Whether you are a business owner of a small team or part of the Human Resources team at a large company, you’re going to want to be prepared when the open enrollment season begins. Your employees are going to have a lot of complicated questions, and rightfully so.
Planning ahead and determining some FAQs along with a communication guideline can ensure a seamless process for everyone involved. So, we’ve come up with a sample open enrollment communication guide to help you feel prepared and ready when the time comes. After all, it’s only a few months away!
How to Begin Open Enrollment Communication With My Employees
Whether you work with a broker or not, it’s imperative as a business that there is a knowledgeable person or team in-house that can be readily available with questions, comments, help, and be a source of support during the open enrollment process. Companies who rely wholly on their brokers to be the primary contact for open enrollment questions may see more confusion from their employees than necessary during this process. We’ve seen it happen before. To avoid this, there are some steps to take ensuring a seamless, open dialogue of communication with your employees when it comes to benefit plans and overall questions about their health care coverage. Let’s get into it!
Step 1: Do Your Research
You will find it difficult to have positive communication with your employees if you lack the knowledge to do so. Utilize the resources at your disposal to ensure you know all the ins-and-outs of what’s to come with open enrollment and all things insurance.
Healthcare.gov, SHRM.org, and MNSURE.org are going to be great resources for questions regarding open enrollment rules, deadlines, health insurance laws and regulations, and necessary human resources information. You will also want to utilize your insurance carrier’s website for important updates, news, and information.
Make sure you know current laws, upcoming changes to rules and regulations, and of course dates and deadlines for open enrollment. You will also need to know about qualifications, special enrollment periods, and how to be of the best service to your employees as they navigate open enrollment. Be the first one to log into your benefits enrollment portal, and know the steps it takes to sign up so you can be prepared for any questions or issues right out of the gate.
Step 2: Know Your Audience
One of the largest groups within the workforce right now is of the Millennial generation. Millennials are now between the ages of 26 and 40 and makeup at least 50% of the workforce in 2020. People 26 and older are also responsible for paying their own insurance unlike anyone under 26, who are still eligible to be on their parents’ plans. Anyhow, these younger generations want information faster and more easily accessible. The days of paper enrollment forms may be over for many, so it’s essential to know your audience and what they need to make the enrollment process easy.
There are dozens of HR and benefits management portals out there, and it’s important to find the right one. Some sites like iSolved or Zenefits have relatively simple layouts and easy benefits management. Benefits enrollment sites like Gusto and BeneQuick may be catered a little more towards younger generations who want something simple and easy-to-use when on the go. These platforms give clear visibility to what benefits they have, making it easy to manage.
On the benefits side of things, it’s important to strategically choose plans that make sense for your team as well. If your group is primarily young healthy adults, they will most likely be looking for something different than employees that are married, or have children—that could affect which types of premiums you choose to offer. High-deductible plans can be great for younger people who don’t frequent the doctor, so they are willing to have a higher deductible in exchange for a lower monthly premium, however, this wouldn’t be very beneficial for those with young children
Step 3: Address Common Pain Points
One thing that can make or break a company is how well they listen to and handle employee feedback. As you navigate the field of insurance with them, make sure you not only take their feedback and criticism but use it to improve the options offered.
Did your employees hate the last vendor you worked with? Did they complain about the limited plan options last year? Consider their experiences and use them to improve on this year’s coverage. Employee experiences are vital to maintaining retention and satisfaction, and by not addressing those pain points you can risk losing team members.
Common pain points may be high-deductibles but no HSA or FSA options. Vast differences in premiums depending on the plan. Maybe there are too few options, and people want the ability to choose for themselves. These are all things employers hear, and how you handle them can have a lasting effect.
Step 4: Divide Open Enrollment Into Different Phases
Despite open enrollment being such a small window of time, it requires far more planning and execution before and after the actual open enrollment period. The Council for Disability Awareness has shared a genius structure that has helped hundreds of companies face open enrollment head-on, with ease. They tell companies they work with to consider their open enrollment plan in three different phases.
Phase 1 is Pre-Open Enrollment: This phase should take place 1-2 months before the open enrollment kick-off date. This is when companies can share information with employees and get everyone prepped and ready for open enrollment when it comes.
Phase 2 is During-Open Enrollment: This phase takes place during the 1-6 weeks of open enrollment (depending on your state’s deadlines). This time is dedicated to answering employee questions, helping them get enrolled, and just being a constant support for them during open enrollment.
Phase 3 is Post-Open Enrollment: This is the time where employee feedback surveys can be sent out so that those pain points we talked about can be addressed in the coming year. You should continue to support your employees with any other questions they have post-open enrollment.
Step 5: Set-Up Email Communication
Email is going to be your best forumfor communicating any details regarding open enrollment benefits, dates, deadlines, etc. Your marketing team can help build out a streamlined template, making everything easy to send out as further information comes in and as deadlines reminders approach.
You will want to open up your communication strategy by first verbally alerting everyone that very valuable information will be sent to their emails. The last thing you want is for someone to be left in the dark regarding their open enrollment. Make email your main form of benefits communication, as you can easily loop in your health insurance representatives or brokers via email.
Step 6: Send Appropriate Information
It is helpful to send only directly relevant information in your employee facing communications. Be sure to confirm accurate information with your insurance carrier, broker, state, or federal resources. Don’t muddle up email exchanges with information that doesn’t concern their open enrollment.
Your email template should have clearly labeled and bolded dates (which people can add to their calendar with one-click), links and log-in information. Make sure to includea direct email in which your team can send questions and inquiries to.
Step 7: Make Yourself Available
Lastly, make your HR representatives are available to your employees. For those who have questions, issues, need help logging in, or just have a dispute about the benefits offered — make sure there is always a direct contact who can point them in the right direction, helping to avoid mistakes or confusion.
By following these steps, you and your team should be more than prepared to face your 2021 open enrollment head-on. BeneQuick offers solutions for third-party administrators, brokers, and employers. We can provide all the support you need to ensure a seamless, worry-free open enrollment season. Simply give us a call at (651) 894-6432 or contact us online.