Why Automated Open Enrollment Beats Manual Every Time (Free Worksheet)

Use this worksheet to help you determine how many hours you spend on manual versus automated open enrollment.

November rings in the beginning of the end-of-the-year festivities. It’s filled with giving thanks and gifts, and ends with ringing in the new year. Your employees are thinking about the holidays, but you’ve got the dreaded open enrollment on your mind.

You’re planning the countless hours you’ll be taking away from productive work to get the massive amounts of paperwork ready, distributed, and returned. You’ll be clocking in early and staying late to get it all done. Your frustration will grow with every employee who doesn’t respond, those who have endless questions, and those who return paperwork unsigned, incomplete, or illegible.

What amount of time, energy, and sanity could you save if you didn’t have to do any of it? Could you contract the work out to people who know what they’re doing, have all the answers to every employee question, and assure every form is completed — on time and accurately — before the deadline? Automated benefits enrollment does just that. When you use a third-party provider to administer open enrollment, you get back to running your business. You can let benefits experts take charge.

Too few business owners place value on their own time. Open enrollment needs to get done, at the cost of neglecting other, higher value tasks. If you calculate the amount of time it takes to administer open enrollment, it’s easy to see it’s one of the least cost-effective uses of time each year. It’s not too late to outsource, but if you’re not convinced it’s a useless time drain, consider the amount of labor you’re putting in.

Prepping for manual open enrollment 

Even before the employee portion of the mayhem begins there’s a lot to do, such as:

  • Talking to carriers to discuss coverage changes for the coming year
  • Putting together enrollment packages to distribute to internal and remote staff, as well as those on leave of absence
  • Putting together spreadsheets that let you know which employees have returned their forms, which forms were submitted or outstanding, and which needed to be returned to the employee for correction
  • Ensuring you have a reminder system to get those corrected or omitted forms back and to get the employees who haven’t submitted any of their forms turned in

Rolling it out

Now you put together packages of forms, explanations, and deadlines for every employee and distribute them. You’ll need to assure that remote workers and those on leave receive their information at the same time on-site workers do, so mail and/or email those early. Don’t forget to get delivery receipts, and check back to verify the employee got the materials.

Reining it in

Next is the paperwork: miles and miles of paperwork. You’ll need to check that every form is returned, every line on every form is completed (legibly), and every necessary supporting document is provided. Multiply that by every employee on your plan to calculate how many hours have been spent.

Questions, questions, questions

Do you have a full and complete knowledge of the terms and conditions of every policy your company offers? If not, you’ll spend time answering employee questions by searching for the answer yourself. From the simplest inquiry to the most complex, calculate the hours you’ll spend working as a benefits advisor annually.

Finally, you’re ready to send the completed papers to the carriers. When you’ve added up the amount of hours and resources you’ve spent, was it worth doing in house? Now calculate that each of those labor hours was taken away from productive, necessary work. You’ll find open enrollment DIY doesn’t provide ROI.

Why automated is better

Imagine not having to do all that work? What other tasks could you be performing that add to the bottom line? When you work with benefits enrollment experts, your only task is to provide them a list of eligible employees and their dependents. With some providers, coverage is part of the system: others work with your existing carriers to manage enrollment. You’ve spent an hour (maybe) sending them the data, then get back to running your business.

AI to the rescue 

Technology takes rote tasks and automates them to be done faster, easier, and more efficiently. Employees are notified by email and text, then linked immediately to a site where they can complete their forms on the spot. They’ll be prompted to fill out every form accurately, before moving on to the next on the list. They’ll finalize their enrollment forms correctly, the first time.

For employees that don’t finish filling out their forms, or those who haven’t begun, AI sends out continuous reminders until the task is done. You don’t have to make lists of what’s outstanding from whom and send message after message; it’s automated and done for you.

Bonuses to outsourcing 

Most business owners agree when they break down the costs to administer open enrollment it’s just not worth their time. With so many third-party options available, this is a task much better suited to an expert provider. More than saving time, resources, and aggravation, there are other bonuses to outsourcing open enrollment.

Most business owners agree when they break down the costs to administer open enrollment it’s just not worth their time. With so many third-party options available, this is a task much better suited to an expert provider.

The people who manage automated enrollment are benefits experts. They answer employee questions knowledgeably and immediately. While you take time to look through the policy or wait for a benefits representative to call back with an answer, employees are provided the information they need on the spot from someone whose job it is to know.

Employees are able to complete enrollment forms from anywhere at any time. If they need to review options with family members, they’re free to do so together, at home, without the pressure of getting back to work. In many cases, third-party providers offer bilingual options for employees whose first language isn’t English.

Many third-party benefits administrators have an FAQ page that responds to the most common employee questions. Some even have comparison pages that allow workers to check they’re making the right healthcare choices for their family. This isn’t their first rodeo — they know how to manage enrollment efficiently in the most user-friendly (you and your employees) way possible.

Is DIY worthwhile?

Still not convinced? Take a few minutes to estimate how much time it takes to perform open enrollment tasks, then multiply those hours by the worker’s hourly wage. Are you saving money doing it yourself, or wasting resources, time, and talent?  Think back on how labor-intensive enrollment was last year, and try to calculate how much it actually costs to do this low value, high importance compliance task.

We’ve attached a worksheet to help determine how many hours were wasted manually, versus automated open enrollment. You may find outsourcing is the key to getting open enrollment done quickly and accurately. It’s not too late to let the experts handle open enrollment so you can enjoy the holiday season along with your employees.

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