Why You Should Start Open Enrollment Early for 2022 Benefits

Why You Should Start Open Enrollment Early for 2022 Benefits
July 28, 2021 Laura Dziomba
Why to start 2022 enrollment early

Our country is slowly emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic. Many found themselves unemployed, and those who held onto their jobs spent time uncertain about the future of that job. The “fear of the unknown” took hold of so many of us—increasing our stress, as well as the need for emotional health support.

Now, as things seem to be taking a positive turn, opinions are beginning to shift. Workers who may have been considering a job change but decided to stay put during the pandemic may now be ramping back up to look for something new. It’s common in the fall—after everyone has relaxed and vacationed during the summer, they’re ready to start thinking about more serious topics. Like finding a new job.

Start announcing (and updating) benefits early

It’s costly to replace employees, so taking steps to hold onto them is critical, especially this year.

To avoid turnover and hold onto valuable team members, it’s a good idea to start your open enrollment process earlier than you normally would have. Why? First, it will help employees learn about all the new benefits they may be leaving behind. And second, beyond new offerings, you can remind employees of the benefits they already have—in case they weren’t aware. Benefits are powerful retention tools, and you can hold onto your workers when you get ahead of their potential upcoming job searches.

Depending on the size of your company, the earlier you get any annual benefit changes underway, the better. That’s because the time it takes your health plan to implement plan changes can be affected by your group size. The sooner you’re in contact with them, the sooner your new plan will be ready to go for the upcoming plan year (and the sooner you can announce it to employees for open enrollment).

What benefits are your workers looking for?

The benefits you offer show your workers you’re invested in their good health and quality of life. Employees are more loyal to companies that care, and less likely to leave.

The following are some of the top benefits many employees are in search of:

    • The opportunity for remote work, or a hybrid of remote and in-office
    • Flexible scheduling
    • Telehealth options for health care appointments
    • Mental health resources
    • Career development opportunities

If you’re able to accommodate some of these highly sought-after options, it will help you boost the value of your benefits offering.

Plan your communication strategy

Though it’s good to remind employees of current benefits, your focus should be on what’s new, to help incentivize employees to stay. With a strong communication plan, you will help get the word out about all the support and resources employees have access to, which gives them items in the “pro” column when they decide if they should stay or move on.

Your communication strategy could include:

    • Group meetings to review benefits and allow for questions: with both virtual and in-person options
    • A variety of vehicles to communicate your open enrollment message, such as flyers, emails, videos and enrollment booklets
    • A series of enrollment reminders by email, on your company intranet, or both
    • A clear contact process if employees have any questions

The more touch points you include in your communication strategy, the more attention you’ll capture. This will make it much more likely that employees will review their options and understand what benefits are available to them.

Start communicating early

Remember, the goal is to catch employees before their job search plans are underway. So if you usually begin January 1 open enrollment in the fall, you might want to jumpstart your communication efforts late summer—even if it’s just a save-the-date or teaser of what’s to come.

Looking to boost your benefits offering?

Meritain Health offers a comprehensive suite of products and services, including telehealth, Employee Assistance Programs and other mental health support. Our population health management strategy encompasses resources to support good health throughout the full spectrum of employee health care needs. We’ll work with you to enhance your benefits in the way that works best for your employee population.