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Open Enrollment Best Practices: Simplifying the Process With Technology

It’s October, which means that open enrollment is just around the corner in the United States. The open enrollment period (OEP) is dreaded by HR professionals, who regularly face scenarios like employees asking the same question again and again, despite the answer being given in the benefits guide and emails.

When multiplied by thousands of employees across multiple regions, these challenges can take up nearly all of an HR department’s resources, stalling other critical activities like hiring.

Safely navigating through the open enrollment process requires a combination of people, processes, and technology. Of these three things, technology is often the area that HR teams struggle with the most. Having a benefits management system as part of your Human Capital Management (HCM) platform can help, but you also need to know how to use this tool to its fullest. If you have a benefits administration system or are planning on moving to one, here are some technology-related open enrollment best practices that you should follow.

Open Enrollment Best Practices for Technology

Create Online FAQs

Self-service HR is often the best approach for both employees and HR professionals since it usually saves both party’s time. Employees typically have the same benefits-related questions for HR every year, which is why it pays to have a FAQs page that is accessible via an HCM system (where staff is used to looking for HR-related information). A sophisticated HCM platform will allow for searchable questions, so employees don’t have to look through pages of text to find the information they need.

Automate the Small Stuff

Automation is one of the primary reasons why organizations invest in HCM systems, as it eliminates a lot of basic day-to-day tasks. That said, automation can be an underutilized feature if your teams don’t know what can be automated. With regards to benefits, it’s possible to automatically trigger an event when an employee’s data changes in the HCM platform. It’s also possible to automatically identify which employees are Affordable Care Act eligible or can be enrolled in Medicare. Finally, benefits reporting and auditing can be automated, allowing HR professionals to spend less time digging through dashboards and employee records.

Think Mobile

A lack of accessibility can severely limit employee participation during open enrollment. Using a cloud-based HCM system, which can be accessed from an employee’s preferred mobile device, allows team members to review and update the status of their benefits from anywhere. Even if the employee would prefer to change their benefits from their home PC, they can still review their existing benefits policy and research their options while on the go.

Make it Easy to Download Important Documents

In situations in which employees need to fill out a physical document, it’s possible to have an HCM system offer a PDF to print, saving HR the need to print out the form and hand provide it to the employee. This is especially helpful for organizations that utilize a remote workforce, as it saves HR teams the hassle of having to print out and mail to documents. Instead, employees can print out important documents (such as 1095-C forms), fill them out, then mail them to HR.

Send Paper Documents Automatically

When physical documents need to be sent, they don’t necessarily need to be handled by internal HR teams. While printing and mailing documents is not a particularly complicated process, it is time-consuming for medium and large enterprises. It’s possible to outsource this process using integrations built into the benefits management system, so once an employee changes their status and needs to be sent a new form, it happens automatically.

Connect Directly with Providers

A modern benefits management system can integrate directly with providers, allowing important documents and data to be exchanged quickly while also staying compliant. These integrations come out-of-the-box, meaning your IT team won’t have to build custom integrations.

The Real Value of a Benefits Management System

The biggest value that a benefits management system provides is dashboard and analytics. If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to look at historical OEP data to identify which plans and providers are most popular, as well as how well your organization is staying compliant in all of its territories.

Analyzing your organization’s current benefits situation and eliminating smaller open enrollment tasks allows you to be more strategic. Instead of simply “weathering the storm” that is open enrollment, HR leaders can approach it from the standpoint of driving business goals, such as:

  • Employee Retention - Helping employees to find the plans that fit them, therefore keeping them happy and more engaged.
  • Compliance – Having a clear view of where your organization stands in terms of compliance, no matter where in the world they are based, saves money.
  • Benefits Costs – Managing the overall cost of benefits.

Following these open enrollment best practices ensures that the technology side of open enrollment is doing the heavy lifting, allowing internal HR teams to do what they need to do without being overwhelmed by busy work and questions from employees.

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