How to Prepare for Open Enrollment

Whether your open enrollment period is around the corner or further down the road, there are a few things you must do in order to prepare for it in order to have a smooth process. As you may already know, open enrollment can be a very stressful and hectic time of the year, not only for HR professionals but also for employees. It is during this time when employees get handed paperwork that must be filled out before a certain date and let’s be honest, not every employee will do this. So, is there an easier way to prepare yourself and your employees for open enrollment? The answer is yes.


There are a few things that an HR professional should know about open enrollment. First of all, open enrollment is a period of time each year when employees can sign up for their benefits such as health insurance, dental, vision, and sometimes even pet insurance. If an employee does not sign up for their benefits during the designated open enrollment period, chances are that they won’t be able to do so until the next year, unless they experience a qualifying life event. These events can be marriage, having a baby, adopting a child, death in the family, changes in residence, becoming a U.S. citizen, and so on.

It is good to know that open enrollment is not required to be a certain length of time, but most employers have an open enrollment period ranging from two to four weeks.

If you are not already familiar with health benefit terms, you can download this PDF provided by SHRM.


Let’s face it, nobody likes having a stack of papers on their desks to fill out, just like you probably don’t want to deal with the hassle of inputting that data into your computer and having to file all that paperwork. Using a benefits administration software allows for HR professionals to ditch the paperwork and also gives employees the ability to access their information and documents directly, without having to go through their HR department. A benefits administration software allows you to store all your employee’s data in one place and gives employees the power to take charge of their benefits planning process. What’s more, a benefits administration software presents employees with benefit selections through an easy workflow which walks them through their options step-by-step, and even provides additional information when it’s needed.


Did everything run smoothly? Did any employees miss the deadline? Were your employees satisfied with the benefits you offered? How did your vendors perform under stress? This year, you should make it a priority to get ahead of these challenges. Communicate with your vendors and work closely with them before open enrollment starts. Ask them if they are making any changes to their offerings, ask them to send brochures you can hand out to your employees, and determine the communication channels and customer support they will have before, during, and after open enrollment. Your employees might have questions that you may not necessarily know the answer to, so being able to communicate with your vendors and get answers in a timely manner will be very helpful during open enrollment.


Before open enrollment begins, ask your employees what they want from it. Make sure that they all are aware of the deadline and that they understand that they must select their benefits before then. Ask them what communication channel they prefer; it may be different than what you think. At Dominion, we use Google+ to communicate any upcoming company events, releases, or other company announcements. Most prefer this method rather than sending a mass email to avoid getting bombarded with email replies. On the other hand, some people don’t like this method because they are not always on Google+ and they miss out on certain important notifications. Be sure that the communication channel you chose to use to communicate with your employees about open enrollment is accessible by all of your employees and that they can get any information they might need at any time.


The first step you need to do is to add in all your carrier information and set up your health plans. Of course, with this, you’ll need to do a number of things, including adding in time parameters for your employees. You can add as many benefits, carriers, and plans as you need. If you want to offer additional notes to your employees about certain plans, you can attach plan documents where needed. Once all the information is in there you can pass the torch to your employees and let them do the rest. If your employees can access their employee self-service (ESS) portal, they can access their benefit options there as well. Once logged in they can browse and compare plans and make their selections accordingly. Seriously, it’s that easy.

Interested in learning more about a benefits administration software that can simplify your open enrollment? Request a free and personalized demo below.