Improve your Open Enrollment Process

Many organizations have a January 1st benefits renewal date. As a result, starting in September, we help them assess the effectiveness of their current plans and the options that they have available.

A very important step in this process is a market analysis, which ensures that the benefits offered are still well-positioned against other organizations in the same size, budget, and industry. A comprehensive benefits analysis is essential, especially for the companies that have high turnover rates, or a hard time attracting the right candidates.

Assessing staff satisfaction as well as actively engaging employees in the benefits decisions are also key steps. We collect feedback from the team thorough out the year, but we may decide to ask more questions before making a renewal decision. We could decide to roll out a benefits survey to understand how your employees’ needs and their dependents are being met. We also use this opportunity to reassess the effectiveness of the enrollment and ongoing services processes, and if technology can be incorporated to improve them.

These stages are vital if you want to ensure you are investing your dollars properly. By just renewing the current plans you offer, or only looking at your increasing benefits costs or fringe rate, you may be locking yourself to another year of staff dissatisfaction. Many times, there is a disconnect between what a team expects and needs than what they were valuing high in the past. If you have a diverse team, that can include up to five generations in the workplace, this process may be more challenging. Not everyone will share the same expectations and needs, so offering a variety of benefits will be critical.

Once the decisions are made, it is time to strategically communicate and roll out the benefits program. As discussed in our August newsletter, many employees are not confident in choosing the right health plan. Emailing them multiple attachments and to do’s is no longer the solution. Bringing your brokers to present the information may also not be enough.

What else can you do to engage your staff during open enrollment?

  • Know your group! Is your team comfortable with technology? Consider moving your enrollment process to an online self-service tool. Enrollment forms are no longer required by most insurance companies, as long as your team continues electing their contributions and plans.

  • Offer office hours instead of long presentations. Summarize the information for them, add visuals and allow those who have further questions to share them with you at an agreed time and day.

  • Do most of your staff members communicate through text, slack or any other chat tool? Email may not be the best way to attract their attention. Communicate and remind them of open enrollment and deadlines using the system that they prefer.

  • Be transparent. Share the decision and data that you collected. Let them know you went through an exhaustive process if you decided to just renew your current offerings.

  • Prepare a benefits guide or flyer with the key plan features that they need to consider. Summary plan descriptions can be confusing for some staff to understand. Summarize the information and provide it to the team in a more digestible way.

  • Did you try something different this year? Ask for feedback right after the open enrollment process ended, and when your group may have it fresh in their minds.

  • Did you ask for feedback? Then don’t forget to keep suggestions in mind next time around. You don’t want to create survey fatigue, which your team can feel if they don’t see their responses were taken into consideration.

  • Leverage internal partners, such as your marketing or design team, to communicate with your staff in a more engaging, creative and visual way. An example could be coming up with gift bags to disseminate the information.

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Kiwi Partners | 237 West 35th Street, #1101, New York, NY 10001 | 212.532.7171