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Harvesting voluntary benefits: A guide to navigating enrollment season

Phyllis Falotico headshot

By Phyllis Falotico

Head of Worksite Marketing and true believer that good financial health and well-being for today's working Americans begin with their workplace benefits.

Posted on: October 19, 2023

As the leaves begin to change colors and the air turns cooler, we find ourselves amidst the vibrant fall season. Just as fall brings an abundance of changes, so does this time of year for benefits professionals—it’s open enrollment season. This is a crucial time to help your clients and their employees reap the rewards of comprehensive coverage, much like the harvest of the season. In this blog post, I’d like to share the many similarities and synergy of the fall and the voluntary benefits that can help improve working Americans’ financial well-being.

Embracing change: Fall and open enrollment

Fall is a season known for its transformation—a shift from the warmth of summer to the cool embrace of autumn. In a similar vein, open enrollment marks a transformation in employees’ benefits options. Just like this time of year inspires a sense of renewal, open enrollment provides a chance for employees to reassess and renew their benefits choices.

Nurturing a bounty of benefits

Much like the fall harvest provides an array of fruits and vegetables, open enrollment can offer a variety of voluntary benefits, among which MassMutual® Group Whole Life Insurance is a prime example. It offers a variety of features such as a guaranteed death benefit, level premiums, guaranteed cash value, a Chronic Care Benefit1, and its dividends eligible2. The season’s theme of abundance ties into the bountiful coverage that employees can enjoy today and tomorrow.

“Raking in” employee perks

During this season, people often spend time raking leaves to prepare for what’s ahead. Similarly, benefits producers must help prepare their clients and their employees for the future by effectively communicating the value of voluntary benefits. According to our recently released Working American Perceptions: Annual Assessment of Financial Well-Being report, 63% saw voluntary benefits as an essential part of their financial well-being3. It also confirmed that many people do not actively think about open enrollment unless or until given a reason. They need reminders, education and nudges to help ensure they make more informed decisions (and in turn, helps to increase participation). Although we are smack in the middle of open enrollment, it’s never too late to take one or more of the following actions with your clients:

  1. Educational workshops: Host online or in-person workshops to help educate employees on the benefits, especially those that offer financial security for themselves and their loved ones, such as Group Whole Life with its combined death benefits and living benefits.
  2. Personalized guidance: Offer one-on-one sessions with company benefits leaders to help them become heroes to their employees—making it easier for them to convey the unique needs of their workforce and to choose the right benefits. Emphasize how to tailor their options to individual circumstances.
  3. Digital resources: Provide online tools and resources that employees can access at their convenience. Direct your clients to available content that can help champion their open enrollment efforts.
  4. Highlight value, not just the number of options: Some benefits may offer tax advantages, flexibility, and affordability to choices that they have access to as employees of their organization.
  5. Engage in open dialogue: Not only encourage your clients to create touch points to make it easier for their employees to ask questions but make yourself more approachable for your clients to get answers from you. This helps to create an environment of trust and reliability where it feels comfortable discussing benefits choices and respond to more complex inquiries.

The transition from fall to winter

As fall transitions to winter, so too does open enrollment season come to a close. The decisions made during this period can impact the financial well-being of working Americans throughout the year and beyond. Just as winter necessitates preparation for the cold months, choosing the right benefits during open enrollment is a crucial step in preparing for the future. Just think of the incredible difference you can make to so many lives.

Cultivating long-term relationships

The fall is not just about the harvest, it’s also about building connections. Similarly, your mindset should not be just about selling voluntary benefits, but about forging lasting relationships. Maintain a presence even after open enrollment ends. It’s not a said and done process. Our research found that 75% of working Americans were satisfied or extremely satisfied with their open enrollment process last year and 64% were somewhat to completely agreed that their voluntary benefits options met their needs.3 But to maintain and improve these statistics, it takes ongoing communications and reminders promoting the value of the benefits chosen. Only engaging during enrollment periods may diminish renewals if you only reinforce value once a year.

Like leaves falling in autumn, your clients and their employees can shed the stress of open enrollment and embrace the warmth of greater financial well-being , thanks to the right voluntary benefits. So, benefits professionals, embrace the fall spirit and help clients reap the bountiful rewards of this enrollment period. As the season transitions, help make sure working Americans are well-prepared to face the winter of life with greater confidence and security.

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The information provided is not written or intended as specific tax or legal advice. MassMutual, its subsidiaries, employees and representatives are not authorized to give tax or legal advice. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

1State variations will apply. Certain features are not available in all states. The Chronic Care Benefit is not available in Massachusetts.

2Dividends are not guaranteed. The certificate is eligible to receive dividends beginning on the second anniversary.

3Working American Perceptions: Annual Assessment of Financial Well-Being. MassMutual, September 2023.

The product and/or certain features may not be available in all states. State variations will apply.

Group Whole Life Insurance (GPWL), (policy/certificate forms MM-GPWL-2014 and MM GCWL-2014, and MM-GPWL-2014 (NC) and MM GCWL-2014 (NC) in North Carolina), is level premium, participating permanent life insurance. The GPWL policy and GCWL certificates are issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, Springfield, MA 01111-0001