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HR Newsletter

Fall 2022 Edition

Posted on September 28, 2022 | Employee Benefits

7 Easy Ways to Improve Open Enrollment

For many employers, the annual open enrollment period occurs in the fall or early winter. During open enrollment, employees have an opportunity to choose or change their benefits (such as health, life, vision and dental insurance). Given the complexity of many benefits programs, employers and employees often have questions during open enrollment. To help make the process as smooth as possible, here are some tips to consider.

#1: Communicate early

Notify employees early that open enrollment is coming. Summarize benefits choices and any changes from the previous year so employees can start to think about their options. Send these communications several weeks prior to when open enrollment begins.

#2: Communicate often

Communicate open enrollment information through multiple mediums, such as a traditional benefits guide (see below), memos, email, and recorded information sessions or webinars that employees can easily share with family members.

#3: Encourage active selections

Instead of just rolling over the previous year's benefits selections, some employers require employees to actively choose their benefits during open enrollment each year, or they won't receive benefits in the following year. Even if you don't follow this practice, encourage employees to take an active approach, consider past usage and select the option that best fits their current needs. Remind employees that their benefits elections (or lack thereof) will generally remain in place for an entire year. This means that if their choice is too expensive for their budget or doesn't meet their needs, they will generally have to wait until the next open enrollment period to make changes. Open enrollment is also a good time to remind employees to make sure their beneficiaries and contact information are up to date.

#4: Provide a benefits guide

Choosing benefits isn't always easy for employees. If your company has a benefits broker, consider asking them to create a benefits guide or list of frequently asked questions, to help distill the various options. Organize information so employees can easily find what's relevant to them, such as a section on single coverage and a section on family coverage. It also helps to include a cost comparison chart. This chart can be used to allow employees to see how the cost of the new benefits compares to what they are currently paying. It can also include a cost comparison of their benefits choices, should they have options to choose from. The content should be simple and not overly technical. Additionally, it should include a point of contact and links to more in-depth information.

#5: Refer to SPD and SBC

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires health plans to provide a Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) and make available upon request a uniform glossary of terms commonly used in health insurance during open enrollment. The SBC must be provided no later than the first day of open enrollment and included in any written enrollment materials. For self-insured and level-funded plans, the employer is responsible for preparing the SBC. Employers with fully-insured plans should coordinate with their insurance company to ensure that the SBC is provided. Instruct employees to review the SBC for questions about deductibles, out-of-pocket expenses, and the costs and limitations associated with various types of medical events. Employers with health benefit and/or retirement plans must provide a summary plan description (SPD) to individuals when they become a participant in the plan or a beneficiary under such a plan. New employees must receive a copy of the SPD within 90 days after becoming covered by the plan.

#6: Highlight the value

Explain how the benefits you provide contribute to an employees' total compensation (their base pay plus the value of company provided benefits). Additionally, let employees know how they can reduce their own benefits costs. For example, tell employees about any premium reductions or other incentives you offer for participating in a wellness program.

#7: Consider additional resources

Provide employees with multiple resources to help ease the anxiety of making benefits elections. If you don't have a dedicated person in the office who can answer questions, consider having your broker available to answer employees' questions. Also, refer employees to the insurer's website for more information.


Employee benefits are a great way to attract, retain and motivate employees. Prepare for open enrollment season in advance to help guide employees, encourage active selection decisions, and get the most out of your benefit package.

To learn even more on open enrollment, listen to our HR{preneur}® podcast on this topic.


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