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Beyond open enrollment: How AI is revolutionizing benefits throughout the year

May 16, 2024

Using generative AI applications for open enrollment and improved benefits experience year-round
Benefits Administration and Outsourcing Solutions|Employee Experience

There’s no doubt the emergence of generative artificial intelligence (AI) technology, powered by large language models (LLMs), is revolutionizing the benefits enrollment experience for clients, employees, consultants and administrators. More companies are using AI to deliver a more intuitive and effective user experience for choosing benefits as generative AI applications become more sophisticated. However, the possibilities of AI go far beyond open enrollment to deliver an improved benefits experience year-round.

As the world of benefits continues to evolve rapidly, employers are looking for new ways to improve outcomes for both their organizations and their people. Today, employers see benefits as a way to differentiate themselves in the marketplace beyond attracting employees. Our annual survey Priorities for Employee Benefits: a global HQ perspective found that 63% of employers see benefits as a way to signal their company’s purpose/mission and employee value proposition externally over the next three years. The survey also found that the traditional focus on promoting benefits (61%) and decision-making support (49%) remains a priority for many.

Below are some ways companies can use generative AI, and more, to help meet their ambitious goals for 2024 and beyond.

Content creation

One of the primary applications of generative AI is in content creation, significantly reducing the time and effort required to develop high-quality resources for employees during enrollment and throughout the year. For example, generative AI can craft guides that break down the different insurance plans, coverage details and cost implications of plans offered at open enrollment. It can also provide descriptive summary copy to use when promoting benefits to help employees better understand their options. Some employers are even exploring the use of virtual or augmented reality as a delivery channel for virtual benefits fairs as a way to provide an immersive and interactive experience that replaces the in-person events hosted pre-pandemic.


Our clients are showing significant interest in leveraging technology to personalize the year-round benefits experience. Personalization plays a crucial role in helping employees to optimize their benefit coverage selections and improve their utilization of available care management programs and point solutions.

To achieve personalization, sophisticated data analytics programs are used to deliver targeted messages to employees throughout the year. These messages can be effectively communicated through various electronic channels, including online platforms such as WTW’s Embark solution, mobile apps, emails, SMS text messages and more. This approach ensures that employees receive relevant and timely information that aligns with their specific needs and preferences. At WTW, we are delivering a feature we call Predictive Assistance to our employee self-service experience, which recommends potential actions or topics a user may be interested in based on their individual data and previous behaviors.

Data analytics

AI and machine learning can be applied to benefits data to help companies understand the sources of costs and employee behaviors, leading to interventions and better cost management. These algorithms enable employers to evaluate the needs and interests of their employees, empowering them to make well-informed strategic decisions regarding the coverage and programs they provide.

By leveraging this data-driven approach, employers can better understand the preferences and requirements of their workforces, ensuring that the benefits offered align with the unique needs of their employees. Population segmentation and sentiment analysis are two other ways AI can help employers identify opportunities within their diverse employee population. At WTW, one area in which we apply these AI solutions is the analysis of survey results completed by our clients’ employees. Recently, a client with a newly completed acquisition experienced the power of the tools to quickly identify dramatically different employee attitudes between their legacy and acquired populations. While meeting with the client, generative AI was used to summarize verbatim survey comment themes regarding the benefit costs and coverage concerns of the acquired population in real time. The results are guiding the client’s medical plan design decisions for next year.

Improved efficiency

In addition to using generative AI for content creation to reduce work for your HR team, efficiencies can be achieved in resolving queries from your general employee population. Enterprise software providers are now integrating generative AI and LLM features within their technology suites, enabling faster integration in health and benefits recordkeeping software applications. For instance, Microsoft’s recent introduction of Azure Cognitive Services for Language allows chatbots like WTW’s, which is built on the Microsoft Azure framework, to leverage LLM capabilities. WTW leverages Microsoft’s Azure AI Bot framework in our Virtual Guide. We are also working with Microsoft as a partner to learn and understand Copilot (Microsoft’s AI solution to enhance its Office suite of capabilities, such as PowerPoint slide creation and notes). We rely on their expertise in the AI space as well as in broader technology to understand how we can adopt and apply these solutions in our products and processes so we can continue to provide best-in-class solutions for our customers.

Such tools enhance a chatbot’s understanding of user inquiries and improve its ability to address user needs effectively and provide efficient resolutions. Software development is benefiting from reduced effort and improved quality by using AI-enabled tools, such as Microsoft’s GitHub Copilot.

Benefits offerings and selection

AI-enabled technology, such as enhanced analytics and predictive modeling tools, assists in helping employers make informed decisions that align benefit designs with employee needs and company objectives. Generative AI helps optimize employee elections based on their unique family needs. Robust decision support tools leverage employee data, claims history and preference profiles to suggest coverage options. For example, WTW’s Selection Analysis can assess employee elections and provide personalized suggestions for employees to consider before they finalize their elections.

Improved call centers

AI helps improve the call center process by getting calls resolved faster, thereby improving the customer experience. AI-powered chatbots can handle routine queries, freeing up human agents to focus on more complex customer issues. Predictive and intelligent routing is being used to connect callers with appropriate resources to address their inquiries. Further, customer service representatives are supported by proactive knowledge article suggestions based on real-time call transcription. In addition, contact centers are beginning to apply generative AI to draft call summaries after a call is completed.

Benefits professionals: Heed the call

AI is not a threat or a fad. Rather than a job killer, it is a job enhancer for those benefits professionals who use it to create a globally consistent and technology-enabled employee experience, to design and promote benefits plans, to help employees use benefits effectively, and to improve the financial and health literacy of employees. As a result, organizations will benefit from increased efficiency, improved outcomes, greater employee satisfaction, and adherence to a purpose and vision that meet today’s standards and expectations.


Jeff Robbins
Managing Director, North America Outsourcing Shared Services
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