The months of November and December are the holiday season, but for HR reps and business owners, this time frame is also open enrollment season. A delicate but important topic, healthcare is a top HR challenge for companies everywhere due to its complexity and ever-changing nature. As 2018 draws near, there are many ways a company can successfully manage healthcare open enrollment and provide a boost to their organization.
The good news is that despite all the confusing talk of healthcare reform in congress, there are few changes affecting 2018. However, ACA enrollment periods have been cut in half, so workers will have less time to get informed, understand their choices, and make decisions. Plus, it’s a good idea to refer to the IRS website to make sure your organization remains in compliance. While a lot of media attention is on employers with 50 full-time employees or more, smaller business must still be up-to-date on laws.
The pressure is on for employers to cut through the distraction of news headlines and educate their employees on their current options as well as any changes unique to your own organization. The advertising budget for ACA open enrollment was slashed by 90% for this year, which means your workforce will not be seeing many ads educating or reminding them about this important time period. That burden falls on employers more than ever before.
Now is the time that employees have the opportunity to change from one plan to another, and will rely on management to help them understand what their options are. The Department of Labor offers some example notices to assist, but an employer will have to do more than tack up forms on a bulletin board. Likewise, emailing information to employees can be helpful for record keeping, but education takes more strategic communication. Hold a town hall style meeting where you can describe each plan fully and field questions that employees have. This can be difficult, especially for small HR departments not versed well in healthcare, so employers often will have an insurance company representative attend such a meeting.
Send out reminders to employees not just once, but regularly. Look for employees who haven’t enrolled in a different plan or haven’t indicated they want to stay in their current plan and call them during the last week of open enrollment. Ideally, every employee should acknowledge that they at least want to stay in their current plan. Silence cannot be taken as a decision, because that employee may complain or become disgruntled if they feel they were not aware of the opportunity to make a change.
Some small businesses may be exempt from offering healthcare to employees. That can seem like a win as healthcare benefits come with a massive cost, especially for companies with small employee bases, but refraining from offering benefits is not a productive long-term business strategy. Simply put, current employees and potential candidates want good healthcare benefits.
In fact, out of all the potential benefits of a new job, 88% of job seekers value better health insurance the most, even preferring it over additional vacation time. Many would accept a job with a lower salary but with excellent benefits. Today’s tight labor market makes it’s hard enough to find good employees, and offering excellent benefits is a massive recruiting tool to leverage. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for most small to medium-sized businesses to provide affordable and robust healthcare benefits to a low number of employees.
Partnering with a PEO is often the easiest and most cost-effective healthcare solution for small to medium-sized businesses. When you partner with a PEO, your employees become part of their much larger employee base. There’s no difference in the work your employees do, but your 10, 50, or 100 employees are suddenly part of a group of thousands. Because of the power of this large group, workers will often receive excellent benefits at cheaper rates.
Additionally, a PEO can alleviate the headaches of staying in compliance and educating employees. A great PEO partner should be an HR and healthcare expert, employing streamlined notifications and experienced HR reps that have held countless informative open enrollment meetings. They’re the ones that answer all the complicated questions about each plan, not you.
Finally, the right PEO can take even more off your shoulders. Forget about dealing with payroll, employee training, and other common HR duties. A PEO can help you achieve business growth, and transitioning your HR responsibilities to the right PEO partner is easy. When you’re a smaller business it’s hard to wear multiple hats, juggling your business expertise with HR trends and healthcare news you may not be versed in. As 2018 open enrollment continues, if you find exploring healthcare changes and educating your employees to be a burden, then a PEO is the solution.