Preparing for an Unprecedented Open Enrollment Period
Open enrollment following the COVID-19 pandemic will be unlike any other in recent memory. Many organizations are still trying to recover from extended closures and maintain safe working environments—open enrollment is the last thing on their minds. Yet, procrastinating on enrollment planning can actually cause more issues than it solves.
Open enrollment isn’t always a clear-cut process. Something that’s successful for one organization won’t necessarily work for another. Employers should review the following strategies and consider how similar initiatives might improve their own open enrollment efforts:
1) Confer with management about any operational restrictions that may influence open enrollment (i.e., if in-person staff is limited within the workplace, in-person enrollment is likely not an option).
2) Meet with stakeholders to solidify what the enrollment process will look like, including whether it will be entirely virtual, in-person with social distancing or some other combination of strategies.
3) Debrief managers early in the enrollment process, and encourage them to communicate regularly to employees about the upcoming open enrollment.
4) Inform all stakeholders (anyone to whom an employee may reach out about open enrollment questions) about the enrollment process. They should know where to find the answers to any topic, including:
* Benefits effective date
* Enrollment period
* What happens to furloughed employees’ benefits
* How plan contributions work during extended closures
5) Communicate to employees about open enrollment through multiple channels. Consider using videos, mail-home postcards, PDFs and other materials to ensure employees have all the information they need.
Preparation will be the key factor for a successful open enrollment this year. Employers should talk to stakeholders early and prepare to answer any employee questions. Employees will need to know exactly how they will be enrolling, when enrollment is happening and where they can find help. Solidifying this information early will help keep everyone on the same page.