Open enrollment—HR’s most wonderful time of the year! OK, maybe not for everyone.
I will never forget planning my first open enrollment. Although it was 18 years ago, I can still recall the same challenges I hear from our members today, such as, “Which benefits are going to be the most affordable options to meet our employees’ needs?”
It was never easy to strike the correct balance between a benefits package that encourages employee attraction and retention and one that doesn’t break the bank for companies. It is now especially challenging given the present labor market and economic conditions.
An attractive benefits package must be at the top of your list when making decisions during open enrollment. It's no secret that American health care costs have risen dramatically in the last several years, with many employees saying that expensive health care is a top financial worry and a burden on their families. Meeting the needs of employees’ physical, emotional, social, and financial well-being is a high priority for employers.
Paid time off, unpaid time off and various leaves, including parental leave, are all hot topics right now. The need for flexibility is something I don’t believe is going away anytime soon. In addition, more employees are caring for both children and parents at the same time.
Employees are talking a lot about mental health and access to support. Employers should clearly outline their mental health benefits. You can enhance mental health benefits by, for instance, increasing the services provided by employee assistance programs (EAPs) and providing choices for virtual behavioral health care. I have also seen a greater request for manager and peer training in recognizing employee behavioral health issues and steering workers to appropriate resources.
Family-friendly benefits, support for reproductive health and tuition repayment benefits are all sought-after benefits that employees value. The advice I was given years ago still applies when designing benefits options. Talk to your employees and listen to what their needs are. Conduct regular benefits surveys to determine whether your benefits plans satisfy the needs and preferences of your employees.
If you want to know more about managing the open enrollment process or have other HR questions, we’d love to help! Give us a call or send an e-mail. We’re also available by chat. It’s one of the most valued benefits of SHRM membership!
SHRM’s Ask an Advisor service is a member benefit through which SHRM’s HR Knowledge Advisors share guidance, real-life personal and professional experiences, and resources to assist members with their HR-related inquiries.
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