Optimize Benefits Enrollment: HR Best Practices for the ‘So-Called’ Off-Season

Optimize Benefits Enrollment: HR Best Practices for the 'So-Called' Off-Season bswift ​​benefits enrollment best practices for benefits utilization data, the employee benefits portfolio, and employee benefits communications

Review and reflection are fundamental​​ benefits enrollment best practices​ for a successful open enrollment process. As HR pros, we’re always looking for ways to optimize the employee experience. We can draw on benefits utilization data to enhance our employee benefits portfolio, leverage employee benefits communications, and much more.

While the busy nature of the open enrollment season is still months away, the “downtime” of the “off-season” (yeah, we know there are still a lot of plates to keep spinning) is an excellent opportunity to get ahead of the curve and implement employee benefits strategy best practices. 

1. Lay the Groundwork for Top-Notch Employee Benefits Communications  

This might sound obvious, but employees get the most value from the benefits they use. And the flipside of that is people won’t use benefits they don’t understand. That’s why it’s important to implement an employee benefits communication strategy that runs between enrollments and focuses on benefits education for employees.  

Employee benefits communications not only educate employees on their current benefits but also help you continue to refine your benefits package.  

Try these employee benefits communications best practices: 

  • Build an editorial calendar mapping out the benefits education topics, content owners, and distribution dates for multi-channel communications over the spring and summer. 
  • Survey your employees about their benefits knowledge and needs. Make sure to capture preferred communication channels, and top questions and concerns from previous enrollment periods.  
  • Determine what internal resources you can commit and your outsourcing needs. Identify any third-party educational tools and benefits communications services, like the omnipresent AI assistant Emma™ from bswift®, that can fill those needs. 

2. Analyze Benefits Utilization Data and Enhance Your Employee Benefits Portfolio 

The off-season is the perfect time to give your employee benefits portfolio a thorough check-up. Focus on the fundamentals that help improve employee engagement in the benefits selection process, and boost employee satisfaction, retention, and recruitment 

Take advantage of this slower period between open enrollments to: 

  • Review last year’s enrollment and utilization data, claims trends, and employee survey feedback. A benefits administration partner with robust reporting and analytics tools can help you make data-driven decisions about your benefits strategy, and about potential plan design changes. 
  • Dig deep into your benefits utilization data and go beyond just filling benefits gaps – map benefits offerings to your talent management strategies. Identify which benefits could be a competitive advantage in attracting early-career talent versus retaining executives. Align popular benefits with your employee value proposition for different workforce segments. 
  • Do more than benchmark your total compensation package against the employers of choice in your industry. Include disruptive players outside your industry that are competing for the same or similar talent. Aim for an employee benefits portfolio that wows top talent across both.   

3. Prepare, Test, and Refine Your Supporting Resources for Open Enrollment 

Now is a great time to test, refine, and prepare the tools and resources you’ll deploy to educate employees about benefits options and facilitate informed decision-making. That way you’ll be bolstered with polished materials ready, instead of overwhelmed by a last-minute scramble, ultimately helping to streamline the annual enrollment process.  

Here’s what you can do to improve open enrollment:  

  • Deploy an AI-driven virtual assistant like the integrated AI benefits guide Emma to provide personalized guidance and support. Emma streamlines benefit enrollment and ensures employees make informed choices. It also leverages AI-powered analytics and automation to free up HR teams for strategic priorities. 
  • Ensure online enrollment systems and documentation are clear, up-to-date, and easy for both you and employees to use. Drafting FAQs, benefits education articles, videos, and other resource can help employees understand their benefits options and make informed decisions. And that ultimately reduces enrollment stress for employees. Seems like a lot of work? Lean on bswift’s experts in employee benefits communications. 
  • Consider creating a public benefits website. This way, employees, their spouses, and even candidates can access all the information they need about your benefits packages. 

Benefits Enrollment Best Practices Keep You Ahead of the Curve 

A prepared HR team can handle almost any scenario that comes up during enrollment.  

Proactively using the “off” months sets you up for success instead of stress. By starting now – laying the groundwork for smart employee communications campaigns, analyzing data to enhance your offerings, and preparing supporting resources – you can ensure your next enrollment is a success for both your HR team and your employees.  

At bswift, we can help your team successfully navigate any operations or enrollment issues that may come up, while empowering your employees through an intuitive platform, smart communications, and caring support. 

Lean on bswift to Streamline Open Enrollment 

Let’s talk about how we can make your next annual enrollment your most successful yet. 


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