Voluntary marketers shouldkeep in mind that voluntary benefits provide a year-roundopportunity. Yes, tying voluntary benefits management to the annualopen enrollment process is appealing because all elections are madeat a single time. However, this may not always be the best method,especially when new and possibly different voluntary products suchas accident or critical illness are being introduced. The best wayto introduce these newer benefits may be through a two-phaseapproach: An off-cycle introduction, followed in the fall byincorporation into the core cycle enrollment as well.

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Here are several reasons to consider off-cycle enrollments:

  1. They can create meaningful benefit planning discussions withemployers. Year-round strategic benefit planning can drive muchmore than voluntary enrollment. Enrollment meetings can includereminders about wellness initiatives, and the value of theemployer's overall benefit program can be underscored bydistributing “total compensation” documents during thediscussion.

  2. If the employer is installing or updating benefit administrationor exchange technology, the worst time to roll out a new system isduring open enrollment, when a smooth and proven process isessential. Why not roll out the system earlier, so new products canbe introduced and the process will ready by annual season?

  3. Off-cycle enrollments also allow employees to have a betterunderstanding of new benefits. Employees get much more benefit fromfocused communications.

  4. Rollout of new voluntary products can also be a good time toanswer questions about other benefit plans, and to remind employeesof life event enrollment opportunities on employer-providedproducts.

  5. Adding new voluntary products can be a good companion strategyto roll out financial wellness packages. The new products can helpeliminate risk-related stress, while financial education andsupport can reduce financial stress.

  6. Of course, the new voluntary products will help build themarketer's income stream on the case. They also help lock in theemployer by making it less likely that a competitor will try to geta foot in the door by bringing in these new products.

Adding new voluntary products off-cycle can help build totalbenefit value. They are compatible with installing technology, andcan actually improve the process. They help employees understandtheir benefits better.

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Think off cycle. You'll find it creates great opportunity andgreat results!

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