How to ensure a smooth and successful open enrollment

It's September now, and you know what that means: Open enrollment season is at hand. Under the wrong circumstances, open enrollment can create quite the hurdle for organizations to clear.

But this doesn't have to be the case. With adherence to certain best practices and a versatile human capital management platform, your company can avoid the potential pitfalls of open enrollment and roll out its benefit offerings efficiently and successfully.

1. Don't be afraid to summarize

According to the Society of Human Resource Management, conveying information during informational sessions, where HR managers explain benefits to their workers and field questions, can be one of the most difficult aspects of open enrollment. Even with these discussions, many employees still do not grasp the details of their benefits. SHRM noted such misunderstandings might come from them focusing on immediate job responsibilities, rather than being apathetic, but any confusion or lack of interest still creates a gulf to cross.

Wait for the Q&A at the end of the session for specific policy questions. Spend the session focusing more on critical broad strokes. If you know which group of employees you're addressing in advance, then tailor your discussion to concerns you know they'll have. Executives will want to know the broader financial and compliance aspects, while the rest of the workforce are more likely to inquire about the basics of what they receive by signing up and how the costs and out-of-pocket expenses will impact their paychecks.

Know your audience when discussing employment benefits.Know your audience when discussing employment benefits.

2. Be transparent

According to consultancy firm Benz Communications, which surveyed more than 2,000 American workers, open communication about health and wellness remains vitally important to employees. Absence of such dialogue during open enrollment is usually seen as negative. Employees who said that plan changes stemming from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act weren't properly communicated also said they were 10 times more likely to distrust their employers.

Jennifer Benz, Benz Communications CEO, gave Forbes honest advice for HR leaders: Explain exactly what you know about benefits, and if you don't know the answer, know where to point workers for further information on plan specifics or general ACA requirements.

3. Maintain engagement

Do your enrolled employees have to renew their enrollment every year, or does your plan automatically restart enrollment? Plans that rollover without employee action might increase the likelihood of workers querying HR about policies. Use open enrollment as a time for signing up employees to new plans as well as reconnecting seasoned employees with their coverage. Don't let the convenience of automated enrollment ruin engagement.

4. Track enrollment metrics with HCM

Measuring the success of your open enrollment shouldn't come at the end of the season. The right human capital management platform can help HR leaders quickly calculate enrollment rates and other valuable metrics in real time, which can show exactly what is and isn't working with your open enrollment strategy. For more information on eHCM technology and best practices for open enrollment, contact PeopleStrategy today.