Over the last several months, we’ve conducted ongoing surveys to find out how employees are feeling about their personal health and finances in light of COVID-19.

As the economy continues to evolve and the global pandemic extends into its eighth month, employees continue to feel the impact—and many are just as concerned (or even more concerned) about their personal situation than they were a few months ago. 

Heading into open enrollment season, these insights will be especially important for employers looking to offer smarter financial guidance. Which of your employees are the most worried right now? How can you better focus your open enrollment messages depending on your employee demographics? 

Here’s what we learned this month:

Employees are paying more attention to their benefits than they were last month…

In July, we saw the highest benefits engagement rate yet, with 66% of employees saying they’ll pay closer attention to their benefits during open enrollment this year. That’s a 7% increase from last month. 

66% of employees say they’ll pay closer attention to their benefits during open enrollment this year

What this means for you:

In a normal year, 93% of employees default to the same old benefits they’ve always chosen. That’s…almost everyone. So the fact that your employees are paying more attention right before open enrollment season is great news, because you might actually be able to drive meaningful behavior changes this year. Whether you’re looking to increase enrollment in a newer plan or you want to improve voluntary benefits usage, now is the time to make it happen. 

Your employees are looking to you to help them make smarter benefits decisions—that will give them the medical coverage they need without breaking the bank. So it’ll be all about showing employees how the right benefits choices can save them more money in a stressful year. Here’s how:

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…And young people are paying especially close attention

Younger employees are the main reason for July’s leap in benefits engagement. This month, respondents in their 20s and 30s were significantly more likely to say they’d be paying closer attention to their benefits:

I’m planning on paying more attention to my employee benefits during open enrollment this year

What this means for you:

This is a prime opportunity to help your employees build good habits early and prepare for a lifetime of smart benefits choices—that will help both of you save more money. 

Young people tend to be your healthiest group of employees, and they’re also looking for ways to cut costs in a challenging financial year. So capitalize on the fact that they’re paying more attention this year and drive them to less expensive plans, like HDHPs. It’ll give them the coverage they need while helping them save on premiums costs. And it’ll help you save on claims costs, too.

Employees are also saving less for retirement

Lastly, the number of employees who said they’re now saving less for retirement popped back up this month. A little over 2 out of 5 employees say they’re now putting less into their 401(k) than they normally do, potentially as a cost-cutting measure. 

This data point has fluctuated a bit over the last several months (anywhere from 36%-41%), but employees have consistently told us that they’re worried about their finances—and cutting back on retirement savings is one way they’re addressing those fears. 

41% Of employees say they’re currently saving less for retirement than they normally do

What this means for you: 

People want more money in their pockets now, which is completely understandable. But they need to be aware of the tradeoff if they stop saving for retirement this year.

This open enrollment, explain to your employees how much they’ll miss out on if they don’t open or continue investing in a 401(k). Show them clearly (with cold, hard numbers) how their savings now could turn into exponentially more dollars that they can spend down the road.

How much you could save on retirement over time

Plus, employees who aren’t saving right now aren’t taking advantage of employer matching—so you need to remind them how much they could be missing out on there as well. 

Bonus Resource

Download the full COVID-19 Employee Report