HR TIP OF THE MONTH: 6 Trends to Help You Navigate Open Enrollment

In her October 4 article, Kathryn Moody reports that a recent United Healthcare study showed that a majority of employees are ready for open enrollment.  And she reports that while open enrollment is traditionally about healthcare benefits, voluntary benefits are gaining popularity fast. This makes open enrollment a good time for employers to take a moment to evaluate benefits offerings. Moody details the trends that HRDive has been tracking this year, including the major investments employers are making as they move forward to 2019.

  1. Retirement Benefits. Employers have an easy in with retirement benefits; employees need to calculate how much to save and what to plan for in retirement and are increasingly relying on employers for help. Even something as simple as automatic enrollment can help ensure more employees save. According to a recent study by from the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS), almost 60% of workers have no retirement account assets at all.
  2. Well-being and Preventative Care. Wellness isn't new, but employees are increasingly interested in it, especially as employers pivot toward preventative care and holistic well-being. For employers, the key is to counter ever-rising healthcare costs — and many are doing so through health management for diseases like diabetes and metabolic syndrome, and through support for emotional health and chronic behavioral conditions.
  3. A Focus on Better Tech. Part of battling healthcare costs includes improving efficiency and engagement, and for this reason, employers may focus more on point solutions and benefits platforms during open enrollment this year. DIY solutions — anything that puts the power to manage benefits in the hands of employees — are especially popular options. Employees want to be able to manage their work lives much like they can their personal lives, and employers that realize this sooner rather than later may reap the rewards, various studies have shown. Technology is also the key driver behind employee preparedness for open enrollment this year, the UnitedHealthcare study said.
  4. Caregiver Benefits. Partly thanks to the multigenerational nature of today's workforce, caregivers make up a significant portion of the employee population — and employers are realizing those workers need a little assistance. Paid parental and paid family leave certainly help, but focus on those benefits may have shifted attention away from other useful solutions, such as eldercare referral services and flexible work hours, a Society for Human Resource Management study showed. The real way to support these employees, however, may be to take time to listen to their needs.
  5. Lactation Benefits. A specific extension of caregiver benefits, more employers have turned their attention to caring for new, working mothers who are nursing. While some companies have broadcast their flashy new breast milk shipping programs for moms traveling for work, most companies can do three simple things to engage working mothers: create a sanitary, comfortable lactation space, have a lactation policy and educate managers on accommodation.
  6. Concierge Benefits. Offering a thousand benefits is well and good, but if employees don't access them, it's money down the drain. It's more common than you might think; a study by Standard Insurance Company showed that 47% of employees with medical conditions aren't referred to any workplace resource program. Employee assistance programs (EAPs) and other concierge-style platforms can provide employees a one-stop-shop to get the help they need, improving health outcomes and saving employers money.
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