How to Raise Your Employees’ Benefits IQ Before Open Enrollment

With all the paperwork required for benefits, particularly during the open enrollment season, it can be difficult to make sure employees receive everything they need. With the Bureau of Labor Statistics finding that the average cost of employee benefits is about 30% of their total compensation, it’s vital to make sure benefits are explained and easily accessible.

For many HR professionals, the amount of work involved requires outside assistance in order to get it all done in a timely manner. Keeping track of requirements is a particular challenge. According to a report by Prudential and CFO Research, about one third of employees require extra assistance with understanding the Affordable Care Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act—particularly how these laws affect the employee’s benefit application process.

“Third party benefit support services can take the burden off an HR professional’s shoulders,” says Dr. Abbie Leibowitz, Chief Medical Officer at West’s Health Advocate Solutions. “These resources can help employees navigate both their benefits options and the healthcare system to ensure that they make the best use of their benefits and achieve the best possible medical outcomes.”

Outside help for covering all of these questions and related paperwork can come from a variety of sources. One popular resource is Accolade, an entry point for understanding health benefits programs. Both employers and employees can learn to better navigate their options via services like Accolade’s.

“The most important thing is to create an integrated communication and engagement plan,” says Accolade Senior Director of Marketing Options Greg Forrest. “Employers should start early and think about their benefits program goals. Maintain constant communication with your employees while continually reviewing engagement performance. This should be year-round.”

Forrest also recommends making benefits information available across a variety of channels, including online, mobile, in-office posters, emails, and virtual meetings. The trick is to allow employees multiple opportunities to get the information they need.

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