The open enrollment period allows employees to sign up for benefits without experiencing a qualifying life change event. This can be exciting for them, but hectic for the human resources (HR) department. The time and effort required from your HR team increases substantially if you have many employees and multiple benefits programs. A company with 500 employees and 10 different benefits plans could generate thousands of paper documents.
Online benefits enrollment eliminates cumbersome paperwork and streamlines the process for your employees and the HR department. This guide will explain this option, detail its benefits, and give you some tips for getting started.
Online Benefits Enrollment, Explained
Online benefits enrollment provides your employees with an online portal to review and compare plan details and elect the benefits that are right for them. They can take their time to review plan details and rates and watch videos about different benefits plans. This can be performed from work or the kitchen table or the soccer field.
The digital sign-up process saves your HR team a lot of time and effort because they don’t have to wade through paper forms and manually enter benefit elections. It eliminates issues with illegible handwriting, data entry errors, and other common problems associated with paper-based benefit enrollment.
Advantages of Online Benefits Enrollment
Americans spend an average of 5.4 hours per day on their smartphones -- it only makes sense to allow them to administer their employee benefits on their phones. A digital benefit election process makes open enrollment convenient for employees as well as the HR department. Specifically, advantages include:
Your employees can select their elections on their own, saving your HR team the tedious and error-prone task of manually entering employee plan data into your benefit administration tool or carrier’s site. Fully integrated payroll and benefit administration software eliminates dual entry of master file data and the need to upload or rekey benefit deductions back into payroll. An added benefit is improved data integrity and reporting.
Distributing benefits paperwork to employees costs money and takes time. Having them access the info they need digitally saves costs on printing and eliminates the time required to disseminate information. This benefit can be further realized when combined with electronic policy acknowledgement which eliminates the need to print and distribute employee hand books and updated company policies.
Easy Access to Information for Employees
Online programs send your employees email updates when they sign up for new benefits. They also give employees access to a portal where they can easily view and update their plans, ultimately reducing the number of requests for information to the HR department. Most programs include digital plan cards so your employees are never caught without their cards or denied care.
Benefits Election on the Go
Many benefits providers such as ADP offer a mobile app where employees can quickly sign up for plans on their phones. These apps don’t just help during the open enrollment period; they also simplify the process when employees need to add benefits due to a qualifying life change.
These advantages are just the beginning, as these tools also simplify the enrollment management process. The HR team can easily see who has signed up and who needs a reminder to complete required tasks, and they can generate reports on the costs of employee benefits.
How to Set Up Online Benefits Enrollment
Online benefit election software has many advantages, but it’s crucial that it be configured correctly. These implementation tips will help you get the program up and running with maximum effectiveness:
Introduce the Software
Be proactive about letting your employees know that you’re switching to an online benefit enrollment process. Take the time to show them the software, and if there is a mobile app, persuade them to download it before open enrollment starts.
Get Management On Board
Make sure you have buy-in from your management team to improve app adoption among your employees. Work with management to ensure you’re presenting a unified front about this change in your benefits approach. You may even need to provide an incentive for employees to download and enroll in benefits online. Drawings for prizes and give-aways have proven successful for many companies looking to introduce and promote online adoption.
Help Employees With Questions
Your employees will have many questions, especially during the first year you use an online benefit enrollment tool. Ensure you have broker support, dedicated staff members, or other one-on-one resources available to field their questions and concerns.
The first online enrollment is the most challenging. Most employees and HR teams will learn how to navigate online benefits quickly and will be ready for future enrollment seasons. Each successive online enrollment will become easier and the return on your effort will increase.
4 Mistakes to Avoid With Open Enrollment
Your online benefit election tools should enhance the sign-up process. Good communication is essential throughout, because it can be a serious problem if someone misses their chance to sign up.Here’s a few things to consider to ensure your fist online open enrollment goes smoothly.
Benefit plans can be complex, so the software must make them as simple and understandable as possible. Choose an open enrollment platform with a user-friendly interface and be proactive about teaching employees how to use it.
Uninformed Benefits Decisions
Make sure to provide ample plan descriptions so workers can make side-by-side comparisons of their options and make the best choice for themselves and their family.
Lack of Guidance
Software is invaluable, but sometimes people have questions. Offer personalized guidance to employees as needed to ensure they fully understand plan nuances and choose the plan that best fits their needs.
Inability to Sync
Many stand-alone or free benefits election tools that brokers offer require you to manually enter employee information into them and then manually import deduction details back into your payroll software. Integrated payroll and benefit administration software is best, but if that is not possible, select a tool that has bi-directional integration with your payroll platform.
Mistakes during open enrollment can negatively impact participation and employee satisfaction, plus create extra work for your HR department. Consult an expert if you are unsure how to best configure your plan and roll out online open enrollment.
Contact an HR Expert to Help You
Ignite HCM can help with online benefits enrollment, as well as the rest of your HR information system and payroll support needs. We have a staff of veteran ADP professionals who can educate, train and support your staff to manage your human capital with the utmost effectiveness.
Contact Ignite HCM today for help building out benefit plans in your system or to help streamline and improve your benefit administration processes. Our pros will make sure your next open enrollment goes off without a hitch.