For many who work in human resources and employee benefits, open enrollment can be a stressful time of year. Focused on meeting tight deadlines and pleasing multiple stakeholders, many HR professionals often repeat sins of the past and fail to make annual, incremental improvements in their open enrollment processes.
Optimizing your open enrollment is critical to ensuring its ongoing success. After all, over time you learn more about how best to communicate with your organization, particularly as the employee benefits space evolves i.e. new benefit products and services, and new technologies.
In the spirit of continuous improvement, whether you're working off of a well-established checklist or with your employee benefits broker, be sure to avoid these common pitfalls during your next open enrollment.
1. Ending Open Enrollment Outside of Normal Office Hours
Procrastinating employees will inevitably have last minute questions and may experience technology troubles. Make sure your deadline for open enrollment falls during the workweek and during normal office hours when your HR staff is still on duty to help them through those final steps in the process.
2. Ignoring Other Household Decision Makers
Often times your employee is not the only one weighing-in on benefit decisions. Make sure the communication materials and media channels you're using reach other heads of household and key decision makers such as spouses. Consider extending invitations to open enrollment meetings to the entire family.
3. Not Providing Ample Time
Don't force your workforce to rush through important decisions. Most enrollments require dozens of decisions --- not only regarding medical plans, but also that of other insurance products and services, not to mention the naming of beneficiaries and determination of appropriate earnings to direct into FSAs, HSAs, and 401(k)s.
4. Going All-In on Technology
Today's workforce spans nearly five generations, so be sure to cover all your bases when communicating important open enrollment information to your employees. While it's perfectly acceptable to move all of your enrollment online, just be sure to augment your digital employee communication efforts with lots of old fashioned media as well.
5. Electing a Passive vs. Active Enrollment
Don't miss out on this annual opportunity to showcase your benefits package. And don't let your employees skip out on having to reevaluate their benefit decisions, as life situations often change from year-to-year. While passive enrollment is easier to administer, an auto pilot approach to benefits enrollment simply isn't in keeping with today's migration to consumer driven healthcare.
6. Not Optimizing Your Online Enrollment System
Calibrating your system to maximize performance and outcomes should be an ongoing activity. Make it as easy and intuitive as possible. Guide educated decision-making and adopt best-practices such as opt-outs vs. opt-ins, product bundling, pre-populated data from prior enrollments, personalization, and more.
7. Ignoring Voluntary/Worksite Benefits
Employees care about a lot more than just their medical, dental, and vision benefits. While other benefit offerings such as STD, LTD, FSAs, and HSAs might require more education, it's time well spent. Explaining how accident and critical illness insurance works well with an HPHD will go a long way in helping employees understand if a benefit option is right for them.
8. Being Too Modest About Your Benefits Program
Don't assume your employees know how good they've got it. If your employer contributions to medical premium, HRAs, and HSAs over-index vs. your competitor, then shout it from the rooftops. The same goes for dental, vision, disability, life, and more. If you are paying most or the entire cost of premium, remind your workforce annually of how your benefits package stands out.
9. Not Focusing On Total Out-of-Pocket Costs
When comparing and contrasting medical plan options, make certain not to focus solely on copays, coinsurance, and deductibles, but rather on total out-of-pocket expenditures, which always include the cost of premium. This is critically important if you are offering an HDHP as a medical plan option as it will suffer in comparison if you don't take this approach.
10. Not Funding a Health Savings Account (HSA)
Next to substantial premium savings, nothing incentivizes an employee to enroll in an HDHP more than an employer making contributions into their Health Savings Account. It's also an excellent way to ensure that an employee take the steps necessary to open an HSA. Better still, making HSA contributions contingent on participatory or outcomes-based wellness activities is also an excellent way to incentivize and elicit desired behaviors.
What type of pitfalls has your organization avoided during open enrollment? Contact us or comment below. We’d love to hear from you!