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October 7, 2019

4 ways to improve open enrollment

Jeff Lightner

When it comes to open enrollment, HR teams spend a significant amount of time preparing for open enrollment and yet often wind up with complex or confusing coverage options that leave most participants frustrated. Employers are aware that their employees struggle with understanding their coverage, as only 19 percent believe their teams are familiar and engaged with their benefits program.

That number isn’t surprising given how often benefits change and how much there is to know about them. This is why strong communication is vital to a successful open enrollment season. The following are several methods to improve the open enrollment experience for everyone involved:

1. Clear away the confusion. Even when employees receive frequent communication about open enrollment, confusion can still run rampant. Many HR employees rely on email as a means to keep the team updated on their coverage options, but as many as 20 percent of employees never get around to reading those emails until they’ve missed the open enrollment period. One strategy to mitigate this is providing detailed benefits explanations online, giving employees access to the data when it’s convenient for them. Identifying a single point of contact can also give employees a clear and accessibly resource to ask open enrollment questions.

2. Don’t wait until November. While most open enrollment periods start November 1, waiting until then to begin education efforts is often too late. Many employees appreciate receiving open enrollment information a few weeks in advance as it gives them time to ask questions and reduces the stress associated with plan selection.

3. Ask for feedback. Immediately following the conclusion of open enrollment, HR should consider sending an anonymous survey soliciting feedback on how it went for employees. This gives HR teams an opportunity to see what worked well, what needs improving, and what didn’t work at all for the rest of their organization.

4. Lean on the data. Although it is helpful to know how many employees participate in open enrollment, it’s not the only important metric. HR should also consider tracking how long it took on average for employees to complete the process, what types of questions were most common, as well as the plans employees preferred. These insights can be used to streamline their approach to open enrollment in the coming years.

Open enrollment doesn’t need to be overwhelming. With clear, early, frequent, multi-channel communication, HR teams can help employees have a positive experience while navigating their benefits options. Contact our Employee & Health Benefit specialists at MMA for more insights into improving open enrollment for your business.