News for HR Professionals


Taking the Stress out of Open Enrollment

It’s coming.

Like a shadow on the horizon, the open enrollment season is looming closer every day. According to the GuideSpark report “5 Best Practices for Your Most Successful Open Enrollment Yet,” more than 82 percent of HR leaders report that open enrollment is a stressful time, with tons of work and high pressure to keep employees satisfied.

But open enrollment doesn’t have to come with a side order of dread. While your workload will always be higher during this time, the right preparation can make the process smoother and more rewarding both for your team and the employees you serve. The key lies in understanding what those employees want most. Here are the top three items on their wish lists.

More simplicity

Confusion and uncertainty are among employees’ prime concerns when it comes to open enrollment. In recent surveys by Aflac and MetLife, 44 percent of respondents said there were some things they didn’t understand about their policies, and up to 52 percent admitted to not feeling confident they had made the right decisions.

The fact is that employees are looking to you for easy-to-understand benefit options and descriptions, as well as guidance in making the optimum selections for their needs. Nationwide® pet insurance can help you meet the challenge, with hands-free administration, quick one-sheets and FAQs to lay the choices out clearly, and a simple three-step process—visit any vet, submit a claim, and get reimbursed—when it’s time for employees to access their benefits.

More communication

As open enrollment gets closer, it can sometimes feel as if sending out communications about it is all you do. Unfortunately, those communications may not always be as understandable as employees would like. In fact, a 2014 Guardian Workplace Study reveals that only one in four employees say their company's communications are very helpful in choosing what's right for them.

What’s the lesson? The more clearly you communicate about benefits—not just at open enrollment, but all year long—the more confident your company’s employees will feel, and the higher the likelihood that they’ll participate when the time comes. Instead of relying on them to educate themselves, meet with your Nationwide rep to build a custom communication plan, including year-round wellness programs and email campaigns, and take advantage of the free marketing materials available online to get the word out.

More benefits

Because benefit packages are such an integral part of employee satisfaction and loyalty, it makes sense to stack your company’s offering with voluntary benefits in addition to traditional choices. MetLife’s 13th Annual U.S. Employee Benefits Trends Study reports that at companies where 11–15 benefits are offered, there is a 20-percent increase in the likelihood employees will recommend their employers as a great place to work, compared to those who offer no benefits.

The same study reveals that employers should look to offer a range of options, such as domestic partner and extended family coverage, to meet employees’ unique needs. For many people, family includes their pets, so it’s not surprising that pet insurance is one of employees’ top three most requested benefits, according to an internal Nationwide/VPI focus group. Including it in your benefits package is a simple way to add enormous value without increasing cost—and with Nationwide, your employees can be confident in the knowledge that their furry family members are protected by America’s #1 pet insurance provider.

Open enrollment may never be the easiest time of year, but with a little strategic planning on your part, it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Start thinking now about how to give employees more of what they want, and this open enrollment season could feel more like a dream instead—the pleasant kind.