Boost ROI with an open enrollment survey


The talent market in the U.S. is tight, with 1.8 jobs for each person, making attracting and retaining the right talent even more critical to a business’s success. Grant Thornton’s CFO Study of over 270 senior finance executives found that seven out of 10 CFOs believe their organization will see a shortage of talent in 2022. More than half expect those shortages to affect their business.


Benefits are powerful tools in this market, and in response to the Great Resignation, many employers made changes to their benefit plans to remain competitive. Benefits are a top reason why employees join, leave and stay at a company. With benefits being a company’s third largest expense, if employees don’t understand them, they can’t appreciate their benefits.


According to a March 2022 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an organization spends about 31% of wages on benefits. Meaning if a company has 1,000 employees earning an average salary of $54,000 ($54 million total), it likely spends between $15 million and $20 million annually on benefits. What is the return on investment (ROI) on that spend? Where else can a business have this large of an expense without tracking or requiring some sort of ROI?


The answer is to take a pulse of the value of the benefits offered by listening to employees through an open enrollment survey.


An open enrollment survey offers great opportunities to solicit feedback from employees at the conclusion of the open enrollment process to determine if it was successful and to give employees a voice. A March 2022 Grant Thornton study of more than 500 HR leaders reveals that in the next 12 months, nearly half plan to run an open enrollment satisfaction survey. The survey’s purpose is to collect data on:

  • Whether benefits meet the employer’s needs
  • Whether employees understand the current benefit offerings
  • How effective the communication was that employees received around open enrollment

In this tight employee market, employees are searching for a company that understands their needs. A Grant Thornton State of Work in America study in February 2022 of more than 5,500 American workers found that 42% of employees do not believe their employer considers their needs when making changes to the benefits plan. In the same study, 48% of employees expressed feelings of their voice not being heard at work. The takeaway from these findings is that workers are searching for a company that will give them a competitive total rewards package.


So what makes a total rewards package competitive? This is different for every company’s unique workforce, so discovering those differences is a key. One method is to develop an effective listening strategy. According to the HR leaders study, 57% say their goal is for their benefits to be at market relative to peers. But why spend money to be at market if your workforce doesn’t want or value the benefits? Companies offer many benefits and do not get credit for their spend.


For example, while the average expense of healthcare benefits in America is around $16,000 per employee, 44% of employees in the study say they would opt out of healthcare for $10,000 in cash, A quality listening strategy will help a company reveal these mismatches and uncover what employees truly value.


Imagine improving the perceived value of this large expense. An open enrollment survey is a powerful listening tool that can measure employee perceptions of their recent enrollment experience, as well as perceptions of benefits and communication. These surveys require minimal time from both the employer and from employees, making them low-cost and high return. Leveraging survey data will help companies make data-driven decisions around improving the employee experience. Data will also help the organization to measure progress in achieving employee satisfaction goals and trends over time.




Communication is key


It is a simple fact that many people have difficulty completely reading through piles of paperwork and/or electronic documents, even ones associated with their own employment. Consequently, employees often skim through and choose the first or second option they see when choosing benefits during enrollment. One in three employees say the open enrollment information they received did not help them understand the options available to them. Ensuring employees have the information they need, disseminated using varying mediums that can address employees’ specific needs will improve comprehension and is crucial to a company’s success in increasing ROI.


Additionally, most employees know little about the types of investments a company makes to procure benefits. Sharing how much your organization spends on benefits per employee and what, if any, enhancements your organization has made over the past year will likely improve satisfaction. Whether the changes were communicated effectively and whether employees value the new or expanded benefits should be measured to understand the return on investment. After communicating the make-up of their benefits, a successful company should take the next step to explain the reasons and benefits of…well, the benefits.




Tools bring transformation


Communication and knowledge are good building blocks, but tools bring real transformation. In our instant-gratification age, employees want quick and convenient inputs while getting the best outcome. Our study shows 34% of employees have shared that their company’s benefits enrollment site is difficult to use. Strategically implementing tools and resources for user-friendly experiences can increase your return on investment dramatically.




Next steps


Overall, employees increasingly feel that their voices are not being heard when it comes to benefit plans. By administering surveys, a company can efficiently gain data that will help steer their benefit enrollment process toward success. Improving the value of your benefits to employees will improve both employee engagement and retention. When will you decide to make the decision that could transform your company from great to greater?




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