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HR's Ultimate Open Enrollment Survival Kit

Essentials to help HR pros breeze through open enrollment

Nikhil Bendre

by Nikhil Bendre - October 24th, 2022


Any HR manager will agree that open enrollment season is the ultimate test for any organization’s HR department. Making sure open enrollment runs as smoothly as possible is not an easy task and it can be quite taxing for the people responsible. Whether you’re an HR manager who is gearing up for open enrollment and looking for self-care tips or someone outside of HR looking for ways to support your HR department, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s talk about some of the essential strategies and tools for surviving open enrollment.

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Open Enrollment Tips

The goal of open enrollment is to make sure employees pick the best benefits for their needs, but this can be difficult if they don't understand the options available to them. It's important that HR and management take the time to educate team members about the implications of their choices. By starting early and communicating often, you can help ensure a smooth open enrollment process. Here are some top tips from GoCo and business leaders to help the process run as smoothly as possible

Run Careful Analysis to Help Customize Benefits Policy

It is common sense that HR is responsible for reflecting the company's values through the benefits offered. The department manages the benefits according to the company's strategic vision. The goal is to create a good organizational environment and positively impact the employees with a better quality of life at work.

One way to ensure that open enrollment runs smoothly with the least stress is to understand the different profiles of employees and to offer and assist in the choice of more relevant benefits. Through careful analysis, HR must develop customized benefits policies. Everything must be aligned with the individual needs of the employees and the company's conditions and culture. In this sense, it's also important to keep track of what today's market practices and creates regarding benefits once shifting needs are faster and faster.

Ricardo von Groll, Manager, Talentify

Clarify and Personalize Open Enrollment Options

Those managing the open enrollment process are often so close to it that they fail to realize just how confusing it can be for employees who may be new to the organization, unfamiliar with employee benefits, or entering a different life stage. In many cases, the selections made during open enrollment will have a significant impact on your employees' financial health throughout the year, so equip the team with tools and resources that help them make informed decisions based on their unique needs.

Providing clear examples of the various plan options and detailing who would benefit from each one is a smart strategy for translating confusing benefits-speak into terms your employees can understand and appreciate. Go the extra mile by offering live Q&A sessions focused on frequently-asked questions to ensure employees feel confident in their elections and see the value of your total compensation package.

Lori Timm, Community & Financial Wellbeing Manager, Allegacy Federal Credit Union

Keep Your Employees Informed and Educated

More than likely, your employees are curious or even anxious about the upcoming changes to benefits during Open Enrollment. Keep them informed and educated. Build a roadmap with visible milestones and expectations that you maintain and keep updated for employees to view on-demand.

Open Enrollment should be an experience that employees look forward to, a chance to learn how their feedback was used throughout the year to enrich the new benefit plans. Don’t assume that employees remember the process from last year or comprehend the benefit jargon. When it comes to Open Enrollment, you can’t go wrong with oversharing and educating nonconfidential information.

Abigail Caldwell, People Operations & HR Director, vFairs

Help Employees Understand the Implications of Their Choices

Some employees may believe picking a health plan with the lowest premiums and deductible will guarantee the cheapest out-of-pocket cost to them, but don’t consider something like a High Deductible Health Plan with an HSA. An HSA is a tax-advantaged account that enables you to use pre-tax money to cover eligible, out-of-pocket medical expenses. Funds that aren't spent in the calendar year can be rolled over, allowing you to build up your HSA during your working years to provide you with access to tax-free withdrawals to cover health care expenses in retirement. It also can reduce your taxable income in the year you contribute, with limits changing each year.

Providing education and helping employees understand the implications of their choices on their financial future can allow them to be more engaged in your company.

Katie Geery, Financial Advisor, Rise Private Wealth Management

Start Early and Communicate Often

Having a smooth open enrollment period hinges on one phrase; start early and communicate often.  With open enrollment around the corner, it is important to communicate to your employees along the way with small messages of importance so that you don't do one overwhelmingly large data dump on meeting day. Including spouses in meetings and communicating with those decision-makers is also key.

Andrea Healy, First Senior Vice President / Chief Administrative and Human Resource Officer, North Brookfield Savings Bank

Open Enrollment Tools

Open enrollment is a stressful time for everyone in an organization, but especially for the HR department. They have to juggle a million tasks, keep everything organized, and deal with employee stress and emotions. Here are some top suggestions for tools and gifts to help make open enrollment a little bit easier for your HR team.


Studies show that increased stress levels are directly linked to decreased immunity. In today’s times with the ever-present dangers of COVID-19, we need to make sure that if anything, our immunity stays intact and as strong as can be. Emergen-C supplements are a quick and easy way to sneak some vitamin C into your system. The link between vitamin C and boosted physical health is important not only for getting the job done in terms of open enrollment but for dealing with the accompanying stress as well!

Find this product here or at your local grocery/convenience store starting at $4.99!

Stress Ball

Sometimes, stress and tension are best let out in a physical way. It’s important that this expression is constructive. Some great stress relievers include going for a walk or run, going on a bike ride and feeling the wind, or playing your favorite sport. Unfortunately, during open enrollment when HR personnel are glued to their desks, those options aren’t exactly feasible during the work day. Consider using stress balls as a way to exert some tension while on the job!

Find this product here for as low as $0.69 per ball, depending on the size of your order!

Blue-Light Glasses

One thing ensured by open enrollment is a lot - meaning too much - of time facing a screen. We all know the harmful and straining effects this can have on our eyes over time. Pick out some stylish frames and gift your HR department with some blue-light filtering glasses to help minimize eye strain and headaches while they work through the laundry list of tasks brought about by this time of year!

Find this product here and customize your order based on your team’s specific needs! Reach out to them for samples and a quote.

Hand Massager

This one goes hand-in-hand (see what I did there?) with our last suggestion! In addition to strained eyes, increased computer time means increased typing and writing which inherently means sore, aching, and cramping hands. When anything aches, it seems to lead right into increased frustration and irritability, and hand cramps are definitely an inconvenient hurdle when your work objectives revolve around writing and typing. Look into getting hand massagers and keeping them on standby for when the hand aches come creeping in!

Find this product here for $4.88!

A Provided Meal

Words cannot describe how much a nice hot meal can help after a stressful workday, and open enrollment is sure to consist of a ton of those. It’s even better when you don’t have to pay for it! That’s why this suggestion is geared more toward company leadership. Sympathize with what your HR team has to deal with and consider ordering them dinner while they endure the most taxing part of their year. Even providing something like an UberEats voucher would be a huge help, and this choice allows for the freedom of restaurant selection as well!

Guided Meditation Membership

We’ve discussed this option on our website before - check out our article on Tools, Items, and Ideas to Help Employees Cope With Stress! In that blog post, we mention investing in a corporate Headspace subscription, an app that focuses on meditation and mindfulness. With the demands of open enrollment, it’s common for HR managers to feel like they eat, sleep, and breathe benefits. Gift them with this subscription and emphasize the importance of centering themselves amidst the chaos.

Find this service here! Pricing depends on your organization.

Coffee and/or Tea Supply

An astounding number of us depend on our caffeinated beverage of choice to make it through the standard workday. That need is dramatically increased with the pressures of open enrollment! If you’re in HR, have your coffee or tea on deck and ready to go. If not, think about giving the gift of caffeine this enrollment season, sure to help one overworked HR manager at a time!

There are plenty of great coffee subscription services you can choose from.

If you aren’t in HR, remember to be kind and supportive to those who are. If you are in HR and dealing with open enrollment, remember to be kind to yourself! Remember, it will come to an end and work will go back to normal! You are performing a crucial task for your organization to function and you are much appreciated for all of the work and hours you put in. Hopefully, these ideas helped out. Just breathe, you've got this.

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100% digital benefits enrollment? Yes please.