The Unicorn HRO Blog

What HR professionals need to know about Open Enrollment Periods

Posted Monday, November 21, 2016 by Unicorn HRO

With the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in effect, it is imperative for both the employer and employees to be on top of organizing their health care coverage during Open Enrollment. Human Resource staff play a vital role in ensuring that employees are aware of the Open Enrollment period and the healthcare options available to them. HR staff can also play a part as marketers to make employees not only aware of these periods, but to also motivate them to take advantage of them.  Below are some ways HR staff can accomplish this.

Use a variety of Methods to Advertise Open Enrollment

Email is not the only medium through which HR professionals can notify company employees about the open enrollment period.  Instead of notifying employees of Open Enrollment via email, which they may or may not ignore, other tools, such as on-demand video, webinars, notifications via social media, or text and push notification can also be utilized.  HR staff can also use the company’s website to communicate any information on open enrollment.  Many suggest that HR staff be more proactive, organizing “lunch and learns,” bringing up Open Enrollment in casual conversation with employees, or dropping off literature at employees’ work stations to communicate this information.  Materials can also be mailed directly to employees’ homes, as in many cases, any decisions regarding healthcare is usually decided upon by both the employee and their family. If email is to be used as a primary communication tool, then it is advised that any messages regarding Open Enrollment be as brief as possible, with little or no attachments, as long emails with several attached files usually go unread.

Appeal to your Employees’ needs when discussing Open Enrollment

Once HR staff have decided upon the medium they want to use, they then need to hone in on the details of how they are going to communicate information about open enrollment. If they are holding meetings to talk about open enrollment, then presentation is everything.  In all cases, HR professionals should never start off such presentations with material related to things like legal compliance, as this might cause their audience to lose interest.  Rather, information should be clear, coherent, and concise. Using a medium like PowerPoint to give presentations with slides that don’t have too much text but instead utilize graphs, bullet points, etc. are good communication methods.

Irrespective of the communication method, it is important to send out information regarding open enrollment a few weeks before it begins as well as just a few days before its commencement.  A good strategy is to present information in such a way that communicates how it relates to the needs of employees. For example, are these workers new parents (or soon to be parents)?  Are they caring for elder family members? Are they saving for retirement and need a plan that helps them towards this goal?  Whatever the audience, it is important for HR staff to personalize their message regarding open enrollment as best they can, presenting such information in a way that it seems relevant to employees.

It is important for HR professionals to know that managing the Open Enrollment period does not have to be a hassle that disrupts workflow.  New software, such as Unicorn HRO’s iCON system can help to accomplish such tasks thanks to its benefits module.  This module is easily accessible, and manages not only areas like benefits administration and compensation for employees, but it also has a capability for accessing and managing a company’s open enrollment information.  In this way, HR can easily handle open enrollment for employees, while focusing its main energies on business strategies and revenue-driving tasks.

For any company that provides health care benefits in today’s business world, open enrollment is a fact of life and employees should be assisted to make the best choices with regards to the health plans offered to them.  With help from HR professionals to educate them on what plan works best for them, this can be done, and can positively contribute to the company’s overall well-being.

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