Is it Time to Cancel the Open Enrollment Meeting?

May 4th 2018 | Tim O'Shea


Open enrollment (OE) meetings are intended to educate employees about their benefits in an effective and efficient setting. Perhaps meetings were once the best approach. But times change, and today employers typically offer many more benefit choices, with more complex variables, and the potential for far greater employee financial liability.

We all know the challenges with open enrollment meetings – voluntary/poor attendance, information overload that cannot be delivered to meet personal interests or priorities, and lots of jargon. And think about the time and money that goes into OE meeting planning and execution. A conservative estimate suggests that an Open Enrollment meeting costs at least $50 per employee--that’s $4.00+ PEPM!1

It’s 2018, so we know there is a better way. We are accustomed to seeing our content “on demand” and organized to our preferences. A recent survey of employees revealed that fewer than 30% of employees consider enrollment meetings the best way to receive benefits info; and 60% thought electronic delivery (videos, tools, calculators) was the number one strategy. To help you deliver enhanced educational and communications strategies, consider these alternatives to the open enrollment meeting:

  • Digital postcards: Delivered via email to alert employees to OE basics and which emphasize the most important deadlines and requirements.
  • Video content: Allows employees to experience an overview of plan options and details with simple and brisk explanations. The content is available 24/7, whenever the family is focused and ready to digest it.
  • Decision Support Tools: Expected by many, can be quick and easy to use, and provide answers and information that do not require the user to master all the details. OE meetings teach you to build a watch, decision support tools will tell you the time of day by highlighting the benefit option that is optimal for you and your family.
  • Deliver early: Consider delivering educational content and decision tool availability a couple of weeks before employees login to enroll. Usage will rise dramatically, and the extra time might help employees to fully evaluate an HDHP/HSA or a supplemental policy.
  • Benefits Website: Hosted by the employer, serves as a reference source throughout the plan year, and saves a ton of paper.

Is your budget holding you back? Do the quick math on the productivity and expense savings from cancelling OE meetings and reinvesting in benefits communication and decision support technology. Your employees will thank you, and so will your CFO.


1 Based on an average US average salary of $52,000, which with benefits, translates to approximately $32/hour. At 80 minutes of time commitment, plus the cost of food/refreshments, printing, media, lost productivity/travel, $50 per employee is a conservative estimate of the average cost of an open enrollment meeting.

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