Planning your long-term benefits strategy at the start of a new year can feel overwhelming. You’ve just finished another Open Enrollment season, delivered year-end communications, and are wrapping up implementing a new plan year. We know you’ve got a lot on your plate, but now is the perfect time to lay the foundation for a successful benefits strategy in the year ahead.
So, where to begin? Here are five questions to ask yourself and your team to get the gears turning.
1. Reflect: What matters most to you and your people?
When planning your benefits strategy, it can be tempting to jump right into the nitty-gritty and start crunching the numbers on costs and performance. We encourage you to slow down and take some time to reflect on why you do what you do.
Meet with employees or send a short survey to gauge their sentiment towards your benefits program. What benefits are most valuable to them? What benefits are less valuable? A clear understanding of their priorities will provide a solid foundation for the rest of your planning.
2. Review: How did last year go?
Now, look back on the previous year (or even the last three to five!) and do a full accounting of your benefits offerings. Work with your broker or consultant to review metrics like cost per member per year, engagement rate, preventative care utilization, pharmacy utilization, and chronic condition prevalence.
It’s also important to look at what your competitors have been up to in the last year. Did they expand their benefits offerings or scale back to cut costs? Knowing this is critical to understanding how your program stacks up in the marketplace.
3. Assess: How are things going right now?
Do you regularly think, “after this week, my workload should finally slow down,” only for the next week to feel even busier than the last? You’re not alone.
Administrative tasks like preparing payments, handling invoices, and managing eligibility errors are time-consuming. Consider offloading some of that work to an integrated health benefits platform.
4. Prioritize: How can you make the most of what you have?
Before making any changes, do everything possible to get the most out of your existing programs. Lagging utilization rates and low engagement can often result from a communication strategy that isn’t connecting with your employees.
Shake up your usual Open Enrollment materials with varied formats, including short video clips or in-person events. Some organizations pique employee interest by partnering with vendors to offer freebies like massages and on-site biometric body scans.
Beyond Open Enrollment, consistent communication throughout the year is essential, especially regarding benefits added this plan year. We recommend inviting new vendors to host webinars explaining how to use their services.
5. Prepare: How can you be ready for what’s next?
A lot can happen between now and the next calendar year, from industry-wide shifts in the labor market to changing demands within your workforce. Stay in the loop by meeting with your broker or consultant and keeping your eyes on the trend reports. (We also can’t help but plug our newsletter featuring the best in benefit news.)
Now is also an excellent time to reevaluate whether a fully-insured or self-funded plan is right for your organization in the long term.
Bring together key stakeholders, including your C-suite, your broker or consultant, and your HR and benefits teams, to develop a game plan.
As you continue building your benefits strategy, download our 2024 Benefits Strategy Guide for more tips from our health benefits experts.