As employers were set to begin their annual open enrollments, many were struggling with the processes needed to conduct benefit sign-ups. Helping employees make informed decisions about benefits, submit elections and update personal information on time is a difficult task, and experts say it’s up to brokers and advisers to help clients structure and carry out enrollment activities and to ensure they achieve long-term benefit objectives.

Overall, employer readiness for open enrollment increased for the fifth month in a row among organizations with benefit start dates in the first quarter, according to Employee Benefit Adviser’s Open Enrollment Readiness Benchmark. The composite OERB score — an average of progress self-assessments by employers for 26 open enrollment activities across four open enrollment stages — added seven points in October, reaching 59. (Scores for each activity range from zero, for no progress, to 100, for completed tasks.)

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 advance was driven by a 16-point jump in the average for activities in the open enrollment management phase. Activities in this phase include enrolling employees, answering questions, document­ing feedback and boosting engagement.

Despite the increase, the overall score for this stage still came in at just 52.

The low scores indicate that management activities are still a challenge for many employers. They need help from advisers to set up systems to handle the deluge of individual questions efficiently and make the most of the one time of year when employees are most attuned to benefit information.For more details on the OERB, click here.