It’s almost that time again—open enrollment. The period when eligible employees can sign up for health insurance and other benefits for the coming year.
But even though it happens every year, it can be a hectic time for employees and HR managers alike. Thankfully, there are things you can do to make every open enrollment period a success.
Here are five concrete actions we recommend.
1. Communicate Dates and Timelines
Clear, concise communication will always be crucial for open enrollment. Your employees need to know what the company’s timeline looks like, and what their individual deadlines are. One way to communicate this is with a save-the-date email. Another strategy is to physically post this information, in the form of a calendar or another eye-catching way, in break rooms and other spaces around the office. But regardless of what you choose, when it comes to communicating with your employees about open enrollment, you should err on the side of over-communicating.
2. Give Your Employees Enough Time to Complete the Process
As a rule, you should plan on delivering all relevant materials to your employees at least a week before open enrollment begins. Once it’s over, your employees and their families will have to live with their choices until the next open enrollment. Making sure they have enough time to prepare, and enough time to complete the process, is crucial. We recommend allowing at least two weeks. You should allow more time if your organization has remote employees or employees who travel frequently.
3. Highlight the Most Essential Information
Remember that you’re required by law to disclose certain things, including:
- Changes in coverage
- A summary of benefits
- A summary of how much coverage will cost
When it comes to this information, you should again err on the side of over-communicating. The last thing you want is for your organization to face penalties for not disclosing something your employees need to know.
4. Make the Open Enrollment Process as User Friendly as Possible
When it comes to signing up for a benefits plan, look for ways to make that process as easy as possible. One way to do that is by making sure your employees know how to use the online enrollment portal. Another is by providing your employees with a decision support tool or the tools they need to calculate how much their benefits will cost. We also recommend sending emails confirming their choices or letting them know of any errors that need to be corrected before the enrollment period ends.
5. Are Your HR and Benefits Professionals Available to Help?
There’s no doubt about it: Your employees will need help at some point. Once open enrollment has begun, make sure your team has the freedom and flexibility to answer questions or provide more hands-on help. Having an experienced benefits administration service partner can also help, especially if your team’s time is limited. Either way, making sure your employees have access to a team of benefits professionals will not only save them from any unnecessary confusion or anxiety, it may also save your organization money in the end.
Making Open Enrollment Easier Improves the Employee Experience
Open enrollment can be confusing. We recommend doing anything you can do to make the experience easier. Ultimately, this will help you improve the employee experience, and it will ensure that your employees and their families end up with the health coverage they need for the coming year.