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Many Components Impact Enrollment Success


Ron Neyer, M.B.A., AIRC, CLU, ChFC
Associate Research Director, Workplace Benefits Research

March 2023

Employees continue to express strong interest in the optional insurance coverages offered through the workplace. As carriers seek better ways to meet growing client expectations, their enrollment processes are commonly re-examined. During enrollment is when workers ultimately decide whether it is worth allocating a portion of their paycheck towards these plans. Obtaining commitment is challenging even in the best of conditions, and very few employees will participate when the enrollment experience is substandard. While some carriers and brokers were early to embrace new digital enrollment approaches, many have historically preferred the comfort of tried and true methods. This all changed in 2020, as repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly accelerated the need for modernizing enrollment strategies to better connect with distributed workforces. Given these changing dynamics, which factors are important in today’s marketplace?

A recent LIMRA survey reveals that carriers consider many enrollment aspects important, with seven attributes especially relevant. Three were unanimously viewed as at least somewhat influential in generating positive enrollment results, meaning that they were rated a three or higher on a five-point scale[1] (Table 1).

Table 1: Influence on Generating Positive Enrollment Results

0164-2023 figures_Article 2 table 1.2.jpg

Digital enrollment options have become table stakes. While traditional processes may remain effective in reaching certain customer segments, these clearly are no longer practical in a post-pandemic landscape. Paper-intensive approaches and mandatory in-person meetings will fall short at the many businesses leveraging a high concentration of remote or hybrid workers. Digital enrollment also allows for the incorporation of digital decision support tools, which provide a more personalized and customized experience.

Using the same platform for all options. With a wealth of digital platforms now available to facilitate an engaging enrollment experience, carriers often strive to be technology-neutral so that their products effectively operate on most/all online platforms. Still, they realize the importance of having consistency in the employee experience. Workers are less inclined to explore all of their options if this requires using multiple systems. Instead, many will prioritize their available benefits options, likely focusing their attention most on decisions related to major medical coverage.

Requiring an active enrollment decision. Some employers opt for a passive enrollment strategy, where employees’ choices automatically carryover from year-to-year. Workers only take action when wanting to change any of their selections. While this approach simplifies the enrollment process for employers and employees alike, it also fosters inertia and may ultimately generate lower participation rates across all plans.

Carriers also identified other items that play a vital role in generating positive enrollment results. While some have a more skeptical view, at least 7 in 10 of the survey participants consider the following factors very or extremely influential:

  • The ordering of benefit options. Nearly 2 in 3 employees spent less than an hour reviewing benefits information, making decisions, and enrolling during their most recent open enrollment period[i]. Because the bulk of this time is typically devoted to medical insurance, carriers realize that this leaves very little time for workers to ponder other options. Employees often lose focus before considering products that do not immediately follow medical.
  • One-on-one meetings. Employees often do not fully understand the full slate of benefits offered through their employer. While there are many potential avenues for them to learn more about their choices, optional one-on-one meetings provide those interested in talking through their options direct access to professional assistance. Given the increasing prevalence of remote work, these meetings can be just as effective virtually as they are in person.
  • Setting communication expectations (with brokers and employers). Enrollments oftentimes involve coordinating many moving parts within a short timeframe. There are multiple parties simultaneously trying to engage with all of the eligible employees via several communication channels. While this process can be chaotic for all parties involved, advance planning can help minimize stress. In fact, the carriers most often cited setting benefits communication expectations with employers as the item/factor having the greatest influence on generating positive enrollment results.

Rather than uncovering one or two enrollment aspects for carriers to focus on, the survey findings reinforce the importance of maintaining vigilance in several areas. The best approach varies depending on a client’s specific needs and desires. However, all strategies should deliver an engaging customer experience through multiple channels, and provide employees with convenient access to additional information/assistance that supports their decision process.


[1] 2022 Benefits and Employee Attitude Tracker, LIMRA.