Off-cycle open enrollment offers HR Managers and Benefits Managers the opportunity to increase employee engagement while receiving increased attention from their benefit providers
If you are an HR or Benefits Manager, this time of year is all too familiar. You have spent countless hours preparing for open enrollment, and you are pulled in different directions as you evaluate the various benefits programs and incentives available to employees. Add to that figuring out the best way to engage with and communicate all the wonderful benefits you are now offering your employees as you aim to help them better understand their options. Put simply, this is not only the most stressful time of year but also the most critical time of year for you and your HR department. So why not consider shaking things up a bit by trying something new - such as off-cycle enrollment for new benefit offerings?
What is off-cycle open enrollment?
The definition of off-cycle open enrollment (sometimes known as mid-year open enrollment) is simple: it is when a company decides to move their benefits open enrollment from the typical fourth quarter to a different, usually less busy time of year.
The benefits of off-cycle open enrollment
There are 3 primary benefits to considering an off-cycle open enrollment for new benefit offerings:
1. Increased Employee Engagement
Off-cycle means it's a quieter time of year. Employees are not overwhelmed with communications designed to engage them during open enrollment. According to a survey from Unum, employees are confused (22%), stressed (21%) or anxious (20%) during open enrollment and chances are high that their focus is on the health benefits that matter most to them and their family versus other benefits and offerings.
2. More attention from benefit providers
Off-cycle enrollment might be better for you because you are not ‘going to market’ or searching for benefits at the same time as everyone else. According to The Employee Benefit Advisor, this means your benefit providers have more time and energy to focus on helping you reach your enrollment goals. This increased focus can ultimately make your program more successful.
3. Off-cycle enrollment helps to reinforce the value of your total benefit package
One of the key benefits to an off-cycle enrollment is that it helps to drive home the value of your full benefit package. This is because it allows employees to focus on what’s important during traditional open enrollment and then evaluate other benefits at a time more suitable to them. This helps to increase adoption and engagement of new benefits because they are being presented at a time when employees and internal staff have the time to explain the value of the new offer and help employees better understand how it can benefit them.
What Types of Programs are well suited for off-cycle enrollment?
Typically it is recommended that employers offer voluntary benefits during an off-cycle enrollment. These are programs that are offered by the employer, but typically paid for by the employee. However, your off-cycle enrollment does not have to be limited to only voluntary benefits. You can also offer other programs and services that meet the specific needs of your employees, for example those living with chronic conditions. Such an example is the mySugr Integrated Diabetes Program. This program consists of an app and personalized diabetes coaches that help your employees living with diabetes proactively manage their condition while at the same time helping to reduce lost productivity of your employees living with diabetes.
Are you interested in learning how you can add the mySugr integrated diabetes solution to your benefits package? Contact us today for an initial consultation and we can help you plan for your off-cycle enrollment.