Simplifying Open Enrollment

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Organizations need to prioritize three key considerations to improve the open enrollment process for benefits and help employees make the best decisions.

Although open enrollment season officially kicks off in November, HR departments spend the entire year preparing and planning for the event. In addition to being responsible for picking the best benefits strategy, HR employees have to communicate and educate employees on any changes to their coverage plans in a timely and confidential manner. From health, vision, and dental insurance to new well-being benefits, payroll taxes or 401(k) contributions, updating employees across the organization with information that will impact their lives can be a daunting task.

During periods of transition, maintaining high levels of employee engagement can be especially challenging for HR departments. Human capital management is invaluable to business success, but according to a recent survey, 67 percent of employees say reading about their benefits is complicated, time-consuming, or stressful. How can organizations expect success if they are not taking care of their most valuable asset—their people?

There are three key considerations organizations need to prioritize to improve the open enrollment process and help employees make the best decisions.

1. Preparation

Since the benefits landscape is constantly changing year to year, HR departments begin researching and investigating everything surrounding this topic almost immediately after open enrollment ends. From auditing existing research and compiling supporting materials to scheduling meetings with representatives and identifying the trending news in the industry, countless hours go into preparing the final offering for employees. Despite all this preparation, when open enrollment season finally opens, it still can be chaotic and stressful for everyone.

2. Communication
All too often, HR departments present benefits packages with in-depth plan details and rates that can be confusing, overwhelming, and unhelpful for the majority of employees. To meet the needs of what employees really want, companies should implement a strategy to streamline how employees will access the information they need. Utilizing a single platform to host all resources will maintain an accurate and reliable stream of information.

Having the necessary resources and materials readily available is crucial for employees to make an informed decision. Despite this more than 50 percent of employees say they can’t access their benefits in the way they prefer, while 21 percent say they can easily access their benefits. By optimizing information flows and streamlining to one platform, staff will have a solid foundation to answer all the questions employees might have. Having more employees informed on all the available options facilitates a smoother open enrollment process and increases efficiency across every department.

3. Tech Implementation

If a newly adopted HR technology is difficult to navigate, staff still will face the time-consuming and unnecessary challenges of tracking down the information and then deciphering the complex terminology. Companies that are not embracing the latest technology will not be as successful in supporting their employees as some competitors, which leaves them vulnerable to decreases in employee retention rates. Employees overwhelmingly want decision support and are appreciative toward employers that offer it. Some 81 percent of employees who can easily access their benefits reported they felt loyal to their employer, and 77 percent of employees who understand their benefits offering said they saw themselves staying at their organization for the foreseeable future.

Organizations hoping to improve the employee experience should look to adopt advanced solutions that support modern human capital management (HCM). HCM technology solutions are allowing employers to ensure their benefits strategy is being delivered through a seamless experience. By empowering employees, companies can promote greater efficiency and satisfaction across every department.

By prioritizing advanced planning and investing in decision support tools, organizations can offer comprehensive support for all aspects of the organization’s workplace benefits process. With this streamlined system, open enrollment transforms from a cumbersome task into a meaningful and engaging process.

Patricia Gorton is VP of People North America and Global Head of Talent at Unit4, a software company that designs and delivers enterprise software and ERP applications and related professional services for people in services organizations, with a special focus on the professional services, education, public services, and not-for-profit sectors.