By Jean Roque, President, Trüpp.
Let’s face it. For most organizations, open enrollment is a daunting project. And the effort quickly becomes consumed with a plethora of time-constrained administrative activities. Proactively approaching Open Enrollment from a strategic perspective, however, can improve your experience by:
- Increasing efficiencies and quality of information;
- Creating an agreed-upon framework upon which leadership can make informed benefit plan decisions;
- Providing employees with the tools to make informed benefit plan choices; and,
- Expanding your workforce’s understanding of the value of the benefits your company is providing.
4 steps to improving your company’s open enrollment.
1. Define your objectives
Before making choices for the coming plan year and communicating those choices to your workforce, take time to define the objectives of the benefits you offer and the Open Enrollment process. Leadership should consider questions such as: Why do we offer benefits? Is our current benefit offering accomplishing what we want? How well does our benefits offering align with our current employee population? What could we do to increase employee utilization and the perceived value of our benefits offering? The answers to these questions will provide a framework for making effective benefit plan choices and defining how the benefits offered will be messaged to employees.
2. Establish a timeline
Open Enrollment season can easily sneak up on us. Ideally, planning should begin at least 3-4 months prior to Open Enrollment. More time may be needed for companies that are making significant changes to their benefits offering or creating new processes and tools to improve the Open Enrollment experience. When creating your timeline, consider activities that may need to occur before making plan choices, such as defining your objectives, conducting a benefits survey with employees, and researching new benefit options. Here is a link to our Open Enrollment Checklist that will get you well on your way.
3. Create a communication plan
Today, Open Enrollment communications need to be much more than requiring your employees to attend the obligatory Open Enrollment meeting. Open Enrollment essentially should be an internal marketing campaign, which requires defining and using a consistent message, determining the communication channels (e.g., email, internet, texting, print materials, one-on-one/group meetings, video, and social media) that will be used to reach your target audience, determining key content components that will be communicated, and defining the timing, method, and content for each communication.
4. Streamline data collection
Fortunately, there are many options now available that enable employee benefits data to be captured and submitted electronically. Although this process may not eliminate the need to remind employees and validate information, it can transition accountability to the employee and ease the administrative burden. If you are not already leveraging technology in your Open Enrollment process, check with your payroll/HRIS provider or benefits providers about electronic systems you might be able to leverage.
Need help with your Open Enrollment process? Trupp HR now offers services for strategically managing and administering the Open Enrollment process, giving you additional support during this busy time and helping your company to use Open Enrollment to showcase the value of your benefits offering.