Open Enrollment Toolkit: Take on Enrollment Season with Confidence
by Caroline Boyland July 8, 2022
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As any HR leader can tell you, open enrollment season is a hectic time for HR and benefits managers. It can feel like you're scrambling to get everything done and absolutely swimming (read: drowning) in a sea of paperwork and queries. It can also be a stressful time for employees—after all, it's a critical time of year in which they need to make sure that they understand all of their options, have the capacity and information to make an informed decision, and enroll in the best coverage for themselves and their families. All while taking care of their everyday work and family obligations.
Year after year, it’s a stressful time across the board…but it doesn't have to be that way. We've put together this list to help you build your very own Open Enrollment Toolkit. Here, you’ll find everything you need to help you tackle open enrollment season with confidence.
Building a Communication Plan
To ensure that the right employees are getting the information they need when they need it, you’ll need to create a customized communication plan. You can of course adapt the plan to fit your organization's unique needs, but be sure to include these essential elements:
- Consistent messaging. Employees should hear the same information from every communication touchpoint. This will help to avoid confusion and ensure that they understand the changes that are happening.
- Multi-channel comms. You can't rely on a single method of communication. Some employees prefer emails, and others want to talk to someone in person. Make sure you're using a variety of channels to reach as many people as possible.
- Timing. The timing of your communications is essential. Make sure you're sending out information early enough so that employees have time to process it and make decisions, but not so early that they forget about it by the time open enrollment comes around. Early and often is the key to success here.
- Clear deadlines and call to action. Be sure to include clear deadlines for when employees need to make their decisions so that they don't miss it among the rest of the details. And have a call to action so that they know what they need to do to enroll. Adding calendar reminders across the organization can ensure employees stay up to date on any deadlines they need to know.
Curate & Distribute Educational Materials
It's crucial to ensure employees have all the materials they need to help them understand their options and make the best decision for themselves. Be sure to prepare everything well in advance and have enough printed copies if you're distributing physical versions. Most importantly, make sure you're very familiar with all the content yourself so that you can answer any questions that come up.
Your materials for open enrollment might include the following:
- A summary of benefits. This should include a list of all the different types and levels of coverage available, as well as any changes from the previous year.
- A comparison chart. This will help employees compare the various options side-by-side and make an informed decision.
- Cost estimates. Employees will want to know how much each option will cost them, both in terms of premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.
- Detailed information on each specific plan. This could include plan brochures, provider directories, and other important details.
- An FAQ sheet with answers to common questions. This will help to address any concerns that employees might have and save you from having to answer the same questions over and over again.
- Enrollment forms. If enrollment is not digital and/or consolidated, you’ll need to ensure you have forms available for employees to sign up for their chosen coverage.
Consider Implementing a Decision Support Tool
One of the biggest pain points for HR during open enrollment is having to communicate complex information in a way that is easy for employees to understand. Communicating and educating benefits plans is a difficult task, especially because all of your employees have different health, financial, and family needs, which means the best benefit plans will vary from employee to employee. To help ease this burden, consider using a decision support tool.
A decision support tool can gain an understanding of an employee’s personal profile, think health, finances, family, and more. From here, it can recommend the best fit plans to each employee, and explain to them why that plan is best for them. Learn more about how Nayya’s decision support tool can set you up for success during open enrollment, here.
Plan for In-Person Support
No matter how well thought out your communication plan is and how comprehensive your materials are, there will always be employees who need a little extra help. Plan for this by having in-person support available during open enrollment. This could be in the form of informational meetings, one-on-one sessions, office hours, or even just having someone available to answer questions via email or phone.
Some employees appreciate having someone they can talk to in person to get answers. This can make their decision-making process more manageable, so it's important to make this option available.
Remember Post-Enrollment Support
Just because open enrollment is over doesn't mean your job is done. Employees could still have questions after they've made their choices or when they need to make use of their coverage. Be sure to have a plan in place for post-enrollment support so that you can help address any issues that come up and so they know where to go.
After open enrollment has wrapped up, take some time to gather feedback from employees. This could be in the form of a survey or even just informal conversations. Doing so will help you identify any areas that need improvement and make changes for next year.
Before open enrollment season starts, take the time to envision what success would look like for you and your employees, and make sure you track those metrics. The data would, of course, include the employee feedback but also metrics such as enrollment rates, participation in wellness programs, or employee interaction. By tracking these, you'll be able to see what's working and what's not and make changes as needed. Having a goal in mind before you start will help you stay clear on how to achieve it when things get busy, and tracking against that goal will help you make any necessary changes for next year.
With everything that’s happening and all of the hard work that goes into it, it's not likely that open enrollment will ever be just a walk in the park. But by designing the process end-to-end, being prepared, and having a plan in place, you can be sure to make it a success and deliver the best possible results for your organization.
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