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Open Enrollment from an Employee Perspective

For many, open enrollment is right around the corner. Benefits professionals have likely already done their homework on researching plans, ensuring compliance, deciding on vendors, and negotiating rates and options. Now it is time to think about what your employees need to know and do for open enrollment.

Highlight Key Changes

If last year you had a different medical provider than you do this year, or a different type of plan (HMO, PPO, high-deductible plan), be sure to clearly emphasize those changes. Employees might need to research if their doctors and providers are still “in network” or which new plan is best for them before they enroll. Offering clear, up-front communication on changes will allow employees time to research and choose the option that is best for them.

Active Enrollment

The last thing you want is for employees to think that their benefits are all set and rolling over from the past year, only to find out too late that they had to actively log in and elect the same benefits for the new year. Clear and frequent communication is essential. Be sure to diversify your communication across multiple channels too, including emails, texts, meetings, and even mailed letters if possible. This will ensure you do not frustrate employees who may have missed a reminder.

Think of All Your Employees

You will want to be mindful and inclusive of all your staff. This could mean ensuring that sessions are held multiple times to include employees who are in the office on hybrid schedules or preparing benefits information in multiple languages. Make sure the information is written clearly and in unambiguous terms so that all employees at different stages in their careers can easily interpret the information. Also think about tech literacy and consider offering a detailed tutorial on how to conduct enrollment. 

Offer Both Virtual and In-Person Sessions

Some employees love online benefits meetings that they can easily access from home, especially if they work remotely. Other employees like having in-person time with your Benefits team so that they can more comfortably ask individual questions at the end of the session or have more time after to cover topics they might not have thoroughly understood in the group session.

Offer Both Group and Individual Support

No matter how thorough your group session will be, there will always be individual or confidential questions that employees will want support on. Be sure to have time available for these questions so employees can get the full information they need before open enrollment has closed.

Clear Summaries and Comparisons

If several employees are having to make spreadsheets to compare benefits and costs, why not create those ahead of time? This way, employees can more quickly digest the benefits options, choose their plans, and get back to their day.

Be Patient

Benefit plans are obvious to benefits experts. However, to a lot of employees, this is a stressful decision, and they do not want to make a wrong move when it could have costly consequences. Be sure to have an open enrollment window that is long enough to accommodate employees who might be out sick on vacation or who simply need extra time to make their decision. Try your best to be patient and understanding with each employee, even if it’s the 20th time you have answered the same question that day. Employees truly appreciate the support and help in these important decisions.

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