It’s that season again, when ghosts and goblins take to the streets, Thanksgiving menus are planned and gift lists are written—and when most employers offer open enrollment for health and benefit plans.
In spite of how important these employer-sponsored benefits are, The 2015 Ninth Study of Employee Benefits: Today and Beyond from Prudential Financial, Inc., shows that people spend very little time considering their benefits. In fact, 32 percent spent just one to two hours doing so, and 23 percent spent less than 30 minutes.
“More than 70 percent of us spend more time planning for and celebrating Halloween than we do considering how to choose our benefits at work,” says Jim Gemus, senior vice president, Head of Product and Business Segments, Group Insurance for Prudential Financial.
Here are five tips from Prudential to help employees make the most of this season’s open enrollment:
1. Review all options. Employers and employees often look at medical, dental and vision as taking priority, and with good reason. However, they shouldn’t overlook other benefits, such as life and disability insurance, critical illness and accident insurance, which can complement these core offerings by protecting against unexpected risks, and are key to overall financial wellness.
2. Take advantage of cost and convenience. Purchasing benefits like life or disability insurance through an employer can simplify things for employees in two ways: First, they often pay less for these benefits than had they purchased them on their own, because they’re taking advantage of group rates? and second, they pay for these benefits through payroll deduction, which may help lower their taxes.
3. Make the most of financial wellness programs. In a recent Prudential survey only 22 percent of individuals described themselves as feeling financially secure. Sixty-three percent said that employee satisfaction with benefits is important for their company’s success and employees are increasingly looking to those benefit offerings as a basis for financial security. So as more workers rely on their workplace as a primary source of insurance and savings—35 percent of workers as of 2015 up from 30 percent two years earlier—employers are trying to ensure that every employee gets the most from the benefits they have. Employee benefits only benefit the employees who use them.
4. Look for tools to help make decisions. Often, employers will provide websites where employees can not only enroll, but also find tools like calculators and videos that can help them make sense of their benefits. Employees can get the help they need to understand their financial protection needs and select the best options to meet them.
5. Ask for help. With all the options out there, it’s easy to feel confused. Employees should speak with their employer’s benefits experts or HR resources. They can also speak to a financial professional and learn more about how to select the coverage that will fit their needs.
To request a media interview with Jim Gemus about open enrollment and employee benefits, contact Frances Denmark.