LIMRA Benefits Research

Rapid Fire Open Enrollment, But Do They Get It?

Most employees spend less than an hour to decide their benefit coverage for the year

In new benefits research from LIMRA, 53 percent of employees said they spend less than one hour reviewing benefits information during their company’s open enrollment period.

When they make a decision, it is usually to keep everything the same as last year. Only 36 percent of employees made changes to any of their benefit selections in the past year. Not surprisingly, they are most likely to change medical plans and least likely to change disability plans.

Employees make benefit changes for a variety of reasons. A new offering from their employer was the most cited reason at 22 percent followed by “determining that another plan was better” at 19 percent. An increase in the cost of benefits was a reason to change for 18 percent of employees.

Review and change

The study suggests a strong connection between the time spent reviewing benefits and the decision to make a change. Among employees who made at least one change, 49 percent spent two hours or more reviewing their benefit information. (See chart.)

It is difficult to determine, however, which behavior is causing the other. Employees who know they want to make a change may be more likely to look at benefits materials. At the same time, reviewing benefits information may motivate employees to take action and make a change.

Among employees who made at least one change, 49 percent spent two hours or more reviewing their benefit information

Once they have decided on their benefits coverage, employees showed a strong preference to enroll online, with 68 percent favoring this method over paper enrollment or other alternatives.

In fact, there is considerable dissatisfaction with paper enrollment: Half of employees who currently enroll on paper prefer a different method, and most would choose online. Many of these employees see their employer as “behind the times” for not offering online enrollment. As one respondent noted, “I guess they are still stuck in a time warp. They do everything by paper.”

Among those who enrolled online, nearly all used a laptop computer or PC rather than a mobile device. Only 4 percent of employees enrolled on a smartphone and 5 percent on a tablet. Younger employees were somewhat more likely to use a mobile device, but still only 15 percent of Gen Y employees enrolled on a tablet or smartphone.

LIMRA surveyed 3,000 full-time employees on their experiences with benefits communication and enrollment. An earlier Industry Trends blog covered the challenge of benefits communications and can be found here.

Also, the latest LIMRA Podcast features a discussion on the changing environment of employee benefits. Three LIMRA researchers discuss the latest trends in 401(k)s, health insurance and voluntary benefits. You can listen to the podcast here.