Hickock Boardman Benefits

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Don't Dread Open Enrollment

Benefits open enrollment gets a bad rap because it’s a required annual exercise and can involve both good and bad news about your employer sponsored plans.   But wait.  This is an opportunity to showcase your commitment and financial backing of critically important benefit programs.  Surveyed employees consistently show benefits can be as important or even more important than compensation offered.  So how do we take the “pain” out of this process and turn it into a “gain”?

Engage your employees.  You know your population.  What works best with them?  Because of the current multi-generational workforce, employers should consider not a single form of communication but multiple different formats.  This recognizes different people have different ways of listening and learning.  And don’t assume “once and done.”  Messages need to be repeated in a variety of ways to truly get through.

Involve the spouses.  Spouses are almost always involved in benefit decisions behind-the-scenes.  So why not involve them upfront?  Communications to the home, use of private emails or invitations to enrollment meetings can share crucial benefits information and establish a stronger connection.  In addition, many families have to make annual decisions depending on what each working spouse is being offered.

Finally, use the latest technology to take the pains out of open enrollment.  Move to eliminate all paper forms.  This will ease enrollment for employees but also for employers.  Employees are now used to receiving detailed information via computer or even on a mobile phone.  Take advantage of this to expedite your enrollment process.  And if you use an enrollment tool, be sure it is available through the public internet and not on a private server.  This facilitates spouse involvement as mentioned above and allows employees to review and discuss this information after work hours.

Change your mindset.  Don’t dread open enrollment.  Embrace it as an opportunity to proudly “strut your benefits stuff.”   Make it easy on employees so they can focus on this critical benefits information and appreciate all you do for them as an employer.