Open Enrollment

How to Get a Jump-Start on Open Enrollment

September 12, 2019 | Sean Healey

Winston-JumpstartOpenOpen enrollment season is approaching — typically mid October through early December — and it will be here before we know it. As an employer, it’s important to make sure you and your employees are ready.

Here are three ways you can start preparing for open enrollment today.

Match Communication Delivery to Your Employees’ Needs

Communication is crucial to your employees understanding the open enrollment process. It’s up to you as the employer to make sure they’re getting the knowledge and updates they need to stay informed. To do this, match your communication style to your employees’ needs.

For example, some employees may not have access to a computer during work hours, but they may have frequent communication with managers. And many younger employees rely on text communication so, if they’ve authorized it, you can utilize SMS to update staff on open enrollment policies and procedures.

Communicating early and getting in touch with employees will minimize problems and miscommunications, and lessen the burden on your HR team, benefits administration and call centers during the actual open enrollment process.

Prepare for Unusual Circumstances

If you intend to change providers, be sure to plan far ahead. Switching providers may mean changing networks, so employees need to know that far ahead of time to make plans. Support resources will change as well, so employees should be made aware of new resources as soon as possible. Finally, encourage employees to enroll early, because they’ll need to receive new insurance cards before Jan. 1.

If you use active enrollment, where employee coverage will be terminated if action isn’t taken, be sure employees are aware of that process and what they need to do to maintain their coverage. And keep in mind that new employees who enrolled for benefits during 2019 will still need to enroll for 2020. Make sure your new hires know that as well!

Plan an Exit Survey to Get a Jump-Start on Next Year

You should always be preparing for the following year. Each year that you conduct open enrollment, plan an educational takeaway to make next year’s enrollment better. Create a survey for enrollees as part of the process. Ask your employees to consider questions like these:

  • Did you have easy access to your communications?
  • Did you feel like you got enough education on your benefits?
  • Did you feel like you had enough information to make an educated benefits decision?

Then, based on the responses, tailor your education or communications for the following year.

Plan to hold an open enrollment postmortem in late January or early February. This consists of a meeting with your provider to go over what worked and what can be improved for the following year. By late January the process will still be fresh in your mind, and you’ll have had the chance to determine pain points based on employee survey responses. Furthermore, employees will have received their first check, and will have had the chance to ask questions pertaining to any misunderstandings in the process.


Disclaimer:  This content is strictly informational and should not be used as specific advice on insurance products, legal, accounting, and/or tax related matters. Insureds should always contact the appropriate licensed professional for their insurance, legal, accounting, or tax needs.

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