Both employees and employers might see open enrollment as a stressful and confusing time, and without a clear communication plan, it can be.
The first step to a successful open enrollment period is outlining a strategy that will benefit each stakeholder. For employers, open enrollment is a chance to connect with employees, advertise the benefits you offer, and brand yourself as a reliable organization. With intentional, accurate, and strategic communication, you can make the most out of your open enrollment period and drive employee engagement and retention year-round.Read More
In most cases, open enrollment is held in October, November, or December, but some organizations hold open enrollment in May or June for a July 1st plan year. Employees can only enroll or make changes outside of the open enrollment if they’ve had a qualifying life event, like a new hire, divorce, or the birth of a child.
Employers offer an open enrollment period (OEP) each year to fulfill plan obligations, including:
A competitive, well-communicated benefits package can help your organization attract and retain top talent, improve employee satisfaction, demonstrate a commitment to employee well-being, and reduce financial stress on your teams. Leveraging your open enrollment period (and beyond) to effectively communicate everything you offer can help you capture these benefits.
A smooth open enrollment relies on several key players: HR managers, brokers, and employees.
HR Managers play a pivotal role in benefits selection, communication, and more – before, during, and after the open enrollment period. Typical duties assigned to an HR Manager include:
Brokers and consultants often play a big role in their client’s benefits plans and open enrollment strategies. They are expected to manage and navigate the complex process of selecting, enrolling, and communicating options for their organizations and employees. Below are a few of the many responsibilities a broker or consultant holds during open enrollment:
Of course, employees are at the center of open enrollment. They’re the ones who are affected by the benefits and make decisions about their health insurance coverage for the upcoming year. Some of their responsibilities include:
Hosting a successful open enrollment is key to engagement and retention to start your new year off strong. These tips can make it easy for employees to understand, enroll in, and access their benefits.
Make sure you have all the information you need to communicate with your employees well in advance. And start this communication early to give your employees time to address and understand their current coverage, changes, and options going forward. This includes premiums, deductibles, copays, coverage, and provider network for each plan.
In most cases simplicity is key. This is especially true for employee benefits communication. The process is already complicated so don’t overcomplicate it with conflicting communication or an unclear enrollment process. Outline how and when each employee should enroll by and make it easy to do so with in-person and online enrollment. You can also consider offering extended enrollment hours or a grace period after the deadline.
Use clear language to explain options, costs, and benefits, and be open and honest about any plan changes. Share cost breakdowns so employees can easily compare plan options. If accessible, offer online calculators or comparison charts to reduce complexity. Finally, providing access to plan documents during the open enrollment period can help employees make informed decisions and prevent surprises later.
When employees don’t actively engage in open enrollment, they’re more likely to run into surprises and frustrations later. You can encourage engagement by communicating consistently, offering training sessions, and sharing enrollment metrics transparently to move the dial throughout the enrollment period.
Send out emails and newsletters, post flyers, and hold meetings to let your employees know about open enrollment. Tailor your communications to your employees’ needs and interests, focusing on the benefits your employees are most likely to leverage. Be sure to explain the process and answer any questions they may have.
Benefits administration is complex. From making plan decisions to ensuring compliance with state and federal law and calculating employee and employer contributions, it’s easy to drop the ball when it comes to communication or employee support. These steps are even more complicated for small employers who don’t have a dedicated human resources department.
Using an open enrollment checklist can help you host an efficient, effective, and compliant open enrollment process. This comprehensive checklist can keep you organized, increase accuracy, improve compliance, streamline communication, and save time and resources.
By following this checklist, employers can help ensure that open enrollment is a smooth and successful process for all employees.
Are you struggling to communicate your benefits program effectively to your employees? BeneCom Associates is your partner in employer benefits. We specialize in creating customized communication plans that educate and engage your employees about their benefits options, leading to better decision-making and higher satisfaction rates. Contact us today to learn more.