As employers emerge from their annual benefit sign-up periods, they usually start to appraise their open enrollment programs to gauge whether their benefits strategies are achieving business goals and, if not, to set the stage for improvements.

However, employers are making little headway with such work, according to Employee Benefit Adviser’s Open Enrollment Readiness Benchmark. Among employers with benefit start dates in the first quarter, the average score for enrollment analysis and follow-up tasks stood at just 47 in November.

Open Enrollment Readiness Benchmark
Overall Readiness
Phase
Activity
Readiness
Progress
Phase Readiness

Phase 1

Benefit Plan Design

Phase 1

Benefit Plan Design

Phase 2

Open Enrollment Preparation

Phase 2

Open Enrollment Preparation

Phase 3

Open Enrollment Management

Phase 3

Open Enrollment Management

Phase 4

Open Enrollment Design Analysis & Follow-Up

Phase 4

Open Enrollment Design Analysis & Follow-Up

The OERB tracks 26 open enrollment activities, and asks employers to submit self-assessments of the progress they have made in each. Scores range from zero, which translates to a response of no progress, to 100, which means that work on the activity has been completed.

Scores were in the 40s, or worse, for tasks such as reviewing worker feedback, tracking benefit usage, and reviewing and improving the open enrollment process.

Most employers operate without formal strategic plans to guide benefit activities, and many fail to survey employees to collect the information needed to shape those plans, benefit experts say. Brokers seeking to elevate their sta­tus and become trusted advisers must collaborate with clients to evaluate how employees perceive benefits, analyze claim data, and set objectives and strategies for benefits to ensure they align with overall business goals, say the experts.