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How to Knock Your First OE Cycle Out of the Park (for New HR Managers)

Ross Simons

Ross Simons

Director of Inbound Marketing
Having a successful open enrollment - new hr managers

It’s only a minor exaggeration to say that open enrollment is make-it-or-break-it time for new HR managers. Can you feel it? All eyes are on you.

Company leadership is looking to you to lead an orderly OE cycle, minimizing disruptions, maximizing your HR budget, and creating value for your company by helping employees make the optimal choices (including those often-overlooked HDHPs).

Employees just want to spend as little time as possible researching benefits. (Sorry to say, but it’s true. Most employees would rather do three hours of hot yoga or something equally unpleasant than research benefits). They want you to make choosing great benefits easy for them — and they don’t want to regret their choices two months into the new year.

So, no pressure, but your first OE cycle as an HR manager is kind of a big deal. But it’s also an opportunity to showcase your talents, prove to leadership that elevating you was the right choice, and gain the respect of employees.

With that in mind, here are three ways to ensure your first open enrollment as an HR manager is an undisputed success:

Start Creating Your Benefits Guide Early (Earlier Than You Think)

Preparing for open enrollment is, in part, a content creation effort. And as most publishers will tell you, content creation always takes longer than expected. It takes several rounds of edits (and sometimes complete rewrites) to reach perfection, especially with multiple interested parties weighing in. And that’s just the written content — then there are design choices to be made.

Take your benefits guide. It has to contain complete — and accurate — information about all benefits options, define confusing terminology, and describe the enrollment process, all without sacrificing navigability or readability.

It’s a tall order, made even more difficult by numerous contributors, including your benefits broker, benefits vendors, and several members of your HR team. Plus, your guide must align with your organization’s branding guidelines.

Many HR departments find themselves making edits up to the 11th hour before the OE start date (and many continue making changes and sending new documents after enrollment has begun).

So here’s what we suggest: Take the date you plan to start work on your benefits guide and add at least a month. Even if you’re not prepared to add copy this early, you can start building the framework for your benefits guide. Once that’s set, the rest is simply a matter of filling in the blanks when the language is ready.

You can streamline the process even more by starting with a professionally designed template. For example, Flimp taps into its comprehensive design and content library to whittle the benefits guide creation process from several months to as little as a week. Options range from attractive premade templates to fully-customized guides. (View some examples here.)

Offer a Decision-Support Tool

There are few better ways to simultaneously please your company’s leadership (who are concerned about ballooning healthcare costs) and employees (who want great benefits and a hassle-free enrollment period) than by deploying a decision-support tool.

A decision-support tool can check all the boxes for a stellar OE cycle:

  • Keeping healthcare costs in check by steering employees toward optimized plans, such as HDHPs (when they’re the right fit).
  • All but eliminating the need for employees to make complicated comparisons between plans.
  • Simplifying the benefits research process, making it accessible and quick.
  • Vastly reducing the number of redundant questions fielded by the HR team during open enrollment.

If you’re new to HR management, you may not be familiar with this emerging technology. A decision-support tool is a mobile or web app that serves as a virtual enrollment advisor.

The most powerful decision support tools ask a few non-intrusive questions about employees’ health spending and, with that information, predict their estimated costs with each plan. With a good decision-support tool, the differences between plans are clear and straightforward, and the best-value plans are clearly indicated. The whole process can be completed in minutes.

(Learn everything you need to know about decision-support tools — including how to choose one — here.)

Behind the scenes, leading decision-support tools like PLANselect crunch massive datasets to identify the plans that most need employees’ needs. It’s not all that different from how Spotify recommends new artists — just with higher stakes.

Cancel Your Benefits Fair; Host a Virtual Benefits Fair Instead

Here’s a harsh truth for new HR managers: nobody really likes a benefits fair. They take a lot of time to organize, require too much space, and are often poorly attended (and remote employees can’t attend at all). Employees don’t enjoy being on the receiving end of vendors’ “hard sell.”

So, under your leadership this year, consider doing away with the in-person benefits fair and launching your company’s first virtual benefits fair.

A virtual benefits fair offers so many more possibilities than the same-old in-person event: on-demand webinars, explainer videos, and interactive benefits quizzes, to name a few. Your virtual benefits fair can also function as a year-round benefits showcase, a one-stop resource for everything employees need to understand their benefits, discover new options, and learn about the enrollment process.

The best part of a virtual benefits fair is that employees can attend whenever they want from their mobile devices, home, or work computers. The only thing missing is the free swag, which most employees would gladly sacrifice for the convenience of a virtual fair.

First OE Cycle? We’ve Got Your Back

Your first open enrollment cycle as a new HR manager is a chance for you to make your mark on your organization. We can help you pull it off without a hitch with a range of products and services built exclusively to help HR teams excel.

Learn more about Flimp here, and click here to discuss how we can help you make your first OE cycle a triumph.

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