Open Enrollment is the Black Friday of the insurance world. It can be overwhelming chaos, crazy work hours, hectic paperwork, and the phone ringing off the hook for weeks.

According to new CareerBuilder research, 12 percent of employees are not aware of all of the benefits their company has to offer, 23 percent say they don’t fully understand their benefits and almost 1 in 10 employees say they’ve completely missed benefits open enrollment at their company.

There are several things you can do to prepare for your company’s annual open enrollment period to make the process simple and painless for both you, your HR team, and your employees.

Start with last year:

How did things go last time? Were there major problems, headaches, or issues? Start with these and decide what could be improved.

Plan ahead:

Approximately four to five months before your open enrollment period, start by gathering your materials, scheduling important meetings, webinars, meetings, etc., and get things organized. This will go a long way to making the process less stressful for the HR team and the employees.


Employees want to know two things, 1) What’s my coverage? 2) How much will it cost? There is no such thing as too much communication, so use multiple channels to get the information to every employee. Communicate their options in a way that is clear and easy to understand. Start communicating with employees about 3-4 weeks before open enrollment begins, so they have plenty of time to understand their options without feeling rushed.

Use Technology:

There are several ways to use technology that makes open enrollment easier. Offer webinars, live conference calls, or even entertaining YouTube videos to clearly explain all the details of your benefits program. There are also online tools that allow your employees to enroll on their own and fill out the necessary forms online making it easier for your HR team to manage.

Segment Your Staff:

Identify the needs of your staff, and offer separate information based on what each group needs. For example, one meeting for baby boomers and a webinar for single employees makes it easier for that group to see exactly the benefits that they are interested in. This is easier to get small groups of employees who may have similar questions or concerns.

Set Office Hours:

Regardless of how many emails, flyers, or group meetings you have, there will still be employees with individual questions and may want to discuss their needs in a private setting. Offer open office hours for employees to walk in and receive one-on-one help.

As soon as open enrollment is over, start again preparing for next year. Begin by evaluating how things went, send a survey to employees asking for their input, and discuss ideas for improving the process even more for next year. Take careful notes and put them in a place you’ll be able to refer to in a few months when you start preparing for next year’s open enrollment all over again.

Open Enrollment is the Black Friday of the insurance world. It can be overwhelming chaos, crazy work hours, hectic paperwork, and the phone ringing