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4 Surefire Ways To Crush Your Open Enrollment

The weather’s beginning to cool down, football season is in full swing, and the leaves will soon be changing color (for some of us anyway). With the change of seasons comes the beginning of open enrollment for employee benefits. However, many employers tend to wait until the last minute to make benefits decisions, which makes for an unorganized open enrollment. Here are four surefire ways to crush your open enrollment this season:
Be Transparent

1. Be Transparent

Many times, confusion is caused by information overload from employers to their workforce. There are a lot of moving parts involved with open enrollment, including choosing plans, communicating with employees, and fielding questions. SHRM quoted a survey which interviewed 517 U.S. full-time employees and asked them what their biggest frustrations were in regards to open enrollment. The top four complaints were:

  1. Constant changes in plans/choices.
  2. Benefits material was full of jargon and very hard to understand. 
  3. Employees felt they were rushed in their evaluation
  4. The HR person wasn’t knowledgeable enough. 
These complaints are all avoidable - HR managers just have to be transparent throughout the open enrollment process. Keep emails about open enrollment short and sweet, and make sure the language you’re using is easy to understand. If you’re using an HR solutions software, provide an accessible glossary of benefits administration terms and acronyms so employees can reference it if they have any questions. Make call-to-actions in open enrollment communications bold and bright, so employees can’t miss it when looking through available plans. Having an FAQ page available wouldn’t hurt either for quick answers to commonly asked questions by employees.

2. Implement a Targeted Marketing Strategy 

According to a study conducted by SHRM, 71 percent of US employees participate in passive benefit enrollment practices. So how can an employer be active in their benefits enrollment? By using a targeted marketing method when sending mailings to employees to evaluate their benefits options. That way, each employee has to review their current plan and compare it to their previously selected plan.

Implement a Targeted Marketing Strategy
What exactly is targeted marketing? It’s a method based on benefits communication, and it targets employees with a multitude of factors including job descriptions, salary, job location, age, number of dependents, marital status, sex, etc. Employees receive a simple survey that makes them evaluate their lives, and then they receive all available plans that fit within their needs. For example, a young, single employee doesn’t need the same benefits plan as an employee who is close to retiring; and chances are, the young employee will skip over plan details as soon as they realize it has no benefits relevant to them. According to the Benefits Communication Survey Results, 81 percent of employers who used benefit communications with employees’ lifestyles were successful in providing the right benefits administration plan.
Create a Realistic Timeline

3. Create a Realistic Timeline

Ok, this tip may seem like it’s common sense. However, time is of the essence, and people sometimes have a tendency to procrastinate until the last possible second. Open enrollment for 2018 runs from November 1 - December 15, 2017; coverage begins January 1, 2018. With a shortened open enrollment period of 45 days, there’s even less time to get your proverbial ducks in a row.

When planning for the 2018 open enrollment season, evaluate what happened for the 2017 season. Where did planning help in creating a smooth enrollment? Where did you feel that the process was stressful? Detecting the weaknesses from last year can help you form an improved timeline for this year.

4. Send More Than One Email 

Let’s be honest here - not everyone is great at checking their emails. This is especially frustrating when you are trying to communicate important information to employees. We tend to get into a mentality of “Eh, I’ll read this later”… and sometimes, we don’t. Sending reminders through various, alternative channels like social media notifications, can be more memorable than an email.

Send More Than An Email
One example SHRM has found particularly successful is having a Twitter chat, where employees can tweet to HR about a benefits selection question and HR will respond in real time. The entire thread is trackable through a designated hashtag, so other employees who maybe couldn’t make the chat time can easily find all the topics discussed. Sending text messages with links to important information is another creative, yet effective way to make sure your employees are staying in the loop.

Let’s Recap

Open enrollment can be an extremely stressful season, as it falls during year-end processing and ACA reporting. You might just be able to crush open enrollment by keeping these tips in mind. Let’s recap quickly:

  • Be Transparent - Keep everything clear and concise, with references available that address all common questions asked by employees.
  • Implement a Targeting Marketing Strategy - Make an effort to understand each employee’s needs, and offer them benefit plans catered to those needs.
  • Create a Realistic Timeline - Don’t wait until the last minute to put together a game plan, but also don’t jump the gun. Understand how open enrollment works for your company, and plan accordingly.
  • Send More Than One Email - It’s the 21st Century, and there are more means of communication available than ever before. Use them, and keep your employees aware of what’s expected during open enrollment.

Best of luck during the 2018 open enrollment season - now, go and dominate it!

How APS Can Help

APS offers online benefits administration which simplifies the tracking and managing of multiple plan types, including medical, dental, life and disability plans. You can also easily update benefit plans and establish eligibility rules all in the same unified platform. With APS online benefits enrollment, employees can easily view the costs of different plans and coverage types, enroll in benefit plans, and manage their documents all from the employee self-service site.

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