Stressed About Open Enrollment? Create a Benefits Strategy

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written by
Dave Jarecki |

Open enrollment can be stressful for company leaders, employees, and your team—especially since everyone might be coming to you for answers.

  • Your employees might need to make changes for their plans. Do they know their options?
  • Your renewal projections might indicate that your organization is in for a large rate increase. Are organizational leaders prepared?
  • Have you magically added more hours to your work day?

Strategize before open enrollment

Ideally, you’ve sorted the answers to these questions out by now, especially since this year’s open enrollment period is right around the corner. If you haven’t, then you might be in for a tricky few weeks as we head toward the end of the calendar year.

Part of having these answers ready involves building a benefits strategy ahead of open enrollment.

When you create and follow a benefits strategy, you can help employees and leaders find answers before the open enrollment clocks starts ticking.

Even if this year looks like it’s going to be a crash course in benefits planning and administration, the following four tips can help you sort through challenges, and prepare for the next open enrollment period.  

If your employees haven’t been thinking about their health benefits, they will be soon. Are you ready for them? Your benefits administration software can help simplify open enrollment, and encourage a more engaged workforce all year around. Request a demo, and learn more.

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Benefit plan on laptop

What’s your benefits strategy?

To help ensure that employees are prepared for open enrollment—and that company leaders aren’t caught off guard by the numbers—consider making health benefits part of a year-long conversation.

Here are four tips to help you build a benefits strategy:

1. Educate your employees

Educating your employees can help get rid of roadblocks or misunderstandings they have about their coverage. Doing so before open enrollment—as part of ongoing communication—can help you save time when open enrollment comes around.

Some easy ways you can educate employees about health benefits include:

  • Posting flyers about different types of coverage.
  • Highlighting certain benefits in employee newsletters.
  • Scheduling Q&A sessions with a third-party benefits broker or industry specialist.
  • Including benefits-focused webinars or e-learnings as part of your onboarding experience.

2. Ask for feedback

Your employees have preferences when it comes to their coverage. How are you checking in with them? Is there a mechanism that invites their input or feedback?

Whether through formal surveys, or informal conversations, most employees appreciate a chance to give feedback about their benefits.

The information they provide can help you:

  • Learn which benefits employees value most;
  • Track different opinions among employee groups and tiers; and
  • Find out what other types of benefits your employees want.

3. Be sure benefits align with your employee population and your budget

Company culture is a part of nearly every facet of business these days—including recruiting, onboarding, and yes, benefits.

As you gather feedback from employees, use their insights to inform the way your review your carrier—and consider a new one.

  • Does your plan carrier offer coverage options that your employees are asking for?
  • Has recent hiring changed the face of your employee population?
  • Are these new faces interested in different types of care options?

This is also where issues related to renewal projections and premiums come into play.

  • Is your company facing a dramatic spike in health care costs? If so, you’ll ideally uncover this information months before open enrollment.
  • With insight in hand, you can present your findings to company leaders, and make costs part of your strategic decision making.

If you’re working with an insurance broker, these can be important issues to bring up with them, especially as you consider whether or not it’s time to look for a new carrier.     

4. Make it easier for employees to engage with benefits administration software

Many companies turn to benefits administration software for employee-friendly features, and back-end management support.  

Employees can manage and update personal information when they need to. They can also update coverage options during open enrollment, or in case they’ve experienced a qualifying event, such as a change in family status, or a loss of coverage elsewhere.

When your employees have more control over their benefits, this can help save you time.

  • Benefits administration software serves as a self-service portal through which employees can research all the different plan options that your carriers offer. It links to carrier websites where they can learn more about the plan you provide. This way, employees have access to their options, which helps them make informed decisions.
  • In addition, when an employee submits a benefit request, your benefits administration software makes every step traceable. This can simplify things later in case they receive a bill for a service they did not use.

Extra transparency can also make it easier for employees to understand issues related to required benefits contributions. It can also help your organization comply with regulations and requirements related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and others.

If this year hasn’t been your most strategic when it comes to benefits, don’t worry. Keep an eye on the small things you can control ahead of open enrollment. Then set your game plan to be more strategic next year.

Fall is open enrollment time for health insurance. That means employees will be trying to understand their options, and choosing their benefits. Optimize your benefits picture with benefits administration software, and help make the process easier for them and your company.

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