“Strategy without process is little more than a wish list.” – Robert Filek
One motivating aspect of open enrollment is that it’s cyclical. Each year, you know that you’ll focus on planning for open enrollment, communicating the details around it, executing the actual open enrollment period and then following up in the aftermath. What makes the cyclical nature even better is that each year you can learn from the last and build on your successes.
That’s where proper process and planning come in. Ultimately, you want to determine what you’d like to achieve for the next open enrollment and set the actionable steps to get there. So, let’s say you’re ready to start planning. How do you know what steps you should take?
We consider three important areas to cover in open enrollment planning, including:
- Assessment and metrics
- Branding and communication,
- Strategy, alignment and action.
Here are some key considerations for each of those buckets:
Assessment and Metrics
To know where you’re heading, you have to know where you are right now. The great part is that you have a variety of data at your disposal from benefit enrollment and utilization reports along with claims data and general employee demographics.
While you’re looking at your internal data, it also makes sense to take a pulse on what employees think of their current benefits by launching a total well-being survey. Taking all of that together, you can also think critically about how that fits in with your company culture.
Establishing this baseline allows you to then create a complete set of success metrics for your upcoming open enrollment.
Branding and Communication
When you think about the best brands, they spark a feeling or association that lasts long after you’ve engaged with them. Just like Nike or Sephora have built strong brands within their respective industries, it’s also key to build a benefits brand. At Benefitfocus, our benefits team did just that with our 2018 open enrollment with the “Customer #1 Initiative.”
Along with building your brand, this area of open enrollment planning presents another opportunity to engage your employees. Whether it’s hosting focus groups to gather feedback on benefits communication or collecting employee testimonials about positive experiences they’ve had using their benefits, setting up listening posts now can result in valuable information and assets you can use throughout many stages of open enrollment.
Strategy, Alignment and Action
Many benefits professionals are operating within small teams. That’s why, when it comes to open enrollment planning, bringing together a team of individuals outside the benefits department is a way to set your entire organization up for success. With a variety of voices represented across your organization, you can get creative minds at work to solve for any barriers that come up along the way and even assign team members as owners of key success metrics.
Finally, this is also the time to share your vision for open enrollment, communicating regularly with executive leadership to provide updates on your objectives and key results. By starting during the open enrollment planning process, you can lay the groundwork for the entire year, engaging key stakeholders up front and keeping open enrollment top of mind.
Get the complete open enrollment planning checklist to use as a guide to important aspects of the planning process.