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Intelligent Assistants: The Solution for Open Enrollment Communications

on June 26, 2021

Open enrollment for company benefits is right around the corner. Many HR organizations are beginning their detailed preparations now, during a time of unprecedented change.

Is your organization prepared to communicate the changes to your benefit offerings and answer the myriad of questions employees will ask? Are you prepared to provide answers to your hybrid workforce within the preferred collaboration channels by your multi-generation workforce, anytime from anywhere?

The issues facing US employers are expanding. Medical costs are expected to have a healthy rise in 2022, but slightly less than in 2021. PwC's Health Research Institute (HRI) is projecting a 6.5 percent medical cost trend in 2022, marginally lower than the 7 percent medical cost trend in 2021 and slightly higher than it was between 2016 and 2020. Healthcare spending is expected to return to pre-pandemic baselines with some adjustments to account for the pandemic’s persistent effects.

The higher healthcare spending in 2021 has been due to employees having procedures and surgeries delayed in 2020 due to COVID19. PwC reports that 15 percent of employees deferred some care between March and September of 2020. Mental health and substance abuse costs are continuing in 2021 and are expected to in 2022. Making matters worse, the overall health of Americans worsened during the pandemic as people exercised less and increased substance abuse and smoking.

Glassdoor expects that employers will offer more mental health resources and financial wellness resources next year to address the stress and desires of many employees. In addition, employers are also offering more benefits for working parents, from improved fertility coverage to child care.

With 60 percent of employees now saying they do not want to return to the office (even going so far as saying they will quit their employer before returning to the office), the implementation of hybrid work models is increasingly the number one benefit offering for employees. Hybrid working also allows employees to better manage the stress of work-life and raising families.

Many changes companies implemented in 2020 will continue. The Society for Human Resource Management reports that 32 percent will expand virtual or telemedicine, and 23 percent of employers added mental health therapy sessions in 2020 as an employee benefit. Nine percent more are considering offering these benefits in 2022. About 20 percent of employers will increase cost-sharing of health care plan expenses in 2022 with higher deductibles and co-pays, and services to manage high-cost pharmaceutical claims.

In addition, more employers will offer high-cost, low-premium health insurance options. As a part of this transition, Health Spending Accounts (HSAs) offerings will also expand. HSAs allow employees to pay medical expenses the health insurance doesn’t cover from pre or post-tax deductions.

With so much moving in the benefits areas, how does HR inform busy employees in hybrid work models of all the changes and options available to them?

All hands meeting attendance is dropping, and not all employees read emails or search the HR or benefit share sites for information. Increasingly, employers are turning to digital assistants to provide their employees with the information they need when they need it 24/7.

MeBeBot’s intelligent assistant allows your workforce to ask questions and get accurate answers to open enrollment updates and changes, using the app in Teams, Slack or via Web Chat. Our technology allows HR benefits and total rewards leaders to link to videos and summary plan descriptions for detailed answers to questions. MeBeBot’s push messaging technology enables you to schedule reminders to go out to all or subsets of your workforce, based on your existing group distribution lists.

MeBeBot installs in Microsoft Teams or Slack in under 30 minutes and provides a fantastic return on investment. It relieves your HR team from the surge in most open enrollment questions. Many of our customers report a reduction in the volume of questions to HR and IT by over 50 percent, and companies realized a $250k to $1 million cost savings in the first year. It gets better. Our customers report an increase in employee experiences with the accurate and personalized answers their employees receive from MeBeBot, providing 24/7 support.

Don’t dread the surge of open enrollment questions. In this year of change, isn’t it time to use the best digital technology to answer your employees’ questions accurately, consistently and conveniently?

Contact us for a demonstration today!