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October 24, 2011

It’s Opening Season!

Filed under: General HR Buzz10:15 am

Where I live, pheasant hunting is a big thing.  Many businesses thrive on the annual treks of the many city dwellers that travel to the country for their weekend experience.  As opening season approaches, we start seeing and hearing more about these destinations, many of which were nonexistent a few years ago.

Our “open season” for benefits enrollment is also about to begin.  Do you have a clear plan on how your employees will “see” or “hear” about your benefits?  Here are a few tips you may want to consider:

1)       Begin communication early.  Even if you don’t have the exact details of your new benefit plan, start communicating the dates of open enrollment.  Many times employees may need to consider their plan and a spouse’s plan, so it is helpful to know so they can plan accordingly.

2)      Keep communication pieces simple and easy to understand.  No one likes to muddle through insurance lingo to try to figure out what is covered or not covered.  Design a benefit summary, listing the basics.  Specific questions can be addressed through detailed insurance information provided by the vendor.

3)      Communicate in a variety of ways.  Some employees need something on paper, others prefer electronic communication, and still others may want to receive something in the mail.  Take a look at your employee population to determine the best ways to get information to them.

4)      Open your enrollment meetings up to spouses.  Sometimes it’s not the employee that makes the decisions regarding benefits, but may be the spouse.  Invite the spouses to your meetings so they can hear firsthand what options are available. Additionally, consider conducting a meeting after work hours so spouses can easily attend.

5)      Stay positive.  In these times of increasing benefit costs, it’s sometimes difficult to stay positive amidst annual increases.  Help employees understand the monetary contribution your company makes to their benefit plans, and educate them on ways they can save money (i.e., reduce emergency room visits, utilize generic prescriptions, contribute to flexible savings accounts, etc.).

6)      Conduct a benefits fair.  This is a great way to get employees involved and understand more about your benefit offerings.  Vendors are usually eager to assist and provide drawings for prizes and it can serve as a kick-off to your open enrollment period, along with promoting wellness initiatives.

Hopefully these tips will provide some ideas to get your “open season” off to a great start as employees make their benefit decisions.



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