By: Connie Maniscalco on December 17th, 2015

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Open Enrollment End of Year Review: How Did It Go For You?

Benefits | Best Practices | Employee Relations

headacheIf you are reading this, chances are your organization has recently gone through benefits Open Enrollment. It's been my experience that this can either go remarkably smoothly or NOT. And the latter may have you frustrated, discouraged and exhausted.

Prior to launching my career in HR, I spent 10 years running the finance function of a large, dynamic company and I can relate to your pain on many levels.  In fact, do any of the scenarios below resonate with you?

The Root Cause of the Top 5 Open Enrollment Headaches

  • Are you Truly Ready? Does your benefits plan year begin on January 1st? If so, while everyone is looking forward to the upcoming holidays, if you lead the HR function in your organization, you may still be worrying about wrapping up your benefits Open Enrollment sessions (including ensuring new benefits cards are received) by your employees by January 1st.
  • Surprise Rate Increases. Open Enrollment season can be a scary time for employees. There is anticipation of premium increases and changes to benefit options. If your plan year starts January 1st, the benefits renewal meetings with your broker should be occurring well in advance of that date. Four to six months prior to the new plan year start date provides ample time for the stakeholders to make an informed decision and begin to communicate the upcoming changes to the employees.
  • Mad Dash to Get Evidence of Coverage to Employees. Proper preparation includes a well-documented project plan to facilitate a smooth and effective Open Enrollment session. Be sure to build in enough time after the completion of the Open Enrollment session for the benefits carriers to process the enrollment data and provide access to ID cards for the employees.
  • Last Minute Fire Drills. With new benefit plans, comes new benefit deductions for employees. Be sure to include time in the project plan for all benefit deduction updates to be entered into payroll systems for the first paycheck after the new plan year begins. There is nothing more frustrating for the employees than an incorrect paycheck. Not to mention the administrative costs associated with making payroll corrections.
  • Managing ACA and New Regulations. The use of technology greatly enhances the Open Enrollment experience for employees and more importantly helps manage the tasks associated with providing enrollment data to the carriers. With the new ACA regulations in place for reporting in 2016, having data in a central location housed in an HRIS will help to ease the burden of the data gathering needed to complete the reporting. Does your broker offer a technology platform to help you do so?

If you have experienced these or similar frustrations during your recent Open Enrollment, I encourage you to make appropriate changes now. You really only have six months to get a strong plan in place for next year.

As someone who supports the HR function within many organizations, we know these headaches are actually avoidable. In many cases, the difference between a great experience and a disaster is the quality of the team at your benefits broker. Though we do not provide benefits broker services at Helios HR, we've had the good fortune to work with exceptional brokers who "get it right." If you've decided this is the last year you are going through this chaos, contact me directly and I'm happy to learn about your situation and point you in the direction of people who can help make it a great experience next time.