Introduce Voluntary Benefits Outside of Open Enrollment

Here we are again… Open enrollment madness for core benefit programs is in the rearview mirror and human resources teams can focus on planning for next year. It pleases me to see voluntary benefits gaining more traction with employers of all sizes, but I’ve noticed that most employers’ initial thought is to introduce new voluntary offerings during the next annual open enrollment period. Seems logical at first, but when you peel back the layers the question becomes “why would you ever roll out new voluntary plans during open enrollment?”

You have every reason to introduce new voluntary benefits off-cycle. It allows employees to focus on the new products without being distracted by changes to the medical plan or the increased premiums for core products. Not to mention, it’ll lighten the load for human resources at this time. Another positive is that once an employee makes their open enrollment elections and have experienced a few months’ worth of payroll-deducted premiums, they’re better equipped to decide their tolerance for additional premium deductions towards shiny new voluntary benefits.

So, what do employers need to do? Follow these simple steps:

  • Get the word out. With the use of a robust education program and a customized communication campaign, insurance carriers will often generate aggressive voluntary benefit proposals for an off-cycle enrollment period. The bonus is your employees will end up with lower rates and higher guaranteed issue limits. 
  • Sync things up. Once your employees have been educated in an off-cycle enrollment period on how these plans can help them and their families, the voluntary benefit program can be transitioned to sync with the annual enrollment period for benefit elections and changes.

This two-step process of introducing voluntary benefits in an off-cycle enrollment environment and transitioning over to the annual core open enrollment period has been used with tremendous success. There’s no need to wait for next year’s open enrollment period to introduce new voluntary benefit programs, so get started now. You’ll be glad you did come next open enrollment season.

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