In its workplace survey released last year, HR consultant Mercer found benefits were increasingly pivotal for the employer-employee relationship.
Nearly eight out of 10 employees say their benefits are one of the reasons they work where they do, and almost as many (76 percent) say that benefits make them feel appreciated by their company.
Many companies are now gearing up for open enrollment, and this is a good time to highlight their benefits offerings. Based on information revealed in its 2011 Mercer Workplace Survey, the company derived five short items that plan sponsors should have on their open enrollment checklist >>
Use open enrollment to reinforce the value of your health and benefits program
In its research, Mercer found that employees clearly appreciate their employer-sponsored benefits: 79 percent say their benefits are one of the primary reasons they work where they do, and 91 percent say that getting health benefits through work is just as important as getting a salary.
Open enrollment is also a great opportunity to promote the tools and educational materials that help employees make better enrollment decisions.
Understand the implications and scenarios of health care reform
Even before the Supreme Court ruling, more than one-third (36 percent) of employees expected employers to change health plan benefits due to health care reform. That’s more than double the level reported one year earlier, according to Mercer.
But are benefits managers prepared? A recent ADP survey found “fewer than half of HR/benefits decision makers across all sized companies are highly confident that they understand employer responsibilities under ACA, even though the law was first enacted in March 2010.”
[See also: PPACA compliance checklist]
Mercer advises employers to work with consultants, administrators and other stakeholders now in order to finalize all the requirements to be in compliance and allow enough time to implement and communicate plan changes.
Leverage online/electronic communications
According to Mercer, 90 percent of employees of its health and benefits administration clients enrolled online during the 2012 open enrollment period.
Given that employees are receptive to receiving information online, consider also the cost savings of e-delivery of enrollment materials. Other electronic communications like personalized emails, micro-sites and text messages have proven both popular and effective at driving informed employee enrollment behaviors.
[See also: How to communicate across generations]
Consider adding a wellness program
Employees are increasingly appreciative of and engaged with wellness programs, according to Mercer. Of the 61 percent who report that their company offers such benefits, 30 percent say they take advantage of these benefits "a great deal" – up significantly from 23 percent in 2010.
These programs provide effective forums to drive employee appreciation of and adoption of healthy behaviors, improving both employee engagement and the bottom line.
More articles about wellness:
Move ahead of the crowd
The HR consultant says the vast majority of Mercer Outsourcing’s health and benefits administration clients have their open enrollment windows start and/or end between the last week of October and the first two weeks of November.
Consider when you offer your window to allow ample time for critical post-enrollment deliverables such as ID cards and targeted communication and education, particularly as related to health care reform.