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How to Seamlessly Navigate Open Enrollment
The last two months of the year are the busiest for benefits enrollment. HR administrators need to develop a strategy to keep stress and obstacles to a minimum to keep open enrollment as seamless as possible for employees. Specific areas to focus on include how you can improve your delivery and how to increase your employee engagement.
It’s your role as an administrator to ensure that your employees understand the value of their benefits, otherwise, they’re not going to bother renewing them at the current enrollment cycle. Making the information accessible means drawing on as many different mediums as you can, and technology is an important one because it can boost employee access and create a more personalized information output.
Tips for Navigating a Seamless Open Enrollment
Here are some tips to help you create a successful strategy for open enrollment.
- Communication is key: One of the most important factors to make open enrollment as successful as possible is communication. How you communicate may vary depending on whether and how benefits have changed since the last enrollment period, but first and foremost, remind your employees that open enrollment is coming up. Let employees know about any upcoming open enrollment meetings at least three weeks in advance. This will give them and their spouses time to prepare.
- Know your audience: Stay abreast of workforce demographics. Knowing your employees is the first step on the right road to targeting benefits information to meet their needs. It also helps you discuss benefits in a way that is more relevant and personalized. For example, employees with young families may be more interested in health benefits, whereas older employees may be more interested in retirement benefits. Packaging benefits for target groups can make this easier.
- Update your understanding: You must have a deep and current understanding of available benefits. Refresh your knowledge regularly so you don’t misinform your employees. Bear in mind that benefits information can be overwhelming for many people. Your communication strategy should make this information, precise, easy to understand, and relevant. Along with providing details on coverage and benefits in your open enrollment materials, your company should also provide information on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and how this may affect the benefits you offer and your employees’ decisions. Be available to answer your workers’ questions, and when doing so, avoid using jargon.
- Keep your message simple: Failing to simplify the information you are offering will simply turn employees away. All the data you provide should be laid out clearly and simply. Checklists can be valuable support tools, so make the most of them. Don’t exhaust employees with lengthy information. State clearly why benefits are structured as they are, and how the company’s benefits strategy can help the workforce.
- Provide assistance: Providing a support line can be a major asset for open enrollment. It’s best to create as many contact points as you can for employees who have questions or need personal assistance. For example, provide a relevant and extensive range of FAQs in your information pack. Give your employees access to a dedicated email address where they can send questions that will be answered promptly. Think about adding chatbots to your employee intranet so workers can access information in real-time if an administrator is not available.
- Make the most of technology: Your benefits communication strategy should utilize the latest available technologies including AI. Along with having in-person meetings, you can also:
- Use chatbots
- Write personalized emails
- Provide educational webinars
- Send intranet posts
- Post on social media
- Share informational videos
- Make enrollment easy: One of the easiest eats to streamline open enrollment is to allow employees to use online platforms to enroll. Online enrollment is usually quick, accessible and beneficial for all parties involved. An easy way to develop your timeline is to work back from the final enrollment date and then work forward from the present to ensure that employees have all the time they need to make the right decisions for themselves and their dependents.
- Provide pre-enrollment education: The main agenda for employees during open enrollment is that they make the right choices for their situation and their families. To make this happen you should encourage them to:
- Get informed: Employees need to do their homework and read the information available to them. Explain that benefits can change each year, so what they signed up for last enrollment, may not apply this time. Encourage them to review new enrollment materials even if their benefits provider is the same as last year. Recommend that they write down any questions or concerns they have, so they can ask the company’s administration.
- Talk to their health insurance providers: Each benefit provider has its own network of insurance providers. An employee’s family doctor or pediatrician may belong to a particular network, but they need to know before they enroll, that their preferred healthcare providers are part of the network they’re signing up for.
Whichever methods of communication you decide to use for your open enrollment, make sure you have a good strategy in place well in advance. Present your information in easy to understand, concise packages that target relevant audiences. Make sure that your open enrollment runs seamlessly and does not disrupt the normal daily workflow. Make the best use you can of the technology you have available within your budget.
Be kind, patient, and understanding with employees during the open enrollment period. Financial issues can be a major stressor when deciding on benefit options. Make sure your open enrollment doesn’t become another source of stress for them, and that they receive the help they need with your enrollment services.