September 13, 2017

Relieving the Stress of Open Enrollment for HR Benefits Leaders

By Accolade Marketing

It's that time of year again. The lazy days of summer are fading. Students are back in class. The sun is lowering in the sky, and stress levels are on the rise - not just for teachers, parents and football coaches, but for every HR Benefits Leader across the country rolling out next year's benefits plans to employees.


Open Enrollment: It's one of the most challenging times of the year for HR Benefits Leaders. Why? Because after spending months designing benefits plans and fine-tuning detailed communications for employees, those employees will still feel anxious, confused and stressed. In fact, according to an Aflac survey of 1,900 employees across the U.S., 48% said they would rather walk across hot coals or talk to an ex than complete their annual benefits enrollment.¹

Year after year, no matter how thorough, transparent and forthcoming HR is about next year's benefits plans, employees will have a long list of questions relating to how those plans affect them personally. And no HR department is resourced or positioned to provide the personalized support needed to get employees the answers they're seeking.

But Accolade is.

Every year Accolade Health Assistants provide a relief valve for HR benefits teams, offering employees personalized support with no time constraints, only compassion. Unlike call center representatives, Accolade Health Assistants are measured on their ability to form relationships with employees and their families, to improve engagement over time, and to remove barriers to care. The approach is highly effective in empowering people to make good decisions, a critical part of Open Enrollment.

“Open Enrollment is a time of year unlike any other,” said Kate Edwards, senior steward in the Accolade Health Assistant Center. “Our Health Assistants are not only trained on what's new and what's changed in employer benefits plans but also on how to ramp up, how to prioritize and how to manage their day.”

That's because Accolade sees call volumes in the Health Assistant Center increase by approximately 26% over the entire Open Enrollment period and up to 70% during the last week employees can enroll in next year's plan. And every question or concern addressed by Accolade Health Assistants is not just good for employees but also for the busy HR Benefits Leaders concerned about them. Accolade sees call volumes in the Health Assistant Center increase by approximately 26% over the entire Open Enrollment period and up to 70% during the last week employees can enroll in next year's plan.

The number one question posed by employees? “What is the increase to my premium amount?” Followed closely by “Is my current plan still available next year?” and many more:

  • Which plan is best for me and my family?
  • What is the process to select a plan?
  • Do I need to do anything if I'm not changing plans?
  • Will I be losing any of my current wellness programs?

But Accolade Health Assistants are not simply waiting for the next question or inbound call. They're using Open Enrollment as a touch point, proactively reconnecting with those employees whose care decisions may be influenced by changes in coverage. Perhaps an employee didn't move ahead with bariatric surgery in July because it wasn't covered under their current plan. Their Health Assistant will reach out to help them understand their options in the new year.

And a whole lot more, in fact, because every interaction, even in Open Enrollment, is an opportunity - not just to answer benefits questions or help an employee navigate healthcare. Every interaction is an opportunity for the Accolade Health Assistant to probe, listen and gain valuable insight about any contextual issue - emotional, financial, social, religious, or cultural - that could be making an impact on the health or well-being of the employee or family member.

So HR Benefits Leaders can breathe a sigh of relief at the busiest time of year, knowing Accolade has employees covered. A benefit for the HR benefits team - it's long overdue.

Watch the video to learn more about Accolade Health Assistants:

¹ Aflac Workforces Report 2016, Open Enrollment Survey. Retrieved from