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How to Make Open Enrollment Less of a Burden on Your HR Department

November 2, 2017
5 min read
Group 1-1

Performance Management, Supercharged



Open enrollment is to HR as tax season is to Finance. Open enrollment for 2018 begins November 1, 2017 and ends on December 15, 2017 giving your employees a mere 45 days to make one major life decision.


Most HR departments need a solid 6 months to plan for an efficient open enrollment season, according to Benefits Pro. While the season is inherently burdensome to your HR department, there are practical ways to make it less stressful. Here’s how!


Most HR depts need 6 mos to plan for #openenrollment. Here’s how you can improve your process quickly!

Audit Last Year’s Enrollment Success

  • What materials do you have and what updates do employees need? - Take a look back at pamphlets, memos, videos, and other informational communications you distributed last year. You may be able to easily repurpose them, but make sure to update them for the current year. This can help speed up the process because most of the work is already done!
  • What questions did employees ask last year? - Place the most frequently asked questions your employees asked in an internal, shareable online document. Answer each question and provide additional resources, links and contact information should the employee need more information. Make this document available in your internal network to give employees quick access to the most popular questions in order to cut down on time spent answering the same things over and over.
  • What concerns do your employees have this year? - Send out an internal survey or questionnaire to employees to hear their questions/ concerns. Think of this as a proactive approach so your team can start providing answers to their questions ahead of time, instead of being slammed with questions during open enrollment. Keep in mind, the changes in health care reform and the political landscape has likely caused some confusion in where things stand with health care in general. Let your employees know you’re ready to answer their questions now. Depending on the size and makeup of your workplace you can schedule internal meetings, an online webinar, or set up open office hours or a benefits booth in the common area, or lunch hall, for the weeks leading up to and during open enrollment.
  • What were the most time-consuming tasks from enrollment? - Did 500 some employees wait until the last minute to submit their paperwork, leaving your HR department scrambled for time at the end of the period? Set a company-wide deadline in advance of the paperwork to urge employees to submit earlier to give your team a break!

#OpenEnrollment is to HR as tax season is to Finance. Make Nov 1 - Dec 15 easier on your HR Staff with these tips!

Make the Necessary Changes to Your Existing Strategy

Whether you already have a strategy in place or are building a new one, you’ll want to make sure it considers your existing workforce as it stands, this open enrollment season. Remember, many changes may have happened over the course of the year, altering how you communicate the benefits.

80% of Americans spend less than an hour researching benefit options, and 90% keep the same plan from year to year. Yet for most employees, their circumstances change annually — whether it be the number of their dependents, their overall health and health care usage or their pay.”
- Kim Buckey, Benefits Pro

➤ Understand your audience, their communication preferences and their decision making process. Your audience isn’t just your employees, but their family members too. Not everyone has the same level of understanding on how insurance works, and you have to accommodate this. You also must consider the amount of time employees plan on spending within this process, we’ll give you a hint, it’s not much! Therefore, your communication plan must come through a channel that works for them and is concise to get the points across faster.

Did you know? Aflac found...Nearly half (46%) of US employees spend 30 minutes or less signing up for health care benefits, but it’s estimated that 42% of US employees waste up to $750 due to mistakes made with their insurance benefits.

➤ Set new goals. Ask what needs to be measured and how you should measure it. Perhaps you want a specific segment in your workforce to enroll that has typically opted out or you want to simply achieve goals that have to do with the enrollment process itself. This hypothetical example from SHRM may get you thinking about how open enrollment can be measured:

“If a goal is to migrate employees from a traditional health plan to a high-deductible health plan with a health savings account, what percentage of employees should make the shift for the company to consider the migration successful?”

Try these on for size:

Increase millennial enrollment in the company’s consumer-driven health plan by ____%.
Decrease the number of submissions close to the deadline (within one week) by ____%.

➤ Revamp key messaging.

Whether you’re creating print or online communications, you most likely need to reconstruct the messaging. There’s always room for improvement and every year is a chance to increase enrollment percentage and speed up the time it takes employees to enroll. The right messaging can get you there!

Make sure messaging is:
  • Concise - shorten messaging, reformat copy with bolded fonts and bullet points to draw attention to key content and use snappy, attention-grabbing language (speak directly to your audience!)
  • Plain-speak - remove jargon, complicated descriptions and be as direct as possible.

Invest in a Strategic Technology Partner

“Any company that doesn’t utilize the latest technology is going to have trouble keeping up with their competition. This statement holds true for open enrollment too. New HR technology can help you both communicate with employees and administer benefits enrollment.”
- Travis Martin, The Olson Group

Benefits administration is much easier with the help of the right technology. Look for a system with the following features:

  • Employee-friendly portal for easy enrollment or family status changes
  • Engage employees with their benefits using education and communication tools
  • Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliance technology and seamless e-filing
  • Total compensation statements
  • Voluntary benefits and wellness management
  • HSA, FSA, COBRA, dependent audits, claims reimbursement, and premium billing administration

Having the right system can make a world of difference!

ClearCompany has been a pioneer in HR technology for over a decade. We understand that an excellent talent management strategy includes well-managed talent administration to effectively reward and administer benefits for your employees.

Chat with us today to see how you can leverage Benefits Administration within the ClearCompany platform.

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