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2024 Open Enrollment: Identifying the Top 3 Pain Points for SMBs and How a PEO Can Solve Them

As a business owner, careful preparation is key. To meet ambitious business goals, careful planning and execution is necessary. Preparing for open enrollment season is no different. How will you make your 2024 open enrollment better than last year? Renewal periods are an important time for businesses. Employers must start by choosing health insurance plans carefully to offer optimal benefits and advantageous pricing. Then, these plans must be communicated to your team members so they can select their employee benefits for the upcoming year. There are many aspects of the open enrollment process that can cause stress for small and medium-sized business owners. Get a head start on your 2024 open enrollment season by reviewing what the top 3 issues are, how they arise, and how to solve them for a stress-free open enrollment season.

Challenge #1: Cost of Premium Employee Benefits Plans

Challenge #1: Cost of Premium Employee Benefits Plans

The cost of employee benefits plans is a primary concern for small and medium-sized business owners (SMBs) when it comes to open enrollment. While cost is always a priority for any business, affordable and quality employee benefits can be especially challenging for small businesses. The size of a business greatly affects its purchasing power, which can lead small businesses to experience difficulty while searching for affordable employee benefits plans. Most important is the caliber and variety of these plans, as low-quality employee benefits will not attract the high caliber of candidates a competitive business needs. In a recent study on the factors that affect employee benefits satisfaction, finding benefits cost savings was ranked as the number one challenge by 51% of polled HR leaders.

So, how do small businesses find affordable prices for premium employee benefits?

Many businesses seek the help of a PEO when faced with this problem. A Professional Employer Organization (PEO) is uniquely positioned to assist small and medium-sized businesses with finding affordable, quality employee benefits. The PEO solves the problem of smaller businesses having decreased purchasing power due to fewer employees by pooling these businesses together. With the combined power of multiple organizations, the collective strength of those that partner with the PEO is much greater, allowing participants to access Fortune 500-quality employee benefits at a fraction of the cost on the open market. Further, a PEO can help SMBs access benefits with national plan coverage, which is essential for employees who want to see their preferred health providers. Plan variety and wide coverage are hallmarks of a business that offers robust employee benefits, and these qualities are what talented candidates are looking for.

The PEO model makes a significant difference for small businesses that may be unable to afford premium employee benefits without additional assistance. It’s a solution that provides business owners with other advantages, like benefits administration, retirement plan services, payroll processing, workplace compliance assistance, and more, making it a strategic partnership. The cost of employee benefits can be a difficult issue for small businesses to overcome, but with the help of a PEO, SMBs can access the competitive benefits their employees are looking for at prices that fit their budgets.

Challenge #2: Gaps in Open Enrollment Communication

Challenge #2: Gaps in Open Enrollment Communication

Another pain point for small and medium-sized business owners is communication about employee benefits. Communication is an essential element of the open enrollment process and key to making the experience seamless. When a business decides to change its benefits offerings, expand the options that are available, or make any other changes that can affect employees, it’s very important to clearly communicate these changes with the team members. Employees need to understand the details of the benefit plans the business is offering so that they can make informed decisions on which plan to choose. Voluntary employee benefits are also an area that can make a difference in the quality of an employee’s health benefits package, but is often not communicated sufficiently. Ancillary benefits like FSA, HSA, legal services, disability insurance, and even pet insurance can be extremely helpful. These employee benefits can bolster an employee’s total benefits package and create a well-rounded and balanced support system. But if employees don’t know what ancillary benefits are available or don’t understand the advantages, they may miss out on signing up for these benefits during their only opportunity.

Communication is another ongoing issue for benefits leaders and ranks among respondents’ top three biggest challenges,” says a recent report by Arizent. Businesses may have employees asking for services like mental health benefits and yet are not aware that the employer is already offering this as an ancillary benefit. Only 3 out of 10 benefits leaders report that their company does a good job of communicating employee benefits, and fewer than half of benefits leaders say their team members understand what benefits are available and how to use them.

There are many reasons why employee benefits communication can be difficult for SMBs. With a small team, annual enrollment often falls on the shoulders of team members who are less experienced in this area, which could lead to gaps in communication. Even if the assigned team member is well versed in open enrollment, they may find it tricky to manage all aspects of open enrollment while handling other daily responsibilities. When employees have questions about how to choose employee benefits plans, a small business’s internal staff may not have someone qualified to assist with these questions or find it hard to manage the number of questions.

The use of a PEO is pivotal for a positive open enrollment experience. A PEO provides so much more than affordable employee benefits. PEOs oversee employee benefits administration, allowing your internal team members to focus on their normal duties. This assistance is essential during open enrollment season. Having a PEO on hand to assist your organization with choosing benefit plans, communicating these new plans to benefits-eligible employees, and then managing questions and providing help where needed is invaluable. Not all PEOs provide the same level of service, however.

Some PEOs choose to outsource their customer service to call centers, which are impersonal and do not usually provide the best information. At PrestigePEO, each client is assigned a team of specialists who are on hand to answer any questions. A dedicated employee benefits specialist will get to know each company and become familiar with the company’s needs. When an employee has a question, the benefits specialist will answer it personally and provide any necessary support. PrestigePEO also offers a wealth of open enrollment tools, including an open enrollment resource center, webinars, tutorial videos, a benefits hotline, and a mobile app. Read more about these here.

Challenge #3: Difficulty Implementing Employee Benefits Choices

Challenge #3: Difficulty Implementing Employee Benefits Choices

The third most common pain point for SMBs is implementing employee benefits choices. Once employees have made their selections, someone is responsible for implementing these decisions. Many SMBs do not have an in-house HR team, or if they do, they are often overwhelmed with other tasks. This could lead to a mishandling of open enrollment decisions, causing confusion and stress for team members. If errors are made, incorrect payroll deductions for benefits could occur, causing even more concerns down the line. A mismanaged open enrollment can lead to frustration amongst team members and could cause employees to lose trust in their employer. It’s crucial to complete the open enrollment process thoroughly and in a timely manner to prevent these problems.

A common cause of these issues is a lack of HR tools or software. Without the proper technology in place, open enrollment can be exponentially harder and may cause errors. HR software can manage many of your daily tasks, including payroll, onboarding paperwork, approving PTO, storing employee data, and more. PrestigePEO utilizes PrestigePRO, an innovative HR technology platform. It offers clients increased functionality, flexibility, and efficiency to manage many day-to-day needs. Enjoy a smooth transition with PrestigePEO’s in-house implementation team that helps companies adapt to the new technology, answer any questions, and troubleshoot any issues as they arise.

In addition to these routine activities, PrestigePRO makes open enrollment a breeze. The software houses all open enrollment forms for easy management. Adding modern HR technology to an enrollment season can greatly improve the experience. The support of a benefits specialist on hand to answer questions is hugely significant, and so is advice from your benefits broker. With a benefits specialist, a health insurance broker, and a PEO working together to manage open enrollment from start to finish, business owners can relax, knowing this busy time of year is in the hands of seasoned professionals.

Solving For Small Business Challenges During Open Enrollment

Open enrollment is a busy time for any company, and the sense of urgency increases for small and medium-sized businesses. Without an in-house HR department, it’s difficult to manage the many steps necessary to successfully complete annual enrollment. Fortunately, SMBs do not need to take on annual enrollment season alone. A PEO partnership removes the stresses of employee benefits enrollment, allowing organizations to focus on core business goals. Going beyond benefits enrollment, working with a PEO offers year-round support, including compliance services, payroll, HR consulting, and more. Having experienced HR and compliance professionals on hand to answer questions is essential for any business owner, and PrestigePEO is ready to assist.

Reimagining Open Enrollment in 2024: How Small Businesses Can Succeed

How did your benefits enrollment go last year? Did any of these top 3 pain points resonate with you and your business? Knowing these pain points and how they relate to your business allows you to prepare and solve them. There are so many ways that SMBs can make changes to improve open enrollment and prevent these problems from arising. You can make your 2024 open enrollment season your best yet, and PrestigePEO is ready to help. Reach out to us today to learn how we can support your business during open enrollment and beyond.