According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, approximately 49% of the United States (U.S.) population is enrolled in an employer-sponsored health insurance plan. With open enrollment (OE) being right around the corner, there’s a lot of pressure to smoothly guide employees through the enrollment process.
OE is typically treated like a chore, and like most chores, we do what we must just to check it off our to-do list. Fortunately, there are strategies you can implement to ensure that OE goes smoothly for your employees without it feeling like a daunting chore for you.
In this article, you’ll discover the common pain points hindering a successful enrollment process and some tips and tricks to improve the overall experience for everyone involved.
Signs Your Enrollment Experience Can Use A Face Lift
If you’re being plagued by any or all of the following signs during OE, it might be the right time to start putting a new system in place.
Employees are dazed and confused about benefits choices.
A survey done by Voya Financial found that 35% of employed Americans don’t fully comprehend their employee open enrollment benefits. They may not understand the terminology and the various benefits available to them, or they’re overwhelmed by a wide selection and a lack of information to make an impactful decision.
But mainly, employees don’t understand what their open enrollment company health insurance plan actually covers.
Unfortunately, many employers begin their OE period late in the game, leaving their employees with less than thirty days to make a decision that will last them a year. That gives employees a limited amount of time to look over their benefits selection, attempt to understand it and hope they’re making the best decision for themselves and their families.
The platform is confusing, disorganized, and difficult to navigate.
You may have a benefits selection platform you’ve been using for a while, but is it genuinely serving your employees well?
Some platforms can be too confusing for employees to understand and operate confidently. They may ask for assistance, but frequently, employees ask a coworker for help instead of an HR professional. The problem here is what if their coworker doesn’t wholly understand the platform either?
Your HR team is spread too thin.
For small business owners, this is all too true. Your HR team may only consist of one to three people if you employ about 200 workers, but if you have less than fifty employees, all HR responsibilities fall on your shoulders.
Managing those tasks and conducting a smooth enrollment process is a real challenge. To add to the mix, let’s throw in questions from employees regarding OE. Are you overwhelmed yet?
Don’t worry; we understand if the answer is yes. This can be a challenge for even the most seasoned HR professional.
Poorly communicating open enrollment dates and requirements.
Employees know that OE comes around every year, but the exact dates may be unclear, leaving them unprepared when the time arrives. However, that’s not the only issue that needs clarity.
Whether this is an active or passive benefits election year makes a difference in what’s required of each employee, and should be communicated thoroughly. Some employees may not know that they’ll be auto-enrolled in the benefits they selected last year if it’s a passive enrollment period.
At the same time, you might have an employee accustomed to passive enrollment who doesn’t realize that this year is an active selection year. Either way, communication is vital in both situations.
Tips & Tricks for Guiding Your Employees Through a Smooth Enrollment Experience
Here are a few open enrollment best practices to help combat the challenges mentioned above and enhance your employees’ enrollment experience.
Consult with a benefits broker.
A benefits broker does more than find you the best deals for health insurance. They stay on top of OE dates and requirements and help you adhere to the current open enrollment guidelines. Using a broker also takes the pressure off you and your HR team so you can be available to accommodate your employees’ needs better.
Communicate with your employees.
A good rule of thumb during OE is communicating early and often, especially as the time draws closer. Ensure employees know the dates for selection, which benefits are available, and what those benefits cover.
Don’t rely on one form of communication to pull you through. Use a variety of communication channels to get pertinent information to your employees, not just email alone. Utilize text messaging, social media, and meetings. Try speaking to them directly if you notice you’re still not breaking through.
With inflation running rampant, saving a few bucks is what we’re all searching for. Determine which plans offer the best coverage without breaking the bank. You may have to do your due diligence to discover the right balance between what you and your employee will contribute, but it’s all worth it.
Get caught up on legislative changes.
The compliance and regulation laws for employee benefits change every year, and it’s up to you or your benefits broker to stay ahead of the curve. Stay in the loop on adjustments made to:
Technology in the form of a robust HCM platform can save you numerous headaches during OE. Preferably, you want a platform that helps you communicate and notify each employee of the OE period, allows you to provide resources to educate employees on their benefits selection, and streamlines the entire open enrollment process from the beginning to the end.
The right platform allows you to set deadlines, integrate with your carrier’s system, and keep everything in one place. Technology like this can free up your HR team so they can successfully guide employees through the busiest time of the year and give your employees an improved enrollment experience.
Ever since the pandemic, employees want to know the details of the benefits they’re selecting. They no longer want to click the default button and be done with it. To accomplish this, we have to provide a better enrollment experience.
Don’t let the stresses of open enrollment catch you off-guard this year. Want to find out if an HCM platform can really make a difference in your enrollment process this year? Connect with SyncHR to discover the benefits and request a demo.
We are here to support you with efficient, accurate, and cost-effective workforce management solutions. To learn more about SyncHR, click here.
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Brittany Brooks has worked in Human Resources as an HR specialist and manager for about ten years combined. After that time, she decided to use her powers for the good of the workplace and now uses her first-hand experiences in her writing to give business owners and HR professionals an honest look into what’s happening in their offices. She advocates for meaningful employee retention and improving the employer-employee relationship.