Tools to Run a Smooth Open Enrollment

Open enrollment 2021 is coming up! Use this guide to help you have a successful enrollment process for your staff this year.

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Communication, project planning, and education tools for benefits enrollment

While the annual benefits enrollment process can be a huge lift for your team to execute, it can also present an opportunity for them to shine and make your employees happy. As a reminder, open enrollment in most states is between November 1st through December 15th, though different states may have unique regulations.

If you are currently thinking about your 2021 benefits plan, we have a list of tools to help you run a smooth open enrollment process and make sure each of your employees gets the most from their benefits. We’ve broken down our tools into 3 different categories: communication, project planning, and education. Let’s dive into each category.

Communication

1. Employee engagement survey tool

A great way to create a smooth process with your employees is to involve them and find out:

  • How they want to be communicated with
  • What kind of timelines they expect
  • How their personal circumstances have changed

With COVID-19 affecting each of us in different ways, involving your employees early on will ensure that your enrollment process will meet their needs.

You can consider a simple format like Google Forms or Survey Monkey. If you want to get deeper insights, consider an employee engagement tool to visualize where your organization needs help and drive action.

Ask your employees questions that help you understand where they expect to see information, what kind of information would be most important to them, and how you could improve the process from the previous year.

Ask your employees questions that help you understand where they expect to see information, what kind of information would be most important to them, and how you could improve the process from the previous year.

2. Communication plan

The details involved with communicating benefits, options, and enrollment timelines can be overwhelming for everyone involved. By planning out your communication and messaging ahead of time, you avoid communicating on the spot. Preparation also helps you not come across as scattered or unclear.

When it comes to getting the right message across, the Society for Human Resource Management recommends repetition in your message and redundancy in your delivery. They say to consider things like whether your communication will be in an app, an email, a hard copy, or all of the above!

To get started, dig up your communications from last year and ask yourself:

  • What worked
  • What caused confusion?

Based on this deep dive, you can start crafting your new messages.

3. Virtual communication tools

If you’ve not yet invested in a virtual communication tool for your remote workers, now is a better time than ever. With many people working from home and unable to sit 1:1 with your benefits representatives, they will need tools like Zoom or Slack to create an open dialogue and space for questions around their benefits.

Consider pre-scheduling virtual benefits information sessions with individuals or small groups before, during, and after your enrollment date.

Project planning

1. Marketing campaigns

By creating a well thought out marketing campaign around your open enrollment, you can help improve the adoption of your benefits. Britta Meyer, chief marketing officer at WageWorks recommends that employers approach open enrollment as a marketing campaign, in which “your employees are “customers” and “prospects” and your benefits are the “offers” that keep employees “happy, healthy and productive.”

If your company has an internal marketing or branding team, consider tapping on them to help create your marketing collateral and get people excited about enrollment.

2. Metrics for measurement

Before starting your benefits enrollment planning, clearly outline your goals, and what you hope to achieve expressed as a metric.
Before starting your benefits enrollment planning, clearly outline your goals, and what you hope to achieve expressed as a metric. This way, you can focus your efforts and energy in the right direction and have a benchmark for your success.

For example, you may aim to increase your enrollment by 10%. With this in mind, you can find pockets of your company where enrollment was low in previous years and focus on getting more participation there.

3. Timelines

Set out timelines well ahead of time so you don’t find yourself in a crunch and rushing the process for your employees. People need time to understand what they are signing up for and how the program will affect them.

Education

Consider scheduling multiple webinars led by your benefits provider to go over the enrollment process and benefits information.

Training should not be a one time event, nor should it end once enrollment is done!

Education on how to maximize your benefits should be going on all year long. Ideas for employee training and education include:

  • Detailed guides: Employees still look for a standard benefits guide they can sit with and highlight important details.
  • FAQ: When a new question comes in, add it to a Google Doc FAQ and direct people there.
  • Job aids/Cheat sheets: Create a 1-pager with the most important details and important dates and send it out through email or company intranet.
  • Webinars: Consider scheduling multiple webinars led by your benefits provider to go over the enrollment process and benefits information. This webinar can be recorded for later asynchronous viewing.

If you want to empower your employees to maximize their benefits, make sure to provide the needed education!

With people’s physical and mental health being greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, planning a smooth benefits enrollment process will give your employees peace of mind and remind them that their health is top of mind right now. What tools are you using to stay ahead of the process? Let us know!

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