Open enrollment season can be stressful for human resource management and employees alike – the onslaught of information, tasks to complete and decision-making can make this time of year unpleasant. If last year was stressful for you and your business, develop a strategy to make open enrollment easier and more effective.
Understand what employees need
Despite your company's efforts to make open enrollment a success, there's probably some room to improve. The constant adjustments to plan options, benefits and availability of materials present serious challenges to even the most diligent of companies, and employees many times only prioritize enrollment when they have enough spare time from work to do so. Additionally, when HR reps aren't as helpful as they could be, or the paperwork is too filled with jargon, employees are turned off due to the overall poor user experience.
Before you launch into this year's enrollment period, take a look at your previous enrollment cycles with a critical eye and evaluate where you need to make improvements. Tackle these head on by holding a strategy meeting with your broker to develop this year's plan. What were your frustrations last year? Make it a priority to address those specific troubles this year.
Hold a meeting with HR, department heads and any other key members of your team. Ask for their honest feedback and brainstorm ways to improve the process this year. Set actionable and direct goals for your team. For example, you may have a goal to encourage more employees sign up for health savings accounts. To do so, you'll need to decide on a communication plan, assign the task of following up to specific people and determine what success looks like. In this case, it may be moving 20 percent more employees to a health savings account.
Each company will have different goals, but strategizing should be central to your plan of action.
Once you've examined your company's enrollment weak points and set actionable goals, it's time to develop a communication plan that will help you reach those standards. Communicating with staff members to encourage them to enroll in an employee benefits program is not unlike marketing. However, as reflected in the employee survey above, staff would rather you skip the jargon.
Instead, focus on making enrollment materials easy to read, easy to digest and easy on the eyes. Including some design elements such as infographics or charts will help keep employees' interest while still relaying the information necessary to help them understand their benefits options. Plus, brokers can come out to job sites to explain benefits and provide a customer service team that supports enrollment and answers claims questions.
It's also best to write a series of short emails and updates to employees rather than lengthy ones. It's much easier to take in new information in smaller bursts rather than in dense email communications. Use bullet points, lists and bold typeface to communicate deadlines and other vital information.