In today's competitive labor market, you can’t afford to swing and miss when it comes to what employees look for most: comprehensive benefits packages. Six in 10 employees want benefits packages that offer support for every aspect of their lives. Your offerings can be a powerful force for attracting and retaining employees.
Open enrollment is a chance for your organization to demonstrate its commitment to employee well-being and offer valuable benefits that can make a real difference in their lives. Here are the essential steps and considerations to ensure a smooth and successful open enrollment period.
Open enrollment for benefits is a designated period during which employees can review, select, and make changes to their employer-provided benefits for the upcoming year. These benefits typically include health insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, life insurance, retirement plans (like 401(k) plans), and various other perks, like flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and wellness programs.
During the open enrollment period, employees can:
Employers typically hold open enrollment once a year. During this period, HR departments and benefits administrators communicate with employees, providing information about the available benefits, any changes in plan options or costs, and instructions on how to make selections or changes.
Open enrollment periods vary from one employer to another, and they often depend on the organization's specific plans and policies. However, there are some common practices and characteristics:
Because open enrollment periods can vary between organizations, employees should check with their HR department or refer to their employee handbook for precise information on when their open enrollment period occurs.
Employers should provide detailed information about the specific dates, how to make changes, and any updates to benefit offerings.
The duration of open enrollment similarly varies from one employer to another, but it typically lasts for several weeks. A common timeframe is around two to three weeks, but some employers may extend it to a month or longer. The specific duration is determined by the employer's policies and the complexity of their benefits enrollment process.
The benefits open enrollment process is a structured series of steps employees follow to review, select, and update their employer-provided benefits. Common steps typically include:
Open enrollment is a critical time for employees to make important decisions about their benefits. Here are some open enrollment tips and best practices to help your employees navigate the process effectively:
Benefit needs can be complex, so your staff should have ample time to plan and decide which offerings they’d like to enroll in. It’s your job to provide all the pertinent information (ideally well ahead of time) so employees can make informed decisions and ask questions if needed.
Plan to send out an announcement at least a month before the start of the open enrollment period. Make sure it includes the essentials, like open enrollment dates, the election process, and the specifics about each benefit plan. It’s also helpful to mention the consequences of missing open enrollment to encourage participation.
Don’t be afraid of overcommunicating. Benefits are important, and you don’t want employees to miss out because they weren’t aware or forgot. You can send out another announcement before the start, and again once enrollment is officially underway. It also doesn’t hurt to send out a reminder or two throughout the open enrollment period, especially as the deadline draws near.
You can send out communications via email, but they might go unnoticed in a cluttered inbox. And some employees may not check (or even have access to) a work email account. Consider a social collaboration hub, like Paylocity’s Community, that allows for easy company-wide communication that’s available across multiple devices.
Community also includes “Ask an Expert” groups, where you can direct benefits-related questions. These groups make it simple for you to answer any questions that come up, and over time become a helpful FAQ resource for your workforce.
There are a host of federal and state laws that govern employer-offered benefits and health coverage, like Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to name a few. HR pros are responsible for keeping up to date on the latest regulations and how that may affect employee benefit eligibility.
You can manually keep track of any policy changes and adjust your benefit enrollment process accordingly, but it’s easier (and less stressful) to use HR software that’s equipped with a compliance dashboard. The compliance dashboard can keep track of the latest rates and regulations to flag any potential issues with your open enrollment and benefit election process.
FSA, HSA, PPO, HMO, LTD... there are a slew of acronyms and jargon within the world of benefit offerings — it can be a little intimidating!
Make sure you educate your employees not only about which benefits are offered, but what they entail. When employees have a strong grasp on their benefit selections, they can make a more informed decision. You’ll likely see increased participation, too.
Give your employees a variety of ways to learn about their benefits and how to enroll. On-demand learning modules are an effective method for getting employees involved, and a learning management system (LMS) allows you to customize, assign, and track progress. Even better: employees can access them from anywhere and on their own time.
Make education a part of the process, too. The best benefits enrollment software will also allow you to embed video explainers right into the benefits election self-service portal. Your employees will have easy access to critical benefits information right when they need it.
No, open enrollment isn't the same for all companies. While the fundamental concept of open enrollment is often the same, the specific details, timing, and processes can vary significantly from one company to another.
The timeframe for new hires to enroll in benefits can vary from one company to another and may depend on the employer's specific policies. Some common practices and guidelines include:
Open enrollment isn't specifically mandated by federal law in the United States, but certain aspects of benefits enrollment and employee rights are governed by federal regulations:
Individual states may have their own regulations regarding benefits enrollment as well, including open enrollment requirements. Employers are responsible for knowing and complying with these state-level regulations in addition to federal laws.
Understanding how you can meet the needs of today’s workforce and help your employees get the most out of your benefits package is key to retaining employees and attracting new talent in the coming year.
With benefits administration software, you can streamline open enrollment for you and your employees — even while on the go. From mobile access to event notifications, reminders, and more, enrollment and day-to-day administration will be faster, smoother, and give you the confidence you’re covered.
Request a demo today to learn more about Paylocity’s benefits administration services.
Help your employees get the most out of their benefits while getting time back in your day through smart automation. With all-in-one tools, kicking off open enrollment and administering third-party benefits services like FSAs, HSAs, and more is a breeze! And employee experience features like integrated training and expert groups, all available on the go, ensure your employees are making informed decisions.