Strategies for Smoother Open Enrollment: Tips for HR Leaders

Oct 10, 2023

Open Enrollment season is a busy time for HR teams, marked by a whirlwind of decisions, deadlines and the pressing need to ensure that your employees have access to the best possible benefits packages. 

Annual enrollment can be fraught with challenges and complexities that can test even the most seasoned HR leaders. However, with strategic planning and the right approach, HR teams can navigate this period with ease and efficiency. 

As experts in the employee benefits space, Totem is well-versed in what makes a successful Open Enrollment. We believe that an impactful benefits partner will guide you through employee communication, education and administrative tasks during OE. In this blog, we’ll explore some essential strategies HR leaders can implement to achieve a smooth enrollment period — for both their teams and their employees.

Early Planning is Key

The key to a successful benefits enrollment? Early planning. It’s vital to set clear objectives and establish a comprehensive timeline for the entire process. Waiting until the last minute can lead to rushed decisions and increased stress for both HR professionals and employees.

Develop a Comprehensive Open Enrollment Timeline

Creating a detailed timeline that covers everything from initial planning to post-enrollment follow-up is a must. This timeline should include milestones, deadlines, and responsibilities to ensure that all parties involved stay on track. 

See below for a sample, high-level Open Enrollment timeline for an Open Enrollment period starting Monday, November 6, 2023.

Implement Transparent and Effective Communication Tactics

Transparent and effective communication with employees is the foundation of an effective enrollment period. HR leaders should prioritize clear and honest communication to ensure that employees understand their options and can make informed decisions.

Tailored Messaging

Not all employees are the same, and that remains true as you develop your Open Enrollment communications plan. To best communicate with your team, tailor your messaging to different employee segments. For example, younger employees may have different benefit priorities and preferred communication methods than older ones. Customized messaging resonates better and can lead to higher engagement from employees. Additionally, ensure you incorporate proactive messaging into your communications plan. Methods such as text messaging and outbound calls for designated groups are a great way to effectively communicate with employees.

Simplify OE with Technology

Technology can be a game-changer in simplifying Open Enrollment processes. Explore HR-friendly tools and platforms for benefits administration that can streamline tasks, reduce errors and enhance the overall experience for HR professionals and employees. At Totem, we equip clients with state-of-the-art technology for Open Enrollment and manage it from beginning to end.

Educating Employees on Benefits Offerings

Don’t assume that employees fully understand their benefit options. Offer educational resources and opportunities for employees to learn about their choices. Consider hosting informative webinars or Q&A sessions to address common questions and concerns. Lean on your employee benefits partner to develop an enablement plan, including webinars, videos and face-to-face support. Additionally, promoting resources housed on your employee benefits website is a great asset for employees.

Reducing Administrative Burdens

Open Enrollment often involves a significant administrative workload. Explore ways to reduce these burdens by automating data collection and processing. This not only saves time but also minimizes the risk of errors. When you choose a benefits partner like Totem, you receive comprehensive management of administrative tasks, lifting that weight off your team’s shoulders. 

Legal Aspects of Open Enrollment

Compliance is a critical aspect of Open Enrollment. Ensure that your HR team is well-versed in the legal requirements and compliance tasks associated with benefit enrollment. Create a checklist of key compliance tasks and deadlines to stay on top of your obligations. This is one area you do not want to lose focus on, and you should rely on your qualified broker to help manage legal responsibilities. 

Gathering Employee Feedback

Following the enrollment period, seek out feedback from employees through different methods such as surveys. This helps you to understand their experiences, challenges, and suggestions for improvement. Use this valuable feedback to refine your strategies for future Open Enrollment seasons.

As Open Enrollment season nears, keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be a stressful and chaotic time for HR leaders. Through the tactics outlined above, HR leaders can ensure a smoother and more successful Open Enrollment. 

The key is always to prioritize the well-being and satisfaction of your employees while managing the complexities of benefits administration effectively. With the right strategies in place, you can navigate Open Enrollment with confidence and ease.

If you’re in the market for Open Enrollment advice from Totem, connect with one of our team members today. We’d love to offer you a complimentary consultation.


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