Human Resources, Benefits

The Survival Guide to Open Enrollment [Video]

October 11, 2016


Open Enrollment. Sometimes it can make you feel a bit bonkers. But don’t worry. I’ve got some tips to help you survive this busy time of year, engage employees, and stay sane through the process. Watch the video or read the transcript below. 

Paul Ashley:
Welcome to the FirstPerson video blog. I'm Paul Ashley, Managing Director. Today, joined by Ryan Miller, Advisor at FirstPerson. Thanks for coming!

Ryan Miller: Happy to be here.

PA: Today we get to talk about benefit playoffs, a.k.a. Open Enrollment season. So for you, what are some of the top challenges of Open Enrollment?

RM: Without question, one of the biggest issues you have is you only have a finite amount of time to talk to your people, especially about benefits. They've only got so much room in their brain to handle those things over the course of maybe 45 minutes to an hour.

PA: Yeah, it's pretty crazy. So, what we're going to talk about today are also how to deal with those challenges. And the first set is: How do you help these HR leaders and business leaders prepare?

RM: Without question, preparation's the beginning. Embrace technology as much as you can. So, spreadsheet. Use a spreadsheet. You're going to invest some time in it before you get started, but it's going to hold all your people, you're going to know their elections, you're going to be able to answer their questions really, really, really fast.

Number two, pad yourself. Pad the time that you want people to have their elections back to you so you know you have extra room in the event you have to chase people down, because you will. And in those meetings, have key bullet points. Know that these are the one, two, three things that I want my people to leave this meeting remember(ing), even if they remember nothing else.

Developing a Holistic Benefits Strategy

PA: And you mention technology. There's a lot that's going on where enrollment solutions and paperless enrollment solutions are coming down market, and more that was only used to be available a few years ago to a thousand or five hundred plus is now there.

RM: Yes, widely applicable all over the place. Talk to people about what options are out there for you.

PA: Absolutely. So then, during Open Enrollment, you're in the heart of it. You're feeling the pain. Any recommendations of what people can do then?

RM: Number one, never underestimate the allure of free food. If you can bring food, snacks, something to your Open Enrollment meeting, people are going to be there and they’re going to be at least awake while they're chewing. We keep them awake after that with the information we want people to have. 

PA: Bees to honey. You gotta have food there.

RM: That's right. Have it there to be able to make that possible for you. Keep in mind those key points that you want people to remember as they're coming through. But set yourself some office hours, too. Outside of Open Enrollment, you know people are going to be coming in to your room, your desk, that's going to keep you from doing the other things that you know you're going to have to get done over the course of a week while Open Enrollment's in place. It's a respectful way to give people a chance to interrupt you at times and not interrupt you at times, because they know that it's an important time of year for them and for you. You have other things that are going on at the same time.

PA: Last and certainly not least, the one other segment piece here is: How do we stay sane? I mean, it's not an easy time. It's very intense. It's peeking out. So how do we stay sane?

RM: Well, first of all, your employees are going to react the way you react. So, embrace Open Enrollment. Celebrate it as something positive. And then pepper in some things for yourself that are going to make that possible. So if you got a favorite snack, you got a favorite little food that you can keep at your desk, if you're going to be there for long hours throughout the day that you can pull a drawer open, reach into. Anything that's going to boost your mood while you're working. Having a fun playlist is never a bad idea. There's all kinds of systems you can use to do that. It's just going to bring you back into the world as you go through it.

PA: Playlist. So you've got a playlist. There's things that you're proud of talking about on that playlist of music. What's the thing that you love, but you're embarrassed is on the list.

RM: I'm not embarrassed to say it's full of Disney animated classic music. But, the one thing that sneaks its way in there: It's got to be Mr. Mister. It's got to be Kyrie.

PA: Wow. For me it's Toto's Africa. Got to see them live in concert this summer, so I've got the live version playing. So, anyway, that's some good tips there. Well, thanks for joining our video blog here, where we talked about Open Enrollment. We look forward to seeing you on another FirstPerson video blog.