February 6, 2019
Open Enrollment Has Come and Gone. Now What?
Greg Autuori Vice President, Strategy & Benefit Operations at Bennie

You made it! Open enrollment has come and gone, and as an HR leader you now have a little time to breathe.

You made it! Open enrollment has come and gone, and as an HR leader you now have a little time to breathe. Aside from having to chase down a few ID cards, and learning which employees actually paid attention during last fall’s open enrollment meetings, things seem to be (relatively) quiet yet again.

It may seem like the perfect time to direct your attention elsewhere, but there are a few things to take care of now before too much time passes:

  • Reset your baseline. Last year it’s likely that you and your finance team got into a rhythm and were aligned on your overall benefits spend. Open enrollment’s decisions brought with them a series of changes that impacted the company’s bottom line. It is important to take some time now to review the new total premium, employee contributions, and net cost to the company. Your colleagues on the finance team typically don’t like surprises, so help them understand your new baseline and help ensure that you remain a trusted internal partner.

  • Compare expected vs. actual. Your strategic decisions last year relied on a series of assumptions. For example, you may have implemented an HSA plan and given employees $500 per year into the HSA expecting a 20% enrollment shift into that plan. If that assumption didn’t pan out and employees are still in the most expensive plan, the company may be paying far more than it expected to. What now? It is critical to identify this as early as possible and figure out a game plan if needed.

  • Reassess your administrative processes. Did you implement a system or new process designed to improve efficiency? How did that pan out? Did you feel supported by the vendor, by your internal partners, and your adviser? Did it achieve what it was intended to, or was there a surprise that has actually created MORE work for you? Just as you’re comparing actual vs. expected from a cost perspective, it is important to objectively review your administrative, system, and process decisions and see if adjustments are needed to achieve the ROI you want.

  • Reassess your company’s compliance needs. Let’s be honest. This is the worst part of offering a benefits program, but it also needs to be right, all the time. There are plan documents, employee notices, and filings required by ERISA; notices and administration required by COBRA; and recordkeeping and filings required by the ACA. And on top of that, there are the state-specific leave management laws, which seem to change now every day. This is the perfect time to take stock of your compliance needs, because they can quickly provide clarity about how to shape your priorities this year.

  • Start thinking about next year’s renewal. Often the conclusion of open enrollment is the signal for most HR professionals to put benefits out of sight & out of mind for the next few months. This is understandable given all the demands on the average HR leader - managing annual comp cycles, developing/reviewing policies, updating handbooks, advocating for more headcount, sourcing training/development resources for your employees - the list is endless. However these next six months will be gone before you know it, and you may soon find yourself managing last-minute through another renewal wishing that you had explored a few other strategic ideas earlier in the year. Imagine where you want to be at this time next year, and work with your adviser to build the roadmap to get there.

If you would like to speak about any of the above, or learn about how Bennie helps mid-sized companies manage a long-term benefits strategy, contact us at hello@bennie.com.

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