Five Ways to Improve Your Company's Open Enrollment

October 1, 2017

The leaves are changing and fall is quickly approaching. For many employers this change of seasons means they will begin assessing their employee benefits programs that often renew on January 1. Old plans may be thrown out and new ones chosen, but for some HR professionals, that’s the easy part.

The dreaded open enrollment period quickly arrives and employees are overwhelmed with confusing insurance lingo and plan changes. This can leave HR departments scrambling for answers to employee questions and developing communications that make sense to their people. It doesn’t have to always be this stressful, though. Here are five quick tips to get your company’s open enrollment running smoothly.

1. Communicate Early and Often – Start talking about open enrollment with your employees well before the period begins. The first time you post or send out information, keep it brief. Tell them the dates of open enrollment and what this means for them. Get them thinking about their benefits. Subsequent reminders can include more details on the open enrollment process.

2. Use Multiple Media to Communicate – Workplace demographics can be very diverse, and have differing expectations. Millennial employees will most likely want to receive their benefit information electronically through emails, the Intranet or any medium that satisfies their need for instant gratification. Baby Boomers, on the other hand, are more likely to want their information in a paper format like handouts and flyers. Also, try communication tools in high traffic areas. Meet your audience where they are, not where it’s administratively easiest. Other communication channels could include posters, social media posts, Webinars, company meetings, and event sending packets to employees’ families at home.

3. Clear & Concise – Keep open enrollment information quick and understandable. Don’t include the boring insurance details. Instead, give them the main points – when open enrollment is happening, overview of changes, etc. – and briefly what it means for employees. This will get them thinking about open enrollment prior to the actual date without overwhelming them with specifics.

4. Communicate During Open Enrollment – Continuing communication during open enrollment is vital to employee participation. Weekly reminders during the month can prompt employees who haven’t confronted the topic to do so. If your company is small enough, reach out personally to those who have yet to enroll or renew. Be sure to prepare in advance for anticipated questions that your employees might have or even create an FAQ page to make the process more efficient.

5. Measure Success After Open Enrollment – Following your company’s open enrollment period, survey employees on what they liked, didn’t like or would change for next year’s enrollment period. This will give you a better idea of which strategies were most effective and engaged your employees. Receiving and acting on employees’ feedback each year can streamline the process for the following year, making that next enrollment a little less dreadful for everyone.