Open enrollment ranks among the top five things employers hate most.
There’s the struggle of finalizing rates and benefits, getting all the materials for employees, determining dates when everyone will be there to get the information, and then getting all the forms back and loaded into the various systems. And to top it off, this is all usually happening during the most wonderful time of the year! Yep, during the holiday season.
I sympathize, I really do. But I also feel confident that you did some of this to yourself. Lack of planning is the reason many of my clients struggle. Each January 1, they swear that this year will be different.
You know that age-old definition of insanity, right? So, let’s do it differently this year and I guarantee a different outcome.
Follow these simple steps for stress-free open enrollment in 2019.
- Have a good understanding from your broker of when to expect your renewal — this will help guide the process.
- Know your budget for a benefit increase and what that will mean to employees’ paychecks in advance. This way, if it’s better news, great, but you’re also prepared for the worst.
- Start the paperwork early. Have your broker help you with an all-in-one enrollment form that all carriers will accept. This will make it much easier for your employees and you. If the carriers don’t accommodate, fire them. Just kidding, but you can push pretty hard. If they still don’t budge, make sure you get the forms in advance — and understand them — so you can quickly explain them to your employees.
- Don’t wait until you have a stack of forms in your hand to figure out how to send them. Some want forms scanned, some want hard copies, and — hold onto your hats — some still want them faxed. Yep, go google that word.
- Set a calendar in the third quarter of the year for open enrollment. This will give you plenty of time to make sure no steps are missed. Include the following:
- Meetings with your broker for the pre-renewal.
- Date the renewal must be finalized.
- Dates to get all the enrollment materials.
- Dates for meetings with employees.
- Date you need all the enrollment forms turned in, and the method to track forms.
- Dates the data need to be to your carriers.
- Dates the information needs to be in your payroll system.
- Lastly, don’t forget marking actual dates to do all the filing once open enrollment is complete (hint, skipping this step means you’ll be staring at that filing during your 2020 renewal, trust me).
Open enrollment is also an excellent time to clean house. Remind employees an ex might get their life insurance if they don’t update their beneficiary form. Oh, and if you have to rush them to the hospital, are you calling the ex or their current spouse? So yeah, let’s get that emergency contact form updated, shall we?
A little planning will go a long way when it comes to successful and stress-free open enrollment.