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Making Virtual Open Enrollment Less Confusing

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The benefits your company provides to employees are an important piece of their company commitment. COVID-19 has made benefits are more important than ever. In some cases, because of COVID-19, this year your company will be offering virtual open enrollment. It is benefits that get them through some of life’s most challenging times.

Preparing for the challenge of benefits enrollment is going to be a priority this year. This is why how you advertise the benefits and enrollment must be effective. Preparing to deliver the messaging about how benefits are changing and how open enrollment will be different will require working out strategy months in advance.

If employees are working virtually, it may not do well for your strategy to be to print bundles of fliers. If nobody is in the office to see posted fliers, then the information will be lost and employees will be confused about how their benefits are changing and how they can opt into those changes. Virtual open enrollment will be new to many of your employees who are more accustomed to in-person meetings. Planning can help ease them through this transition.

Create content that delivers a clear message regarding any new benefits available to employees, and have a plan for how you’re going to distribute that content. Posting messages on the company intranet, through email, during video conferences, webinars, and social media are just a few channels where you can reach your employees by virtual means. Another key area to reach out to employees is through text messaging.

No matter how many of these channels you utilize, it’s important that you track the effectiveness of how they work. Get feedback from employees and see what knowledge they are gaining regarding virtual open enrollment, and which avenue they were more likely to gather this information. Knowing this information will help to improve your information distribution strategy.

You can even use software to help you gauge engagement. If you post videos, track the viewing stats, click-throughs, and how long employees spend watching the content. What devices are they most likely to view content on? You can gather this information through your web site’s stats. Are they more likely to view it on their phones, or through their computers? Knowing this can help in how you design your messages.

Overcoming Open Enrollment Challenges During Challenging Times

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Even in the best of times, open enrollment can be challenging. Between educating staff about benefit options for the new plan year and tracking down paperwork from employees who travel and aren’t in the office much, it’s usually a high-stress time for the HR department. This year has an additional layer of complexity because many of the open enrollment activities will likely have to be virtual. At the same time, many people are more interested than ever in the details about their healthcare coverage with the threat of COVID-19 looming.

Fear of Reduced Benefits

Companies often offset the rising cost of health coverage by increasing deductibles as a way to keep premiums affordable. One of this year’s enrollment challenges, with everyone’s concern about the pandemic, is that most people will be paying very close attention to any changes from the previous year’s plan. With this in mind, it may be beneficial to consider a more interactive method of enrollment. Rather than allowing employees to elect simply the same benefits as they had the prior year, have them go through the process of making their elections again, even if nothing has changed. It’s an excellent way for them to review what they currently have in place.

Communication Is Key

In open enrollment meetings, questions from the audience are a terrific learning opportunity for everyone. Presenters will find out which areas they need to explain in more detail next time, and the chances are good that several other people in the room or on the conference call have the same questions. Another one of the enrollment challenges each year is communicating the correct information to spouses and domestic partners who often get the information second hand. The good news is that since many of these meetings will be virtual this year, and so many people are working from home, more spouses and partners may have the opportunity to attend and have their questions answered by the experts.

Make a Detailed Plan

Companies will face significantly more logistical problems this year since so many people are working remotely. It won’t be as simple as asking people to take one handout from each stack as they enter the meeting room. Make sure that all documentation is available in digital format and ready to email. However, be open to mailing hard copies to people who prefer to look at them in print.

Open enrollment can be challenging, especially in this challenging time. However, with careful planning and preparation, these challenges can be turned into opportunities for process improvements and employee engagement.

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Tips for HR Departments to Reduce Open Enrollment Challenges

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Companies that offer benefits to their full and part-time employees show their staff just how much they value them. During the open enrollment period at the end of the year, your team can re-up for their benefits package and make sure they’re getting the best choices for their budget. Though beneficial for team members, the period presents new challenges to HR professionals.

Here are a few tips to help reduce stress and confusion during the enrollment period each year.

Focus on Helping Your Employees

Yes, the enrollment period is stressful and the changes to benefits packages may not be met with the enthusiasm that you hope, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stay positive and help your team understand those changes. Encourage employees to come to you with any questions they might have and take the time to answer them in detail.

Start the Process Early

Start planning for open enrollment deadlines as early as you can. You know that the annual enrollment period starts in November. Use this to your advantage. Put together new benefits packets that explain any updates or changes in coverage as soon as they’re finalized and pass them out to your employees several weeks before the enrollment period starts. The sooner they can review those changes, the less confused they’ll be when the time comes to enroll.

Find the Right Benefits Provider

Your benefits provider can make or break the open enrollment period. Do your due diligence before the period begins and make sure you’re working with the best provider for your business. If you think that switching to a new provider would be beneficial for your company, consider making the switch. The more reputable the provider is and the more comprehensive the benefits they offer are, the more satisfied your team will be.

Get Your Team Excited

Enrolling in benefits plans can be stressful and time-consuming for employees and HR representatives alike. Getting your team excited about their health and encouraging them to be proactive in improving their physical wellness can go a long way toward getting them motivated to enroll in your benefits plans. Host regular wellness challenges, look for ways to encourage active movement throughout the day and build a sense of community around wellness and health. When you do, they’ll feel more involved, and enrolling in health insurance plans will just be another step in their wellness journey.

Keep these tips in mind as open enrollment gets closer and you’ll be able to handle the task easily. BeneChoice can help you get ready for open enrollment. Contact us today for more information.

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How Voluntary Benefits Can Improve Employees’ Financial Wellness

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Running a business can be a rewarding experience, however, it may come with many responsibilities as well. This can be especially true when it comes to helping to support and encourage your employees. Because the success and happiness of your employees can often directly affect your company, making sure you help to provide them with the tools they need to get ahead in life can be a beneficial move for both you and them.

The Stressors Employees Face

Even though the economy has improved, the reality is that many employees are still struggling. Many may even be living paycheck to paycheck. This kind of financial strain can add stress to an employee’s life and could ultimately affect their job performance. Not only that, but an employee that is struggling to maintain financial wellness at your company may begin to look elsewhere for a workplace that is more supportive of them. Sometimes an employee may leave a job for another one that offers a similar wage, simply because the benefits they offer are more suited to their needs.

The Importance of Providing Employees With Options

One way that you can help to support your employees and ensure that their needs are being met is by offering a variety of voluntary benefits. Voluntary benefits come in all shapes and sizes, but they are all built to insulate your employees if they face something unexpected from life.  Those unexpected events could wreak havoc on employees that are living paycheck to paycheck.  One common kind of voluntary benefit is short term disability insurance.  This type of insurance helps provide income to employees who may fall ill or have an injury that prevents them from working for a certain period of time.  Voluntary benefits such as cancer or critical illness insurance help cushion the costs that are certain to come outside of what medical insurance covers for people that suffer from cancer, heart disease or other covered illnesses.   Finally, some non-traditional voluntary benefits such as financial wellness benefits that include services such as financial coaching, online financial support tools, and free online financial wellness seminars are great additions to any benefits program.

The Bottom Line

When you’re running a business, there can be many things to keep track of, and one of these things is often making sure that your employees feel supported. Employee satisfaction can not only help to improve office morale, but it can have an impact on productivity and other areas of the business as well.

Although it may not always be clear what the best way to look out for your employees is, by taking some time and doing your research you can help to build plans that can be good for both your employees and your business.

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The Right Time to Start Outsourcing Benefits Administration

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Every day Human Resource Departments are being asked to do more with less and that is creating stress on them, their organizations and ultimately the resources they are responsible for…their employees. HR leaders are searching for ways to more effectively run their departments. While there are many ideas out there, one such idea has received a lot of positive momentum recently and that is outsourcing or partnering with a benefit expert to offload many tedious, complex, and confusing accountabilities associated with benefits enrollment and administration. Businesses spend a substantial percentage of their revenue on their employee benefits that is why brining in an expert that can help you steer through benefits enrollment, technology and administration is becoming a crucial strategy today.

The Merits

Outsourcing benefits administration comes with many advantages.  It allows you to shift the workload, freeing up your HR team for other critical tasks. While this saves valuable time, it also frees up their mindshare. While this may seem like a small thing, it takes a lot of time and attention to keep up with all that’s needed to manage benefits enrollment, keep up with the latest technology, and all the rules and regulations associated with benefits administrations. Finally, outsourcing benefits also helps you reduce your liability associated with offering benefits to employees.

How to Get a Good Administrator

You should have a good selection strategy when choosing the ideal administrator. Ensure you opt for an administrator who uses the latest technology and shows the aptitude of keeping up with the latest trends. When seeking bids on coverage, ensure you state how your plan design looks like as well as your administrative requirements. Moreover, you should find a way of measuring the administrator’s performance. Check on areas such as accuracy and timeliness. The best way of measuring performance is by inquiring from your staff if they are content and happy with the service.

Difference Between Co-Sourcing and Outsourcing

Co-sourcing implies that your business maintains access to reviewing and making changes to the present processes in the hands of the outsourcing firm, as the organization handles things such as data transfers, benefits enrollment and recruit on-boarding. Outsourcing assists firms with scarce resources to efficiently manage their benefits administration with fewer resources.

When Should You Outsource Your Benefits Administration?

When accuracy and timeliness of the benefits administration begin to slip, then you should start outsourcing. As your business starts to grow, its payment and payroll requirements become complex and subject to more regulatory and employee scrutiny. You need to get an adequately functioning payroll process that meets its demands without errors or delays, such as outsourcing. Additionally, in case you are promoting more people to senior positions only to see them putting more time on corrective measures and coordinating, then you are spending more money on payroll than you would when using an outsourcing firm.

It would be best if you opt for an administrator who can provide updates on progress and reports to allow you to measure their performance. Watch out also for indicators for the need of hiring an outsourcing agency. These indicators may include a top-heavy payroll team, a high training budget and so on.

Coronavirus Update

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Dear valued friends, customers and partners,

During these challenging times, we wish all our clients, friends, family, and employees good health. We are all living through alterations of our daily routines, which are causing unique anxieties and health concerns across the country. As limitations and changes to our daily lives arise, we are working as hard as we can to avoid changes in our business. While even the near future is uncertain, our commitment to you is still strong.

To truly make it through the COVID-19 crisis, businesses will need to find ways to maintain operations until the virus passes. The CDC is providing guidance to reduce the size of events and gatherings, and that carries over to the workplace. While some businesses are temporarily closing their doors or restricting hours of operation, there are many that need more robust solutions. Fortunately, BeneChoice has the technology to keep our operations running and aid our clients in meeting their benefit enrollment and administration needs during these tough times.

Many companies are concerned about handling their benefits questions and managing their employees’ coverage options. Please know that our BeneChoice teams are here to help. We specialize in enrolling employees anywhere and at any time. On any normal week, BeneChoice’s Benefits Counselors support dozens of on-site enrollments for our customers all around the country. We can still support all those enrollments and more, even if we can’t come on site for a while. Our technology securely leverages the cloud, so we can easily and compliantly connect our highly trained Benefits Counselors virtually with your employees and continue to provide that personal touch necessary to help your employees make the right benefit choices.  Our services provide both a very important human touchpoint for employees in a difficult time and the ability to effectively manage your benefits programs on schedule when employees need those programs the most.  

Encourage your workforce to follow the guidance offered by professionals, and to seek help if needed. Remember, while businesses may be restricted, they can still be productive if owners and employees think strategically and stay as healthy and safe as possible.

If you would like more information about how BeneChoice can help transform your annual open enrollment you can review our video here.  

And as always do not hesitate to reach out to any of our team members if you have any questions about how we can help. We wish you the best.

Nash Skiles 

Co-Founder of BeneChoice Enrollment Solutions & Technology

benefits administration

Measuring a Benefits Administration Process’ Efficiency

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Administering benefits can be one of the biggest challenges that HR representatives face. Though it is a necessary process, benefits administration can easily become a headache. While it is impossible to guarantee an enrollment period that is free of issues, there are a handful of precautionary measures you can take. Measure the efficiency of your own process by exploring some of these common problems you might encounter down the line.

Education Is Crucial

A large chunk of problems experienced during an enrollment period comes from misinformation. Studies have shown that more than half of employees wind up enrolling in the wrong health plan for their needs because they are not properly educated on their options. While you do not need to spoon feed every detail to employees, you should organize an information session where people can voice questions or receive guidance.

Lack of Order

Benefits administration can also prove difficult when there is no centralized place for benefit information to be stored. When health insurance information is located on one server and 401(k) data on another, employees can easily forget where to go when they have questions. Investing in an integrated HR system can help solve this, as it compiles all relevant information into one app. Not only is this useful for the employees, but the features of these integrated systems can also make your job as an HR representative a lot easier.

Often, these programs will feature options that help you manually create a benefits plan each year with ease. In addition, you can explore features that will help you collect vital data, monitor elections and declines, and streamline your entire process.

Create a Simpler Process

The secret to a simple benefits administration process is thinking ahead and trying to stop problems before they begin. Explore your options with integrated HR systems and help educate employees about their benefits to improve efficiency along the way.

cancer benefits

The True Cost of Cancer

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Recent studies have revealed some startling information in regards to how much of a financial burden a cancer diagnosis can be to patients. Reports say that cancer health coverage can cost a patient roughly $90,000 on average. Being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness is difficult enough and the price associated with combating cancer can make a bad situation much worse.

Though cancer has been a serious threat to people worldwide for many decades, new developments are always in the work. Unfortunately, these cutting-edge techniques often come with an even heftier price tag. While these numbers can be staggering, it is important to remember there are solutions worth considering.

Finding the best cancer health coverage can be difficult, but it is far from impossible. Cancer insurance is a type of policy that can help relieve policyholders of the financial burdens that come along with the intense, ongoing treatments associated with the disease. In many cases, the plans will pay cash indemnity benefits, which can allow the policyholder to use the cash toward medical bills, cost of living expenses, and anything else needed during this difficult time.

According to research, it is not uncommon for a person diagnosed with cancer to spend his or her entire life savings to combat the disease. What’s more, it is said that critical illnesses are responsible for more than half of all known bankruptcies in the country. These financial hits can make bouncing back from treatment difficult, as there is little-to-no money available for necessities. In order to avoid this, you want to think ahead and find a type of cancer insurance that can help you focus on care, rather than the costs.

To protect yourself and your finances, it is important to explore insurance options that will help you restore your health without destroying your savings. Look into your options for cancer health coverage and learn about how you can get the help you need in a sensible and affordable way.

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How to Think Creatively About Voluntary Benefit Offerings

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One of the best ways to recruit and retain the best talent is through offering voluntary benefits. Some of these benefits include dental and vision insurance coverages, but some companies are thinking out of the box an offering unique benefits that suit their employees and the company culture. Two ways to improve think creatively about which ones you offer are to listen to their preferences and offer an understanding of the benefits.

Preferences

Some companies are offering new voluntary benefits by asking for employee preferences or by asking industry contacts for suggestions like pet insurance, gym benefits and informal paid time off plans. Using your existing employees as a brainstorming resource can give you ideas you may not think of otherwise as well as give you some insight into which struggles your personnel are facing. This can include everything from needing financial advice or help with student loans to ride-sharing programs and increased parking access.

Understanding

One common complaint that employees have about voluntary benefits is not understanding which insurance plans to choose or which benefits will be the best for them to take. If you offer one-on-one advice for choosing benefits as well as for problems such as saving for retirement or paying off student loans, then you can make a huge headway in increasing work satisfaction and company morale. This can take the form of electronic classes, a dedicated human resources contact or even routine or mandatory classes.

The more creatively you can think about voluntary benefit offerings, the better you can retain and recruit key personnel. As overall culture changes, so does the interest in unique voluntary benefit offerings such as help with student loans, pet insurance and more. You can find creative ideas by asking for employee preferences and offering classes to understand voluntary benefits offered.

How to Showcase Your Corporate Culture in Benefits Offerings

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A strong corporate culture is essential for employee retention. While there are many ways to boost your culture and show your employees they’re valued members of the team, one powerful way is through your benefits offerings. Discover how a customized benefits package can increase your employee retention and incentivize your employees today.

One way to improve your benefits offerings is to offer certain voluntary benefits and other non-traditional benefits in an off-cycle enrollment.  The certain benefit can be offered at any time of the year, rather than a single, short enrollment window. This gives each of your employee’s time to focus on these value-added benefits that often complement the core health insurance offering and provide a diverse offering for your diverse workforce.

Next, select the benefits that are proven to be valuable in your industry. Case studies, industry research, and personal surveys among your employees are excellent ways to determine the best benefits for your particular employees. Don’t invest in a program that doesn’t align with your company values or increase interest in your employees.

Finally, choosing a powerful branding tone and message is a great way to keep a consistent, positive corporate culture. Use the same phrases, titles and other branding details throughout your benefits packages to promote a unified culture and help your employees feel like their part of a unique and valuable team.

Whether you’re just getting ready to showcase your first benefits package or your company needs a way to change gears and offer a refreshing new take on their popular benefits, choose a system that promotes company culture, aligns with your values and meets the needs and desires of your employees. A strong benefits package is an essential way to attract new employees and retain your valued group of current employees. Leverage this strong corporate culture by continuing to grow your business and bring in the best talent in the industry.

Email us at info@benechoice.com or call 717 517-7016