Benefits Enrollment: It’s Personal – and Private

Benefits Enrollment: It’s Personal – and Private

Benefits technology brings the enrollment experience to a personal level, but there is a privacy balance employers need to strike.
Laura Bongiorno
Laura Bongiorno, Head of Voluntary and Specialty Sales, Group Benefits, The Hartford
The U.S. workforce is a melting pot of four generations. Employers recognize that benefits should address a wide range of life events. The dreams and desires of Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials and Gen Z may differ, but financial security is at the heart of reaching them.
Benefits technology has evolved so that employers can provide a benefit education and selection experience that meets employees where they are in life. Whether starting their first job, getting married, starting a family, sending a child off to college or preparing to chase their next chapter in retirement, the benefit experience for employees is more personal than ever before. Presenting insurance information in a relatable way can help employees decide which benefit is right for them.
 “The benefits industry today is telling a relatable story of how those benefits fit that employee at that moment in time,” says Laura Bongiorno, head of voluntary and specialty sales for Group Benefits at The Hartford. “When it’s time to choose benefits, it can really hit home when you see yourself. And we’re learning that most employees want help making that decision.”
The Hartford’s 2021 Future of Benefits Study found that 58% of U.S. workers would like a personalized recommendation for which insurance benefits they should buy.
Employers recognize the value that data can bring to a more personalized enrollment experience and it’s a trend that’s growing. The Hartford’s research shows that 76% of U.S. employers offer personalized benefits recommendations during enrollment. That’s up from 71% in June 2020 and 63% in March 2020.
The personalized approach is a proactive one. It creates custom messages and images based on the person’s interests, purchase history and life stage and delivers them in a way that’s most comfortable for the employee. For example, young Millennials just starting a career are more likely to focus on affordability and products that help them prepare for the future. As a digitally-driven generation, using their personal devices to sign up for, learn about and manage their benefits makes perfect sense to them.

Personalization and Privacy in a Tech-Driven World

Employers need to be comfortable sharing some employee information with benefits vendors in order to provide a personalized experience. In fact, 76% of U.S. employers surveyed by The Hartford are open to sharing basic employee information with insurance carriers in exchange for individualized benefits recommendations. But there’s a balance that employers need to strike.
“We’re very mindful of employers’ responsibilities and concerns. Their employees want personalization, but employers want to make sure the data is protected.”
– Laura Bongiorno, head of voluntary and specialty sales for Group Benefits at The Hartford
In this highly digitized and online world, the threat of cybercrime is everywhere. Federal, state and international governments are enhancing privacy laws to better protect personal data. For example, the California Consumer Privacy Act requires companies to give California residents transparency and increased control of their personal data. Several other states are considering similar legislation. And in Europe, companies must allow consumers to “opt in” before their online cookie data can be collected and used for marketing purposes.
To safeguard data, the benefits industry is constantly investing, innovating and adapting. Systems can accept data used for the enrollment process and protect it with industry best practice techniques. Processes such as secure file transfer and data encryption help ensure end-to-end privacy protection and regulatory compliance.

Maximizing the Experience With Minimal Input

Consumers experience the impact of data on their lives every day. The same technology that makes it easier to pre-populate forms or highlight lifestyle and shopping history can take basic information and allow a benefits vendor to learn more about the person. A tailored enrollment experience can be created using a minimal amount of employee data, like a name and address. Understanding whether someone lives in a house or apartment, is married, has children or what they do for a living helps to create that customized recommendation. It’s an experience that most consumers have come to expect across many industries, including insurance.
The pandemic gave rise to an increase in digital benefits enrollment programs. In response, the Life Insurance Marketing and Research Association (LIMRA) expanded its data exchange standards to online benefit enrollment programs in October 2020. The standards, designed for the safe and efficient transfer of data between vendors and employers, were developed by a group of more than 40 benefits companies, including The Hartford.
Covid-19 accelerated the shift from in-person benefit fairs to virtual enrollment experiences that support a remote workforce and comply with restrictions on physical gatherings. Yet, increased reliance on digital technology will continue. Even as more employers are bringing their workforce back to an office environment, online benefit fairs will likely be the rule, not the exception. By embracing technology, employers can better deliver benefits education year-round in ways that work best for each employee.
“The more employees understand their benefits, they may see more value in them and be better prepared to make informed benefits decisions at enrollment time,” Bongiorno says.
The process of tailoring benefits enrollment will continue to evolve into a more relatable, useful experience for employees at every life stage. Regardless of the generation, benefits enrollment can be uniquely personal to each individual. Protecting privacy is one industry priority that applies to everyone.
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