“Four Tips to Maximize Your Open Enrollment Experience” – Doug Saunders, Brown & Brown Insurance

In our daily professions, whether it be selling a widget, presenting a development or saving a life we strive to maximize performance. When practice turns to game-time, we finally have our chance to shine. As a benefits broker there is no better time to perform and no better chance to exceed client expectations than providing a stress-free open enrollment. Open enrollment is my game time, my fourth quarter. In turn I better have a game plan. Here are a few tips for maximizing your open enrollment experience: establish a timeline, utilize technology, engage and clearly communicate with employees and schedule a post enrollment follow up.

  1. Establish a Timeline

Regardless of the complexity of your renewal strategy, goals or benefits, you must develop a rigid timeline. An agreeable timeline creates accountability. The purpose of the timeline is to minimize the all too familiar “last second” experience. The timeline should clearly indicate responsibilities of the broker and the employer. It should also indicate key target dates for decision-making. Starting well in advance of the renewal, this will leave time for technology if necessary. Most importantly, a collaborative timeline should accommodate any potential delays and/or obstacles – for instance Holidays.

  1. Utilize Technology – “Is now the time?”

Benefit studies show that 47% of employers utilized technology for annual open enrollment, and those numbers are anticipated to grow in today’s age of unlimited access to connectivity. Your organization may have already made the transition, or may have apprehension about taking the leap – trust me, you can do it. The overall consensus from employers and employees who use technology for open enrollment is overwhelmingly positive. While 2019 may not be the year for your organization to transition 2020 may be. So consider if “now is the time?”

The landscape on technology continues to change. To keep up with the ever changing trends of technology most insurance carriers, payroll providers and benefit brokers have cost effective solutions for customers. The paper enrollment process has become a signal of status quo.

  1. Engage Employees and Develop a Benefits Communication Plan

Recent studies found over 90% of survey respondents believe there is solid evidence linking engagement to performance, but a third of respondents felt that fewer than 39% of employees are actually engaged. This presents a major issue in today’s workforce. Not only do engaged employees exhibit increased productivity, they also provide employers critical feedback which allows an employer to recognize employee concerns and make decisions to positively impact employees through the open enrollment experience.

Low engagement simply stems from this – employees don’t know what they don’t know. Unengaged employees have low benefit literacy, meaning they have not been properly educated on the benefits offered, which in most cases are the benefits they purchase. Groups with limited engagement and low benefit literacy often burden HR with questions, use out-of-network providers, then come back furious after seeing a doctor or incur ineligible expenses with an HSA. I imagine we each have an example or two of these instances.

Developing an effective communication campaign that will educate and engage employees can have profound results. An effective communication campaign is intended to educate and inform while conveying a consistent message from leadership direct to employees that they are being heard. It can be a targeted time period leading up to open enrollment or it can be year-round. Through emails, personal meetings, video campaigns or “lunch room talks,” the results of effective communication and increased engagement will have positive impacts on the employees. How they view their work situation and understand the value of open enrollment process will be improved tenfold.

  1. Schedule a Post Enrollment Follow Up

The purpose of the post enrollment meeting is for the administrative team and broker to share feedback of what worked and didn’t work during the open enrollment process. It is a key time of reflection – How did employees feel about benefit changes or their online experience? Did employees feel equipped to make an educated decision? Did benefit administration transfer information properly and are invoices reconciling? The post enrollment follow up is the beginning of growth opportunities for the future.

About Brown & Brown, Inc.

Brown & Brown Insurance is a local, leading edge, insurance intermediary providing client solutions in all principles of insurance products including personal protection, commercial insurance, bonding and employee benefit consulting.