How To Make Open Enrollment Season Easy for Employees

As if the run-up to the holidays wasn’t stressful enough, for many companies, the holiday period also marks one of the only times during the year that employees can make significant changes to their benefits plans. With this in mind, Andrea Meyer of professional employer organization, WorkSmart Systems, recommends the following five strategies that companies can employ to make sure that the open enrollment season is far from stressful.

Call out any changes:

Perhaps the most important step to easing employee stress regarding open enrollment is to make sure that they are aware to any changes to the benefits on offer, as well as any changes to the enrollment process itself. In this vein, employees should also be reminded of the penalties for forgoing health coverage in 2018.

Check your records:

With each open enrollment season, take notes about what worked well in terms of streamlining sign ups in previous years – and what could be improved. Specifically, you should look at any areas where misunderstandings took place in previous years and then take steps during the current enrollment period to clarify any issues or head off any potential employee confusion or questions.

Communicate early and often:

Following on from the above concept of improving upon years past, take note of how employees previously preferred to learn about their benefit offerings and then follow suit in the current years. There is no one solution that will meet the needs of every employee, but by offering one or two communication methods – such as emails, online learning, seminars, workshops, etc – you can generally make sure that your message will be heard. Further, be sure that you are initiating this communication early on in the process so that employees have time to absorb the information, formulate their own questions (and pursue the relevant answers), and make their benefits decisions. Further, you’ll want to follow up with employees even after benefits selections have been made to ensure that they are making the most of their new investments.

Work the technology angle:

For HR professionals, much of the leg work to improving open enrollment must take place long before the season begins. Specifically, HR must make the upfront investment in a technology platform that can facilitate and streamline the benefits enrollment process – both for the company and for the individual employees. When selecting a system, you should consider whether the interface is user-friendly, integrated and supports your company’s communication style (such as having the capacity to send email or text reminders to employees so that no one misses out on important benefits news).

Loop others in:

Benefits enrollment is such a huge part of the HR process, but it is also the job of leaders throughout the organization. With this in mind, make sure that your company’s leaders, managers and other key staff are aware of the open enrollment season and are prepared with clear, concise and consistent messages about new benefit offerings. However, be sure that you are touching base with these managers frequently to identify any frequently asked questions or common concerns so that you can potentially address them with additional company-wide communication (such as an email or additional seminar).

If you have any questions about open enrollment season, feel free to reach out to us at

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