter your open enrollment period you need to carefully examine your health insurance options and costs. Companies regularly change plans and premiums in order to keep up with the times so the coverage and premiums you had last year may not be the same this year.
Lastly, use some of the tools that can be provided for you like summary of benefits sheets, hidden paycheck forms, and carrier packets. Many times employees do not realize the “total” cost of benefits and how to take advantage of them. Also, consider utilizing services like having your benefits on a company portal so employees can review their choices on line and in the comfort of their own home. Open enrollment should be a positive experience and one in which employees can feel confident that they are employed by the best of the best.