3 Strategies to Prepare for Annual Enrollment

3 Strategies to Prepare for Annual Enrollment

Annual enrollment (AE) might be your busiest time of the year, but it doesn’t have to mean long nights and looming headaches. With the right planning and support, this AE can be your easiest and most effective yet.

Empyrean’s new At-A-Glance covers three comprehensive ways to help organize your efforts and ready your team to tackle every step of annual enrollment prep.

Download your copy today and get all the actionable insights and a smart framework to help align your team, craft engaging communications, and solidify your enrollment strategy.

Whether you’re looking to increase enrollment participation, introduce new plans or programs, or grow employees’ benefits awareness, you’ll need a solid plan that your team and partners can follow.

As you start planning, think on the following key points:

  • Have any of your benefit plans, carriers, or vendors changed since your last enrollment?
  • Has your organization gone through any major structural or strategic shifts?
  • Are employees knowledgeable about how to enroll in their benefits, and do they know all of the tools and resources available to support them with enrollment and year-round utilization?
    • Are there any new tools or resources employees need to know about?
  • What lessons and feedback did you gather from your last enrollment experience? How should these takeaways shape your plans for this upcoming enrollment?
  • What expectations do you have for both your internal team and external vendors going into AE? How have these expectations evolved since your previous enrollment?

Clearly defined and measurable goals are the most effective way to measure progress and ultimately define the success of your benefits program and outcomes. Analyze year-over-year metrics and run reports as necessary to map the full “starting point” for your upcoming annual or open enrollment. As you develop your plan, make sure to account for any major changes that your business, leadership, or workforce has experienced.

Spend some time connecting with your benefits enrollment and administration provider to discuss your objectives. A trusted benefits administration partner will serve as a true extension of your own human resources team, offering best practices and streamlined solutions to see that your AE is properly executed.

Next, review your communications and messaging. An effective and clear communications plan is at the center of every successful annual enrollment. After all, employees can’t properly use and appreciate their benefits if they don’t understand what they have to offer (or worse: if employees aren’t aware of their benefits at all!).

Employees need to know more than just when their enrollment window opens and closes. First and foremost, employees need to know the benefits that are available to them. From there, they need to know which plans fit their needs, as well as how different benefits work together.

A company’s plans, programs, and resources might seem crystal clear to HR professionals who manage benefits every day – but the majority of employees have a very different experience: A whopping 75% of employees don’t fully understand their benefits.1 Communication is both the heart – and solution – of the problem. The right balance of education, communication, and support will keep employees aware of their options and prepare them to make smart choices once enrollment begins.

Here are some pointers to develop compelling annual enrollment communications:

  • Create a communications calendar with dates leading up to, during, and after enrollment.
    While your exact needs may vary, you should plan to begin communicating with employees at least 60 days ahead of the first day of enrollment. Once your communications calendar is complete, start crafting your messages in advance.
  • When educating employees about their benefits, break complex concepts down into easy-to-understand chunks.
    Divide key information into quick bites that employees can easily absorb, and map these messages out on your communications calendar. Make sure you do not rely extensively on acronyms or benefits jargon in your messages, to avoid confusing employees.
  • Think outside the inbox to reach employees anywhere they are – not just in the office.
    Employees that work away from a computer or traditional office environment – such as on-site, remote, and retail employees – can benefit from greatly from alternate communication channels, such as text messages.

Looking for more tips to create effective AE communications? Download the full guide for additional insights!

Finally, be sure to have a follow-up plan ready once enrollment is over. Having these tasks and responsibilities laid out ahead of time will make it faster and easier to evaluate enrollment outcomes, execute next steps, and report on your successes when enrollment ends.

During planning meetings with team members and stakeholders, take time to discuss previous years’ follow-up processes and your future plans. Keep in mind that if your business has experienced major changes (to your benefits, business structure, or even within your internal HR team) what has worked in the past may need to be tweaked.

As you plan for this upcoming open enrollment period, take note of how well your participants and HR team are being supported. Are your partners reliable, knowledgeable, and equipped with solutions to best execute your strategy? Or do you find yourself struggling to keep up with administrative tasks, employee complaints, or frequent data errors due to inefficient processes or a sub-par vendor?

A successful annual enrollment takes a coordinated and concentrated effort among your teams, partners, and stakeholders. And while enrollment may be a fast-paced project, you don’t have to dread the process or its outcomes. The right plan, partners, and technology can make all the difference to attract and retain the right talent for your business.

Don’t leave your success (and stress levels) to chance. Download your Annual Enrollment prep guide today.  As you read, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to contact us with questions or comments at info@goempyrean.com.