4 Tips to Make the Most Out of Open Enrollment

October 5, 2016 Zuman

For some individuals, the autumn months are about tumbling leaves and brisk weather. For HR leaders, fall signals the start of open enrollment, and as the Society for Human Resource Management explained, this period can result in one long stress headache through early winter. But it doesn't have to be that way. If you approach open enrollment effectively, this important administrative function can be a pleasant experience. Here are four tips for making the most out of open enrollment:

1. Sit Down and Talk
Kim Buckey is the vice president of compliance communications at Alabama's DirectPath consulting firm. Speaking with SHRM, she explained open enrollment is the perfect time to engage with employees on a personal level. Some workers may not know what they need in terms of benefits, and they'll require your guidance to make the right choices. Open enrollment is the time for you to sit down with employees and help them sort out benefits, health insurance and anything else that pops up. This dialogue sets the stage for subsequent interactions, and that's crucial to happier, more prosperous employees.

2. Have a Little Fun
For many people,  including HR leaders and employees, open enrollment is a time to learn about benefits packages and fill out paperwork. However, it's possible to handle this essential business and still make it a fun and enjoyable experience. For some companies, that could mean giveaways or raffles to encourage employees to get engaged and fill out the necessary paperwork. For other organizations, it's about throwing office parties to facilitate togetherness and communication. No matter what method HR departments choose, it's about emphasizing the positives of enrollment, and how this process can enhance the lives of all employees.

3. Embrace Technology
Even if you don't have a party for open enrollment, you don't have to make the task feel like a chore. The collective American workforce spans four generations; that means a group of workers with a more diverse set of needs than perhaps at any other point. One of the keys to working with this group, especially younger employees, is to use technology. For instance, Skype options for enrollment sessions will appeal to millennial workers. Meanwhile, technology can be a great resource to help engage and bridge the gap between groups of workers. Technology streamlines the enrollment process, leaving time for elements like having fun or important dialogue.

4. Prepare Early
Perhaps just as essential as fun or technology, a successful open enrollment process needs efficient preparation. That often means starting early and giving the HR department ample time to get all the necessary paperwork in order, send out the necessary communications and plan for any presentations or group meetings. Giving employees the space and encouragement to prepare for the enrollment process allows them to come up with a list of questions or concerns, and that will make them active participants in the experience. It might help to have several planning meetings before enrollment begins to get an idea of what is needed to ensure smooth sailing.


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