Assessing and planning your open enrollment strategy

By Higginbotham on February 23 , 2018

Open enrollment strategy planning

Open enrollment season is over – and that’s what makes this a particularly good time to think about your open enrollment strategy. Now, without stress or rush, you can reflect on the last enrollment period and plan for the next one.

Assess Your Last Open Enrollment Period

You don’t want to wait too long to assess your last open enrollment period. The longer you put it off, the less you’ll remember. Before the details get too hazy, take some time to ask to ask a few questions.

  • How were the participation rates? If you had a goal – say 90 percent – were you able to achieve it? If not, see who didn’t participate and look for patterns. It’s possible, for example, that participation was high for most employees in the office every day, but employees who work from home got left out.
  • Did employees understand their options? Insurance can confuse even the brightest of people. Confusion during open enrollment can cause employees to select coverage options that aren’t a good fit, and this can lead to dissatisfaction throughout the year. If a lot of people were confused, the information needs to be explained better.
  • Did employees feel rushed? If a lot of employees were scrambling to meet the enrollment deadline – or even worse, missed it – there may have been a communication problem. More reminders, or reminders delivered using different methods, may be needed.

To obtain reliable answers for some of these questions, you’ll need to conduct an employee survey. Ask employees directly how they felt about the enrollment process, whether they felt that they understood their options clearly, whether they were aware of the deadlines and whether they liked the way information was communicated. Also, ask employees to share any other concerns or recommendations.

Download a sample employee survey.

Plan for Your Next Open Enrollment Period

Although the next enrollment period may seem like a worry for the distant future, you want to make some decisions now while the issues are still fresh in your mind. Depending on the problems you experienced, you may need to make the following adjustments.

  • Review the technology and tools you use to administer open enrollment. Are there opportunities for greater efficiency, less manual entry or other improvements?
  • Review your enrollment materials. Is the material overly dense or full of jargon? If so, it’s time to refresh it.
  • Add charts and other visual aids to make the information easier to understand.
  • Find new ways to reach out to all employees, including those who work from home.
  • Add text reminders and other electronic options for people who prefer digital communication – but continue offering group and one-on-one meetings, as well. Although electronic methods are convenient, some people still prefer to handle important matters face-to-face.
  • Address any other concerns expressed by employees. For example, if many employees are upset about rising costs, explain why costs are high, what the company is doing to manage them and what employees can do to keep their expenses down.

If you need assistance or guidance, contact Higginbotham. Our benefit services team is here to help.

Related: Open enrollment communication best practices


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