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Improving the open enrollment process – podcast overview


A recent Alight on Wellbeing podcast brought together seasoned benefit experts to shed light on what employers and employees alike should be considering as the open enrollment season approaches Led by podcast host and VP of One Alight strategy, Matthew Bragstad, they shared invaluable insights into the world of employee benefits. Additionally, they discussed the latest trends and strategies to make the open enrollment process more effective and engaging.

Participating in this month’s podcast were:

  • Karen Frost, an industry veteran with decades of experience in benefits enrollment strategy
  • Laine Thomas Conway, who heads Alight's mindset study focusing on employee perceptions of their experience and overall wellbeing

Listen to other episodes of the Alight on Wellbeing Podcast at

The Changing Landscape of Benefits
With the open enrollment season right around the corner, the focus is shifting from merely offering benefits to optimizing the value employees derive from them. Organizations are recognizing the importance of strategically aligning benefits with their workforce's diverse needs and preferences. This realization is particularly evident as employers continue to grapple with changes brought about by the pandemic. 

One of the roles of Alight’s client service teams is to track their clients’ level of plan design changes. According to their research, approximately 40% of employers are making significant plan changes this year, with an additional 40% implementing varying degrees of adjustments. These changes stem from the dual goals of providing competitive benefits while effectively managing costs. Rising healthcare expenses have necessitated a careful evaluation of benefit offerings to ensure cost-effectiveness without compromising quality.

Shifting Priorities and Challenges 
While benefits were once a primary driver for employees remaining at an organization, this seems to be decreasing over time. This year’s data shows that only eight percent of employees who recently left their jobs did so due to benefits dissatisfaction. This underscores the importance of addressing employee wellbeing, offering tailored solutions, and guiding employees through the complexities of benefits offerings.

The Generational Divide
When it comes to the importance employees place on their benefits, there are also generational differences. Millennials tend to value benefits more traditionally, but Gen Z employees are less concerned about them. The emerging workforce generations are shifting focus towards holistic wellbeing and the overall employee experience, including workplace flexibility, mental health support, and overall quality of work life.

Effective Communication Strategies and the Importance of the Human Touch
One of the challenges each employer faces is to effectively communicate the value of benefits to their workforce and maximizing utilization of what’s offered, especially given the complexity and variety of available options. Clear and targeted communication, delivered through various media, is essential to help employees make informed choices that align with their individual needs. 

And employers shouldn’t underestimate the role of human interaction in benefits decision-making. While digital tools are essential, a human touch, especially through knowledgeable and licensed experts, provides personalized guidance that employees value. Employers should look to strike a balance between high-tech tools and high-touch interactions, ensuring that employees have access to the support they need to make the best benefits decisions possible.

Additionally, effective communication shouldn’t only happen during annual enrollment; it should continue year-round. Ongoing communication and engagement strategies can ensure that employees continue to make the most of their benefits throughout the year.

In Conclusion
This insightful podcast episode offers a look into the changing landscape of employee benefits and the nuances of open enrollment. As employers gear up for the open enrollment season, clear communication, personalized guidance, and ongoing engagement continue to be of importance. With evolving employee expectations and priorities, organizations need to adapt their benefits strategies to deliver real value that resonates with their diverse workforce. By doing so, both employers and employees can reap the rewards of a well-optimized benefits program, enhancing overall wellbeing and productivity.

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