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SWBC's BusinessHub blog is a one-stop resource for business owners and company decision makers.


Your 4-Step Guide to Open Enrollment

open-enrollmentIt's that time of the year again, open enrollment. Make sure your employees understand the ins-and-outs of the open enrollment process. Check out our latest blog that can help guide you through the maze of open enrollment and ensuring your employees take advantage of all the benefits you offer.

Open enrollment can be a stressful and hectic time, 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—for you and your employees.

Here are four steps to help you survive open enrollment:

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 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 recommendations 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.

2. Focus on new employees and benefit changes

You might find that seasoned employees sometimes ignore open enrollment information because they don't expect many changes year to year. You may want 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 with an option to access an internal website or archive where all information can be referenced.

3. Assign communication professionals to craft messages

Let’s be honest, health insurance and other benefits topics are confusing. Many employees may not fully comprehend insurance or related terminology, and frustration from that lack of understanding can lead employees to tune out enrollment information. Take this problem head-on by asking 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, website content, and create calculators and other helpful plan comparison tools for employees.

4. 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 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, you will save significant costs on ineligible insurance claims.

Remember to stay engaged and open. Ask employees for feedback and suggestions to make the process run smoother. Employee comments and feedback will help understand your employee’s enrollment experience and needs. You could learn a new way to communicate your plan or just understand other needs and wants your employees have that may not be top of mind.

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