5 Steps to A Successful Open Enrollment

08/08/2023 Written by: Suzy Mendelson

  1. Communicating is not Educating: Telling an employee when and how to enroll is not the same thing as ensuring they understand their choices and the impact those choices have on them and their families. Learning is not always fun, but this can be! Get creative with your benefits presentations, engage employees by offering varied educational opportunities, and reach employees through a variety of communication platforms. Here are some ideas on educational strategies that can be implemented easily, often with the help of your benefits broker.
    1. Offer a personalized, intimate learning experience by offering employees the opportunity to sit with a benefits specialist to talk through each plan, its value, and how it relates to them and their personal needs. These can be done virtually, also, making it a tech forward and convenient experience.
    2. With pandemic protocols easing, it may be time to bring your benefits vendors back on site! Vendor Fairs are great ways to get your employees up and moving! They will have an opportunity to speak firsthand with your providers in a more casual setting and maybe walk away with a few tchotchkes. (We all know everyone needs a new toothbrush or stress ball!) Encourage your vendors to get creative! Have your vision vendor provide eye exams, bring in the wellness teams for fun activities, or do fun giveaways!
  2. Require an Active Enrollment: Benefits are expensive and are usually the number 2 expenditure for an employer, behind payroll. There is a large financial investment being made and it takes a lot of work to make sure those plans are financially performing to the best of their abilities.
    1. Requiring annual re-elections reinforce the value of the benefits that you are providing and additionally reinforces the importance of the choices that are being made.
    2. Show the employee the investment you make on their behalf! By expressly providing an employer contribution to these plans, they will better understand the true cost of their benefits.
    3. Just remember, if benefits elections don’t seem important to you, it won’t be important to them.
  3. Listen!: They are called employee benefits, so find out how they feel about what is being offered. There are some great ways to survey employees to gather feedback. One idea is to utilize the benefits advisors to gather personal feedback during their education session. You can also try tech solutions like Airbo, which will provide an educational informational tool that collects data and feedback to open ended questions. The reporting tools it has makes it very easy to retrieve and digest data for planning purposes.  Prioritize and communicate back your plans to implement based on their feedback.
  4. Make it Easy, it Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated: The thought of Open Enrollment can send shivers down employees and HR professionals’ spines alike, but it really doesn’t have to be that way. Yes, it’s a busy time of year, but lean on the resources that your broker can provide to you and your employees to lighten the load.
    1. Benefits administration systems can often be paid for and administered by your broker partner. These systems will allow team members a web based, tech forward way to enroll while making life easier for the HR team member trying to track elections, documentation, EOIs, and enrollment status. We are all human, let the tech do the hard work so you can focus on more important, strategic stuff!
    2. Clear is Kind! Be clear with your employees about changes and updates to programs, timelines and deadlines. You can’t over communicate those items and the more they understand, the fewer complications will bubble up mid-year.
    3. Post enrollment, debrief with your broker partner, your enrollment partner and any other stakeholders in the process. This meeting should occur right after OE so it is fresh in everyone’s minds. What should be celebrated? What should we do different for next year? Document it so you can continue to improve, year over year.
  5. Give the People What They Want: A well rounded benefits offering provides the employee population with options. Everyone has a different situation or has different needs and providing a full offering will support any needs they may have. Benefits offerings has a very real affect on employee retention and recruitment, so its important to make sure your offerings are in line or exceeding what is offered in your industry, employee demographic, and geographic location. There are some really cool, new programs out there and some that have evolved so its important to make sure your plan offering is up to date and providing the most comprehensive coverage possible.
    1. Benchmarking-Your broker partner can provide you with valuable benchmarking that will help you assess how you stack up and can provide recommendations on how to shape your offering to be the best available in your market.
    2. Program Implementation-make the most of a new benefit roll out by creating a multifaceted communications strategy with your broker and enrollment partner. Adding new programs won’t move the needle if your employees don’t know about them and how they can provide benefit.

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