Employers may feel relieved when insurance renewals are over, but the fact is their job is only half done. The next step en route to the finish line is Open Enrollment.
During Open Enrollment, employees learn about benefits, select coverage, fill out enrollment forms and receive identification cards.
It takes time to understand benefits, especially in companies with rich programs. But holding a successful Open Enrollment pays off for employers in several ways. First, when employees are informed about benefits they make smart decisions that protect their health and financial wellbeing. Second, educating employees about the value and range of their benefits can make them feel good about their employer, which can have a positive impact on recruitment and retention.
When planning Open Enrollment, consider these five tips to increase participation:
1) Allow ample time to get the word out.
These days, it’s common for employers to tell employees about Open Enrollment a month before the company’s insurance anniversary date. The initial communications should get the word out, establish what’s happening and set expectations. There are many ways to communicate. It could take the form of a memo laying out benefits, policy changes, scheduled meetings and deadlines. The important thing is to allow enough time for information to filter through the community and use tools like social media, internal publications and bulletin boards to amplify the message.
2) Reject the one-size-fits-all approach.
At Creative Benefits, we aim to create an “employee-centric” experience. We take a company’s people, preferences and work culture into consideration when planning Open Enrollment. Our account managers design programs aligning with a company’s unique needs. Since we work with a range of employee groups, some with fewer than five members and some with workforces numbering in the thousands, we know how different companies can be. When planning Open Enrollment, be sure the approach you take makes sense for your company’s culture.
3) Be smart about benefits education.
These days there are more options than ever for benefits education. Some companies want mandatory meetings, others cannot shut down that long. There can be Town Hall meetings, seminars, individual appointments, online portals with video, enrollment wizards and more. When working with clients, we provide all the options and discuss the pros and cons of each. Once the employee group makes a final choice, Creative Benefits manages the process to make sure things go smoothly and implement the vision.
4) It’s essential to have a collaborative relationship with your broker.
Any time a broker tells an employer that they will take over the entire Open Enrollment and the HR personnel can basically be spectators, beware. It’s not true. An account manager or broker may take on the lion’s share of Open Enrollment and handle administrative tasks, but there will be times when collaboration is needed. For those times when HR must get involved, a positive working relationship is a big plus.
5) The best people to educate employees are licensed professionals.
We believe it’s best when the people traveling to the field to talk to employees about their benefits are the same ones who handle their accounts back in our home office. Employees are more confident about benefit choices when they are advised by a licensed pro, plus having one “go-to” person gives clients a seamless experience. It may take more time to do it this way, but we’re always intent on improving the overall quality of the client experience so it’s worth it to us.
Creative Benefits has years of experience helping companies with Open Enrollment. If you need help making your company’s Open Enrollment positive and hassle-free, please call us at (866) 306-0200.
About the author: Gillian Conaghan is Director of Operations and Senior Account Manager at Creative Benefits.