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Open Enrollment 101: How To Improve Your Employee Experience

Let’s Make This Your Best Open Enrollment

It’s that time of year again—Open Enrollment (OE) season is upon us. This can be a stressful time for both employees and employers. In fact, the 2017 ALEX Benefits Communication Survey showed that 36% of the employees polled say the open enrollment process at their company is extremely confusing and 49% of employees whose companies offer health insurance, say making health insurance decisions is always very stressful for them.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are five ways you can make sure this will be your best open enrollment ever:

 

  1. Prepare.

  2. Among many things, Benjamin Franklin got it right when he said: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Your benefits consultant can help you map out a more detailed timeline, but you’ll want to hold your enrollment meetings, benefit fair and/or webinars, about two months before the effective date of your benefits. You can start by getting the logistics in place. Once you determine the combination of events that work best for your population and have the dates on the calendar, it’s important to communicate this information with employees at least two weeks prior. You’ll want to keep the messaging short and consistent. Be sure to sprinkle in a few reminder notices up until the event dates. You can even add a note in your email signature reminding everyone about OE.

  3. Communication is everything.

  4. You’ll need to use a variety of methods! Use email, print, intranet banners and in person communication. Printed assets like posters, flyers, and table tents can be remarkably effective at grabbing employee attention in a cost-effective way. Plant them by the office copier, in break rooms, cafeterias, and parking structures. A strategically positioned flyer can work wonders. Have you ever thought of doing a FAQ sheet? This can help answer those commonly asked questions and also address any reasons for changes in rates or benefits cutting down the influx of emails you normally get during this time.

  5. Present the information in a fun and informative way.

  6. I know, I know. Benefits may not sound like the most exciting subject ever, but, if you frame it right, can be an engaging topic. You’ll need to think like a marketer to get employees engaged – target your communications in a way that answers the employee’s most important question, “Why should I care?” Don’t just present the dry, boring details and what they should be doing. Tell them why it matters to them. Weave in engaging stories for examples, don’t be afraid to talk dollars and cents (employees leave an awful lot of money on the table when they aren’t actively engaged in their benefits), and try to keep it concise Too much information can overload employees and they won’t retain the important stuff.

  7. Tracking participation and following up after the meetings.

  8. Reiterate the next steps employees need to take and any upcoming deadlines. A technology platform for benefits administration can be your best friend during these times. You can seamlessly track who has taken action and target anyone who is falling behind on– (*cough cough*) selecting their benefit choices for the year.

  9. Debrief with your team.

  10. As consultants, we are always looking for ways to improve the process. We want to understand what went well, what didn’t work and any unanticipated problems that arose. This information can be extremely important in perfecting the process and you’ll use this information to make your next OE even better.

A successful and effective OE process has a dramatic impact on the relationship between employers and their employees. By catering to their needs and wants, you as the employer will ultimately make the experience more enjoyable and worthwhile for your workforce. This results in employees who feel more secure in their benefits decisions throughout the plan year and a happier HR team.

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