EBA’s Open Enrollment Readiness Benchmark: Employers Continue to Struggle With Goal Setting, Communication Programs

Plan designs are mostly in place, but organizations still need help determining enrollment targets, explaining benefit changes to employees

NEW YORK, NY (November 17, 2017) Employee Benefit Adviser’s Open Enrollment Readiness Benchmark (OERB) finds organizations with benefit start dates in the first quarter of 2018 more prepared for their annual open enrollment season than they were the month before. However, many employers continue to struggle with key tasks, particularly in setting open enrollment targets and creating communication programs to explain plan changes to their workers.

The composite OERB score — an average of progress self-assessments for 26 open enrollment activities — ticked up seven points from 42 in July to 49 in August. Employers reported strong progress in selecting health and retirement plans, choosing voluntary benefits and contracting with benefit advisers and brokers.

The open enrollment period, which usually takes place in the fourth quarter for U.S. companies, is a critical time for employers as they look to engage their staffs in health and retirement planning.

Still, many organizations have difficulty with goal setting, which registered just 46 on the benchmark. Employers often fail to establish basic open enrollment metrics – such as measuring the participation levels of various benefit plans – simply because they don’t know where to begin.

Planning and designing communications, which scored only 29, is another hurdle. Many employers grapple to explain premium increases and other health plan changes to employees who might be unfamiliar with insurance policies and how they work.

But these challenges present an opportunity for employee benefit advisers to help clients better structure their efforts.

“Advisers can provide a real service,” said John McCormick, Editorial Director of SourceMedia’s Employee Benefits group, which includes EBA and Employee Benefit News. “They know how to gauge enrollment success, and they know how to design communication programs that not only explain why costs are going up but, just as important, spell out the overall value of the benefits employees receive as part of their compensation.”

The Open Enrollment Readiness Benchmark is a data-based performance benchmark that gauges how prepared employers are for their annual employee benefits enrollment periods. The benchmark is sponsored by ADP. To produce the results, SourceMedia Research and EBA each month survey more than 400 pre-screened HR and benefits executives at organizations of various sizes and across multiple industries. These professionals are asked to rate their completion levels for 26 activities — from selecting health plans to reviewing enrollment metrics — that take place during the four critical phases of open enrollment: benefit plan design, employee preparation, employee enrollment and post-enrollment analysis. Scores range from a low of 1 to a high of 100 and reflect the degree to which an employer considers itself prepared for a particular activity. The activity scores are then averaged to determine scores for each of the four phases and an overall readiness score. A complete analysis of the most recent OERB data is available here.

About Employee Benefit Adviser
Employee Benefit Adviser (EBA) is the information resource for employee benefit advisers, brokers, agents and consultants, providing the current awareness and perspective they need to anticipate changes in the marketplace and optimally serve their clients. EBA delivers a broad range of critical content, including comparative market data, legal and regulatory updates, the latest products and services, and best practices in benefits delivery — including health insurance, vision and dental insurance, and voluntary and retirement benefits. The benefits broker community relies on EBA to stay connected through its website comment forums, its social media communities and live events.

About SourceMedia Research
SourceMedia Research is a full-service B2B market research service that draws upon SourceMedia’s market expertise and proprietary database of engaged executives to develop information and insights for clients. SourceMedia Research provides research solutions for marketers, agencies and others targeting sectors such as banking, payments, mortgage, accounting, employee benefits and wealth management.

About SourceMedia
SourceMedia, an Observer Capital company, is an innovative, growing digital business information and performance media company serving senior-level professionals in the financial, technology and healthcare sectors. Brands include American Banker, PaymentsSource, The Bond Buyer, Financial Planning, Accounting Today, Mergers & Acquisitions, National Mortgage News, Employee Benefit News and Health Data Management.

About ADP
Powerful technology plus a human touch. Companies of all types and sizes around the world rely on ADP’s cloud software and expert insights to help unlock the potential of their people. HR. Talent. Benefits. Payroll. Compliance. Working together to build a better workforce. For more information, visit www.adp.com/business.

For more information, please contact:

Dana Jackson

John McCormick