Rule #1 For Effective Open Enrollment: Start Early

Plan As Soon As Possible So You Don't Have To Solve Problems Later

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September 6, 2018Minnesota

A lot has to happen to make each yearly open enrollment period a success. You need the right technology in place; the right mix of benefits options; buy-in from everyone involved; and an effective communications plan.

But, in order to make that all happen at the right time and in the right way, you need to start the process – and that means everything – as early as possible.

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Start Early With Your Technology

The right technology can make the difference between an efficient, productive open enrollment and potential train wreck. And the earlier you figure this part out, the better.

If you currently don’t have a Human Resources Information System (HRIS), you should consider looking into it. Every company, no matter what industry or size, can benefit from employing at least a basic system. Larger and mid-level companies should definitely have one; smaller firms should first weigh the initial cost versus potential savings. In most cases, an HRIS will make open enrollment far smoother and more successful.

Marsh & McLennan Agency has on-staff technology consultants to help you choose the right system, understand how the system needs to be tested, and how best to leverage the technology. Coordinating your technology with the selection of benefits carriers can save you an enormous amount of time and give you the best possible options.

Look for a system where installation and conversion will cause the least amount of disruption in terms of downtime for installation and testing as well as training. You should also make certain that whatever system you choose can grow with you without causing you to jump through hoops. Find a system that’s future-proof and scalable.

Finally, make sure you select a system that is interconnected. For example, it’s especially important to have your payroll and benefits work together.

Test Your Technology Early

Whether you already have a system in place  or you’re making an initial investment, make sure you allow enough time before open enrollment to thoroughly test your technology to ensure that everything you plan for it to do will be manageable in the coming year. For example, make sure EDI feeds are efficiently delivered and received by carriers or ensure that payroll and benefits are effectively integrated.

Start Talking With Your Broker Early

Make sure your broker knows your timeline so they can help you plan accordingly. Have a checklist of items you want to cover, including costs, cost containment strategies, integrating wellness into your healthcare plan, and educating employees. Talking with your broker early in the process can help you establish the metrics you want to accomplish during the year so you can benchmark and track what your program is achieving.

Start Talking With Your Internal Stakeholders Early

Make sure all internal stakeholders are fully aware of  the open enrollment timeline and agree on what everyone’s responsibilities will be. Make sure you have your metrics thought out and communicate these clearly to each stakeholder. After all, those results inform the template for your plan execution. And it’s no secret that this phase of the process can take an inordinate amount of time. So, getting internal buy-in long before open enrollment begins is essential.

Start Your Communications Program as Early as Possible

You’re now communicating with four to five unique generations in your employee population and each one accesses and consumes information in different ways. The differences in work behaviors and benefits preferences have never been greater – not only regarding how generations communicate, but where they are when they need to be reached. Those issues often create a situation where meetings or even phone calls are not always the most efficient, effective ways to get in touch. You need to adapt your communications strategies to your various groups; your broker should be able to help you create an effective plan. (For more information, read our blog, The Benefits of Smarter Communication for Open Enrollment.

Start Monthly Auditing of Your Programs Early

As you well know, open enrollment is just the beginning. Now, you need to audit the program monthly – run a report on your system, compare your employee volumes to carrier invoices, and more. Here is where the metrics you’ve established become real. And the sooner you know how well your program is working, the sooner you can make necessary adjustments.

Talk With Marsh & Mclennan Agency Now So You Don’t Have To Solve Problems Later

Instead of having to scramble to meet your open enrollment obligations and get everything to run as smoothly as possible, start early. Talk with Marsh & McLennan Agency now to create exactly the right plan for your organization to help make open enrollment – and beyond – as successful as possible.

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