Open Enrollment: How to Prepare NOW

Jun 5, 2024

The open enrollment period is not just another date on the HR calendar — it’s a critical window that shapes employee satisfaction, retention and organizational compliance. 

As HR professionals, the decisions made during this time can profoundly impact the well-being of employees and the organization as a whole. With the looming deadline of January 1, 2025, early preparation is necessary for organizations looking to kick-start enrollment efforts.

Understanding the Stakes of Open Enrollment

Open enrollment is a cornerstone in the HR calendar, acting as the gateway to employee benefits satisfaction and legal compliance. A well-executed open enrollment period ensures that employees have access to the benefits they need, understand their options and feel valued by their employers. 

Conversely, a poorly managed enrollment process can lead to confusion, dissatisfaction and even legal repercussions. Below are steps that all HR Teams can take early in the year to best prepare for a successful enrollment. 

Key Steps for Early Preparation

Assess Last Year’s Open Enrollment

Reflecting on the previous year’s open enrollment is crucial for identifying successes and areas for improvement. Surveys and feedback sessions provide invaluable insights into employee satisfaction and preferences, guiding adjustments for the upcoming period.

Update Benefits Offerings

Reviewing current benefits offerings with a critical eye allows HR professionals to ensure relevance, cost-effectiveness and competitiveness. Incorporating employee feedback and monitoring market trends enables adjustments that align with employee needs and expectations.

Engage with Vendors Early

Initiating discussions with insurance providers and benefits vendors ahead of time facilitates informed decision-making and rate negotiation. Exploring alternative vendors ensures that offerings remain aligned with employee needs and budget constraints.

Technology Check-Up

Preemptively verifying the functionality of enrollment platforms and conducting necessary training sessions minimizes disruptions and confusion during enrollment. Empowering both HR staff and employees with familiarity and proficiency in the technology streamlines the process.

Develop a Comprehensive Communication Strategy

Clear, consistent and engaging communication is crucial for successful open enrollment. Establishing timelines for announcements, informational sessions and reminders ensures that employees are well-informed and prepared to make decisions.

Training for Your HR Team

Providing HR staff with in-depth knowledge of benefits offerings and effective communication strategies is paramount for guiding employees through enrollment. Establishing a dedicated “war room” fosters quick issue resolution and minimizes disruptions.

Legal Compliance and Documentation

Regularly reviewing and updating plan documents and summaries ensures compliance with evolving laws and regulations. Proactive preparation for necessary reporting and disclosures safeguards businesses and organizations against potential penalties and legal challenges.

Leveraging Technology and Resources

Harnessing technology, such as online enrollment systems and HR information systems, enhances efficiency and accuracy throughout open enrollment. Utilizing external resources, such as benefits consultants and legal advisors, provides invaluable expertise and support.

Engaging Employees Effectively

Maximizing employee engagement and participation through informative sessions, Q&A forums, and personalized communication fosters a sense of involvement and empowerment. Tailoring communication to meet diverse employee needs and preferences enhances understanding and satisfaction.

Begin Open Enrollment Preparations Now

Early preparation is required for a successful open enrollment period. By proactively assessing, updating and communicating benefits offerings, HR professionals lay the foundation for a smooth and efficient process come January 1, 2025. 

At Totem, we encourage you to embrace the opportunity to enhance employee satisfaction, retention, and organizational compliance through strategic, proactive preparation. Start now, and reap the rewards of a seamless open enrollment period. Connect with a Totem Team Member today for more information on open enrollment preparation.


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