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7 Questions to Ask Your Employees After Open Enrollment

Let’s be open about the importance of open enrollment: The benefits you offer not only help attract talented people to work for you, but help keep those valued employees from fleeing to the competition.

Research proves it. According to last year’s findings of Aflac’s annual WorkForces Report, at 80%, a strong correlation exists between employees’ satisfaction of their benefits and their career. The happier employees are with their benefits, the less likely they are to leave.

But how does one know if your workers are truly happy? Don’t trust your gut; go straight to the source. You can’t know what they really think if you don’t ask. After your next open enrollment, survey your workforce on the following points.

Ease of use

Nearly 70% of employees find open enrollment to be stressful, the Aflac study found; worse, almost 75% of employees reported not understanding at least some portion of the policies offered. Therefore, if your enrollment process isn’t easily navigable and/or digestible, expect similar displeasure.

Consider asking:

  • Do you believe you had the information you needed to make informed benefit selections?
  • Was the information easy to use and understand?
  • Was the enrollment process simple or complicated in the system?
  • Did you feel the enrollment window was long enough?

 For employees, simplicity is the element of workforce technology they desire most, per an nationwide study. The right self-service software can achieve that, with an enrollment process that gathers relevant policy documents in one place, then lets employees “test” a policy’s deduction amount against a sample paycheck.

In a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 87% of companies agreed that such technology has improved employees’ understanding of benefits. The majority of employees agree that greater comprehension, in turn, helps them to better appreciate the value of benefits available to them.

Choice of options

If three-fourths of the workforce are confused by open enrollment, it’s highly likely they may select a benefit they don’t need or, worse, not select a benefit they do.

On the flip side, you always want to make sure you’re addressing the needs of those you employ – especially as it undergoes a generational quake, considering Aflac found that 81% of millennials say if their benefits were better, their mood and morale would follow.

Therefore, ask your employees:

  • Are the benefits we offer what you want/need?
  • What is a benefit you wished we offered?

It’s possible someone may ask the company to offer a benefit it already offers! Creating a total compensation statement can better acquaint employees with the full range of benefits, not to mention go a long, long way in retention efforts.

Last, but not least

Arguably the most important question you can ask your people is this:

  • Did you know who to contact with additional questions/concerns?

Whether employees are too intimidated or genuinely uncertain to whom they can turn, it’s not merely their loss, but the organization’s as well. According to SHRM, 20% of workers end up regretting the choices they make – or don’t make, as the case may be – during open enrollment. The more intuitive and automated your benefits administration process becomes, the lower that percentage should go.

With open enrollment as one of HR’s largest initiatives, year in and year out, the stakes are too valuable to let any issues go unaddressed. And you can never be sure of the true issues unless you survey those most directly affected: your people.

Note that some of the questions above fall into the category of yes/no; view them as starting points, and build from there with follow-ups that aren’t open-ended. (For example, if a respondent chose “no” to “Did you feel the enrollment window was long enough?,” subsequent inquiries should solicit more detail: “Why not? What does the ideal window look like?”)

The good news is that open enrollments happen annually, meaning HR can use the hurdles of the most recent one to prepare for the next one, so survey your workforce and act upon the results. Doing so can minimize confusion, stave future frustration and bolster a winning workforce.