Open Enrollment Planning

Time to start open enrollment planning.

Now is the time we all break out our swimsuits, spruce up the patio and embrace summer in all its glory. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but it’s also time for HR professionals to think about their plans for open enrollment.

Prepping for open enrollment now can result in a smoother process come fall/winter, as well as increased employee awareness and knowledge of the benefits plans your company will be offering. As you start planning, it’s important to consider how you can make this open enrollment period better and more successful than ever before.

To help you get started, here are six steps for improving your open enrollment process:

Step #1: Reflect

Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it – so the first step in your open enrollment improvement plan should be evaluating last year’s efforts. Think about which areas were a success and which could use some work – then commit yourself to addressing those problem spots.

“Get a feel of what your employees want from open enrollment.”

Step #2: Poll Employees

Don’t fly blind – find out now what your employees want from open enrollment. Surveys and polls are easy to send out and take a few minutes to complete, and they can provide invaluable insight to help you fine-tune your processes to deliver what your talent wants. Ask questions like, “What did you not like about the open enrollment period last year?” and “Which benefits are most important to you?”

Step #3: Set Goals

Once you’ve completed a detailed evaluation of last year and identified what employees want, set your goals and objectives. In addition to improving weak spots of past enrollments, identify any specific benchmarks you would like to reach, such as boosting the number of employees enrolled in dental plans by X amount.

Step #4: Remain Current

Healthcare legislation is one of the most turbulent elements of our society. In this environment of uncertainty and constant change, it is critical to stay up-to-date with all the specifications of the developments that health coverage and other benefits plans have undergone.

Step #5: Leverage Technology

How will you administer open enrollment? Will your current HR technology meet your needs? Is it streamlined? User-friendly? Integrated? All these factors will help make open enrollment more productive and efficient. If you are still using manual processes to manage open enrollment, consider moving online to provide a better experience across the organization.

Step #6: Communicate

Identify what methods and channels you will use to communicate benefits information to employees. Using multiple avenues (i.e. email, an employee portal or HR system, videos and workshops) provides employees with a variety of options can is more engaging than simply conveying using printed materials or email. As Entrepreneur magazine recommends, address pain points from last year and start early – the sooner you communicate, the sooner you can get benefits on employees’ radar.

Keep these steps in mind as you build your open enrollment plan and set yourself up for success. In Part 2 of this series, we’ll look at ways you can improve employee engagement during open enrollment.