In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses across the world saw a huge shift to completing many tasks online. In human resources departments, benefits enrollment has been no exception. The open enrollment period is already a hectic time, but it doesn’t have to be time consuming or cause headaches for your HR reps and enrolling employees – the benefits administration technology experts at Benely are here to help. Read on to learn our top tips for a successful virtual enrollment.
1. Make Sure Your Human Resources Reps Know What to Expect
The great thing about online benefits enrollment is that every step of the benefits selection and management process can be automated. If executed properly, your enrollment cycle can shorten, you can see decreased overall costs, and human resources representatives will save time and energy. However, knowing what to expect and being prepared before open enrollment begins critical. Make sure your HR reps are familiar with your new enrollment technology.
Representatives should know exactly how and where to access employee data and be familiar with the process for compiling information on the costs of various benefits and health plans. That way, when questions come in, they won’t be scrambling with trying to understand your new platform when they could be spending their working hours assisting enrollees. If your enrollment technology vendor hasn’t provided adequate training for your HR reps, it never hurts to reach out and request a how-to seminar.
2. Prepare Your Enrollees Before Open Enrollment Begins
Just like your HR reps, your enrollees should come into the open enrollment period prepared to make quick and efficient selections. For your company, that may look like educational communications before selection, covering both new benefits options and the virtual selection process as a whole.
It’s important to introduce the software system or website your employees will be using. They should be informed on the process of comparing health plans and, ultimately, self-enrolling. If your online enrollment system provides a mobile app, encourage employees who may want to use the app to download, log in, and familiarize themselves with the mobile platform beforehand. Anything you can do to answer questions ahead of time will reduce the number of calls for help to IT and HR during crunch time.
It never hurts to utilize a mix of communication methods to spread the word about open enrollment and how employees can prepare. From posters in the break room to email blasts, brochures, and slack messages – go ahead and pull out all the stops!
3. Highlight New Benefits
If your organization has been introducing changes to your benefits packages, you’re not alone. According to a recent survey by Mercer, 20% of responding companies indicated they were planning to update their benefits programs to better meet employee needs in the wake of the pandemic. Popular new changes include the offering of expanded telemedicine access, the addition of mental health benefits, and the provision of more comprehensive family planning services.
Employees are likely to keep their existing plans if they’re comfortable with them and they’re unaware of new plans, benefits, and features. If this works for your human resources department, there’s no problem here. However, if you’d like to feature some of your new options, or encourage switches where it makes sense, it makes sense to highlight new benefits before open enrollment.
Even if you don’t have new changes to your health plan offerings, you can still use this period to educate employees on legislative changes affecting their healthcare and insurance coverage. For example, the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act mandated that feminine menstrual products be added to the list of qualified expenses under HSAs (health saving accounts), FSAs (flexible spending accounts), and HRAs (health reimbursement arrangements).
4. Choose the Right Benefits Technology Vendor
New technology firms are addressing the demand for virtual enrollment. However, not all are equal, and knowing which to choose can be tricky. The best vendors offer features like interactive enrollment and online hubs personalized for your company. They should also offer enrollees the ability to access personal benefit portals, make changes to contribution amounts, and enter life change information as necessary.
Consider what your company is looking for in a benefits administration partner. Have you struggled with employee education tools in the past? Ask potential vendors what their strategies are for getting plan details across efficiently. Have your enrollees historically struggled with deciding between comparable plans? Some firms offer processes whereby they analyze employee data, including claim costs and volume, and make a plan recommendation tailored to each individual.
If you’re struggling to choose a technology vendor, or you’re not even sure where to start, reaching out to experienced employee benefits technology consultants is a great place to start. At Benely, we’ll help select the perfect vendor within your HR budget.
5. Find the Perfect Balance Between Autonomy and Availability for Your Company
One of the most impressive benefits the virtual enrollment process has to offer? Its ability to reduce time strain on HR reps during the enrollment period. However, your representatives will still need to put forth time setting up and transitioning to the new virtual service and educating enrollees before the period starts. They’ll also need to maintain a presence in case of emergencies or last-minute questions during enrollment.
There are certainly strategies your firm can employ to further reduce in-person time spent on enrollment. For example, consider setting up in-person Q-and-A sessions or virtual office hours for your HR reps to answer enrollment questions. You might also share an FAQ page a day or two before enrollment opens, reminding enrollees of the enrollment start date, end date, and other tips for self-selection. The key is to strike a balance between allowing your employees the autonomy to virtually self-enroll and maintaining individualized availability for those who need a little extra support.
Partnering with Benefits Administration Technology Experts
Could your company use a hand with your benefits administration process? Or are you considering streamlining your human resources department? The experts at Benely have you covered. Take the next step by requesting a free demo or contacting Benely to learn more about simplifying your HR processes.