401(k) Plan Sponsors: Tips for Not Overwhelming Employees during Open Enrollment

In a recent article from www.plansponsor.com Remy Samuels has outlined some useful tips for plan sponsors as they aim to promote their benefits options.

Open enrollment is a great opportunity for plan sponsors to promote their benefits and educate their employees, however it is essential that they do so without too many options and complex language.

Open enrollment is “a bit like the Olympics of employee benefits,” said Megan Yost, senior vice president and engagement strategist at Segal Benz, in an emailed response. 

“We can tell from the data that participants are often highly engaged with communication materials about their enrollment,” Yost said. “They visit their benefits websites to read about what’s new and changing, they attend webinars and meetings, and they actively enroll in their benefits.” 

While most enrollments tend to focus on health benefits, insurance and disability benefits, Yost said many employers cross-promote retirement and financial wellness benefits because they have their employees’ attention.  

But even though nearly 65% of the 2,640 full-time U.S. employees surveyed in MetLife’s 21st annual U.S. Employee Benefits Trends Study said open enrollment will be extremely important this year against the backdrop of a “challenging economy,” MetLife found that many are still not being proactive when it comes to the benefits-election process. 

Use Open Enrollment to Educate, Not Overwhelm

“It’s important that employers and plan sponsors highlight new benefits, what could be changing to existing benefits and why,” Yost said. “This includes retirement plan changes, if applicable.” 

Plan sponsors should also be sure to highlight any required actions at this time, Yost said. Typically, many employers and plan sponsors require their employees to re-enroll or reset contribution amounts for tax-advantaged accounts like health care flexible spending accounts, dependent care FSAs and health savings accounts, and they communicate about IRS limit increases, if applicable.  

During open enrollment, Yost added that plan sponsors can also remind people about existing benefits that can be accessed at any time, such as employee assistance programs or retirement benefits. 

“In order to not overwhelm employees, we recommend that employers and plan sponsors focus their messaging on what’s new and changing, required actions and consequences if no action is taken,” Yost said. “This information should be in one central place so people don’t have a fragmented experience (or get frustrated) because they have to review information in several different places. Decision-making resources should also be highlighted, and promotional materials (emails, on-site signage and other reminders) should focus on deadlines.” 

To read the article on Plansponsor.com’s website in its entirety please click here.

Copper Leaf Financial, LLC is a fee-only, registered investment advisor, serving clients nationwide from offices in Williston and Rutland, VT. One of the firm’s main areas of focus is on providing 401k retirement plan solutions for businesses. Copper Leaf is part of a group that serves more than 1,500 retirement plans and is helping over 50,000 Americans on their journey to retirement.  Our approach is based on a simple fiduciary promise: to do what’s right for you, your company and your employees, no matter what. In addition to building new plans we offer employers with existing retirement plans a complementary second opinion on the health of their plan.

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