Employers with benefit start dates in the first quarter of 2018 feel less prepared for open enrollment than they did a month ago, as they struggle to nail down core procedures and routines.

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

Their overall Open Enrollment Readiness Benchmark score — a composite of progress self-assessments for 26 open enrollment activities — dipped three points from 39 in April to 36 in May.

Overall readiness for the first-quarter group, which accounts for roughly two-thirds of respondents (the rest have benefit start dates across the second, third and fourth quarters), has been low since EBA launched the benchmark in January. In particular, composite scores have been weighed down by persistently low marks across a range of red-flag areas. These include activities such as employee engagement and communications that should ideally follow established systems and procedures that can be turned to year after year, but for which responses show that major work remains to be done.

Broadly, the downward drift in readiness points to opportunities for advisers to work with employers on benefit strategic planning and to help clients institute more orderly processes for core activities.