Open enrollment season is nearly upon us! That’s right: it’s the time of year when employees across the nation select their benefits for the coming year. As an HR representative, you want to make sure that each of your employees takes full advantage of the benefits you can offer. But too often, employees can get overwhelmed and buried in complex jargon and ultimately make poor decisions.
No one wants employees to be stuck with benefits not suited to them. So this year is your opportunity to be a real-life superhero and bring real-life benefits to your fantastic employees! But before you can address your employees’ concerns, you need to be prepared. This starts months before the actual enrollment season begins. While your department is sculpting the benefits packages that you plan to release in the fall, you can begin helping your employees understand how company benefits work in general.
One key mistake of many HR teams is only providing information during the enrollment period. While you obviously can’t provide details about their options in the spring, you can begin explaining some basic concepts. By providing your employees an idea of how benefits work early, it will be easier to paint in the details later.
As you near the open enrollment period, make sure to finalize your benefits several weeks before you announce them to employees. Benefits can be confusing. So once you have finalized them, take time to thoughtfully consider how to best organize their options. Even if your company offers the best benefits in the world, it doesn’t do much good if your employees don’t understand them.
Once you have an effective organization method in mind, consider the best mediums to carry your message to your employees. It’s usually wise to employ a wide variety of tactics to reach the most people. Try using print-outs, emails, in-person conversations, webpages, videos, or any combination of these to get the information out there. By using multiple methods, more employees will see and understand what you are trying to convey.
Once the enrollment period has begun, you need to make sure to focus on individual needs. When developing benefits packages, it’s important to think with the average employee in mind. But when your employees are actually signing up, it’s key to focus on their individual needs. If your department is able, make a personalized report for each employee detailing how they used their benefits over the past year. This can help an employee put benefits into a real-life context and see how they have performed in the past.
Each employee should experience their own personal benefits-selection process. If you can’t generate that individualized report, commit to offering one-on-one meetings to help your employees optimize their benefits package for their personal goals. Genuine HR advice for employees goes a long way to making them feel like their benefits package is accessible.
It’s also crucial to remember that employee needs and goals often change. 90% of employees keep their benefits from year-to-year, many due to apathy. However, many employees see changes in their lives that warrant a serious reconsideration of which benefits they want for that year. So make sure to encourage a serious review of options every year for every employee. If they review it and end up choosing what they did last year, at least they know they made the best decision at the time.
Now that you’ve offered as much information to employees as possible, it’s time to let them make their choices. However, a botched signup process can go a long way to hurt the relationship you’ve built. So to keep participation and morale up, make sure the process is very clear and user friendly. The ultimate goal is accessibility for employees: you want them to be able to consider and select their benefits at their own convenience.
Once the season is over: start the next cycle early. Your employees are the biggest part of what makes your company great. You have the power to both compensate and thank them for their contribution. By using these methods, you can ensure that your employees get the benefits they deserve without giving you a monstrous headache.