Measuring employee engagement remains a vital component in open enrollment management

Employee engagement metrics continue to be a valuable source of information for organizations of all sizes as part of the overall open enrollment process, according to Employee Benefit Adviser’s Open Enrollment Readiness Benchmark survey.

In addition to assessing employers’ level of readiness, the quarterly OERB survey asks employers about key issues they face during open enrollment (plan design, prep, management and analysis) to help benefit advisers understand how they can better assist their employer clients with managing the open enrollment benefits process.

The most important open enrollment metric for companies is what specific benefits their employees enroll in, with 51% of employers (see Figure 1) measuring the selections employees make. In-person attendance at benefits seminars also figures highly, with 38% of employers measuring the number of seminar attendees.

While enrolling in specific benefits comes out on top, one would think that more employers would track this metric. Kate Anawaty, MS, National Communications Team Leader and Regional Communications Director, USI Insurance Services, has a theory why: “The figure is surprisingly low,” she says. “However, most clients do have at least some knowledge of the percentages that are enrolled in each plan, but that information may not be something that’s tracked by them. It may be tracked by another source and then reported back to the employer.”

This metric itself can also be a useful way for employers to track how effective their communications are. “If the goal of the communications strategy is to drive employees to a certain plan or behavior,” says Anawaty, “then looking at the enrollment numbers and seeing a migration or a shift is an indication of a successful communications campaign. We can see from the numbers that what we wanted to encourage is reflected in the outcome.”

Open enrollment metrics for online activity are also considered valuable. Employers measure not only how often employees visit open enrollment sites (31%), but also how long they spend on the site (26%). Employee attendance at benefits webinars (24%) is another online measurement that employers record.

Interestingly, while 89% of employers use email to communicate with their employees for open enrollment, as noted in the Q2 2019 OERB, only 18% measure email open rates as an open enrollment metric. Anawaty thinks there’s a simple reason why. “As email is such a ubiquitous part of our personal and especially corporate culture, employers will send out the email for open enrollment and there’s kind of a feeling of I’ve done my job,” she says. “This is how we communicate. We don’t know how many people are just tossing that email out, especially if it’s one of 300 they receive. It’s so common to send out an email internally that there is just a lack of tracking when that happens.”

From an organization perspective, overall the majority of companies measure or plan to measure open enrollment metrics (see Figure 2). However, the underlying numbers reveal that, perhaps not surprisingly, the larger the company, the more likely they are to measure metrics, given that smaller firms tend to have fewer HR and benefits admin personnel, as well as more resource constraints.

Software continues to play a key role in the open enrollment process, with usage holding relatively steady since Q1 2019 (see Figure 3). Employee benefits admin software is most commonly used, with 70% (up from 65% in Q1) of employers taking advantage of its ability to facilitate the administration of health, retirement and insurance plans among others. HR admin software at 68% (down from 71%) and integrating software solutions at 63% (up from 62%) are also currently well utilized. Advisers can assist HR departments by exploring software solutions to meet their client’s needs, while recognizing these needs may change over time.

When utilizing these software solutions, companies have very specific objectives (see Figure 4). The most important goal is to ensure compliance with government workforce regulation, with a 94% response among employers. The ability to streamline processes (90%), generate accurate reports (90%) and eliminate redundant data entry (87%) also scored highly among the most desired objectives for employers. Advisers should make sure that the software solutions they research include these highly valued outcomes.

BY THE NUMBERS

As of Q3 2019, overall open enrollment scores for employers with a Q1 benefit start date are moving steadily towards completion, with a composite score of 70 (see Figure 5). With the emphasis now firmly on the open enrollment management phase, the composite score of 60 for this phase represents a solid level of readiness for the time of the year. Individually, the importance of managing meetings with advisors/brokers is clear from a high score of 85. Progress with enrolling employees is also promising with a score of 62.

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

In terms of documenting worker feedback, a score of 46 indicates that companies are in good shape, but there are challenges. A common refrain among employers is the difficulty in “getting employees to respond to surveys and complete their feedback in a timely manner.” Another issue is “compiling data from multiple sources.” However, one employer has a different experience, which points to the value of soliciting feedback on a regular basis: “Documenting feedback is not a challenge. We collect data all the time so it is a consistent process and employees know they are listened to.”

Measuring enrollment engagement metrics is faring slightly better with a score of 48. Among the challenges is “getting accurate data on enrollment activity” says one employer. Another notes that issues they face include “timeliness of receiving enrollment metric data and matching data from a few disparate sources.”

To arrive at these scores, the OERB tracks 20 open enrollment activities and asks employers to submit self-assessments of the progress they have made in each. Responses range from no progress, which equates to a score of 0, to completed, which equates to a score of 100.

For more information and additional content, please click here for the full PDF document.

To access all OERB reports, go to:

https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/collections/open-enrollment-readiness-benchmark

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