Ten Tips for a Smooth Benefits Open Enrollment
Courtesy of HR Made Simple
November is traditionally Benefits Open Enrollment month. Here are 10 tips for ensuring that your organization's open enrollment season runs smoothly:
1. Start Early
Get materials out to employees as soon as possible. Putting posters up or sending announcements in advance will prepare them for receiving important information with which they will need to make decisions.
2. Keep Collateral Consistent
This is like a marketing campaign - keep it simple, yet unforgettable. Use the same colors, fonts and logos in marketing materials. For example, use the color blue for health insurance along with a picture of a physician or stethoscope - and always use those for information on health insurance. You could use the color green and a dollar sign picture for your retirement plan announcements, etc.
3. Highlight Major Benefit Changes
Prepare handouts outlining the major changes to your benefits and hold informational meetings. Anticipate questions and have FAQs ready for distribution.
4. Avoid Information Overload
Don't overwhelm employees with all the information at once. Communicate new information first and concentrate on one benefit at a time. Normally your health insurance plan will be the benefit that has the most changes in it. Concentrate only on health insurance in your initial communication.
5. Provide a Benefit Plan Comparison
Show the difference in cost and the benefits for each plan. For example, if an employee has family coverage in a PPO style plan and the cost for that same plan is increasing you will want to do some examples on what the cost would be for ALL the plans you offer. The employee may decide to change from the PPO to an HMO if it is more cost effective. Remember employees care about each paycheck cost not necessarily their annual cost.
6. Develop Scenarios
Develop scenarios if your plan is changing dramatically. For example, an employee has a doctor's appointment-what does it look like under all the plans you offer? Co-pays, co-insurance, and out of pocket expenses should be looked at under each plan.
7. Set a Clear Deadline Early
Set your employee deadline for returned paperwork early. Set the date a few days before your actual deadline to submit the information to the benefits carriers. For example, if you have to have all information to your health insurance provider by December 1st, set your deadline to get information from employees the week prior to that. We know employees will be late--this will give you time to track things down if necessary.
8. Explain You E-Service
If using an e-service, make sure all employees know how to log in and make changes themselves. Hold some classes on "How Do I Use the E-Service System."
9. Share Employer Cost Information
Provide cost of benefits to employer for health insurance and other benefits provided. Most of the time employees do not know what the actual cost of their health plan is until they go on COBRA then they are shocked. Share the information.
10. Be Aware of Benefit and Law Changes
As an HR Professional you should be aware of changes that affect your employees. Check the notification rights of your employees. There are laws on notifying employees of benefit changes outside the normal open enrollment period.
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