NEW YORK, NY (February 11, 2019) – While employers made significant strides to prepare for open enrollment, newly released Open Enrollment Readiness Benchmark scores suggest many tasks that should have been completed months ago have yet to be addressed. After two consecutive months of falling scores, the overall open enrollment readiness score for employers with Q1 start dates increased significantly, rising a full 15 points, according to the latest data collected by Employee Benefit Adviser.
“The uptick represents the fact that many employers are realizing they simply have no choice. With open enrollment periods commencing in the first quarter, they need to dedicate considerable resources to preparation activities,” said Walden Siew, Editor-in-Chief of the Employee Benefits Group at SourceMedia. The industry’s overall benchmark score rose to 63 in the latest period from 48.
The benchmark analyzes preparedness across four phases. The score for “selecting wellness plans” — an activity that should have been completed during the first phase, “benefit plan design” — was 63, a relatively strong score. The score for “planning/designing employee communication” — a task that should have been completed during the second phase — came in at a more modest 52.
“Employers are doing what they can to achieve their goals this year and, hopefully, are realizing that they should take a more strategic, proactive approach next year,” said Linda Cheung, director of research for SourceMedia.
Paying closer attention to follow-up activities could help employers improve their overall readiness. The overall score for these activities, however, came in at just 55, indicating employers have not yet optimally addressed these tasks. Scores for individual task assessments and follow-up activities included: “reviewing enrollment engagement metrics” (54), “reviewing worker feedback” (57), “reviewing communication strategy” (65), “tracking benefit usage” (60), “reviewing enrollment engagement analytics” (50) and “reviewing/improving the process” (52).
Perhaps most concerning, the score for “soliciting additional feedback” was just 44. While that score is relatively low, Jack Kwicien, managing partner at Daymark Advisors, a Baltimore-based consultancy that works with benefit advisers to build their practices, suggested employers could improve the situation by conducting “a simple survey that would provide them with insight into how to improve the communication and enrollment processes.”
In addition, employers earned a score of 46 for “planning year-round employee engagement.” Paying more attention to these engagement activities as well as other preparation tasks throughout the year could help improve overall readiness next year. In fact, to improve such readiness, employers need to recognize that benefits planning is a year-round process, Kwicien said.
The Open Enrollment Readiness Benchmark is a performance benchmark that quantifies companies’ preparedness for annual employee benefits enrollment periods. SourceMedia Research and Employee Benefit Adviser 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 zero to 100 and reflect the degree to which an employer considers itself prepared for each activity. Scores are then averaged to determine scores for each of the four phases and for overall readiness. A complete analysis of the most recent OERB data is available here.
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About Employee Benefit Adviser
Employee Benefit Adviser 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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