4 Ways to Make This Year’s Open Enrollment Your Best Ever

As open enrollment approaches for most companies, you might be dreading this time of year.

Just as Q4 quotas stare you and your people in the face and the stress of the holiday season creeps in, you also have the burden of deciding on benefits decisions for the entire year.

Have no fear!

Not only can navigating open enrollment be relatively simple and straightforward, it’s actually an opportunity to streamline your operations while improving your value proposition to current and future employees of your company.

Here are 4 ways you can make this year’s open enrollment your best ever:

1. Give Employees More Choice:

As a small employer, constantly increasing benefits costs are undoubtedly a concern. In the small group market (under 100 employees), this is difficult to escape, as premium costs in the fully insured market are all based on age and zip code… Health and medical conditions are not a factor.

With this in mind, it may seem impossible to offer a better value package to your employees at the same, or reduced cost.

Here’s one exception: Giving your employees more choice, in terms of the carriers and plans you offer. While offering just a few plans from one carrier might seem like the best way to go, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at just how easy we can make a multi-carrier strategy work for you and your employees. We believe choice = value… When employees are able to select the plan that works for them (as opposed to one carrier) there is a real value to this, at no additional cost to you, the employer.

Get Creative With Your Contribution Strategy:

There are many ways to contribute towards the cost of your employee’s benefits and trust us, we’ve seen them all!

Here are some examples:

  • a flat amount that can be used for employees and defendants
  • multiple amounts depending on the number of family members
  • a percentage based on one or more “base plans”

Whatever option you choose, consider both the value given to your employees, as well as the perceived value.

Key Opportunity:

If you currently contribute towards dependents and have high spouse/dependent enrollments, consider ways to reduce this by:

  1. offering “opt-out incentives” to those dependents who choose to enroll elsewhere
  2. reducing your spouse/dependent contribution amount

Here’s the logic: Many employees have spouses who’s employer may offer benefits, but your (overly) generous contribution strategy may be “luiring” them away from the spouse’s plan.

2. Offer Dental and Vision – At No Cost to Your Company:

You offer benefits to your employees for many reasons. First, you want them to be taken care of in the event of a medical need. Second, your benefits package is a compelling attraction and retention tool.

Considering the attraction and retention aspect, it makes sense to know the most effective use of each dollar spent on benefits, which will result in the most powerful value – as perceived by your employees.

On that note, it may surprise you how much employees value dental and vision. Even for employers who don’t think their employees want these products, we typically see 30% enrollment (at minimum), even when the cost is passed completely to the employee.

This is for a few reasons:

  • Employees don’t want to have to shop around for these benefits: Employer sponsoring = convenience
  • Employer-sponsored plans are higher value (lower cost, richer benefits, lower waiting periods)
  • Employee costs can be taken out on a pre-tax basis, making these plans even more affordable for the employee, when compared to using after-tax dollars.

3. Use Online Enrollment to Make Life Easier

Let’s be honest – Using paper forms for open enrollment is a pain.

On top of being difficult to keep organized and tracked, it’s common to see errors in plan selection and employee information due to issues with employee handwriting and carrier miss-keys.

Here’s the good news: Online HR and enrollment systems have never been easier to implement!

We help companies get set up on these systems, and trained in about a week. Sounds too good to be true, but it’s a reality! Here are some of our client’s favorite aspects of using an online enrollment platform over paper:

  • no mess
  • automatic reminders
  • employees can access anywhere, anytime, and from any device
  • syncs with payroll, making deductions a breeze

This is merely an overview, but as you can see, the time to go paperless is now.

4. Think Ahead:

Open enrollment can be a real drag if you’re running behind…

Here are some advantages of completing open enrollment early (at least 30 days in advance of your “renewal date”:

  • allows us to transmit elections to carriers, resulting in ID cards being mailed out and received by employees prior to their new plan start date
  • employee follow-up emails can be sent to each employee, verifying their choices prior to the enrollment window being over
  • carriers can resolve any processing errors or questions
  • total compensation statements, based on benefits elections can be sent out

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