Most companies will be starting their open enrollment periods soon. You may have already sent out some of the initial notices. It’s shaping up to be an especially challenging year, so here’s a heads-up on some of the key issues you’ll be facing.

Millennials expect a lot from their employers.

According to Pew Research Center, Millennials overtook Baby Boomers to become the country’s largest generation in 2019. There are 72.1 million Millennials, and they’re all working-aged. Employers cannot afford to ignore this generation.

So, what do Millennials want from their employees? According to Employee Benefit News, quite a lot. Millennials are going through a lot of work and life changes right now, and they think their employers should support them. A recent MetLife report found that 66% of Millennials want their employer to help them purchase a home, 76% want help creating a will and 27% want financial planning programs.

Employers are taking note. According to Harvard Business Review, almost all business leaders surveyed said they planned to expand or newly offer at least one employee benefit. New priorities include expanded mental health benefits, childcare benefits, senior care benefits and flexibility.

Costs are rising, but employees may not see increases.

According to Human Resource Executive, a survey from Willis Towers Watson shows employers expect their healthcare costs to increase 5.2% in 2022. Mercer’s survey found similar but slightly lower projections, with an expected increase of 4.7%.

Some employers may be planning to follow the lead of Delta Air Lines and impose a surcharge on health insurance premiums for unvaccinated workers. This strategy may be effective, but there are compliance issues to consider, including the ADA, the EEOC, and the ACA affordability rule. For more information on these and other compliance issues, see this HR Morning article.

In addition to compliance issues, employers must also consider the impact on retention. The Mercer study found that fewer employers are planning to shift healthcare expenses to employees. Around one-third of employers plan to lower the employees’ share of premium costs, while only 17% plan to increase it.

Safety concerns and hybrid arrangements will shape OE communications.

According to Commercial Observer, a recent report found that 34% of U.S. office workers had returned to the office.

This means that about two-thirds of office workers are still working remotely. Many workers want to keep their remote arrangements, and they may join the Great Resignation if they’re employers don’t let them. And even for the workers who are back in the office, COVID is still a concern, and large group meetings may not be appreciated.

An article in Employee Benefit News warns that open enrollment might take longer this year, with one-on-one meetings for office workers and interactive online tools for remote workers to help all workers pick the best benefits for their changing needs.

Open enrollment will be here soon.

This year’s open enrollment will be challenging, but we have some resources to help you prepare.

Download the Best Practices for Open Enrollment Season for tips every benefits administrator should know, and get our Zombie Open Enrollment Infographic to discover nine open enrollment dangers that lurk in the shadows.