How to Maximize Next Year’s Open Enrollment — Starting Today
November 8, 2019 | Eamonn Brady, Vice President of Employer Solutions (Northeast)
When you want to do something right, it’s never too early to start planning — especially with open enrollment. This year’s open enrollment period is well underway, but we’re already thinking about 2020.
Here at Winston we help our clients plan by assembling a post-open-enrollment report detailing hard data, accomplishments, ways to improve for the following year and “lessons learned.” It’s a lifelong-learning mentality that makes the review process so beneficial. We don’t want you to dwell on the hiccups of the past — we want to empower you to make improvements.
Here are some strategies for planning open enrollment 2020 today.
Take Notes on Successes — and Places for Improvement
You can’t possibly remember every detail of the month and a half long open enrollment process — so don’t try. Instead take frequent and detailed notes. It all goes back to that learning mentality. Any reactions your employees have this year, whether positive or negative, can be leveraged to create a better employee experience in future open enrollments.
If you notice different employees coming to you with the same questions, jot that down. It might be something you can address before open enrollment starts next year. Or if employees seem unhappy with changes in benefits, keep track of how many such comments you get and what they’re saying. This will give you clarity on what your employees want and need.
Look at the Data — and Connect the Dots
In addition to taking notes and keeping “soft” data, it’s critical to examine the trends in your hard data. You can learn a lot from the numbers. For example, if you see that half of your employees have migrated from one medical plan to another, there’s a reason for it. You can connect the dots to figure out why which will inform your decisions going into next year’s open enrollment.
It’s possible that employees left one plan because the benefits of the other plan weren’t clear enough. On the other hand, it could mean that the popular plan was better communicated to employees. It’s vital to know the difference so you can act on that knowledge in preparing for next year.
Talk to Key Players, Especially Employees
Shortly after wrapping up open enrollment, you should plan to have a chat with your vendors and broker. These conversations should happen in late January, after employees have received their first paychecks reflecting their new plans. If there have been any misunderstandings, you’ll find out then. Before that time, though, the same rules apply — take thorough notes. Keep track of questions for your vendors and broker throughout the process so you can make the most of your conversations with them.
Surveying your employees now can also provide a wealth of information for next year’s open enrollment process. We can give you advice on trends, but each employee population is different. You won’t know for sure what worked for your employees — and what didn’t — until you ask them. Your employees’ thoughts and opinions are your greatest asset in interpreting data and preparing for next year’s open enrollment.