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6 Tips to Help Prepare for Open Enrollment

August 4, 2017 / Employee Engagement

It’s hard to believe that it’s time to start planning for Open Enrollment again. Didn’t we just do that??  

Open Enrollment takes a huge amount of time and work for already busy HR teams, and can often seem a burden.  But, it should be viewed as a core part of our employee attraction and retention strategy and an important component of any employee engagement strategy. Each year presents an opportunity to help our teams better understand how to get the most out of their benefits and to help them learn more about this complex and often confusing process.   

And, given how much work goes into this process, it’s important to see a good return on that investment. A strong plan and a measured campaign will provide better engagement and results. 

Here are some useful tips to consider when planning for this year’s Open Enrollment: 

PLAN AHEAD: 3-6 months before Open Enrollment begins, start aligning resources and analyzing plan designs and costs. Set up a project plan to include all objectives, deliverables and target dates. Communicate this with your HR team so everyone is on board and knows what they are responsible for and by when. Be sure to include your payroll team in status meetings so the financials are aligned.  Review how it went last year, and what you want to improve this time around. 

CONFIRM BENEFITS: Determine what your approach will be. Are you renewing all of your current benefits as is? Are you shopping your plans out to multiple carriers for quotes? Are you adding new benefits? Whatever the case may be, get ahead of this so you have plenty of time to make updates and communicate accordingly. 

COMMUNICATECOMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE: The core of a successful open enrollment campaign is communicating dates, meetings, and expectations to your employees well in advance. Even if you don’t have your enrollment dates locked down, nothing says you can’t hang some fun posters letting employees know “IT’S COMING!!!!” to start them thinking about their benefit elections for the new year. Consider using your employee engagement or wellbeing platforms as an alternative method of communication.  

Make sure your employees have a full understanding of how to complete their Open Enrollment selections, the deadlines for completion and who to go to if they have questions.  But most of all try to help them understand why they should care.

MONITOR THE PROCESS: Once Open Enrollment is open, monitor employee progress to sort out any issues right away. This will help you stay on track and correct any problems before the first day of the new plan year, and before any rate changes take effect in payroll.

DEBRIEF: After Open Enrollment, gather your team to discuss the process and determine what improvements can be made. Use surveys to gather feedback from employees on their experiences and share those with your team to improve the process for next year. 

FOCUS ON YOUR PEOPLE: Open Enrollment really is about your people.  The opportunity to safeguard and improve their lives is something you should value, and it’s important to help them understand its importance.  Tailor your messages, use employees faces in collateral, and share their stories.  Don’t just roll out last year’s campaign again.  Challenge your team and yourself to do better, and you’ll readily see the difference it makes to your organization.  

LEARN FROM OUR TEAM: 

Our own HR team uses Virgin Pulse’s integration capabilities and robust communication options within our app to ensure that our employees are aware of the insurance premium discounts offered to them as a result of participating in our wellbeing program. Based on wellbeing behavior goals, our employees can also earn Pulse Cash rewards that they often use to pay plan deductibles. And, because our employees use Virgin Pulse every day, there are opportunities within the platform for us to provide periodic reminders about the benefits we offer. The results have been impressive; awareness of our benefit set helps drive higher engagement in our programs and we’re seeing that our benefits offerings are providing a distinct competitive advantage in recruitment. 

For additional helpful tips, download our ebook, 5 Tips to Master Open Enrollment. 

 

Nigel Smith 

SVP of People & Culture, Virgin Pulse 

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