Open enrollment is an exciting time for employees and their HR teams alike. This is the time of year when companies often roll out new benefits or updates to old ones. However, it can quickly overwhelm everyone involved without a defined strategy to guide your employees through this process.
You’ve already worked hard to create a benefits package for your employees. Don’t spoil a good thing with poor planning! Overlooking your open enrollment strategy hurts your employees.
A survey found that 31% of employees were confused about their benefits. When nearly one-third of your workforce doesn’t understand their benefits, that’s a policy failure. However, it can be corrected! So what does it take for a breezy open enrollment?
This blog explains what you need to know to fine-tune your open enrollment strategy. Your employees will be grateful for their benefits and the time you took to help them understand their enrollments.
You may have heard that quote saying the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, and the second best time is now. Well, you can take that energy into your benefits communications strategy. It’s never too early to communicate important information about benefits and open enrollment.
Human resources teams can save everyone time by educating employees on the types of benefits they offer throughout the year. For example, do you have an HDHP (High deductible health plan)? Help your team understand what that is and why you chose it.
Beyond timing, you need to consider the frequency and mediums of your messaging. Every employee communicates differently. Many companies are employing multiple generations of people. For optimal impact, your messaging for Gen X teammates might need to differ from those in Gen Z.
Also, consider how you’ll help each group understand what benefits are more relevant for them. For example, a 45-year-old employee with a family has different needs than their single 24-year-old counterparts.
Mass email communications are a great starting point. Some employees are more active on Slack or Teams, so create an open enrollment channel for quick questions. From there, add HR office hours to address individual questions and company all-hands meetings as another sweeping communication channel.
Dedicate more time to explaining significant changes
Perhaps your benefits plan hasn’t changed much year-over-year. However, employees need to know if a change impacts them. Unfortunately, some of the language in health insurance or other benefit plans can be a little disorienting, so changes are easy to miss without vigilance.
As such, give major changes to any benefits a position of prominence in your communications. If you’ve managed to reduce costs or introduce a new childcare benefit, you should be excited to share that anyway! Open enrollment is a great time to remind your employees that you’re always looking for ways to improve their lives.
Set clear deadlines and send reminders
Open enrollment is only open for so long. Do everything you can to ensure employees don’t miss out on registrations for their benefits. On top of your benefits education communications, send out frequent reminders about enrollment deadlines. Similarly, take a multi-channel approach and share reminders through your messaging app, in company meetings, and over email.
Enrollment technology is your best friend
The amount of paperwork tied to open enrollment can be staggering. Of course, your employees value their benefits, but that doesn’t mean they should be buried under a mountain of elections. Instead, make enrollment easier for your employees.
Ask your benefits administration team to implement an enrollment portal for employees to navigate through the process quickly. Your workers can reference plan information as needed while they breeze through enrollments. There’s much less friction working through a handful of clicks than a stack of papers.
Explain what happens after enrollment
Every HR team and many managers hear these six words every year, “When will my insurance cards get here?” However, your open enrollment education strategy can address questions like these. Employees need to know when they’ll be able to access their benefits. So it’s never a bad thing to clear up.
In addition to communicating those timelines, encourage employees to take full advantage of their benefits once they’re active. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a dropoff in preventative screenings and treatments. That’s a two-year window where many employees may not have had a check-up.
An HR Dive article stressed the gravity of that situation and how delayed screenings could lead to a crisis of undetected severe illness. Providing benefits is huge, but employees should also feel motivated and supported to use them.
Follow up with your vendors after enrollment
Once benefits have been elected, and open enrollment comes to a close, follow up with your vendors. Conduct an audit of the data submitted between you and your vendors to scope out any discrepancies. Finally, ask the vendor some pressing employee questions so that you can keep your team up to date on important information.
After open enrollment is complete and the crucial questions are answered, schedule a benefits team happy hour. You deserve some fun before you start planning for next year!
ADDA makes open enrollment easier!
If your business needs guidance on any piece of its benefits process, ADDA’s consultants are here to help. Schedule a call today, so we can help you create a benefits package and strategy that your employees love.