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Detailing what went right and wrong—before you forget—can make the next go-round easier
HR benefits managers have survived another year's open enrollment season—we hope. It's now time to take a nice long break and put that completed obstacle course behind you, right? Not so fast. Standing back and reviewing what went smoothly and what tripped you up can ensure an easier, more effective process when next fall inevitably rolls around.
Looking Back and Planning Forward
"It shouldn't be 'one and done,' " said Kim Buckey, vice president of client services at Birmingham, Ala.-based DirectPath, an employee engagement, health care transparency and compliance company. "Once enrollment ends, start planning for the next year."
Meredith Ryan-Reid, senior vice president for group, voluntary and worksite benefits at insurer MetLife in New York City, said that she has "a practice of doing a town hall or sending out a survey after open enrollment, asking what was clear, what wasn't clear and what are you still concerned about?"
Employee responses may show that "the parts of the process we spend a lot of time and money on aren't being valued by employees," she said. "Everyone has precious few minutes in the day and precious few dollars to spend, so it helps to focus on what's going to drive the greatest engagement and satisfaction."
"Have a post-mortem at the end of open enrollment," advised Kirk McConnell, San Francisco-based product marketing lead at Collective Health, a health benefits administration firm. "Take note of what worked well regarding timing, messaging, tech systems and the overall process—before you forget what you're now telling yourself you would never do again—because you're going to face many of the same challenges next year," he noted.
Steps to Take Now
Mark Rader, benefits communication expert at Chicago-based Jellyvision, which markets software that helps employees make benefits choices, offered these tips for examining how your open enrollment went and what you'd like to take away from the experience for next year:
[SHRM members-only toolkit:
Managing Organizational Communication]
Record Your Insights
As you identify what went well and what could have been better, "it's only natural that you'll start brainstorming a little for next fall," Rader noted. Assign a scribe to capture these ideas and ask the HR team to decide as a group which are the highest-priority items. "If any involve investing in new tools, see if you can adjust your budget now to make sure the funds you'll need will be there later in the year," he added.
By examining what went well and what didn't, "you can build on this year's successes, find solutions for the hiccups, and tee up for next year," advised Jennifer Benz, founder and CEO at Benz Communications in San Francisco.
Benz has put together a downloadable
open enrollment campaign debrief worksheet to help evaluate and record what went well and what could be improved next year. The worksheet, for instance, can be used to measure the success of communications efforts by recording data such as:
Benz's worksheet asks questions such as "What are you most proud of about your open enrollment campaign?" A sample response: "We are thrilled with the number of employees who attended the enrollment fair."
It's also a place to record changes in benefit plan enrollment numbers, which will be helpful when evaluating future changes in benefit designs and offerings.
After all, next autumn isn't so very far away.
Related SHRM Resources:
Open Enrollment Guide & Resources Page
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