September is when many HR professionals and benefits administrators start to feel the pressure of open enrollment season, bringing feelings of uncertainty and stress.
Our Benefits Solutions Manager Martha Barker, CFC and HUB International Senior Vice President, Market Leader, and Insurance Advisor Donna Bishop share best practices for your open enrollment success:
Preparing For Open Enrollment
As soon as the current open enrollment season ends, employers should start considering the following to best plan for the next year:
- What processes could be improved?
Share feedback with your broker about the effectiveness of communication methods, the types of plans offered, and how user-friendly the experience is. Improving the employee experience can increase engagement and enrollment outcomes for the next year.
- What went well?
Evaluating the previous season and identifying its successes will help you determine the focus for the upcoming year. Discuss with your broker whether your employees were adequately informed, satisfied with the plans offered, and easily able to enroll.
Tip: Conducting a benefits survey about six months before the next open enrollment period is recommended to understand employee sentiments.
- Where do you benchmark against your competitors?
“Understanding how your organization’s benefits strategy measures against your competitors helps you improve your strategy to not only attract new employees but also keep the ones you have.” – Martha Barker, Catapult Benefit Solutions Manager
- Responsibilities of Broker
- Develops a customized employee benefits plan to meet your organization’s needs
- Presents best options based on the results of renewals
- If renewal is excessively high, the broker can negotiate with the carrier to reduce the price, provide a no-shop offer, or shop around for best offers
- Note: You do not need to automatically shop for options every year, especially if your carriers offer a competitive renewal rate.
- Responsibilities of Employer
- Makes timely decisions based on your goals and budget
- Complies with notice requirements
- Provides employees with various notices or face daily fines
- For best practices, contact your broker to obtain the necessary notices and distribute them during open enrollment. It’s important to note that first-time enrollees require additional notices, so providing a new hire package can be helpful
- Employers can deliver notices via email, physically handing them to employees, mail, and more
- Note: It is important to have evidence of notification.
- On the day of open enrollment, employers should hold a meeting in a suitable space and encourage all teams to attend. If the meeting is virtual, it should be recorded so employees can refer to it. Enrollment packages and materials should be distributed or shared if available.
Using Data to Enhance Your Employees’ Experience
“The data will tell you a lot about your population and what benefits you can enrich or maybe where you can scale back.” – Martha Barker, Catapult Benefits Solutions Manager
If you are level-funded, you have access to some data, if you are self-insured you have access to a great deal of data. However, knowing the compliance risks associated with this data is important. It’s recommended that you rely on your broker to request the removal of names and identifiable data from any reports. Additionally, some brokers may have a financial expert who can interpret and present the data in a way that makes sense to you so you can make informed decisions valuable to your employees.
Leverage Your Technology When You Can
Some brokers will offer a benefits admin system set up as an added employer benefit. If your payroll system has a benefits admin system attached, the broker can provide the plan specifics to that vendor to have file feed carrier connection set up.
Make Open Enrollment Season Fun
When discussing open enrollment with your employees, it’s a great chance to have some fun. Keep in mind the differences between generations and communicate in a way that suits them, such as text reminders, emails, or postcards. Remember to make it engaging and enjoyable!
Simplify your open enrollment season with the help of Catapult’s benefit solutions experts.
Watch this month’s Thinking Differently for more helpful open enrollment tips.