Open enrollment season is upon us! We know it can be a stressful time and the growing number of employees working virtually does not make it any easier. To help your benefits team stay in the right frame of mind and ensure a successful open enrollment, we are giving you seven easy-to-follow tips.
1. Get Creative
Who said open enrollment had to be a drab process for your HR and benefits teams? In today’s digital age, explore new ways to engage employees. Use prizes as incentives for registration or hold virtual information sessions with interesting topics to pull folks in. If you have a consulting team, lean into their creative resources and marketing intel to understand what has worked for other clients and their plan participants.
2. Be Proactive
Try to get ahead by establishing a timeline for open enrollment in advance. Start by working backward from key milestones. Develop a list of key deliverables and deadlines. Once you have an outline of what open enrollment will look like this year, communicate your goals and your timeframe to your vendor partners. This way, there is plenty of time for vendors to code and test any plan changes, communicate information on any new programs and send any marketing materials (or giveaways) your way.
3. Communicate Effectively
You are busy and your employees are too. With a process like open enrollment, it is sometimes hard to strike the balance between getting plan participants the information they need while not overwhelming them. If possible, work with your internal marketing team to develop communications that call out the most important information and dates. Be sure to keep it clear and concise and engage with employees via multiple sources, email, hard copy, posters, etc.
Education is especially crucial for companies with younger populations. Familiar jargon and acronyms you and your HR team throw around every day, like “deductible”, “OOP”, PPO” etc., can be foreign to new employees who may not have participated in open enrollment before. Making sure to define important terms and using them in real-world examples will equip your members with the knowledge they need to help them through this year’s open enrollment and beyond.
Make sure to communicate the upcoming open enrollment timeframe to associates so they can plan accordingly and give them plenty of time to make informed choices. It is also good practice to have a solidified open and close period and then a silent window for about a week after close in case folks take longer to make decisions than anticipated.
6. Keep your door open
Even with the most effective communications, there will always be questions from plan members. Keeping an open-door policy and making sure you and your team are easy to reach are crucial for optimal open enrollment success. Especially with workforces split between home and the office, it is more important than ever to make sure there is a streamlined process for answering questions. Virtual and in-person Q&A sessions and a thorough FAQ document posted on a company intranet may also be good ways to help your benefits team and associates alike.
Above all, compliance needs to be at the forefront of open enrollment to protect your company and provide all the necessary information to the appropriate members. From plan changes to HIPAA, ERISA and COBRA, make sure that all your communications and strategies you utilize are legally sound.
Utilize the help of your vendors, internal team members and the tips above to ensure a successful open enrollment season. While detailed, it does not have to be a daunting task. And remember, while it can be stressful, do your best to keep it fun!