Open Enrollment Success: Going Beyond Benefits Administration

Open Enrollment Success: Going Beyond Benefits Administration

Preparing for open enrollment probably isn't on your list of top 10 favorite things to do with your time, but it definitely makes the list of things that take up most of your time as a benefits professional. And for what? So your employees can spend a relatively minuscule amount of time making their benefit elections?


If your employees can navigate the enrollment experience and be confident enough to make benefit decisions without having to hunt you down with questions, then all the time you've spent preparing for open enrollment is well worth it.

Unfortunately, this scenario is easier said than done. But there is some specific preparation you can do to make sure you're not spending an exorbitant amount of time answering the same questions over and over again: "What did I enroll in last year?", "Why is my health plan more expensive?" and the ever-frustrating "How do I log in to enroll?".

It's all about shifting from a mindset of checking off administrative tasks to strategic benefits management. And the first step is to spend time considering the challenges and issues you faced during the previous year. Then, determine how you'll prioritize to get ahead of those challenges before open enrollment starts.

Here are some questions to ask yourself — and your vendors — to improve the open enrollment process this year:

1. Were employees confused about certain options? 

If so, what can you do to make sure you communicate their benefit options in a clear and concise manner? 

More and more companies are choosing video as their medium of choice for open enrollment communication. With employees 75 percent more likely to watch a video over reading text, it's pretty much a no brainer.¹ Using video enables you to explain complex topics in an easy-to-understand format, so you can get your message across to a wide audience much more efficiently. 

For additional help prepping employees to make smart decisions during open enrollment, download our collection of free communication tools and tips.

2. Did you have insight into open enrollment progress?

If not, what types of insights could you have used to improve the experience and make things easier on your team?

Reporting can be helpful in tracking progress during open enrollment, but not so much if you have to spend the time creating and poring over spreadsheets just to find out who's completed open enrollment. This type of tracking can be automated through data dashboards that give you a real-time view of not only who has and hasn't completed enrollment, but also what types of plans employees are selecting. Understanding this type of information at open enrollment can help you be proactive with communication throughout the process. 

3. Did technology issues hold you and your employees back?

If so, what were they and how can you avoid them the next time around?

If your benefits technology solution were a car, then open enrollment would be rush hour on the expressway—heavy traffic, high pressure and little margin for error. That means you need to be confident your technology won't fail during the most critical time of year. Otherwise, you risk at best a frustrating user experience (not great for employee satisfaction), and at worst a disastrous open enrollment (really not great for employee satisfaction).

Similarly, waiting around for web pages to load during enrollment can also impact employee satisfaction levels. Think of how frustrated you get as a consumer online shopping when you click the purchase button and you don't instantly get a confirmation page. Panic starts to set in and you're tempted to hit that button again. Anything slower than two seconds is now considered substandard for e-commerce websites, and your benefits technology should not be an exception.

What next?

After you complete your evaluation from the previous year, it's important to involve your vendors in the next steps. Your consultant or broker, as well as your technology partner, should be part of the conversation as you create your plan to get ahead of these challenges before your next open enrollment.

Get more insight into how you should be evaluating your benefits technology and processes before your next open enrollment. Download your free guide to effective benefits management technology.


 ¹Forrester Research