5 Ways to Make Open Enrollment Easier on Employees

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5 Ways to Make Open Enrollment Easier on Employees

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Open enrollment is an important time of year, and it can also be confusing and a source of stress for employees. Arm your employees with the right knowledge and tools leading up to this year’s open enrollment period. They’ll thank you for it – after all, healthy employees are happy employees! Here are the top five ways to help your employees stress less during open enrollment:

1. Share information about changes 

Set your employees up for success this open enrollment season by making sure they are aware of important changes to benefits or the enrollment process. Encourage your employees to promptly review options and thoughtfully choose a plan once the enrollment period starts. Also, be sure employees are aware of the penalty for forgoing coverage in 2018. The 2018 amounts have not yet been published, but for 2017, the penalty is 2.5 percent of a person’s income, or $695 per adult, whichever is more. 

2. Identify problem areas

Make sure history doesn’t repeat itself by taking note of what went smoothly during open enrollment last year and where there were holes in the process. Were there certain benefits employees seemed to be more confused about over others? What were the most frequent questions you received from employees about the process? Take note of these challenging areas and brainstorm ways to alleviate them in these year’s open enrollment communications plan. From there, create goals related to these problem spots – get X% of employees saving for retirement, or engage X% of employees in the open enrollment information session – and then set up a communications strategy accordingly.

3. Communicate early and often

You spent a lot of time planning for open enrollment this year. Make sure that your message actually gets to your employees with effective communication. The options are almost endless, but you can’t use them all. Decide which communication methods will best communicate important benefit details with employees – email, employee portal, videos and workshops, etc. Make sure all of your employees have the opportunity to be fully educated about their options. Remember that benefit communication doesn’t stop at the end of the open enrollment period. Be sure to follow up with your employees so they get the most out of their new elections. 

4. Leverage the latest HR technology

The platform you use to facilitate employee benefits enrollment can be the difference between a smooth, efficient open enrollment season and a stressful one for all involved. Decide how you plan to administer the benefits enrollment process to employees – is your current HR technology platform user-friendly, streamlined and integrated? If not, it may be time to look for a new HR technology solution. In addition to an audit of your current HR technology, consider going mobile with your enrollment communication plan – whether that means sending texts about important upcoming deadlines or providing mobile-friendly educational videos.

5. Prepare your support team

Make sure your company’s leaders, managers and extended HR team are fully equipped with key messages, FAQS and talking points about open enrollment. You need allies and can use the extra help with employee questions. Make sure these allies are able to get messages about open enrollment across in a clear, consistent manner. A consistent message from several sources will set up employees for success this open enrollment season.

Talk to your employees early and often about their open enrollment options. Hold information sessions – maybe more than one to accommodate employees’ varying schedules – and consider bringing in an expert to answer the tough questions. Above all else, be available for questions and other ways employees may need your assistance.

Could you benefit from additional HR support during open enrollment and beyond? Check out our recent blog on benefits of outsourcing your HR.

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