NEW YORK, NY (December 24, 2018) – Just as employers round the last corner to head towards the finish line, Employee Benefit Adviser’s Open Enrollment Readiness Benchmark (OERB) score stalled in October, slipping to 54, 1 point below the September mark.
A considerable number of employers reported that they are struggling with readiness tasks that should have been wrapped up some time ago. The overall score for benefit plan design readiness was just 73, indicating that many employers have not yet completed the tasks in this initial readiness phase.
“Employers indicate being behind schedule due to delays in benefit plan design and preparation activities,” said Linda Cheung, director of research for SourceMedia. “These delays have caused the timeframe for open enrollment to be compressed and employers are struggling with fielding questions so that employees can complete enrollment in time.”
Employers are behind when it comes to open enrollment preparation and open enrollment management. The overall score for open enrollment preparation came in at 54, while the open enrollment management score was just 50. Readiness scores for planning/designing employee communications (48), documenting processes/procedures (48), boosting enrollment engagements (45) and documenting worker feedback (42) came in especially low.
Not surprisingly, employers are also trailing when it comes to open enrollment analysis and follow up, which earned a score of just 39 in the OERB survey. Scores for reviewing plan design (56), reviewing communications strategy (51) and tracking benefits usage (41) indicated that employers are doing relatively well when it comes to completing these tasks. However, scores for tasks such as reviewing enrollment engagement metrics (32) and reviewing worker feedback (36) were low, indicating that employers will soon need to address these issues to get their programs back on track.
“That’s a correction as employers for the past few months were being overly optimistic when assessing just how prepared they were. Now, they are taking a step back and correcting their self-assessments. This is not surprising to me. Through three-quarters of the year, employers have consistently been overly optimistic about how prepared they are,” said Jack Kwicien, managing partner at Daymark Advisors, a Baltimore-based consultancy that works with benefit advisers to build their practices.
The need for more time emerged as a common theme, as individual employers specifically pointed to time constraints as troublesome.
“There are so many tasks that should have been completed in August or September, well before employers get to the actual open enrollment event. The plan design, the communications campaign, the selection of vendors for HSAs and pharma management – all of these things should have been done by now,” Kwicien said.“Employers are busy playing catch-up, so it is not all that surprising that they are having difficulties when it comes to talking to employees about how the benefits enrollment campaigns went and what can be done to make the process better.”
The Open Enrollment Readiness Benchmark is a data-based performance benchmark that gauges how prepared employers are for their annual employee benefits enrollment periods. To produce the results, SourceMedia Research and EBA each month survey more than 400 prescreened 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, enrollment preparation, employee enrollment and post-enrollment analysis. Scores range from a low of zero 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.
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