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  • Writer's pictureMike Riska

How AI Decision Support Tools Can Improve Open Enrollment Results

Updated: Oct 17, 2021

Brokers and HR professionals are facing unique challenges when it comes to rolling out successful open enrollments. These challenges have created a need for companies to develop more robust, personalized experiences to drive enrollment participation and benefits use.

This article will dive into the challenges of managing open enrollment and how benefit decision support tools powered by AI (artificial intelligence) can help eliminate the most significant barriers to success. We’ll even talk about how to offset the cost of these tools by choosing the right voluntary benefits partner.

Why are benefit open enrollments challenging today?

Several factors have contributed to the increased complexity of open enrollments in recent years:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has decentralized workforces around the world - many companies are grappling with communicating with a workforce made up of remote, in-office, and hybrid workers across multiple time zones.

Because of this decentralization, communicating with employees can be difficult. Brokers may have difficulty locking down video one-on-one sessions with remote employees, which means that those employees may not understand the available benefits. This can translate to lower participation rates.

  • There has been a sharp rise in employees who speak a primary language other than English. Census data shows that Spanish is the primary language in 13% of U.S. households and experts believe this percentage could rise to 33% by 2050.

Employees who lack sufficient English fluency are often hesitant to have conversations about benefits. They may worry that they will mistakenly purchase coverages they don’t need to and end up paying more than they want for benefits. Also, many non-English speaking workers in the U.S. are accustomed to getting healthcare advice from friends, family, and community groups. These factors can decrease participation in a company’s benefits at open enrollment.

  • Millennials and GenZ-ers expect more from employers. In decades past, workers were expected to be satisfied with a weekly paycheck and a healthcare policy. Today, though, employers need to elevate their game to attract talented younger workers.

When Millennials look for employment, they want to work for companies that care about every employee. They look for experiences, communication, and transparency.

This extends to their company’s open enrollment. Assembling the workforce in an auditorium to explain benefits isn’t going to engage younger employees. Instead, focus on creating educational and promotional materials that feel personalized. Some companies have even “gamified” their open enrollment experiences to make choosing benefits feel fun and exciting.

How can AI decision support tools help Brokers and HR professionals overcome these challenges?

Although rolling out a successful open enrollment can feel daunting, strategically deployed decision support tools powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help relieve the burden of meeting diverse needs across a highly decentralized workforce.

Here’s how AI-powered tools, like those offered by The VB Shop, can help:

  • Reaching remote and non-traditional employees - It’s often difficult to secure face-to-face benefits counseling sessions with employees who work remotely or who work non-standard hours. Even video conference calls can be challenging because of schedule differences or an employee’s unfamiliarity with video conferencing tech.

AI-powered benefits portals make it easy for employees to access resources and get the help they need anytime, day or night. With sophisticated AI tools that accurately determine the best options and resources for individuals, employees can confidently choose their benefits and enroll in the company’s benefits plans.

  • Improving non-English signup rates - in some regions, finding qualified bilingual benefits advisors can be difficult. Despite the growing number of people in the U.S. who speak a primary language other than English, relatively few companies offer benefits in multiple languages.

With an AI-powered benefits platform, language barriers evaporate. Users can sign in and view the information in their primary language, including resources, advice, and forms. AI-powered questions can help them quickly determine the benefits they need, learn the cost of those benefits, and complete enrollment without language frustrations.

  • Meeting the expectations of younger workers - Millennials and GenZers who want personalized experiences find AI-driven benefits platforms much more attractive than traditional open-enrollment processes.

Each time they use these tools for enrollment, maintenance, or other tasks they feel valued as an individual. Thanks to AI, though, you don’t have to hire an army of benefits advisors to create that experience.

The personal touch can do more than just improve open enrollment rates - it can help improve employee engagement. Gallup estimates that only 29% of Millennials are engaged at work, which points to disappointing relationships with their employers. AI-powered benefits enrollment is one small step toward more engaged, dedicated young employees.

How can you introduce these sophisticated tools at little to no cost?

Part of our job at The Voluntary Benefits Shop is to pair you with carriers who can provide value beyond the products they sell. High tech decision support tools come with a price tag, but some voluntary benefit carriers are willing to introduce them at a discount, or as a value-added service. We find we can often help clients build stronger benefits packages and introduce valuable tools at the same time by getting the voluntary benefits part right.

Want to learn more about how AI-driven benefits decision support tools can improve open enrollment results? Contact one of our team members today!

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