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Tips on Rolling Out a Successful Benefit Enrollment

 

by: Cathey Pangborn

 

Transitioning to an electronic Benefit Enrollment (BE) process can provide several advantages that many companies desire. In order to assist you in the process of rolling out a successful benefit enrollment, below are a few pointers.

Sooner vs. Later - One crucial step to assuring a successful rollout of benefit enrollment is making sure you have plenty of time. Due to the number of factors that contribute to an open enrollment it is import to make sure you have plenty of time to collect, update, test and communicate all changes.

Plan, Plan, and Plan Some More - Creating a project calendar for your BE project is another import step. Again, there are several moving parts to this process so make sure to include all participants. Here are few examples of items to plan for:


  • Internal Staff – Make all internal employees that will be participating in the processing of the BE period aware of your timeline…..HR, Benefit Administration, Payroll, and IT, just to name a few departments to include. Provide all participants with a copy of your BE timeline far enough in advance so they may also plan.

  • Communicate with all Benefit Carriers – Set a time line with your carriers as to when all rate changes will be finalized. Set clear expectations as to what rate information is needed to easily update your plans with your HR system. Also request new benefit documentation and/or links so they can be added to the online experience for your employees.

  • Coordinate deduction changes with Payroll – Make sure to understand the timing requirements of your payroll department so the new rates are recorded in time for the first payroll after your enrollment period. Determine the earliest and latest date to update these changes prior to the payroll process, so that you have as much time to upload and validate all changes.
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Updates and Testing – Prior to making any updates to your live system, it is a great idea to have an original backup. Make all applicable plan/rate changes in the appropriate places and begin TESTING. Most benefit enrollment products should give you the ability to test your new plans/rates in your live environment. With that being said, you can never test too much therefore make sure to test all plans and all levels of coverage combinations (EE only to Family, different coverage amounts, etc).

System Requirement Changes – It is always import to verify if there have been any recent system requirement changes. Because most BE products are browser based, research to see if there are any new specifications on browser version specifications. This information can typically be found by contacting your support team or in product announcements.

Communication Plan to Educate Your Employees
– Make sure to think through how you wish to roll out your benefit enrollment process with your employees. Develop a plan that works best for organization on how you wish to educate them on the new BE process. Here are couple ideas…..small group training sessions in person or web based , customized handouts demonstrating step by step procedures, customized tutorial videos that can be watched at their convenience, or maybe personal assistance scheduled with each employee. Clearly and frequently communicate the dates of the open enrollment period also including who to contact if there are any questions or issues. Don’t forget to send/schedule reminders to your employees informing them how much time remains until their enrollment needs to be complete. Make sure to address as many questions as possible in advance so you are setting the correct expectations for your employees….Here are just a few:

  • - I made a mistake and I need to change something but I have already submitted/finalized my form, how can I make changes?
  • - I missed the electronic open enrollment period therefore how do I enroll (or makes change to) benefits?
  • - I forget my login and/or password how do I regain access?

Documentation – It is always a great idea to generate before and after documentation of all the enrollments. Before meaning the employees has signed off the enrollment, but the changes of that enrollments have not been loaded into your HR system. After meaning that all changes have been sent over into the HR system. This type of documentation can come in handy when reconciling your changes. So in accordance with the “paperless” age of HR by simply printing reports to a PDF file will give you the convenience of having the information without harming any trees.

Verification/Auditing – Make sure to think through how to verify that all changes have been recorded properly in your HR system and are pushing over into payroll deductions correctly. This typically is one of the final steps in the process and tends to be the most important. Before and after reports are very helpful and if captures electronically, can be compared electronically as well.

Reflect – In order to improve your process next year, it is very important that you document what worked well and what needs improvement. Unfortunately if you wait until next year, you may forget crucial details of the process. Take a moment to make a list of the pros and cons of your process, detailing what to improve for next year. 

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