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By: Marissa Dalmata

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October 19th, 2015

5 Tips For Streamlining Your Next Open Enrollment

Strategic HR | HRMS | online enrollment software | HR

Recently had a disgruntled HR Director on the phone. Conversation went as follows…

Me: “Can you describe to me your open enrollment process?”

Her: “It’s all paper, it takes up too much time, it’s a mess, and I hate it every year.”

For most people, November and December brings on thoughts of turkey, family, and Holiday cheer. For the rest of us with January renewals just around the corner, tis the season to be pushing paper!

For the HR professional looking at ways to streamline their benefits open enrollment in the coming year and reduce the amount of labor and opportunity costs associated, here are 5 tips that have cut open enrollment timelines by 75% and returned nearly a month of productivity to HR departments.

1. Go with electronic communications

There is a tremendous amount of printing costs and time that goes into preparing all the educational materials and summary plan documents for open enrollment, and we’re never really sure how many people are actually taking the time to read through those stacks.

Insurance laws being what they are, some of this printing is unavoidable. But much of the educational content and FAQs can be consolidated and accessed within an electronic library with self-service employee access. You may still need to print off annual Summaries of Benefits and Coverage (unless you have permission from employees to supply them electronically), but Summary Plan Descriptions and benefit comparison tables are all information that can be centrally located for self-service access.

2. Ditch the paper enrollments

We know, there is a certain comfort that our employees have with the traditional paper enrollment forms. Some employers may even have concerns in their employee’s computer savviness and ability to successfully navigate through an online enrollment system.

All valid concerns, but are we making a mountain out of a mole hill? As one recent online benefits enrollment adopter put it:

“We’re manufacturing, so we have a lot of people who don’t do computers. So we had some hiccups trying to get them through, but even those people were able to get through the system much easier than they had the year before.” 

Truth be told, the shift from paper to online benefits enrollment has a roughly 60% return on time for users, with the added ability to track your completion status and delinquent enrollments in real time.

3. Make online enrollment self-service and employee led

A lot of HR pros cringe at the thought of rolling out employee self-service online benefits enrollment. Understood—initial system orientation can be a heavy lift at first. This should only be in the first year. Introduce new employees to the enrollment process as they join the team, and by the second open enrollment, things are running like clockwork!

The Millennials are a few short years from being the dominant demographic in the workforce. Your population is probably more capable than you’d think.

4. Employ Electronic Data Interfacing (EDI) with your benefits enrollment software

For those that have experienced the world of electronic data interfacing with insurance carriers, there is no going back to the old way of faxing forms and manually updating enrollment information into online carrier portals one at a time. This backend process of getting the new enrollment information to multiple insurance carriers is typically the greatest time-suck of administering employee benefits.

Though insurance carriers typically will not interface with groups of 50 or less members, most are capable of receiving 834 files (electronic HIPPA files) from third-party enrollment systems in order to automate coverage updates. Paper faxing and manual data entry replaced by a “click”. This is a great way to recoup opportunity costs and reduce labor costs for benefits administration.

5. Integrate online benefits enrollment software with payroll

Aside from updating insurance carriers, the other tedious task on the backend of open enrollment is updating payroll deductions in the payroll system. Again, another manual process that requires more time dedicated to spreadsheet management.

Payroll integration with benefits management software leverages shared data and automated workflows to update benefit deductions and assign dates for the new deductions to hit payroll.

Sure, open enrollments can be an annual nuisance for HR, but they don’t have to kill productivity in the process. To explore how one employer applied the tips above and recovered over a month of productivity and resources to dedicate to more strategic HR initiatives check out this online benefits enrollment case study. 

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About Marissa Dalmata

Marissa is one of Benetech's long-standing client-service reps, with a passion for wellness and elite knowledge of benefits administration.

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Mistakes are expensive, especially when building benefit plans.

We've outlined the 3 most common mistakes employers make when offering benefits in a quick ebook. Get your copy free when you subscribe to our blog.