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More than 50 Percent of Employees Confused About Open Enrollment

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Open enrollment can strike fear in the hearts and minds of many. Because let’s face it: Benefits can be confusing. According to the 2014 AFLAC Workforces Report, 73 percent of employees think health care reform is too complicated to understand.

For HR professionals, this statistic is a huge concern. Perhaps the reason for this confusion is a gap in communication between HR and employees. How did this happen? How can HR keep employees engaged? The solution is quite simple: Educate, educate, educate.

A 2014 study by MetLife shows employees who find their benefits communication to be effective are more than twice as likely to say they are very loyal to their company. As the HR professional, you want to ensure that your employees understand their benefits and how to enroll. Not only does this make them happy, but it creates less of a headache for you later.

Before Open Enrollment

Take a Survey

Do you know what your employees really want to know about benefits enrollment? Maybe you thought you did, but there may be more to the story that you don’t know because you are not asking. In order to find out their interests, why not survey them. Surveys are a great way to gather the truth. Many times employees are afraid to express the way they actually feel; surveys offer them an outlet to express their concerns without being tied to anything. Ask them about their current satisfaction with the plan? What improvements are necessary? Now would even be a good time to find out how they prefer to receive information regarding their benefits plan.

Start Communicating Early and Often

Once you’ve surveyed your employees you can begin to create a communication plan. The key here is: Don’t wait until the last minute. Make sure you give them ample amount of time to prepare. Keep the lines of communication open between HR and employees well before open enrollment even begins. It is important to keep employees informed on start and end dates, as well as give them access to the proper tools and resources necessary to make informed decisions.

So, what’s the best way to communicate this to your employees? Traditionally, company messages were written on break room boards or plastered on posters throughout the hallways. While these methods remain widely used, so does the increasing trend to alert employees through emails, reminders on your company website or, provided you have it through Paycom, the Employee Self-Service (ESS) portal. With the ESS tool, employees have 24/7 access to their benefit information from any location. That way if they would like to discuss with a spouse about their options they can do so right from their living rooms. Regardless of what tools you use, find the right outlet for you and start informing!

During Enrollment

Now that employees are aware that open enrollment is approaching, you need to inform them of what changes have been made to the plans, what options are available to them and why they should consider each. Commonly, companies are taking the mail option route to inform their employees.

With this method, companies can package all necessary printed materials along with registration forms and other important paperwork and send through the mail. According to a MetLife study, of the 49 percent of employees who reported receiving such an envelope, 72 percent found the information helpful.

Additional Ways to Reach Out

While the mail option is a great way to reach the masses, it lacks in personalization. Plus, a lot of information at once can be overwhelming. Rather, consider:

  • Posting benefit information right on your website
  • Creating a benefits calculator
  • Conducting seminars or information nights
  • Hosting webinars
  • Encouraging employees to use the app (granted your benefit provider offers one)

You may wish to include one or all of these options into your communication strategy. Each offers a different perspective for employees and may be helpful in explaining the otherwise daunting information that is benefits.

Open enrollment can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. By focusing on communication, education and personalization, the enrollment process will run more efficiently. Your employees will feel confident, making you, the HR professional, feel relieved.

Paycom helps make your job easier in many areas including (but not limited to) open enrollment and benefits management, Click here to find out more. 

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Author Bio: As a Human Resource Professional with over 20 years of experience, Jenny has extensive experience in management, mentoring, policy development and recruiting. Jenny's team player mentality and leadership abilities make her an elite HR Director who is always on top of the latest HR trends. She relentlessly directs associates and executives to achieve their maximum potential for both themselves and their companies.

2017 Social Security Wage Base Increases to $127,200.

2017 Social Security Wage Base Increases

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The Social Security Wage Base increases to $127,200

With the largest hike in U.S. history set to take effect on January 1, 2017, the new Social Security wage base will increase from $118,500 to $127,200. This $8,700 increase marks the first wage base increase in two years and the highest percentage increase since 1983. Employees with wages equal to or larger than $127,200 will notice an additional $539.40 allocated toward Social Security on their 2017 tax returns.

The maximum Social Security tax any employee will pay is $7,886.40. Employers still are responsible for the remaining $7,886.40.

FICA Tax Rate Remains Unchanged

The Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax (FICA tax) for 2017, which is the combined total of the Social Security tax rate of 6.2 percent and the Medicare tax rate of 1.45 percent, will remain at 7.65 percent. The FICA tax is applied to all wages earned. An additional 0.9 percent Medicare tax will continue to be applied to all wages paid in excess of $200,000. As in 2016, paying the additional 0.9 percent Medicare tax will remain the responsibility of the employer on behalf of the wage earner.

Make sure your payroll provider has accounted for the 2017 withholdings increase and consider the best way to share this federal tax update with your employees.

What this Means for the Self-Employed

The 2017 social security wage base for self-employed individuals will also be $127,200 and the maximum social security tax for a self-employed individual will be $15,772.80. The combined social security tax rate of 12.4 percent and Medicare tax rate of 2.9 percent brings the self-employment tax rate total to 15.3 percent, but it is important to remember there is no Medicare tax limit on self-employment income.


by Amy Double

Author Bio: Amy, a tenured professional in sales and marketing with over 10 years of experience, is dedicated to creating content focused on helping organizations achieve their business goals. As an experienced writer, Amy is committed to researching and blogging about topics that affect businesses across multiple industries, including manufacturing, hospitality and more. Outside of work, Amy enjoys reading, entertaining and spending time with family.


How to Train your Workforce Using 1 Item in Your Pocket

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Everyone needs training, whether it’s basic, new-hire, how-to-get-started training or professional development. Training employees provides your company with a competitive edge in business for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that you end up with knowledgeable, capable employees who are as invested in the company as you are with them.

And guess what? You’re already training your employees, whether or not you realize it. From employee orientation on day one to continuing education, you’re training your business on the essentials. The thing is, you could be training in a simpler way.

Streamlining your company’s training and learning program doesn’t have to be time-consuming or intimidating. Take Paycom Learning, for instance. If you have a camera-equipped phone or a PowerPoint slideshow, you have the materials you need to create a training! In a couple of easy steps, you can save your company time and money by creating easy, everyday trainings.

Record Your Training

Nearly two-thirds of Americans have smartphones. Simply take that phone out of your pocket and record a video (or an audio message) of the training. For example, one of the first things a new hire needs to learn is how to utilize the features of his or her desk phone. You also may want to train your restaurant hosts on how to properly welcome guests. A two-minute video with a rundown of various details is an easy way to knock out basic getting-started tasks.

Upload Training to Paycom Learning

When you are finished recording, just upload the file to Paycom Learning and assign it to employees. They’ll be able to access the training via Employee Self-Service, from wherever there is an internet connection. Employees love easily accessible information; 75 percent of millennial workers are eager to utilize online learning. Podcasts are an easy way for employees to access training at their convenience, such as on their daily commute to work.

Measure Results

If you want to ensure your employees are retaining the information, considering adding a quiz. You also can monitor who has completed assigned training and easily review results.

Four Ways to Utilize Training

If you’re wondering how training applies to your company, here are four ways companies can utilize training:

  1. Practical, on-the-job training: Who is the expert in certain areas of your business? Record him or her demonstrating how to work the company alarm system, emergency procedures, email set-up and other trainings that otherwise would happen in person.
  2. Compliance training: What training is needed to comply with industry regulations? For example, how to properly wash your hands for food service or the procedures for reporting an on-site accident. Ensure that all employees are correctly and consistently trained.
  3. New-hire training: How many new hires do you have annually and how much time does it take to train them on the same standard tasks? Cut down on the time it takes to get them up-to-speed by simply recording one training and uploading it to Paycom Learning.
  4. Communicating important messages: How do you track who has seen an important companywide memo? Instead of mass-emailing employees, record important messages such as quarterly financial updates or the company’s vision statement, and post them to Paycom Learning. You then can generate reports on who has or hasn’t viewed the message.

When it comes to training, you’re already doing it, but don’t overcomplicate it. Training is easy when you use Paycom Learning.

Holly Faurot

by Holly Faurot

Author Bio: Faurot, vice president of client relations, has served in a number of roles during her tenure at Paycom, including regional vice president, sales training manager and sales consultant. A born leader and a 2012 honoree in Oklahoma’s 30 Under 30 awards, she has helped a number of individuals and clients achieve success through her energetic spirit. The product of a dairy farm in Kenefic, Okla., Faurot was taught at a young age the importance of working hard, being honest and having a desire to help others.

master compliance

3 Ways Your HR Team Can Master Compliance

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Complex rules, weighty administrative responsibilities, zero margin for error: When it comes to complying with employment legislation, the burden for U.S. businesses — both large and small — is substantial.

Small and medium-sized businesses in particular must manage their resources wisely, and can find it increasingly difficult to allocate the staff – and the time – to manage all of their company’s obligations for complying with today’s labor legislation. Larger businesses, with thousands of workers employed across state lines, face the challenge of ensuring HR teams are following the right rules. It’s no wonder managing compliance can feel overwhelming.

But it doesn’t have to be. Implementing a few best practices can make it easier to master the growing compliance burden and protect your company.

Here are three best practices to help you master compliance.

1. Automate Your Compliance Processes
Not only are government agencies producing a ton of rules and regulations, but businesses also have to deal with the mounting complexity of those regulations. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a perfect example. It’s one of the most complex pieces of federal legislation ever conceived, and despite many HR leaders’ best efforts, the nuanced nature of government regulations, like ACA, makes manually tracking and storing information time consuming and precarious.

Enter automation.

Automation improves a business’s efficiency and takes some of the guesswork out of complex processes. Specifically, the right system should be able to automate tasks like tracking garnishment payments and sending required COBRA correspondence. Through automation, businesses gain something truly valuable — peace of mind.

2. Proactively Find Areas of Risk
The risk of noncompliance is real and felt most notably in steep costs. Take the Fair Labor Standards Act as an example.

Not only do businesses have to contend with rising penalties associated with noncompliance, but class-action and wage-and-hour lawsuits add a painful one-two punch. These blows can leave marks. In fact, according to a report from Seyfarth.com, there has been a staggering 115 percent increase in value of the top 10 wage-and-hour class-action settlements since 2014.

But wait, there’s more: Litigation lawyers with splashy ads and the ubiquity of online information actually encourage employees to file claims against their employers. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has increased the number of investigations by 35 percent in the last six years. These investigations are launched independently of employee complaints.

With the odds seemingly stacked against businesses, foresight and planning is crucial. Businesses that have the ability to quickly audit their workforce by gathering easily accessible and accurate data can proactively manage their risk of noncompliance and find opportunities for improvement.

3. Be the Ultimate Resource for Your C-Suite
Big regs can mean big changes for businesses. Take, for example, recent changes to overtime regulations. On its face, overtime expansion looks like a simple question of time and labor. The solution may seem simple as well: Cut a few hours here or reassign a few duties there in order to avoid increased labor costs. However, because the salary threshold essentially has doubled, controlling overtime costs can require many changes to how a large percentage of a company’s workforce is paid and scheduled.

That’s why it’s so important to provide your C-suite with the data and information it needs to make the best decisions for your company.

Experienced executives rely on key event alerts; intuitive, automatic reporting; and legislation overviews to keep them at the top of their game. Additionally, those types of tools give HR leaders crucial time to prepare solutions and points of reference when presenting recommendations in the boardroom.

Just as the Industrial Revolution’s spinning jenny replaced the laborious job of hand-spinning wool and cotton, HR technology can drastically improve a business’s efficiency and output. Automation features like push reporting allow companies to schedule reports for things like expiring employment authorization documents and ACA status changes.

We know when it comes to leading your company through intensifying government regulations, you don’t simply want to make it — you want to master it. With these tips and the right HR technology, you can be well-positioned to do just that.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this blog is for general informational purposes only. Accordingly, Paycom and the writer of the above content do not warrant the completeness or accuracy of the above information. It does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services, or professional consulting. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional tax, accounting, legal or other professional services.

Katy Fabrie

by Katy Fabrie

Author Bio: Katy Fabrie is a Marketing Specialist at Paycom where she assists with executing integrated marketing campaigns. With extensive experience in both writing and research, Katy enjoys crafting content that helps HR professionals develop strategies to reach their goals. Katy has created both digital and printed content for a myriad of local and national companies, and she enjoys continually expanding her HR knowledge base. Outside of work, Katy enjoys reading, running and spending time with her husband, Colby, and dog, Fox.

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