5 Tips for a Flawless Open Enrolment

November 20, 2017

Make sure employees understand the process

There are many reasons that your benefits open enrolment needs to go smoothly. Employer-sponsored benefits make up 20% to 40% of employee total compensation. Employees are understandably concerned about making the right selections during open enrolment and can become very frustrated if the process isn’t intuitive.

On the other side of the table, benefits represent a huge expense for employers. Organisations need to offer the right mix of benefits to enhance employee wellbeing as well as support recruiting and retention efforts.

If you’re in the middle of a frustrating open enrolment season, you are probably already thinking about how to make the process better for next year. Here are five tips to help you ensure a flawless open enrolment.

  1. Learn from past mistakes

If open enrolment has been confusing, chaotic, and painful this year, try to determine what went wrong. Make notes about parts of the process that broke down or were inefficient while your memories are still fresh. What steps or benefits caused employees to ask the most questions? Did your employee self-service solution work properly? Were your communications confusing? Did you communicate too much or too little? Take time now to meet with key stakeholders in the organisation and discuss what went well and what needs improvement for next year’s open enrolment.

  1. Give yourself plenty of time to plan

If this year went really well, you can probably plan your 2018 open enrolment a couple of months ahead of your open enrolment season. You will likely reuse many parts of your current year strategy and communications plan.

On the other hand, if open enrolment did not go as planned and you encountered problems, you may want to start planning quite a bit earlier in 2018. Give yourself as much as six months to review your processes, create a better communications plan and potentially look for new vendors.

  1. Meet with your vendors and shop around

Successful organisations understand that there are many different needs among their employees and make an attempt to match those needs by offering a wide variety of a la carte voluntary benefits. When you create a marketplace of benefits that include different programmes for employees in different stages of life, it allows them to feel more engaged with and in control of their benefits options. Meet with your vendors early in the planning process to find out what voluntary benefits they can offer, and shop around for the most competitive combination of options and pricing.

  1. Focus on the employee experience

Most employers now use a self-service enrolment solution for open enrolment and studies show that employees prefer this method of enrolment. It also creates a more accurate enrolment than a paper-based method. Make sure to test your enrollment system before opening it up to employees.

Even if you offer employees a self-service enrolment, it is still important that they feel supported throughout the process. Offer one-on-one meetings for employees that experience difficulty or provide small group training sessions if deploying a new system.

  1. Develop a clear communication plan

You’ll need to plan communications for the entire open enrolment season. Make sure you begin sending communications well ahead of the actual open enrolment period, so employees have plenty of time to study plan options and come to HR with questions.

If your organisation has a lot of employees, consider how you deliver information that is highly relevant to different groups of employees. For example, are your communications relevant to employees with families vs. single employees, or older vs. younger employees? Try to create a targeted communications plan that speaks to unique needs while keeping everyone informed.

Consider which channels you will use to communicate beyond email, intranet and/or printed materials. If possible, add private (internal) social media groups and mobile text messaging to your communication mix.

Every communication to employees before, during, and after open enrolment should highlight the value of your employer-sponsored benefits. It is essential that they realise what a large investment in their well being has been made by their employer.

HCM solutions support benefits administration

Throughout the year, the HR team must administer some employee benefits and monitor the costs from external providers such as insurance carriers. Asure’s Human Capital Management solutions organise and simplify HR benefits administration, so you can focus on strategic human capital objectives.