The end of summer nudges fall a little closer, which means one thing to benefits professionals: here comes open enrollment season. Yes, sometimes the annual open enrollment benefits period can mean packing a lot of work into a short period of time. But with the right plan in place you can accomplish your employee benefits goals without breaking a sweat—or burning too much of that midnight oil.
Here are five ways to execute open enrollment flawlessly, plus some helpful open enrollment best practices, hints on educating employees, and health benefits support.
1. Look back to move forward
The best plans are informed plans. Before you start charging ahead for 2023 open enrollment, look at your 2022 open enrollment data. Make a quick list of what went well and what could have gone better. Did your past open enrollment season plan goals align with the benefits elections your people made? If not, you can make any necessary adjustments to this season's benefits enrollment goals.
Remember to evaluate which benefits communications channel saw the most engagement. Did people show a preference for webinars or virtual benefit fairs over digital newsletters? Or maybe a combination of email and onsite benefits fairs drove the traffic you needed. Whatever you uncover can help you allocate the right resources to make your 2023 benefits season accessible and scalable.
2. Plan early for higher adoption
There are a few things you can put off until the last minute—like, buying a gift card when there isn’t time to shop for the perfect present. Many employers discover open enrollment season isn’t one of those last-minute situations.
When you create your open enrollment process in advance you have more time to set benefits package enrollment goals and review your employee benefits lineup. Don’t forget to add in data from employee satisfaction surveys you ran to understand varying attitudes and needs based on different workplace locations.
Adding in this extra time can give you time to explore new employee benefits to add—Commuter, Wellbeing and Lifestyle Spending Accounts (LSA), and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (DCFSA). Plus, you can access on-demand webinars to keep current with the changing environment. A recent webinar on strategies to simplify engagement and maximize benefits adoption will help get you up to speed on open enrollment best practices at your pace.
Another piece to planning your open enrollment season early is what’s called active enrollment. Rather than rolling last year’s benefits package selections over to the new plan year, in active enrollment people will go through the process of making their selections again. This gives members time to think through which health benefits they used and what benefits package they will need for the coming year. In 2021, an analysis of 700 employers who partnered with HealthEquity found that active open enrollment led to a 39 percent increase in HSA adoption over seven years.
3. Use the buddy system
You don’t have to go it alone. Open enrollment season is the perfect time to lean on your partners. Take advantage of existing tools and resources your health benefits partners can make available to you and your people. Often, these materials can be customized so you can strike just the right tone that will resonate best with your teams and deliver high employee satisfaction.
For example, with Engage360 you can access the Open Enrollment Toolkit with a library of open enrollment best practices flyers, guides, emails with step-by-step messaging, ready-to-present decks, and webinars for every account type: Health Savings Account (HSA), Flexible Spending Account (FSA), DCFSA, Limited Purpose FSA (LPFSA), and Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA).
Many health benefits materials are available in both English and Spanish. You can grab short, engaging videos on a variety of open enrollment topics to share with your teams. And, for educating employees throughout your organization, you can find what you need to launch virtual benefit fairs.
4. Read the room and zero in on simplicity and cost savings
Simple open enrollment messages work well. And reinforcing health benefits savings in simple terms works even better. We tested messaging last year and learned that concrete information about savings drove the most engagement. Lean into communications that emphasize how easy it is to enroll and highlight potential tax savings.
Given national inflation rates—at 8.5 percent as of August 10, 2022—consider addressing the ways consumer directed benefits help members contain costs. The more ways you can highlight ways to spend smarter and save on healthcare items, the more you can help reduce economic anxiety. At the same time it will help you promote how your benefits package can make a difference.
When you craft your communications strategy, consider engaging key influencers within your organization to amplify messages. Tap company leaders, people managers, and clubs or resource groups. Have a cycling group and a Commuter benefit? Reach out to your cyclist leaders for help sharing benefits communications connected to biking to work.
Involving more people in your open enrollment plans may help you find new ways to amplify your key points and generate support that will last beyond the open enrollment period.
5. Dig the data and measure your open enrollment progress
Your future self will thank you when you have benefits enrollment data to report on your performance. Track the results of your open enrollment efforts. If possible, gather data related to:
- Health benefits and retirement plan elections
- Contribution rates
- Video views
- Email metrics (open rates and click-through-rates)
- Employee experience
Open enrollment data you uncover in this step will help set you up for success for future years. Go back to what we covered in the first point to make sure you identify key employee benefits items you want to examine more closely. For example, if you’re pivoting to virtual open enrollment benefits fairs you may want to track attendance at those events and collect employee satisfaction feedback.
Specific to the employee experience, build in time for an employee satisfaction survey on your benefits package. Or, consider adding health benefits questions to an existing engagement survey. You can get a clear picture of where you stand and uncover opportunities you may be able to add to your open enrollment process.
When you know what may improve employee satisfaction and have a better overall experience in your organization, you’re also making headway with talent retention. Plus, when your people can add their voice to the benefits package conversation it creates a lasting partnership.
Step confidently into open enrollment season
You can approach your busiest time of year with a positive attitude knowing you’re supported by significant open enrollment season resources. Brush up on helpful employee benefits topics on our blog by reading:
- 3 HSA trends you need to know about
- 4 strategies to make your HSA program a success
- Open enrollment: 3 popular resources to help you engage your people
More than anything, know that the open enrollment work you do makes a difference. As a benefits professional, you play an essential part in helping people understand how their health benefit choices can help transform their lives.
HealthEquity does not provide legal, tax or financial advice. Always consult a professional when making life-changing decisions.
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