August 22, 2014

Small Business Top Tips: Employee Benefits Open Enrollment

open enrollment employee benefits

You know it better than anyone: One of the defining characteristics of small business owners is that you have to wear many hats. At this time of the year, you are likely working with your human resources consultant as you don your benefits bonnet.

I know that determining next year’s benefits enrollment for your employees is a big task and can quickly become overwhelming. But I have some tips to help you. I’ve worked with my team and we put together three top tips to help make open enrollment a success for small businesses.

1) Take Advantage of Tax Credits

If you are a business that employs 25 or fewer full-time equivalent workers whose average annual wages do not exceed $50,000, and if you offer those employees health insurance, your business may be eligible for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit.

Small Business Health Care Tax Credits can be worth up to 50 percent of a small business’ premium costs.

Note: As of August 26, 2013, IRS.gov states that fewer than 25 employees are eligible for these credits. However, Internal Revenue Code Section 45R (PDF) states that the term “eligible small employer” means an employer which has no more than 25 full-time equivalent employees for the taxable year. 

2) Provide Options to Your Employees

People love to feel loved. Understanding this and applying it to benefits will help ensure your workforce feels appreciated.

What does this mean?

Benefits are not one-size-fits-all. Provide employees with two or three options to help them create an overall benefits package that is unique to their needs. To expand the options you provide without adding costs to your bottom line, look into voluntary options such as accident, cancer, life and short-term disability insurance.

Fifty nine percent of employees say they would likely purchase voluntary insurance benefits if offered by their employer.

3) Communication is Key

Effective communication is essential to help employees understand their benefit options and to improve employee engagement with the benefits you offer.

Only 26 percent of workers indicate they always understand everything that is covered by their policy, meaning communication from you should be well-received.

Communicate About Benefits Year-Round

This will remind employees about the important health and financial choices available to them. Use layman’s terms rather than high-level jargon and target your language appropriately to different work streams.

More than 2-in-5 workers agree that a well-communicated benefit program would make them less likely to leave their job.

Use Multiple Avenues to Communicate Enrollment Details

Home mailers, emails, videos, benefits booklets, worksite meetings and online tools or portals are diverse channels to ensure your employees receive the necessary information.

Employees prefer to get their employee benefits information and advice from multiple resources, including their company’s HR professional (30 percent), company intranet (17 percent), benefits booklet (17 percent) and/or benefits provider’s website (12 percent).

Make Enrollment Information Available to Spouses and Partners

Many studies indicate that spouses of workers are often the decision-makers when it comes to benefit decisions. Women make approximately 80 percent of health care decisions for their families.

Happy Team Photo via Shutterstock

7 Comments ▼

Michael Zuna


Michael Zuna Michael W. Zuna is Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Aflac U.S. Michael is responsible for leading the company’s integrated product and marketing strategies.

7 Reactions

  1. There are some really great ideas in here. I remember applying for a company who provided some options in their benefits. They don’t allow changes mid-employment however. It makes employees feel loved but it also makes them regret their decision later on.

  2. Workers agree that a well-communicated benefit program would make them less likely to leave their job. Benefits play an important role in keeping good staff for as long as possible.

  3. Providing different options when it comes to benefits is an amazing idea! Some employees have families while other’s don’t, so the benefits should be different as they need them.

  4. We’ve used a good health benefits package as the cornerstone of keeping valuable employees over the years. Unfortunately, our accountant has told us that with the new changes coming from Obamacare, we are most likely going to have to eliminate all of our part-time employees and give extra work on the remaining full-time workers in order to afford giving all of our employees health benefits. Hey, it is what it is.

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