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    HR Administration | 3 min read

    6 Tips to Streamline Your Open Enrollment Process

    For business owners and human resources professionals, open enrollment is often a stressful and hectic time, complete with deadlines and disinterested employees. While we can't take away all the pain involved in open enrollment, we have some tips to minimize problems, maximize efficiency, and make the process flow much more smoothly.

    1. Evaluate previous processes and offerings

    There's no point in making plans before you've gone over what succeeded or failed in previous years. From preliminary communications to post-enrollment surveys, evaluate the entire process (try to be objective!) and ask a few others to do the same. Once you take the time to consider the process in a comprehensive manner, you may be surprised to learn of suggested changes that surface.

    During your review, don't forget to scrutinize the actual benefits you're offering. As your company and employees mature, you may need to change the plans and benefits available. Survey results can provide valuable employee insight on what benefits employees find useful (more on surveys below).

    2. Focus on new employees and benefit changes

    One reason seasoned employees sometimes ignore open enrollment information is that they operate under the perception that not much changes year to year. Opt to focus your communications on explaining offerings to new employees and highlight changes since last year for longer-standing employees.

    • If possible, segment your employee lists so you can send full instructions and information only to employees who have joined the organization in the last year. 

    • Use color, layout, and headlines to draw employees' attention to changes in plans, benefits, and offerings. Explain that full plan and enrollment information is always available for anybody who needs a refresher.

    • Offer optional video or in-person training sessions that detail everything new employees need to know to successfully enroll and make benefit changes from the previous year. Consider directing employees to an internal website or archive where all information can be referenced.

    3. Assign communications professionals to craft messages

    Let's face it; health insurance and other benefits topics are confusing. Many employees don't fully comprehend insurance or related terminology, and frustration from that lack of understanding can lead employees to tune out enrollment information. Head this problem off at the pass by seeking assistance from  your company's corporate communication team or an outsourced communications professional to create clear and simple instructions and messages.

    • Ask the professional to go through the process to ensure all steps will seem natural to employees.

    • Task the professional with writing all instructions and outgoing messages.

    • Request a written glossary of commonly used terms and questions/answers, to be posted to the enrollment website.

    • Ask the professional to write or edit all training presentations and website content.

    • Work with the professional to create calculators and other helpful plan comparison tools for employees.

     4. Add some interest

    No matter how clear and helpful the instructions and training appear, the subject of benefits is usually pretty dry. Add some interest by making enrollment more fun:

    • Create games by adding checkpoints and completion levels.

    • Offer raffle prizes for employees who enroll early or by certain deadlines.

    5. Verify plan compliance and enrollment eligibility

    Before presenting any plans, avoid potential problems by ensuring all offerings are compliant with current regulations. Once you've verified you're in the clear, check that all requested enrollees are actually eligible for coverage. Require that employees provide marriage certificates and birth/adoption records when enrolling dependents. Not only will you save money at enrollment by refusing ineligible individuals, but in the long run, you will save significant costs on illegitimate insurance claims.

    6. Ask employees for feedback

    As with most processes, your open enrollment review process remains incomplete until you've sought feedback, evaluated the survey results, and implemented smart changes. If you're working with an open enrollment committee, all committee members should review the survey feedback and vote on which suggestions deserve action. Be sure to ask employees about all parts of the process:

    • Plans offered

    • Training available

    • Messages

    • Website content

    • Ease of enrollment

    • Suggestions for the future

    While you may never use the word "fun" and "open enrollment" in the same sentence, if you plan the process well, you may convince employees it's not so bad. Follow these tips during your next open enrollment period to improve the experience for everybody involved!

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    HR Administration

    Karen McGee

    Karen McGee, Sr. HR Generalist, joined SWBC PEO in 2014 bringing with her a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Wayland Baptist. Karen comes to SWBC PEO with over 25 years of human resources management experience. Prior to joining SWBC PEO, Karen worked as a Human Resources Business Partner for a large utility company in San Antonio.

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