The human resources department acts as a benefits broker for employees during open enrollment, and their role is vital for strong participation. In the previous blog, we discussed what open enrollment means for employees, but in this one, we’ll discuss open enrollment from the HR perspective.
While open enrollment lasts several weeks to a few months for employees, it can last much longer for HR professionals. For some, it can be a year-round commitment. They dedicate time outside the open enrollment period to help the season run smoothly. HR is responsible for educating employees about their benefits package. A comprehensive benefits package is a top factor employees look for when searching for new employment and a significant reason employees stay with their current employer. Here are some tips for running a successful open enrollment and solutions to the top challenges.
Main Challenges HR Faces During Open Enrollment
Open enrollment can be a demanding time for HR professionals as they’re responsible for meeting deadlines and submitting mandatory paperwork. These are the top conflicts they face:
- Communication. This is one of the toughest hindrances HR encounters. There are a multitude of considerations when it comes to communication: effective platforms, comprehension, and accessibility. For some, multiple channels need to be produced to accommodate remote, hybrid, and part-time employees.
- Negotiating. Negotiating with providers is a task that most HR professionals are expected to handle. They need to understand the employees’ needs and how to implement them into a benefits plan without going over the bottom line.
- Planning. Unfortunately, not every HR department is ready for open enrollment. It’s one thing to outline plans, and it’s another thing entirely to implement that plan. Some individuals might struggle in this area, so making a strong plan might be better tackled as a team.
- Employee Confusion. Employees are handed an overload of information during open enrollment, and it can be overwhelming to grasp the details of the benefits package fully. Sometimes the information is compiled using complicated language.
- Engagement & Participation. Employee confusion might be a reason for lack of participation. Another reason is the misconception that the same benefits from the previous year will automatically roll over to the next. Employees also tend to put deadlines on the back burner because of the overwhelming amount of information.
Applicable Solutions & Helpful Tips
After identifying and addressing the significant concerns, it’s easier to create solutions. For newer companies, it can be a trial-and-error process to fully understand the needs of employees and how to conduct a promising open enrollment. Here are some applicable solutions and tips to consider:
- Create Communication Strategies. Utilizing different platforms and resources will enhance communication efforts. A top tip to remember is that not everyone absorbs information the same; some prefer to read every detail while others enjoy imagery and graphs. Some options to consider include PDFs, short videos, brochures, and group meetings. After educating employees and handing out information, put everything in a centralized location (like a website) so employees can easily access it.
- Learn How To Negotiate Effectively. Conducting a cost comparison can eliminate any provider that isn’t within budget. Creating a tangible list of employees’ expectations can help meet their needs when choosing plans. Reading the fine print before agreeing to any benefit options is vital.
- Outline A Plan Early. Getting organized ahead of time will help run things smoothly. For established HR employees, taking notes about successful open enrollment tactics can be implemented the following year. When creating an execution plan, ensure it’s practical and can be easily implemented.
- The plan and outline should include clear deadlines and inform employees of the consequences of missing them (coverage gaps and penalty fees).
- Use Easy-To-Read Information. Keep it simple; no need to overcomplicate the process. Adding a bunch of irrelevant and unnecessary information adds to the employees’ confusion.
- Ask For Feedback. Asking employees what they found useful and beneficial can help streamline the process for the future. One way is to require a short survey before, during, and after open enrollment. Encouraging open communication year-round will favor honest feedback during this season.
- Accommodate All Employees. Every employee should have ample access to information and be given the same opportunity to ask questions.
Best Practices To Incorporate
Make this information available year-round to employees and continually educate them on their benefits. When employees have continued access to the details and specifics of the benefits package, it can help them prepare for open enrollment and take note of the pros and cons.
Adding a personal touch to the experience enhances participation. Employees appreciate a personal approach that will help guide them through open enrollment and individualized support so they can communicate honestly. For some companies, employees have expressed a one-on-one experience over self-service tools; however, if you offer self-service, add an option for employees to connect to a live person in case they have questions.
Providing answers in real time will help relieve stress and confusion. If employees are unable to have in-person involvement, allow them an opportunity to schedule a time to discuss the details of the benefits package with HR.
Repeated emails and notifications about the same information are redundant for both employees and HR, so providing only essential and crucial information will be less of an annoyance. Employees have also expressed disdain for constant deadline reminders after they’ve already submitted their paperwork. Allowing employees to opt-in for reminders and to be taken off the reminder list can decrease the number of notifications.
Alltrust Is Here To Help
Open enrollment is a critical time for employers and a hectic process for HR professionals. Hopefully, these guides and tips will provide a smooth and successful open enrollment season. Alltrust understands the importance of this time and how overwhelming it can be for everyone. With our services, we can help create strategies, consult on benefits, and educate employees. Contact us today to learn more about all the ways we can assist you during open enrollment.