How to help employees take control of their healthcare during open enrollment

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Open enrollment season is here, and while your HR team has spent weeks preparing, many people would rather go to the DMV than review the details of healthcare plans. According to new research by Unum, a benefits provider and insurance company, 75% of people will spend just 45 minutes on their healthcare decisions. Devoting such limited time could mean employees are not truly engaging with their benefit options.

As an HR department, what can you do to ensure that your employees are making active, educated decisions and staying engaged with their choices to get the most out of their benefits? Over the past few years, we’ve discussed this topic with HR professionals and have compiled a quick strategy to help employers and employees get through the open enrollment season with ease.

During open enrollment

While it may be easier for employees to rollover their old plan from last year, or choose the cheapest option available, this could be detrimental to their benefit usage. Here are a few ways your HR team can increase employee engagement during this time.

Be accessible. When employees have questions regarding healthcare, it’s important that your team is accessible and has answers they need, or can point them in the direction of a reliable resource. For administrators with larger teams, set aside specific office hours for your team members to discuss options with you directly. You may have team members with special circumstances that require extra help with their benefit choices. While you cannot choose their plan for them, you can help elaborate on each of these plans to help them make the best decision for their needs.

Compile resources. While you may not have all of the answers, you can provide your team with resources. In the event you’re unavailable, find tools like health plan comparison calculators and provider finder tools. Work with your benefits provider or other vendors to see if they can offer any of these tools to your employees to help lessen the burden on your HR team.

Don’t forget you can always leverage your provider partners to share information about benefits specifics. It can be helpful to ask a representative from a benefit provider to come on-site to help your employees through an enrollment process.

After open enrollment

Once the dust settles, this is the opportunity to gain more information for the next open enrollment period while it’s still fresh in your employee’s minds. Ask them about the experience they had when they were signing up for their benefits. Here are a few questions that you can use to get started:

  • How was your enrollment process this season?
  • Did you have any questions about the benefits provided, or what benefits you were signing up for?
  • What could we have done differently to improve this process?

Administering benefits is a never-ending cycle of improvement, and unfortunately, it will never be perfected. However, you can get as close as possible by continually asking employees how the process and experience can be improved.
Now the most important part is measuring the results — are your employees happier and more productive because of your benefits packages? Did your team retention improve? Do you have more individuals using different facets of your benefits package? Survey your employees and save this data. Use these metrics, in addition to the anecdotal responses from your team members, to continually optimize your benefits.

An effort to continually improve is key to better engagement. While open enrollment is only a small window of time every year, managing the employee experience is something that will constantly be growing and evolving. If you implement these foundational strategies now, you will be more equipped to handle even tougher open enrollment seasons in the future.

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