Would you rather skip open enrollment this year? It’s understandable. It can seem as though every year, open enrollment becomes more difficult. Options change. Prices go up. Employees get frustrated. But as an HR manager or administrator, it’s your job to manage employee benefits. Here’s what you need to know.
The Challenges of Open Enrollment
Open enrollment essentially sets a very small window of time during which HR managers need to do a lot of work. During your company’s open enrollment period, you’re going to need to help employees make the changes that they need to their current healthcare benefits. That can be a lot of employees, and a lot of changes. Employees are likely to have a lot of questions about open enrollment, and they’re going to need to make decisions that last the full year.
Streamlining Your Open Enrollment Processes
As with any busy time, streamlining your processes is critical. How do employees currently make changes to their open enrollment? Is there a form or a packet that they fill out, or do they need to come down to your office and discuss it with you each time? How much information is made available to them at the beginning of the open enrollment period, and are they given information that enrollment will be upcoming in a timely fashion?
The more lead time and more information you give your employees, the more likely they are to self-service to some degree. They will look up their options and make a decision before, not after, walking in through your door.
Streamlined processes also benefit your employees. They will feel more willing to explore the options that are best for them and their families if they can look the information up on their own.
The Tools You Can Use to Improve Open Enrollment
Tools can help. The more of this process you can automate, the better, especially for larger companies. Here are a few tools that you may find worthwhile:
Your company’s intranet. Your intranet should be a repository for critical information about open enrollment, such as the forms and deadlines.
- Mailing lists. A mailing list can give employees information about the upcoming enrollment, and serve as a reminder to get documents in on time.
- Webcasts and meetings. Sometimes, employees may need more detailed explanations about new options that they have. A webinar or webcast can help.
- Ultimately, open enrollment is a time when you need to educate your employees regarding their options.
Why Do Employees Skip Open Enrollment?
As an HR manager, part of your job is to make sure that employees are able to use the benefits that they have. But employees may skip open enrollment entirely, even if it’s advantageous to them because they are uncertain about the process or don’t know what changes to make.
That’s not good for the company, either. Often, the company is going to be providing benefits that also helps the business as a whole, such as new health care plans that can improve the overall health and attitude of the office.
By making the process simpler, and explaining it thoroughly, you can encourage employees to make adjustments to their benefits packages as needed.
Helping Employees Navigate Open Enrollment
Companies often change their open enrollment offerings, which means the process of open enrollment needs to include:
- A detailed explanation of what has changed.
- An overview of the open enrollment process.
- Explanations of the current options.
Employees will be able to better navigate open enrollment if the process is streamlined and simple. If you find that employees are confused, it may be time to create a more thorough informational packet or hold seminars online.
The Benefits of Better Open Enrollment
Employees are valuable. Benefits are intended to help employees, and when benefits are difficult to access, good employees may leave. Employers all have a vested interest in making sure that their employees are satisfied and well taken care of, which they cannot do if their employees are in poor health, or frustrated by their current benefits processes.
By improving open enrollment, you can make it easier to make sure that employees have what they need. An improved open enrollment process won’t just lead to satisfied employees, but will also mean that enrollment takes up far less of your time, and far less time for the HR department in general. That leaves the HR department to take care of other things, such as day-to-day tasks.
Want to improve your employee benefits? Download our checklist: 10 Steps to Choosing the Best Benefits Enrollment Tools for Your Small Business.