Your 3 Step Plan to Surviving Enrollment Season

Human resources planning can be daunting, whether you’re new to HR or a seasoned pro. Your responsibilities include auditing your resources, your workforce, and your budget. And with enrollment season just around the corner, you need a solid plan that will work for your company, regardless of the size of your team (or lack thereof). No need to stress, we’ve got you covered with a 3-step strategy to help tackle your benefits enrollment this season.

Step 1: Review your current plans

As the person responsible for managing your employee and company needs, consider how your current plans affect both parties. This includes thinking about previous coverage issues as well as the constraints of your current budget. You could be saving yourself hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a month by adjusting the plans you currently offer to your employees.

To see if you’re eligible for these savings, you’ll need to start by gathering a few key data points:

  1. How many people in your company are eligible for your group health insurance plan?  To figure this out, start by counting how many employees are currently covered.
  2. What is their average age?
  3. How much is each employee’s deductible?  

Once you have this information, you can use an online health plan checker to determine whether your current health care plans are a good match for your business and your employees. Understanding the differences between level-funded and captive insurance plans, as well as cookie cutter, PEO, and self-funded plans will help guide you towards the right choice. You’ll definitely want to work with a trusted partner to help clarify any questions you might have because, let’s face it, benefits are tricky, even for a seasoned HR professional.

Once you’ve identified which plan or plans will work for your company, you’ll need to make a few more decisions around how you’ll implement your benefits and empower your employees to make the right decisions for their families.

Step 2: Paper or Digital?

Most of us have a benefits enrollment and management process in place that “works.” But does your current workflow increase your efficiency as an HR practitioner? Is it easy to use, even by the less tech-savvy members of your team? Unless you’re ok being buried under filing cabinets, an electronic record-keeping system is one of the best ways to save hours of time. If your company has multiple offices, you’ll definitely want to port over your paper files to a system that will allow you to easily share and collect information from anywhere, at any time.

You don’t have to part with all your paper, but moving more of your workflows into an online system will allow you to clear mundane and repetitive tasks off your plate, and also help decrease costly mistakes or oversights that are crucial to your function’s success.

Step 3: Educate Your Employees

Let’s be honest: most employees don’t spend nearly as much time as we do outlining and understanding the details of their benefits. So it’s our responsibility to clearly and concisely communicate what they’re getting and how various plans affect them. You can start by explaining the key differences between HMOs and PPOs, as well as the significance of a high deductible and the value of an HSA.

Generally speaking:

  • An HMO is a great option for someone who doesn’t want to pay a lot and is ok with a limited choice of physicians.
  • Meanwhile, PPOs offer wider access to out of network specialists and don’t require employees to choose a primary provider but are typically more expensive.
  • A Health Savings Account (HSA) offers employees an opportunity to set aside tax-free savings to cover additional expenses they’re likely to incur, such as deductibles and coinsurance.
  • Every employee health plan will have a deductible that they’ll have to pay before the plan starts covering medical bills. You’ll want to explain that the deductible is an important factor in deciding which plan is right for them.

There are other health care options, too; here’s a straightforward overview of the pros and cons of each that you may just want to share with your employees, or upload to your company’s internal knowledge base.

Lastly, educating employees about their benefits further highlights why your company offers them in the first place: to improve retention. So remember that in addition to explaining the nuts and bolts, you’ll want to remind employees that the benefits you offer are intended to enhance their overall well-being both in and outside of work.

Health care planning doesn’t have to be a headache, as long as you have the right resources, tools, and advisors in your court.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of The HR Gazette or its team members.

Author: Julien Emery

Julien Emery is the CEO and co-founder of Allay, an all-in-one solution for benefits, HR management, on- and off-boarding, compliance and reporting. Prior to Allay, Emery co-founded Statis Health a disease management platform that enables care teams to monitor and assist patients remotely. He was the first sales person at HootSuite where he helped scale the company to what is now “a tech Unicorn”, and has also held business development and strategy roles with Invoke Media and Reelhouse. Emery graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in Kinesiology. He is passionate about creating and growing businesses, always learning, and helping to develop people.

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