Spring is the perfect time to do some preplanning on work projects. A good place to start is your next open enrollment. Many HR professionals dread enrollment season, viewing it as an administrative headache. Use this time and your experience to make this year’s enrollment a breeze. Make it as smooth as possible for your team, your Broker, your Carriers and especially for your employees. By having the enrollment be easy on the user end, your employees will feel valued, knowing that the company made the effort to make the process seamless.
A study lead by the American Psychological Association, found that employees who feel valued are more likely to be motivated to do their very best at work (93% vs 33%), and recommend their company to others (85% vs 19%). Employees who do not feel valued are significantly more likely to seek new employment within 12 months (50% vs 21 %).
Here are guidelines to help your employees feel valued and have your upcoming enrollment run smooth.
Learn from last year
Go through last year’s annual enrollment process. Ask yourself what worked? What didn’t? What was inefficient? What could you do different this time?
Start planning early
It’s ideal to start planning 2-3 months prior to our open enrollment. Schedule enough time plan the process and lock down all information. Allow employees at least three weeks to decide/enroll before plans’ effective dates. This allows employees to complete their enrollment confidently and without feeling rushed.
Ensure enrollment is early enough that information can be sent to the carriers with time for the employees to receive insurance cards before the plan’s effective date. Most carriers require changes/new enrollments a minimum of 20 days prior to new plan effective date to process enrollments and issue cards in a timely manner.
Locked down your rates asap & Schedule time to test
Commonly brokers fight up to the last minute to get your company the best deal on rates. That is great! However, when rates are not finalized until the last minute, there is not adequate time to enter/test them in the system. Without testing, errors can occur when employees go through online enrollment. What should be viewed as a company benefit, can become source of discontent. Last minute changes are sometimes inevitable, however, the earlier you can start planning and make decisions, the better.
Testing is essential to ensure employees have a favorable experience during open-enrollment. It helps you to become familiar with the system, whether you are manually inputting data or allowing employees to do so through the portal. Your expertise with the system is important to your employees’ experience.
Think about the employee’s experience
When deciding whether to have employees enroll online, or have HR update the information in the HCM, think about your population and which best works for them. If your staff is not computer savvy or does not have wide access to computers, it may be prudent to have HR enter the information for your employees. If your population is computer savvy, then going online may serve them best.
If your plans have not changed, just the pricing, you may want to consider “passive enrollment” where employees acknowledge no change from prior elections or populate just their changes vs the full re-enrollment.
Take your employee’s online with our open enrollment module. It allows employees to complete enrollment on their own time and at home with family. Employees can compare plan costs/offerings side by side and view summary plans, prior to selecting a plan. There are pop up reminders, announcements, and notifications to remind employees of deadlines. Also, a dashboard widget can make navigating the system easier, by providing a clear path to where they complete their enrollment.
Taking the time to create a seamless process will leave employees feeling confident about their choices and satisfied with their benefits. Remember, their satisfaction will likely translate into better performance.
Whatever method you choose, it is important employees understand the process. If employees are going through an online enrollment, they will need guidance to feel comfortable with the system. Hold trainings/workshops to walk them through it. If employees do not feel comfortable, they’ll likely ignore the online format and it will fall to HR to track down their information and update the system manually.
Create an overall effective communication strategy. Use a variety of communication channels to communicate every change and step of the enrollment process. Employees should be as informed as possible. Do not be afraid to expand past paper. Consider holding an information meeting before/during open enrollment and invite your Broker and/or providers to speak to employees regarding their healthcare options. Have your employees’ questions be answered directly from the source.
Employees crave support during enrollment, and need all information to make truly informed decisions. Majority of employees roll over their benefits year to year, because they do not understand other options. Take the extra step and educate your staff on their options through your communication efforts. Be purposeful and relevant. Your employees will feel valued and in turn take care of the company, who has taken care of them.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org should you wish additional information on our benefit related services:
- Benefit Enrollment Online
- Open Enrollment Benefit Management Services
- Carrier Connection
- COBRA Administration
- 401k / FSA / HSA Payroll Feeds
- Broker Referrals
- Bethune, S., and Bossolo, L. (2012). APA Survey Finds Feeling Valued at Work Linked to Well-Being and Perfomance. American Psycholgoical Assocaition. http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2012/03/well-being.aspx
Disclaimer: These materials are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended as legal advice. Readers of the IBS Blog should contact their legal professionals to discuss how these matters relate to their individual circumstances.
– Lisa Scott, PHR, HR Implementation Specialist