Data-Driven Insight To Plan The Perfect Open Enrollment

July 30, 2019 | PlanSource | HCI
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Open enrollment season is right around the corner—do you have a strategy in place to make this the best OE yet?

Planning open enrollment isn’t just about encouraging employees to simply log-in and make benefit elections—it’s about so much more! Educating and engaging with employees before, during and after open enrollment is critical to success.

Did you know? 40% of employees wait until the last minute to enroll, and the average employee spends only 18 minutes actually enrolling in benefits.

You have a very limited window to grab and keep employees’ attention. And, there’s truly no thing as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ plan that will reach and resonate with all employees.

Here are 3 tips to plan and execute a flawless and engaging open enrollment: 

1. Plan For Enrollment In Advance

Like most things in life, open enrollment will be far more successful if advanced planning is prioritized.

Begin by digging into your own data and establishing a baseline. What benefits does your company typically offer, and what are your historical participation rates? What popular employee benefits don’t you currently offer, and how competitive are your plans and packages compared to other companies? Knowing where you’re starting is essential for setting realistic goals for where you want to go.

From benchmarking, move on to setting specific goals for the next year and map those goals out with specific tactics on how you are going to meet your goal. A few common goals include increasing participation in a specific plan type or decreasing health care spend while maintaining a robust benefits package.

From there, do a little digging to better understand your workforce demographics. Are your employees in-office with easy access to a computer, or are they in-field or traveling most of the day? Do you work with a fully English-speaking workforce, or will you need translation options? These are just a few of the things you should consider when planning your benefits communications.

Speaking of communications, you’ll want to map out your OE communication timeline and have messaging prepped for your emails, guides and print materials, etc. Don’t wait until the week of enrollment to engage employees! Instead, have a plan in place to share important OE materials well in advance and prep for any questions or issues that might arise prior to enrollment. 

2. Use Multiple Communication Channels

As mentioned above, no single communication channel is going to resonate with each and every one of your employees. Avoid putting all of your communication eggs in one basket and use multiple communication channels to get your messages across.

Tried and true, email is still one of the most popular and most effective methods for distributing mass messages. It certainly has its advantages, like the low cost to use, the speed at which messages are created and received, and how easily emails can be segmented to reach specific groups. However, email is easy to overlook and not all employees have a dedicated work email, which is why it’s important to consider other communication channels.

Contrary to popular belief, print is far from dead. Many employees still enjoy perusing a physical benefits guide, so have a few of those handy for reference. Print can also come in handy with posters placed in public areas to keep open enrollment deadlines and materials top of mind throughout the office.

Also, don’t discount smaller, more niche initiatives. Text message alerts, which have an incredibly high open and response rate (98% compared to only 20% for email), are a great way to engage remote or in-field workforces. And social media can be an incredibly convenient and handy tool for dispersed employees or workers without a dedicated company email. Be creative and think outside of the box for ways to meet the needs of your individual workforce.

3. Invest In Decision Support

Employers are generally aware that employees need help understanding their benefits, but the problem is actually bigger than it seems. In fact, a recent report revealed that 55% of employees want help when choosing their health plans. That’s over half of the workforce! Additionally, 49% of employees feel that making health insurance decisions is ‘always very stressful’, and 36% of employees feel that the open enrollment process is ‘extremely confusing’.

The data is crystal clear—employees want help during open enrollment!

Support your employees in the moments that matter most by investing in a robust decision support tool. Options range from benefits platforms that offer simple, built-in support tools to add-on technology services that provide a more robust and personalized shopping experience, so do your research or work with a benefits adviser to evaluate potential options that might be a good fit for your workforce.

And, decision support can be a double whammy; not only can it help provide employees with an intuitive and simplified benefits shopping experience, studies have shown that decision support can increase voluntary coverage enrollment, increase HDHP enrollment and increase retirement savings account contributions—to name just a few of the perks that benefit not only employees but also HR teams. A win/win for all parties!

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Are you ready to plan and execute the best open enrollment yet? By prioritizing advanced planning and benchmarking your data, using multiple communication channels and investing in decision support tools, you can transform your open enrollment from a cumbersome annual chore to a meaningful and engaging process.