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February 3, 2021

Employee benefits must remain in focus year 'round

Carolyn Robbins

When the annual open enrollment period is over and everyone has their ID cards, and payroll deductions are set, we all want to take employee benefits off the to-do list.  We are happy if we don’t have to think about PPO, HSA, or FSA for another year.  There are so many other tasks that HR managers need to focus on that it is nice to have open enrollment out of the way.

The truth is, next year’s open enrollment will work best if employee benefits remain in focus throughout the year.  Here are some things that should be done outside of open enrollment:

  • Review – Now is the time to review your program to ensure that your benefit plans are in line with all state and federal requirements.  This can include ensuring that you have all required plan documents and employee notices.  This is also a great time to review administrative procedures regarding COBRA, FMLA, etc. to make sure you are in compliance.  Ideally, should your group be audited by the IRS or DOL, you will want to be prepared.

  • Survey – Outside of open enrollment is a great time to survey employees to see what benefits are most important to them. You want to find out what employees think about the open enrollment process and the communication they were provided.  Now that you have time to explore options, this is also a good time to learn what benefits employees may want that are not currently being offered.
  • Learn – Take this time to learn about new and different benefits, insurance companies and funding arrangements.  Are you familiar with self-insurance? Wondered about benefit captives? Thought about group long-term care? Take this time to learn whether some changes will make sense for your employees when you aren’t also worried about renewals and open enrollment.

  • Strategize – Work with your broker, your finance team and management to determine what your budget and recruitment goals are for the next year. Make sure that everyone knows what the goals are for your benefits plan for not only the next year, but the next five.

  • Monitor – Pay attention to the data you are receiving from the insurance companies. Take a proactive approach to managing any negative claim trends. Certainly, your renewal for next year should not be a surprise.

So, maybe employee benefits doesn’t need to be the top of your to-do list, however, keeping it on the list will make next year a bit easier.

If your renewal left a bad taste, your open enrollment did not run as smoothly as you would like or you are interested in proactive and creative solutions and services please contact your local Marsh & McLennan Agency Benefits Consultant.