How to Have a Successful Open Enrollment

November 22, 2015

12:00 pm

Most employees look forward to benefits open enrollment with about the same enthusiasm they generally show to dental procedures. Yet a 2014 survey by Monster showed that when employees considered two comparable positions, it was benefits that was most likely to make their decision for them. Health care benefits, paid time off, and potential raises were the three biggest factors that candidates were considering when they decided to take a position.

So if we know that benefits are incredibly important to employees, both when they’re hired and in terms of retention, it becomes clear that the process of open enrollment – of making sure that employees have the opportunity to enroll in the benefits that will best suit them – is simple and clear. So how do you make that happen?

Plan Ahead

Guide Spark’s guide to a successful open enrollment suggests that one of the most complex issues facing HR management teams is communicating complex ideas and topics to employees. Finding the right time to approach them, and making sure that the message is received, can be difficult on top of an already busy day.

The best way to approach this involves planning ahead. How do you best reach the people on your team currently? Do they respond well to after-hours events? Before work breakfasts? Do they love PowerPoint presentations or beg for interactive websites?

Be Knowledgeable

Insurance and benefits are confusing to people who don’t spend every single day steeped in it, and sometimes even to those who are. You need to know and understand the differences between PPOs, HMOs, and EPOs, so that you can easily and quickly explain them to your employees.

Your employees are going to come up with questions you never even thought of; you may not be able to answer intricate questions about daycare credits or PTO accrual off the top of your head, and that’s fine, but you need to have a process by which you get that information for your employees quickly, and then get it back to them in a format they understand and appreciate.

Consider Outsourcing

When you think of the various jobs within your company that you could outsource, HR services are probably not on that list. As Will Schmidt mentioned, many small- to medium-sized businesses are better served by contracting their HR services out to a company like BambooHR. A company would still maintain an onsite point person, in most situations, but contracting out the paperwork piece of the job means that those onsite can focus their attention on the reason they do their jobs—helping ordinary people navigate complex situations and get the best possible benefits from those situations.

Services like BambooHR also offer a flexibility that’s difficult to achieve with modern HR solutions. With secure mobile access as well as comprehensive at your desk options, employees have the information they need at their fingertips. You can generate any reports that you might need at the push of a button, leaving you prepared to take on any meeting or situation that comes up.

And if you need a little extra help figuring out the best way to approach a situation, HR contracted services offer excellent customer service departments to help you figure out exactly what you need.

If you’ve been dreading surviving open enrollment, find out what they can do to turn your complex and convoluted spreadsheets into a vibrant hub of information that will make everything about your job and life easier. Most of the companies will even offer a free trial so that you can see it for yourself.

Be Prepared

Many employees have questions about their benefits that they consider sensitive. They may ask questions about mental health coverage, fertility treatments, parental leave after a miscarriage, or coverage for substance abuse treatments.

HR employees end up knowing all sorts of information about their employees that is both extremely private and seriously protected by both state and federal law. Because of that, it’s important that employees in the HR department be above reproach when it comes to trustworthiness.

Get started on your next open enrollment by outsourcing the work you hate and investing in the work you love. What’s your #1 tip for a successful open enrollment?

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Margarita Hakobyan is a serial entrepreneur that is addicted to creating. Business women, wife and mother of two with bachelor's degree from the University of Utah with a concentration in International Studies and a Masters Degree also from the University of Utah with a degree in International business. CEO and founder of, an online marketplace of local moving companies and storage facilities.

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