Open enrollment is a critical period for HR managers and employees, especially given the evolving healthcare landscape and the changing nature of work. Rising healthcare costs, persistent inflation, hybrid work models, and increased employee expectations have reshaped the open enrollment process.
To ensure a successful open enrollment, HR managers should consider a range of strategies that prioritize communication, technology, voluntary benefits, and addressing rising healthcare costs.
Engage with Employees
Before open enrollment begins, gather feedback to understand employees’ needs, concerns, and expectations. Conduct surveys or hold listening sessions to gauge their preferences. Are they looking for ways to manage healthcare costs or interested in additional employee-paid options?
Set Clear Objectives and Metrics
Establish clear objectives and metrics to gauge the success of open enrollment. Determine what you want to achieve as an employer. Are enrollments mandatory, or is carryover acceptable? Defining success will guide your strategy and help measure its effectiveness.
Embrace Technology and Traditional Communication
With the prevalence of remote work, digital communication is essential. Virtual employee benefits fairs, portals, virtual meetings, and platforms like Slack make it easier to reach employees. However, pay attention to traditional communication methods such as personalized guidance, group meetings, and one-on-one counseling sessions to connect with employees. Consider sending benefits information via snail mail to engage spouses and family members who often influence healthcare decisions.
Discuss and Explain Healthcare Costs
Healthcare costs are on the rise, and employees need clarity about their implications. If your company plans to increase premiums or deductibles, communicate this well in advance. Provide explanations to ensure employees are not caught off guard. Encourage discussions about how employees can become more informed healthcare consumers and save money throughout the year.
Educate on Health Savings Accounts
Open enrollment is the perfect opportunity to educate employees about flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs). Many employees need to be made aware of the full range of expenses these accounts can cover. Explain how FSAs and HSAs can be used for over-the-counter medications, routine clinic visits, surgical procedures, dental care, and more.
Highlight Voluntary Benefits
Voluntary benefits are gaining importance due to the rising cost of living. Offer voluntary benefits like supplemental health coverage, critical illness, accident insurance, and hospital indemnity to help employees manage healthcare expenses. These options can fill gaps left by traditional health plans and provide financial relief.
Promote All Benefits Offerings
Open enrollment isn’t just about health plans; it’s also a chance to educate employees about all available offerings. Promote wellness programs and mental health resources, particularly given the increasing focus on employee well-being. Share real-life stories from employees to make these initiatives relatable and compelling.
HR managers must adapt to changing circumstances and employee needs during this busy open enrollment season. Organizations can enhance employee satisfaction and well-being by proactively engaging with employees and tailoring benefits offerings to their preferences while helping them manage rising healthcare costs.