Five Critical Tasks to Complete After Open Enrollment

Posted by Brandon Carter on Jan. 10, 2017

A new year is upon us.

A fresh beginning.

Lots of optimism mixed in with the madness of getting the year off to a raging start in the office.

The best part? For many, open enrollment is in the past. Thank goodness.

Time to sit back with a martini and bask in the glory of a covered workforce, right?

Well, maybe not.

While open enrollment is certainly a monster for those of us in the benefits world, there's still some important work to be done after it's slayed.

Complete these five important tasks to truly finish off a successful open enrollment and make sure your employees get the most out of their new benefits and perks.

1. Audit the First Bill

Time-consuming and tedious, but it's important to go through the first monthly bill, line by line, person by person, to ensure each employee is enrolled in the package they selected.

Don't assume employees will check out their own coverage or confirm their coverage is correct. From our collection of employee benefits statistics:

80% of organizations report low benefits knowledge due to participants not opening/reading materials, almost half don't understand the materials (IFEBP)

It's better to spend the time getting it right today, than to battle halfway through the year when an employee's coverage is rejected at their doctor or dentist.

2. Solicit Feedback on the Process and Benefits from Employees

While you are an employee benefits professional, your world is completely foreign to many employees. They know benefits are important, they just don't know details of what exactly comprises benefits.

One of the most important, yet unsung, traits of HR professionals is the ability to educate. And the truth is the open enrollment process just doesn't work for many employees.

41% of employees feel the open enrollment process at their company is extremely confusing (Jellyvision)

There's this nugget too:

Just 7% of employees can successfully define four basic health insurance concepts: plan premium, deductible, co-insurance and out-of-pocket maximum (United Healthcare)

Maybe your employees are sharper than most, but chances are they're getting lost in the open enrollment process.

Which is understandable.

Their jobs are sales, customer service, marketing and so on. "Benefits terminology" probably isn't listed as a specialty on their LinkedIn profiles.

There's only one way to find out if your open enrollment process is working for your employees.

Ask them.

sad_couple_talking.jpgSometime in the days or weeks after open enrollment closes, solicit feedback from employees about the process and their new benefits. Send out an email, or even just chat up employees in the hallways.

Ask questions specific to the process and the benefits - don't let it turn into a gripe session about how much they're expected to pay. (But here's what to do if it goes down that path.)

You may find they're savvy and well versed in their benefits. Congrats!

Or you may find that you have to use more plain language. Or offer one-on-one consultations.

Regardless, it's always better to know one way or another.

This is also a great time to ask them what corporate perks and benefits they would like to see, while their disappointment or excitement is still fresh on their brains.New Call-to-action

3. Create a Plan to Drive Usage

You've given everyone these amazing benefits. You've answered 10,000 questions about them. You've made sure everyone's coverage is what they signed up for.

Now, you need to make sure they don't go to waste.

Encourage preventive care visits.

Focus on getting managers involved. Whatever managers do, their teams are likely to follow suit. For example:

46% of American workers say that their manager has made them feel like they shouldn’t take time off work to go to preventive care appointments (Zocdoc)


65% of employees say they hear nothing, mixed messages, or discouraging message about taking time off (Project: Time Off)

Your benefits, from PTO to employee discount programs, are there for a purpose. The more people use them, the more it benefits your company in productivity, health, and engagement.

If people don't use them, they can actually detract from your workplace.

Think like a marketer and get creative with how you keep employees aware of your benefits.

4. Watch Your Data

set-it-and-forget-it.jpgAs usage continues throughout the year, keep an eye on the data. Use what your broker makes available as far as usage, but also look for trends and declines. Are there areas of consistent problems? Are costs getting out of control in certain areas?

Are benefits going unused?

Is there a benefit that people are confused about?

Benefits are hardly a set-it-and-forget-it proposition. Take the time to observe and adjust as the year wears on. You might find you need to push for usage here and there, or fix a trouble spot on occasion.

5. Reward Your Team

Why, oh why does open enrollment have to fall smack in the middle of the holidays for most employers?

As if HR needed more stress.

At some point, if you haven't already, reward your team. Take them out for a nice dinner, or throw some gift cards their way.

After all…

19% of HR pros admit to looking for a new job (SHRM)

Topics: Benefits Trends

Brandon Carter

Written by Brandon Carter

Brandon is a former writer and marketer for Access Development. He's a frequent blogger on customer and employee engagement & loyalty, consumer trends, and branding. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter at @bscarter