Open enrollment can be overwhelming for both employers and employees. Employees are given the opportunity to re-evaluate their current benefits and make changes, while your HR team must facilitate the enrollment process and choose a benefits package that balances cost and value.
What is Open Enrollment?
Open enrollment happens once a year and is a time when employees can sign up for health insurance, adjust their current plan, or cancel their plan. It’s usually limited to a few weeks. If an employee misses open enrollment, they often have to wait until it’s offered the next year before they can make any changes to their health plan.
Open Enrollment Strategies
Let’s take a look at some strategies you can employ to improve the enrollment process for your HR team and your employees.
- Establish solid communication between the HR department and employees. To do so effectively, conduct meetings and seminars and offer calculators, intranet education information, and open enrollment fairs. (Meetings, seminars, and fairs can be held virtually or in person, depending on the circumstances of your workforce).
- If your organization is smaller, conduct one-on-one meetings with employees to determine the type of information they need.
- Survey your employee population to determine their priorities (product importance, preferred method of communication, etc.). By doing so, employers can identify what their employees want, and workers feel their needs have been heard by decision makers.
- Customize benefits and information resources to the life stages of your employees. For instance, if you have a large population of older employees, feature more retiree benefits and long-term care insurance. It is also wise to communicate with your employees the same way they communicate on a regular basis. For example, if you communicate regularly with employees via your company intranet site, be sure to share messages there regarding open enrollment.
By customizing your benefits to your population, you can increase employee satisfaction without increasing your spending. Employees will have an easier time selecting the benefits that are best suited for them and their families.
- Provide easy-to-understand decision-making tools. This will lessen employee confusion and the feeling of being overwhelmed while trying to make tough decisions.
- Consider offering new benefits, even if they are voluntary, such as permanent life insurance, long-term care insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, prepaid legal services, adoption assistance, or pet health insurance.
Even if employees must pay 100 percent for voluntary options, they can still be attractive offerings. Since the benefits are negotiated by the employer, employees typically receive a group rate, which is significantly lower than purchasing them individually. Click here to learn more.
- Offer a second, off-cycle enrollment period when new benefits are featured. This can be a time for employees to focus on voluntary benefits and other offerings that are not traditional. These benefits are typically overshadowed by health insurance and retirement options, so a second off-cycle enrollment is a great time for employees to focus on their other needs.
- Make plan information as simple as possible while also being interactive. Employees should be able to understand their offerings to make more knowledgeable decisions. Maintain all Summary Plan Descriptions on your website rather than directing employees to the insurance carrier site for information. This provides easy access to information and makes the company appear more in control of the information. Also, consider making benefits and enrollment information available in a variety of formats based on how different employees consume information (for example: video, interactive PDFs, long-form plan benefit docs, etc.)
Overall, a successful and effective open enrollment process can have a dramatic impact on the relationship between you and your employees. By catering to the needs and wants of employees, you can ultimately make the open enrollment experience more enjoyable and less confusing for your workers. As a result, employees will feel more secure in their benefits decisions throughout the plan year.