With open enrollment for 2016 in the rear-view mirror for many employers, it might be tempting for benefit managers to sit back and relax.
However, now is the ideal time to conduct an open enrollment analysis before memories of what worked and what didn’t have faded. During open enrollment, things never go exactly as planned, and now is the time to engage with your employees and understand what can be improved upon next year.
Reflect on your 2015 goals
Most employers strive to achieve 90% to 100% participation for open enrollment meetings. With more and more employees working remotely, or working odd hours, this can be a challenge. There has been an increase in web-based and pre-recorded meetings to help employees gain access to the information when not at work.
As more and more benefits technology platforms come to market, an increasing number of employers are trying to go paperless with their open enrollment campaigns. Now might be the time to consider a platform that offers that capability.
Evaluate the open enrollment experience
It is extremely important to take some time after the dust settles to evaluate the impact of your enrollment strategy. Did you achieve the participation you wanted at the meetings? Did your employees understand what was being offered? Did employees elect the plans you were hoping they would? Consider new ways to “spice up” the open enrollment experience-- for example, use a new technology, add in a fun game, or perhaps offer raffle prizes.
Critique your 2015 benefits communications
When is the last time you re-vamped your open enrollment materials? It might be time for a change. We find that the most successful communications are very direct, clear, and also have some graphics and pictures to hold the audience’s attention.
Are you trying to encourage participation in a High Deductible Health Plan? Consider adding some clear charts or graphics that illustrate the cost savings and impact to the employee’s wallet.
Consider sharing some information about why health insurance is so expensive! Employees are very interested to know about their company’s aggregate utilization—and why the costs are increasing. Being fully transparent about costs can help to buffer the delivery of an increase if one is needed.
Give yourself a pat on the back! Many employers are now illustrating in the materials the breakdown of cost between employee and employer. Sometimes this is a nice reminder about how generous your company is with their contributions to the total cost.
Did you provide enough education and guidance on Health Care Reform and what it means to your employees? This can help to ease the amount of questions that your Human Resources team receives throughout the year!
Survey your employees
The best way to find out whether employees got the most out of open enrollment is to ask! The month of January is a great time to send out a brief survey to your staff to find out what they liked, disliked, and what they want more of.
Choose two guiding words for next year
Now is the time to start planning and preparing to make next year’s open enrollment a success. Think about your goals, and put them into a few words that will help you as you prepare for 2017. Maybe your goal is to implement a web-based enrollment system--your guiding words might be “efficiency” or “technology.” Perhaps your goal is to make open enrollment more fun or unique--your guiding word might be “engagement.” These words will help you as you begin your strategic planning and draft your materials for the coming year.
Don’t stop communication just because the open enrollment deadline has passed. Consider kicking off Q1 in 2016 with a wellness campaign. Use this time to remind employees of the wellness, fitness, and financial health programs offered to them. If you continue to provide ongoing learning opportunities that support your employees’ financial and physical wellness all year, they will be more engaged and able to make more educated decisions when it’s time to re-enroll again in 2016.