Open Enrollment: The Essentials
With summer coming to an end and fall just around the corner, Open Enrollment season is top of mind for many organizations. Open Enrollment, generally occurs between November 1st and December 15th, so we’re approaching the perfect time to put together a checklist to keep things on track.
Open Enrollment Checklist
✔ Ensure Employees Have the Information to Make Enrollment Decisions
- Provide an Open Enrollment schedule. Keep employees informed and in the know about any important dates/deadlines, webinars, live chat events, etc. to help them prepare for enrolling. Offer generous deadlines with frequent reminders.
- Verify that you have the most recent Summary of Benefits from all of your vendors. Employees will want the most up-to-date coverage details.
- Communicate any plan-specific changes and/or rates. Have a new Medical Plan vendor? Communicate early and often about this upcoming change. Provide employees with the benefits and plan information so they feel prepared to select the best plan for themselves and their families.
✔ Build Engagement with Benefits Communication
There are several effective ways to communicate your benefit offerings to employees:
- Host benefits meetings. You can carve out a series of opportunities for employees to learn and ask questions about their benefits coverage. You can also offer virtual access or conduct the meetings in a webinar format, so remote employees and spouses can participate as well. For fully remote workplaces, consider live Q&A through webinars, your intranet platform or a live chat feature that can be integrated easily into a benefits website.
- Send emails or text messages. Bite-sized messages can be easier for employees to digest. By sending an e-mail or text campaign with snippets of information about benefits coverage, you can cover each topic individually. From health insurance to vision care to voluntary life insurance and more, each message will be just enough for them to absorb and act on.
- Give them resources. Work with your vendors to obtain brochures, pamphlets and other hard-copy materials that can be mailed to employees or handed to them directly. Additionally, digital copies or PDFs can be sent via email to conserve paper.
- Home mailings. Employees aren’t always the decision maker for their benefits so we recommend sending at least one piece to homes so spouses and dependents are aware that Open Enrollment is coming, what they need to do and where to get more information.
- One stop shop. Whether it’s a custom benefits website or a benefits page within your portal, find once place to house all the information employees may need to make their decisions.
✔ Have an Open Channel of Communication Available
There will be questions, so make sure that you have an outlet for employees to access for answers. This can be the benefit department’s general email address, a phone number, live chat hours, in-person or virtual Q&As. Reassure employees that there are no questions too simple or complex. After all, if they’re able to best use their benefits not only can they help educate others, but they will also be happier consumers of all that you offer.
✔ Factor in Your Remote Employees
One of the most effective ways to reach remote employees with Open Enrollment materials is through an employee benefits portal. It’s important to ensure that it's user friendly and easy to navigate, but still prudent to have paper enrollment options for employees who prefer not to engage with that type of technology. Either way, the portal or paperwork should allow them to:
- Add or remove voluntary benefits
- Add or remove dependents
- Select coverage options
- Get more information or learn how to access support
A Few Final Tips
Communication is the key to a successful Open Enrollment.
With that in mind, a few final tips for fully informing your employees and keeping them engaged in the process:
- Take stock of last year’s Open Enrollment. Tapping the pulse is essential. What went well? What needs to be improved? Gather the takeaways of mistakes and successes and use that to guide your approach this year.
- Communicate early and often. It’s never too soon to start sending Open Enrollment messages. The more time your employee’s have with the materials, the more empowered they’ll be to make the right decisions.
- Lead with new benefits. Open Enrollment is the only time of year when employees can opt into new benefits. Arm them with that information first, so they can choose accordingly.
- Keep things simple. To get a high participation rate, it helps to make messaging short, sweet, and easy to access and understand.
- Evaluate as you go. Make notes about what goes well and what doesn’t, so you know what to change, improve or remove for next year. It’s never too early to start planning ahead.
We hope you have everything you need to empower your employees to make the best decisions for their health, happiness and personal and professional well-being. Now, go forth and communicate!