Employer preparedness for open enrollment season edged higher for the second month in a row among organizations with benefit start dates in the first quarter, according to Employee Benefit Adviser’s Open Enrollment Readiness Benchmark. But with price quotes from carriers and final decisions on benefit offerings only a few months away, employers appear to be behind in key activities like setting enrollment goals and documenting processes and procedures.

The composite OERB score — an average of progress self-assessments for 26 open enrollment activities — ticked up two points from 40 in June to 42 in July. Employers are making clear progress in the benefit plan design phase. The average score for plan and broker selection activities increased four points month-over-month to 67, a high since EBA launched the benchmark in January.

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

Yet the average for open enrollment preparation activities in the benchmark’s second phase was just 38 in July, indicating that employers have substantial work left to do in this area. The score for setting goals was 39, and only 32 for documenting processes and procedures.

As many employers concentrate their efforts on benefit plan design activities that are a bare minimum for making it through the cycle, the readings show how much help they need from advisers with additional tasks that are essential for an orderly and successful sign-up process.