The key to stress-free benefits renewal

We may only be about halfway through 2019's second quarter right now, but rest assured – open enrollment, which typically begins on Nov. 1, will be here before you know it if you aren't careful. The most feasible way to go about planning and executing a successful open enrollment process for your business is to begin well in advance. Adopting a well-organized, multi-phase plan and carrying it out gradually with the help of comprehensive, end-to-end HCM software will be much more successful than rushing to complete critical compliance requirements at the last minute.

Follow these best practices to ensure benefits enrollment and renewal goes as smoothly as possible:

The month-to-month approach: Early steps

While you don't have to handle all of your preparatory steps for open enrollment far in advance of the big day, it'll be wise to at least take on certain tasks as far out as five or even six months before 2019's period begins. This far ahead, you should be most focused on the bigger picture – looking at your current benefit offerings. Be honest with yourself about how much the plan costs in relation to the services it provides your workforce, as well as employees' sense of satisfaction (or lack thereof) with the plan.

As you gradually move closer to the date of open enrollment, you can start looking at more granular concerns:

  • Is your organization offering benefits equivalent to or better than competing firms in your industry?
  • Do other insurers sell superior packages without an unfathomable uptick in annual costs?
  • How are your employees specifically using the offerings in their benefits packages?
  • What is the status of your relationship with your current provider? Do you communicate directly or through a benefits broker?

Finalizing your benefits choices

Once you hit the threshold of being 90 days out from open enrollment, you should have made thorough enough preparations to know which provider you're switching to  – or sticking with – as well as the final combination of insurance coverage products you plan to offer. Then you can finalize budgeting. If you're changing carriers, plans or technology, you'll also need to start mapping out the transition. When you're two months away from the start of open enrollment begin informing staff of any changes being made in terms of carrier, offerings or benefits management technology, such as a new employee-facing HCM suite. At the same time, begin deploying and testing any new technology you'll be using. By following this slow and steady path, you greatly increase your chances of a cool, calm and collected open enrollment period.

For more comprehensive detail on stress-free benefits renewal, be sure to review the new month-to-month checklist from PeopleStrategy!