Navigating open enrollment can be overwhelming for younger employees, especially when they lack experience selecting benefit packages. As newcomers who may be unfamiliar with insurance terminology and how insurance works, providing your employees with open enrollment education is crucial.
As a younger employee myself, I write from experience. I’ll admit that the first time I was faced with choosing benefits, I had no idea what a deductible was or how it worked. Through reading brochures, utilizing a benefits website and viewing multiple videos, I was able to make the best decisions for me.
A study conducted by insurance and employee benefits provider MetLife found that 26 percent of Generation Z (Gen Z) employees are insecure or unsure when it comes to making benefits decisions.
To this end, employers can implement several strategies for open enrollment education to help young employees navigate their options for benefits.
Educating young employees
Clear communication is crucial to ensure your workers understand the open enrollment process and the benefits they’re signing up for.
Employers should consider the following strategies for educating younger employees on open enrollment:
Prioritize internal communications
Employees should be informed about open enrollment and benefits offered through multiple channels. This could be internal emails, flyers and OE meetings. Ensure every employee knows when open enrollment begins, the last day to complete enrollment and the consequences of failing to enroll in time.
Young employees should feel comfortable enough to ask questions throughout the process. Whether that is through HR, their managers, family, friends and more experienced coworkers, they shouldn’t be made to feel that their questions are silly or that the answers are obvious. Enrolling in benefits can be stressful and confusing for those with no prior knowledge. Having multiple avenues to ask questions eliminates confusion and boosts confidence in their decision.
Provide educational resources
Employees must be equipped with the necessary information to make informed decisions on their benefits. Ways to effectively reach out to younger workers is through technology-driven resources. This includes mobile-friendly websites, AI assistants such as the ALEX benefits counselor, webinars, videos and related articles. These resources can empower the younger generation to make well-informed choices and easily navigate the process.
Explain all benefits options
Many young employees who are new to the workforce may not think of anything other than health insurance during open enrollment and could overlook other benefits that are useful to them. Be sure to lay out and explain all additional benefits thoroughly (e.g., pet insurance, student loan repayment assistance and employee assistance programs) so they don’t forgo benefits that could be useful.
Cater to employee needs
The benefit needs of younger generations differ from those of older generations. The younger generation often prioritizes mental health resources and student loan assistance over life insurance or financial planning for retirement. Employers should seize the opportunity to educate them about the benefits that align with their interests and preferences.
Encourage young employees to take their time
When employees rush through the open enrollment process, they unintentionally overlook important benefits. This is true for younger workers who may experience stress or uncertainty during the process. Employers should help to make sure employees have sufficient time to research and select their benefits. An extra tip – Make sure they understand how to complete forms as these can get tricky for newcomers.
Communicate throughout the year
Benefits education should extend beyond the rush of activity during the open enrollment window. It is the employer’s responsibility to provide year-round resources that empower employees to fully understand and maximize their benefits. Employers can do this by releasing new information as it is rolled out and highlighting certain benefits that many employees are not signed up for. Assisting young employees in recognizing the significance of open enrollment can help them grasp the financial impact and potential outcomes of benefit decisions.
The unknown can always seem daunting, especially when choosing the right benefits. With so many different options, it is overwhelming and nerve-wracking for an employee to feel they could be making the wrong decision. By keeping communication lines open and providing up-to-date resources that are user-friendly, younger employees can feel confident in their decisions.
By providing education and strong communication, organizations can boost satisfaction and participation among younger generations, as well as improve employee attraction, retention and the company’s overall success.