7 Tips for a Smoother, Happier Open Enrollment

November 1, 2018 - minute read

shutterstock_1153433371What would you rather do: walk barefoot across hot coals, have a conversation with your ex, or complete open enrollment forms?   

If you’re like nearly half of the employees who completed a recent Aflac survey, you’d choose scorched soles and surly ex-partners over facing your annual employee benefits enrollment. As we approach yet another open enrollment season, that’s the universal challenge confronting HR departments.

Compounding the problem: while 92% of workers say employee benefits are important to job satisfaction, 80% of those in the Aflac study spent less than one hour reviewing their options. In fact, 57% spent less than 30 minutes before making their selections.

So how can you encourage your workforce to get the most from your employee benefits program—while ensuring your open enrollment goes smoothly? We rounded up a few ideas!

1. Make Sure Your Communications Work for Your Workforce

While many of us take insurance terms for granted, evidence suggests that more than half of workers earning less than $50,000 per year don’t fully understand terms like “deductible” and “coinsurance,” let alone how employee benefits really work. Review your communications with fresh eyes; are they easy to understand at every level? Furthermore, if you manage a multi-lingual workforce, be sure your enrollment materials are available in every language.

2. Employ a Mix of Enrollment Media and Tools

The most effective open enrollment initiatives communicate with employees in multiple methods, from traditional tools like brochures and in-person meetings to tech-based tools like online enrollment platforms and videoconferencing. Different media appeal to different generations—and often, people need to read things multiple times before they “get it.”  

3. Leverage Online Enrollment Technology—Including Mobile

If you’re still relying primarily on paper forms, you’re making life harder for everyone. Not only do employees like the 24/7 convenience of a self-service benefit portal, but online enrollment platforms give employers greater control over every step of the open enrollment process.

For example, a robust enrollment system offers tracking and reporting capabilities, so HR can see at a glance who’s completed enrollment and who has not—and even send automatic reminders.

And it goes without saying: since pretty much everyone is using their smartphone to get more done these days, make sure your online enrollment platform is also mobile-friendly.

4. Make It Easy for Workers to Compare Health Plans

Offering multiple health plans is a good thing—as long as employees can tell the differences between them. Consider this: in the Aetna survey, 50% of respondents wished their open enrollment process was more like shopping on Amazon.com, where it’s easy to see the difference between products. Incorporating at-a-glance comparison tools and charts into your online and print enrollment materials can help employees make more informed choices.    

5. Beef up Your Voluntary Offerings

Voluntary benefits are playing an increasingly important role in employee benefits portfolios, according to a recent study by Willis Towers Watson.  Some of the most popular voluntary benefits: identity theft protection, pet insurance, long term care insurance and critical illness protection. 

One reason employers are embracing voluntary benefits is that they’re cost-effective, yet offer employees the opportunity to personalize their benefits, while taking advantage of group discounts.

6. Offer Live Consults

While online enrollment platforms are popular with employees, there’s no substitute for a little live one-on-one time as well. In one study, half of workers surveyed said they’d welcome the opportunity to consult with a benefits pro either face-to-face or over the phone. Your benefits consultant or insurance carrier should offer this service.

7. Keep Things Light and Engaging

While few HR professionals would categorize an open enrollment as entertaining, adding a little humor can make a big difference. Consider using puns, memes and even lighthearted videos to explain benefit offerings and remind employees of your key dates and deadlines. Not only are they more memorable, they may help transform your employee’s enrollment experience.      

7 Ways EPAY’s Enrollment Platform Can Help

EPAY’s integrated HR and payroll system makes it easy to conduct online open enrollments—while simplifying HR tasks ranging from recruiting to payroll. Before you go, here are seven fast facts we’d like you to know about our online enrollment platform:

  • It is web and mobile friendly, so workers can enroll from anywhere, on any device.
  • It allows employees to compare multiple plans at once, so they can make more informed choices.
  • It can accommodate multiple languages, a must for the multi-lingual workforce.
  • It allows you to track user activity, so you can see who has completed enrollment and who has not.
  • It can send automated reminders to those who need them.
  • It can automatically transfer data to your insurance carriers, as well as to the integrated payroll module, saving time and effort.
  • You can brand the interface…so it’s all about you and your workforce!
We’re here to help. Learn more or take our two-minute tour

Filed Under: Human Capital Management Employee Benefits