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Open Enrollment Tips for Employers

Thriving Open Enrollment: Practical Advice for Employers

As an employer, open enrollment is a critical time for ensuring that your employees have access to the benefits they need to thrive. It’s an opportunity to review your current benefit offerings, make any changes, and support your employees in making informed decisions about their coverage.

With that being said, the idea of preparing for open enrollment may seem daunting, but there’s a couple of things you can do to help ease your worries before your employees start making elections.

  1. Plan Ahead

Set Clear Objectives
Before open enrollment begins, establish clear objectives for what you want to achieve. Determine the key messages you need to communicate, the resources required, and the timeline for each step of the process.

Analyze your Company’s Benefit Package
Everyone’s lives are changing on a daily basis and the benefits for the current year may no longer meet the needs of your workforce. Take some time to analyze your current healthcare plans and wellness programs with your employee benefits consultant. You may find that certain benefits are no longer meeting the needs of your workforce or find that you want to include new benefits for the upcoming year.

Finalize your Company’s Benefit Package and Rates with your Broker
Realistically your benefits broker should be reaching out 90-120 days in advance of your renewal date to see if there are any major changes you want to make with your company’s benefits. Around 60 days in advance your broker should be reaching out to schedule a meeting about the renewal rates given by the carriers. Finally, it’s important to lock in your Open Enrollment dates roughly 30-45 days before the renewal date. The sooner you and your broker communicate about open enrollment, the sooner you can start to communicate with employees.

  1. Communicate Early and Often

Create a Communication Plan
Clear communication is key to a successful open enrollment. Develop a comprehensive communication plan that includes emails, newsletters, webinars, and in-person meetings. Start communicating at least a month before open enrollment begins to give employees ample time to understand their options.

Use Multiple Channels
Utilize various communication channels to reach all employees. Include digital platforms like emails and intranet posts, as well as physical materials like posters and brochures in common areas.

Simplify the Information
Benefits information can be complex. Break it down into simple, digestible pieces. Use FAQs, infographics, and comparison charts to help employees understand their options.

  1. Educate Your Employees

Educate Employees Early On
Your employees may find open enrollment overwhelming or confusing, but providing educational resources to help them understand their options and navigate the enrollment process will help ease their stress. Offer informational sessions or workshops to explain the different benefits the company offers and to answer any questions the employees may have. This may also encourage employees to complete their open enrollment elections sooner rather than later.

Host Informational Sessions
Organize informational sessions and webinars where employees can ask questions and get clear answers. Consider inviting benefits providers to explain the details of different plans.

Provide Resources
Offer resources such as guides, handbooks, and videos that employees can refer to at their own pace. Make these resources easily accessible on your company’s intranet.

Encourage One-on-One Meetings
Encourage employees to schedule one-on-one meetings with HR or benefits specialists to discuss their specific needs and get personalized advice.

  1. Leverage Technology

Utilize Benefits Administration Software
Invest in a robust benefits administration software that simplifies the enrollment process. A good system can manage employee data, facilitate communication, have carrier data feeds, and streamline decision-making. Your employee benefits broker may be able to give you access to a system. We utilize a tool called Employee Navigator which our employee benefits clients love.

Offer Virtual Enrollment Tools
Provide virtual tools that allow employees to review their options and make changes online. These tools should be user-friendly and accessible from any device. For example, we've been utilizing QR codes so employees can view open enrollment guides and videos on their mobile devices.

  1. Highlight Key Changes and Deadlines

Explain Changes and Updates
Even if there are not many changes to the benefits, it’s still important to provide detailed information about any changes in premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and new offerings. Not all employees will have to make changes during open enrollment, but being transparent about changes will helps them understand their options during open enrollment. Focus on what's new and clearly highlight any changes or new offerings in your benefits plans. Explain how these changes will affect employees and why they were made.

Emphasize Deadlines
Make sure employees are aware of all important deadlines. Send reminders as the final date approaches to ensure that no one misses the opportunity to enroll or make changes.

  1. Follow up and Evaluate

Review Elections
After the open enrollment window closes, look over all elections that have been submitted and reach out to employees if any questions or concerns arise. 

Encourage Employee Feedback
After the open enrollment period, seek feedback from employees about the process. Use post-enrollment surveys to gather insights on what worked well and what could be improved.

Use Feedback for Future Improvement
Analyze the feedback to identify areas for improvement. Implement changes to make the process more efficient and employee-friendly in the future.


In conclusion, open enrollment can be challenging to prepare for, but approaching this time with clarity and a strong understanding of what needs to happen before your employees start making their elections will help ensure the process runs smoothly. Reviewing your current benefits package, communicating with your broker and employees, educating your employees, and evaluating the open enrollment experience are just some of the items you can do to create a successful open enrollment. By following these tips, employers and HR managers can ensure that employees are well-informed, supported, and ready to make the best decisions for their health and well-being.

Remember, the goal is to make open enrollment a positive experience that underscores the value of the benefits you provide. With the right approach, you can foster a culture of benefits awareness and appreciation within your organization.

Kayleigh Entringer, Client Benefits Manager at Connor & Gallagher OneSource (CGO)
Contact us at info@GoCGO.com 

Connor & Gallagher OneSource is an insurance broker located in Lisle, Illinois, and was founded in 1997. We have consultants and service teams specializing in each of the areas of business insurance broker, benefits broker, HR and Payroll services, and company retirement plan services

We also have home and auto insurance services and financial planning services.

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This blog is for educational and/or informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, financial, or legal advice. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Connor & Gallagher OneSource. Any sources cited were accurate to the best of our knowledge as of the publish date.

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