The peak season for HR professionals is upon us! We’ve put together an Open Enrollment timeline in hopes of making the rest of your year just a little less stressful. A solid employee benefits package is crucial for recruiting and retention and has become even more important in the current market — Open Enrollment plays a big part in that.
Are you on track?
It feels like this year went by in the blink of an eye and it’s hard to believe we’re already in the home stretch of 2021. With legislation continually changing on top of the usual chaos, time feels like it’s gone by even faster! Check out our Open Enrollment Checklist, and make sure you’re still on target for a successful start to your new plan year:
✔ Laying the Foundation
As with any event, it’s important to have a general idea of what it will look like. You may need to decide on a venue and a date and decide on how big the guest list should be.
Similarly, when it comes to Open Enrollment, there are two big questions to ask:
- What method or platform are your employees using to enroll?
- How are you sending that information to your Third Party Administrator (TPA)?
The way your employees enroll will influence how that information is sent to your TPA. Let’s take a look at the different approaches and how they affect the rest of your season:
Classic Open Enrollment
The Classic method is one we’re all familiar with: your employees elect their benefits on a form that you compile and put into a spreadsheet to send to your TPA. This approach is great for employers who want to offer the analog option. It’s familiar to most people and there is no user interface for your employees to learn to navigate.
But, this approach is also heavy on manual data entry. Once Open Enrollment closes, it’s off to the races to input all of the participant data into a spreadsheet, check for errors, then send it off to your TPA before the deadline.
Online Open Enrollment
Your Third Party Administrator may offer its own online enrollment functionality. For example, at Benefit Resource, employees can enroll through our Participant Portal, BRIWEB. With this method, employers share their Open Enrollment dates with the TPA and send over an eligibility file a few weeks ahead of time.
This approach is great for employers who want most of the Open Enrollment work done on the front end. Many current participants will likely be familiar with the platform from managing existing accounts.
Prefer to wait until the last minute? Online Open Enrollment allows for it! At BRI, you can send over your eligibility file just two to three weeks ahead of Open Enrollment. This gives you extra time to ensure any late employees are added to the original file so you can send one file and be done!
Integrated Open Enrollment
A popular option is leveraging your HRIS platform. There are two ways to do an Integrated Open Enrollment: through a file feed or a manual handoff.
With an established file feed, your employees enroll via your HRIS, then the data is automatically sent to your Third Party Administrator at the end of your Open Enrollment period. Automating your manual process reduces errors and saves time during the busiest season!
Once your feed is established, all you need to do is let your TPA know when to expect the enrollment files. The catch: setting up a file feed can take about ninety days to set up (sometimes more!) and may not be available for your first Open Enrollment with a new TPA.
However, you can still leverage your HRIS platform without an established file feed! This method is, in essence, a hybrid between Integrated and Classic approaches. Once your Open Enrollment window closes, download the report from your HRIS platform. With a little spreadsheet dexterity, you make sure the data is in the correct format, then hand it off to your TPA. At Benefit Resource, this file can be securely uploaded to your Employer Portal on BRIWEB. We’ll take it from there!
We understand this seems like a lot to consider, but deciding on your approach early will let you maximize your time later.
✔ Weighing the Options
So you’ve decided how your participants will enroll and how that information is getting to your TPA. Next, it’s time to evaluate your offerings. With two months left, this is a great time to decide whether last year’s benefits are still the best fit.
After finalizing your benefits menu is a great time to reach out to your TPA for resources, education, and support. Not sure what you need? It’s probably in our Resource Center! We have flyers, videos, webinars, presentations, and more available any time you want it.
✔ Let’s Talk Benefits
Communication is key. Last month you told your TPA what you need for your employees – now it’s time to distribute! There can be a lot of information swirling around, so using a communication plan can help organize the chaos to help your employees don’t feel empowered by benefits selection.
Topics to consider:
✔ Final Systems Check
With only two weeks until liftoff, it’s time for one last check:
- Are you using a decision support tool? If yes, have you loaded your plan information so it can provide personalized suggestions to your employees? If not, it’s not too late to add it to your Open Enrollment experience!
- Is your HRIS set up?
- Have you communicated your plan changes and Open Enrollment dates to your TPA?
And that’s it! So, are you on track for a great Open Enrollment this year?