The benefits open enrollment season can be riddled with obstacles, from technology that doesn’t work exactly as expected to employees that simply aren’t paying attention to the information that your human resources professionals are sharing on a regular basis. Keeping all of the many details straight while also ensuring that their daily tasks are completed can be a strain on any department, and the hectic timeline for benefits enrollment doesn’t help matters any. When staff members are getting confused and frustrated, here are some ways to help reduce the confusion and smooth the path during this enrollment period.
Difficulties with Open Enrollment
Many HR departments are already understaffed, and adding the stress of dozens of questions a day about benefits enrollment certainly doesn’t help matters at all. For employees who only think about their benefits once a year, it isn’t surprising that the process can be a bit confusing and overwhelming to them. If online systems aren’t working as expected, or if there is a significant delay in getting their questions answered, it only adds to the frustration levels for everyone involved.
Benefits can be complicated, with staff members attempting to estimate their costs and balance them against the plans that are being offered. There may be confusion around which program was utilized the previous year, or how specific procedures will be covered under previous versus the new benefits plans. It’s not unusual for benefits coverage to change on an annual basis, making this a yearly situation that needs to be addressed. Helping reduce the confusion starts with an abundance of information on a variety of topics as well as visuals and other tools that will help staff members better understand the options for the coming benefits enrollment season.
What Causes Confusion?
Often, the biggest confusion comes from the lack of information that is shared about the benefits that are available, and how these benefits will affect the individuals and their families. Healthcare and other benefits that are offered by an organization are highly prized, but might not be well-understood. If your benefits partner doesn’t provide you with an exhaustive list of tools that will help your staff members understand the various offerings, that can add to the challenge that your HR department experiences with helping staff members step through the process to get the best possible option for their families.
Overcoming Communication Backlogs
A lack of communication is troubling in any organization, but it can be particularly damaging during open enrollment time. If staff members do not understand the options that are available to them during open enrollment, they are likely to ask a lot of additional questions which can really bog down your HR team’s operations during this busy time of year. One of the best ways to overcome communication backlogs and reduce requests from staff members is to over-communicate the information that you need to share. Take a tip from marketers: it takes people approximately seven times hearing the same information before it truly begins to sink in! Even though you may feel as if you’re bombarding people with the same details, more information — shared more often — is definitely in your best interest before and during open enrollment season.
During this important time, you might consider creating a special email address or hotline phone number that employees can contact directly and that you can be sure will be staffed at all times. This not only allows employees to feel as though their requests for information about benefits are important and will be acted upon quickly, but it also allows you to dedicate a specialist to answer these questions in a timely manner. That step alone can go a long way towards reducing the communication backlog of questions or requests for backup information that are coming to your HR department. Plus, if you have a person or team dedicated to these questions you can ensure that you’re providing consistent answers when employees have requests.
Want to kick your employee benefits season off to a great start? Contact the benefits professionals at Employers Select Insurance Services, Inc. today at 916-248-4777 for more information about how their team helps your HR department and staff members be successful. Get immediate help when you download our free checklist: “Benefits Insights: Annual Open Enrollment Checklist”. Our team excels at ensuring you have the tools and information that you need to help your staff members make their benefits decisions for the year.