Navigating Benefits

3 Open Enrollment Best Practices Every HR Manager Should Know


  • November 1, 2018 is the first day of open enrollment this year

  • It's not an easy time, but knowing open enrollment best practices can make the process run smoothly

  • Gather your materials, communicate with employees and remind (and encourage) them to submit their forms


Posted by October 18, 2018

Every HR manager counts down until the first day of open enrollment. This year, that date is November 1.

As the busy season fast approaches, it’s important to be adequately prepared. Review the following three open enrollment best practices and ready your organization for a successful open enrollment season.

1. Gather Your Materials

If you wait until the last minute to get things ready, you’ll be more stressed and less prepared to answer employee questions. Accordingly, it’s a good idea to start gathering documentation about your plans from your insurance broker or provider as soon as you can!

Make sure the related websites work, or the associated forms are printed. Your insurance provider should also have documents available, both printed and online, that explain the different plans. Confirm that they’re consistent with the plans you’ve chosen for your company.

Although the best (and most cost-effective) way to share information with your coworkers might be electronically, having printed brochures available can also prove useful. Considering the number of emails many employees receive in one day, your carefully worded emails could easily get overlooked. Providing information in a way people can easily digest and respond to will make the difference between an easy open enrollment season and having to chase every last person down.

2. Communicate Effectively With Employees

In addition to offering your colleagues written information outlining their benefit options—both online and in print—it’s important to schedule individual or group meetings with employees so they can ask questions. If your insurance options have changed substantially since last year, you will want to bring in your health insurance broker to answer any questions.

These professionals will have a deeper understanding of the plan changes and can answer employees’ questions more accurately. Remember, health insurance is only a small portion of what the HR department handles, so your organization’s representatives likely can’t answer every question as well as the broker can.

Also ensure there is someone who employees can call for help, especially in the evenings. When insurance covers entire families, people often want to go over the options with spouses, which means their questions might come up outside of business hours.

3. Remind (and Encourage) Your Fellow Employees

Don’t wait until the last day to check who has submitted their forms and who has not. Send reminders to individuals throughout open enrollment and ask managers to approach their staff directly.

It’s not just about reminding employees, it’s also about encouraging them. Health care costs are high and people may avoid thinking about their insurance until they absolutely have to. So, try to remain positive and focus on the benefits of getting things done ahead of time. You may even wish to offer a small reward to people who get their forms submitted early. Anything to encourage them to complete their enrollment!

All it takes is one accident, one ruptured appendix or one allergic reaction to ruin someone financially. Get your open enrollment best practices in line ahead of time and this year’s process can be over quickly and (relatively) painlessly.

Looking for tools and resources to help your colleagues manage their dental benefits? Explore all the offerings contained within United Concordia Dental’s online Employer Toolkit.

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