As your clients prepare to enroll their employees in benefits this year, equip them with the knowledge and strategies they’ll need to be successful.


You can do this by helping them understand the importance of good communication and using the right automated tools. Their improvements can help everyone involved, writes Britta Meyer for Employee Benefit Adviser.


“Open enrollment can be a confusing and stressful time for employees because of the numerous options available to them and the pressure to make decisions that could significantly affect their personal finances,” she writes. “A startling 90 percent of the time, employees avoid decision-making altogether by re-enrolling in the same benefit options year after year, causing 42 percent to waste up to $750 annually by making mistakes with insurance benefits.”


Meyer suggests helping your clients think about enrollment as a marketing campaign. Start by `understanding who you’ll need to reach and the best ways to do so.


“Consider generational differences in your open enrollment strategy — traditionalists and baby boomers often still prefer face-to-face interactions or phone calls, whereas millennials are more likely to engage with emails, videos or text messages,” she writes. Your clients might use a multi-faceted approach to reach all these age groups. And, remind your clients that an annual informational blast isn’t usually the right way to reach employees.


Sharing information once or twice a year “overwhelms employees by forcing them to absorb all the information at once, while risking disengagement throughout the remainder of the year,” Meyer writes. “If you engage employees year-round with a steady flow of collateral such as email reminders, newsletters, webinars or even flyers, employees will be able to familiarize themselves with benefits options at their own pace.”


Another way to ease the stressors of enrollment season: using the right automated tools to manage the process. “Benefits are just too expensive and too complicated to manage with an error-prone, manual system,” writes Andrew Brickman for Employee Benefit Adviser. “A far better choice is the many benefits administration platforms that can cost-effectively automate the process, saving both time and money.”


Such tools, including Paylocity’s Web Benefits, can reduce errors, make sure employees sign up just for the benefits they’re eligible for, and offers self-service options to improve efficiency for all involved.


“(These) enrollment systems are intuitive and user friendly, and decision support tools are getting more sophisticated,” Brickman writes. “Employees answer a few simple questions and are directed toward the plan options that best meet their needs. In a world filled with apps and mobile devices, employees have become accustomed to receiving the information that they need, when they need it. Such tools can also help your clients with compliance, document management, and required reporting.


“In short, automating benefits administration does more than streamline workflow and save time,” Brickman writes. “It’s the key to more accurate accounting, consistent compliance and significantly reduced benefits costs.”