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September 7, 2018

3 steps to a successful open enrollment

According to SourceMedia Research, 70% of employers are struggling to prepare for open enrollment. Overly complicated administrative processes and lack of quality employee education and communication can result in confused and frustrated employees, unnecessary work for your HR team and negative financial impacts for your organization. The good news is that with the proper planning, processes and tools, these negative effects can be avoided.

Here are three tips to successfully prepare for open enrollment this season:

Streamline Administration

HR teams and benefits administrators are being spread increasingly thin when it comes to open enrollment…on top of their already demanding daily workloads. Now is the perfect time for employers to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of their open enrollment systems and identify what drives efficiency.

  • Pair high-tech with high-touch. Using the right automated enrollment tools can reduce manual errors, streamline communication and drive better plan participation. HR management systems can help manage time spent on routine HR tasks and can be implemented at any organization, regardless of size—it may be easier to implement and more affordable than you think.
  • Leverage benefit-use data. Employers can use data analytics to help employees make smarter benefits decisions. Having this information often uncovers what training or educational materials might help employees better understand underused or undervalued offerings.
  • Stay compliant. It's imperative to properly administer all of the health plan notices required under the DOL, PPACA, ERISA, COBRA and HIPAA. Failure to comply with these directives can lead to costly penalties and administrative burdens.

Find out what notices you need to provide during open enrollment in our Interactive Open Enrollment Tool Kit.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Employees often don’t understand what their benefit options really mean and have no idea as to how to select the best benefits for themselves and their families. Coupled with lack of education on the enrollment process, you end up with an overwhelmed HR team, your benefit plan being underused and undervalued, and unhappy employees. Fortunately, all of this can be addressed with thoughtful, well-planned communication and education.

Determine the different groups in your population and know the unique communication challenges associated with each. For instance, remote employees have low engagement, are mobile and can be distracted. Employees with families have high responsibility with extensive coverage needs. Embracing multiple methods and channels of communication and education – from videos and webinars to posters and benefits fairs – will be required to effectively address all employees.

Consider these 9 additional communication methods to start engaging your employees today.  

Manage Open Enrollment’s Financial Impact

Spending on employee benefits accounts for the second to fifth largest expense for most organizations. A smooth open enrollment can ensure that expense is leveraged efficiently and gives business leaders a chance to shine. In fact, organizations that take a strategic approach to benefits are nearly two times more likely to have reported better business performance and more satisfied employees compared with organizations that are not strategic with benefits.

Increasingly, employers' efforts to manage their health care costs are and should be focused on getting employees to become better health care consumers, that is, educating employees to make healthful choices in daily living and providing tools and education to help ensure that when they use health care, they are aware of its costs and have an incentive to reduce those costs.

Additionally, a less-than-successful open enrollment can have a negative impact on employees’ finances. 55% of employees estimate they waste up to $750 a year because of mistakes they make during open enrollment with their insurance benefits. This is yet another reason that communication and education must be a top priority.

The financial impacts of open enrollment on both a company’s and its employees’ bottom line are clear. And this is why proper preparation, management and follow-up analysis is essential to open enrollment and overall benefit plan success.

Click here to determine if your open enrollment is set up to have a positive (or negative) financial impact.


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