The December composite Open Enrollment Readiness Benchmark score came in at a startlingly low 38 for employers with first-quarter benefit start dates. Granted, by the time the last month of the year rolled around, many organizations had concluded their benefit sign-up preparations and conducted enrollment. However, marks were low throughout 2017, with October’s 59 being the highest monthly number reached.

The low scores are a clear indication to benefit advisers that their clients, regardless of size or industry, find open enrollment preparation a persistent challenge.

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

For advisers, this presents an opportunity to work more closely with employers to ease their open enrollment burden. The best strategy, according to numerous benefits industry experts, is to break down the process into small sets of related activities to be carried out monthly. These would include steps like designing a benefit plan, selecting health insurance and retirement products, and reviewing compliance and eligibility issues.

Developing such a month-by-month plan, says Nelson Griswold, founder and president of Bottom Line Solutions, a consultancy that helps benefit advisers, allows a company to better engage employees and to realize the full value of its investment in employee benefits. It also gives the adviser greater access and more influence at all levels of the organization.