Human Resources

SBS 232: Tips For Success When Preparing Your Employees For Open Enrollment

Hey Compliance Warriors!

Open enrollment is just around the corner and if you’re in a place where you’re helping your employees with this, here are a few helpful tips!

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Enjoy and until next time, Be Audit Secure!


Lisa: Welcome to another edition of small business Spoonfuls. I’m Lisa Smith

Mason: And I’m Mason Merrell

Lisa: Today we are talking about open enrollment.

Mason: This is something that is a big headache for a lot of people.

Lisa: Yeah And we’re, here. We are at open enrollment season, so we’re going to have some folks who may not have ever gone through this before. So, we want to know what we can do to make this easier and Oh my goodness, just, it can just be such a headache. But let’s first identify who we might be talking about here. People who have not yet had a chance to go through open enrollment at all… Why would that be?

Mason: Because they are not 26 yet.

Lisa: That’s right. That’s one big reason. And that’s really the one we’re focusing on today because according to the affordable care act, a person can be on their parents’ coverage until age 26 and then after that they got to go get their own.

Mason: Which is very generous, by the way. I mean 26 here, you’re an adult, you’re a full-fledged adult at that point. You know, I guess they do that just for kids going through college and stuff like that, but 26 is very generous. So, but turning 26 is a big deal in the open enrollment phase of life.

Lisa: Yeah, absolutely. So, talk about having your quarter year crisis and then you’ve gotta face open enrollment.

Mason: So, let’s start here. When does open enrollment begin?

Lisa: Okay, open enrollment starts every year on November 1st that’s the deal we’ve got going on there. Now we’ve got four tips to help employers walk these folks through that. We want to remember that a lot of these folks, they’re 26 years old, they’ve grown up in the world of Amazon and eBay and all of these online platforms. So it’s not that they’re not familiar with it, it’s just that there is so much information that comes at them. It’s not an easy choice like it is on Amazon.

Mason: Yeah, it’s a rat race. I mean,  it can be very confusing at times on exactly what you’re doing and especially if you are to a point in your life where you have a wife and children and everybody involved that you’re trying to get enrolled.

Lisa: Oh yeah, absolutely. The first tip here is be proactive about providing accurate information.

Mason: You need to make sure and give as accurate as possible when you’re doing this because it can cost you a lot if you’re not.

Lisa: Yeah, and one great piece of advice is to provide educational, benefits material in a variety of accessible formats well in advance of open enrollment. So, it may be too late for right now because we’re already there. But think about this for next year too and make sure that if you find that you’re stumbling and tripping over some of these areas with your employees. Maybe if we had some education a few months out that when it actually got here, executing the whole process would have been much easier.

Mason: Yup, that’s right. Make sure you’re training your employees, it’s kind of like a nice little side benefit for them as well because you’re basically holding their hands, walking through this situation. And I know that’s a big problem with generation Z and millennials in general, just needing their hand held as one of them now just to walk through these things. But it’s, I mean, it’s a nice little benefit.

Lisa: It is. And just as an HR professional, if you don’t do this education up front, then you’re going to be doing it one by one by one by one and your time is going to be so consumed.

Mason: Yeah, you can really take care of a big problem all at once by just getting ahead of the game here.

Lisa: Then our second tip here is to really embrace social media interactions if possible. One thought that was led to engaging first-timers is that employers shouldn’t really abandon their digital channels entirely. It says in fact one of the favorite recent enrollment experiences noted was engaging in a Twitter chat on benefits. So actually, having HR like hold the live chat kind of thing about the benefits and really have people being able to ask questions and get real time answers.

Mason: Yup And there’s a lot of like webinars type style stuff you can do as well. But Twitter, it’s awesome cause it’s there forever and you can go back and read it all and all that. So that’s awesome.

Lisa: Facebook, Instagram, all of that in a figure out creative ways that HR can use that to engage. I mean that also is just fun. People will go on those social platforms where they might not, you know, like come to your benefits meeting. That’s so boring.

Mason: And you use these other people’s social channels as well as it brings out influencers today. I mean it brings out here that MetLife experience with social ads, so using these influencers to educate people on how to use the open enrollment.

Lisa: I think it’s great. It mentions mom bloggers, you know, all kinds of people out there who, might be interesting to your audience of employees. So, know your audience, know what they’re into and start trying to maybe engage in different areas. Lots of good creativity here.

Mason: The third point is help workers read between the fine print.

Lisa: Yeah. Oh, my goodness. Talk about a language barrier. You’ve got everybody speaks English for instance, but the English of the insurance company is completely different than what we know. Then think about people who don’t have English as their first language and now they’re trying to navigate this whole other language of benefits so it can just turn into what they call here alphabet soup.

Mason: And things to watch out for is, specific elements that directly apply to their situation. For instance, like things like tobacco use or different things, like hidden little things that might really tweak the system that if you’re not honest about can really come back and bite you at the same time.

Lisa: Yeah, and so, also educate people on what the best value is. Because a lot of times people will just say I want the cheapest premium, but maybe that’s not the best value. Or they might look at, they might say I want the one that has the $200 deductible, but that premium is through the roof. And then if they’re not a person who goes to the doctor very much, they’re just throwing that money into the wind. Maybe they just really need a catastrophic kind of deal where if they get deathly ill it covers, like get people involved in the process and not just looking at what a premium.

Mason: Yeah, personalize it for the person. Cause there’s some people out there that go to the doctor every week that need these checkups monthly. What the medicine aspect of the thing. And then there’s other people who never go to the doctor at all. So like you said, you don’t want that high insurance premium for that person who never goes to the doctor at that point you would probably want something like you said, that’s like a almost like an emergency insurance situation where if I got in a car wreck, yeah, the deductible’s higher, but I’m not paying all this up front out of pocket.

Lisa: Yeah. And so, it really is a personal decision for people. And remember this too, this is open enrollment and then when this end, it’s not just like you can just go, Oh, you know, just kidding. I changed my mind. I want to do this one now. Unless you have a major life event, you can’t go back.

Mason: Even having a major life event. I just had a baby seven months ago or my wife did. And we have tried and tried to get our insurance straightened out and we’re still not. So, I’m looking forward to open enrollment personally because it’s still not straightened out. I got a bill in the mail saying my kid didn’t have insurance when he does. And all this stuff. So, it’s definitely like you brought out, it’s another language you’re speaking here. It’s like learning another language.

Lisa: And then the last tip here is don’t forget about fringe benefits that you may offer. For example, an employer might, say that they’ve got, like a breast cancer awareness month, a special thing they’re going to be doing and you’re going to have maybe a shift toward,  people wanting streams of information about a certain topic and maybe you’re going to have a health fair or things like this. And for instance, if you have these things throughout the year where you’re disseminating information and you’re having like free blood pressure checks and you’re having whatever it is, whatever it might be, free cholesterol checks or make sure that you’re showing everyone the whole gamut of what they’re getting. Because some, people might feel like they’ve got to take the most expensive thing because it’s the only thing they have. But if you show them what all their benefits are, they can make a more balanced decision.

Mason: Yeah, for sure. And you know also while you’re showing them all their benefits, show them how to find their benefits as well. Show them how to do it themselves so they’re not like, Hey remember when you did that for me, can you do that again You know, kind of thing. You don’t want to do it for him. You just want to train them in the end of it. And you know like, I said, this is another nice company benefit for the person but it’s also really nice for you because it saves you a lot of time.

Lisa: It is. And you know, this is where like I think personally and LMS is such a great investment because you can put all these trainings that we’re talking about. You can put them all on your LMS, you can assign them to your employees and then you can see when they watch them and complete them and answer a short quiz about them and make sure there was actually a transfer of knowledge that happened. And then you can prove down the road if somebody says, Oh, but you never told me this, you can prove where they took the online training and you were in the clear, you did your part there. So, you know, there are a lot of ways to handle these things but I’m telling you, can’t just sit on your hands when it comes to this stuff.

Mason: Yeah. And as a side note for LMS is you can check out our employee onboarding, episode where we talk a lot about using an LMS and how the ins and outs of that works because that can, really escalate your company in a good way. So anyway, we’re not really getting into that today, but that is a side note. You can just check out that episode about employee onboarding. If you’re interested in something like that.

Lisa: Definitely.

Mason: Okay, great. Well, anyway, I hope all goes well with you and your company with the, the open enrollment and personally, if you’re listening to this as an employee or whoever, I hope it all goes well for you. And I’m hoping the same for me.

Lisa: Me too. So, I guess until next time, I’m Lisa Smith

Mason: and I’m Mason, Merrell.

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