The Pitfalls of Manual Open Enrollment

Why do HR pros mired in manual processes dread open enrollment? It’s a time-consuming, inefficient process that can require quite a bit of hand holding. And your employees certainly aren’t celebrating either. Often, they’re left in the dark trying to figure out which plan is the right one for them, and they end up making uneducated or costly elections. Manual enrollment also increases the chances that you’ll receive incomplete data: HR is then forced to spend valuable time hunting down employees to correct forms or provide more detail.

A report titled, “What Your Employees Think About Your Benefits Communication,” conducted by Harris Poll and sponsored by benefits communication IT firm, Jellyvision, supports this contention:

  • Half of employees (49% ) say making health insurance decisions is always “very stressful” for them.
  • 41% feel the open enrollment process at their company is “extremely confusing.”
  • 20% often regret the benefits choices they make.

Like Thanksgiving, open enrollment comes around every year and can cause a lot of unnecessary stress and headaches. But the open enrollment process doesn’t have to be stressful: Having the right technology can save you a great deal of time and trouble.

How can I overcome the challenges of manual open enrollment?

Go paperless

Paper filing and manual data entry are fundamentally at odds with HR adding more value. At many companies, employees still fill out paper forms with their benefit elections and send them to HR to be recorded and stuck in a filing cabinet. That’s a lot of wasted time and paper. You should have the ability to build your plans online. When everything’s in one place, employees can sign in to enroll at home, in the office, or anywhere at all. A benefits enrollment solution that enables your employees to view benefit plan summaries and other documents, receive updates on uncompleted enrollment tasks, and review how their elections will affect their compensation – without having to continuously contact HR – will save time and money.

Eliminate unnecessary data entry

Once employees have made all of their elections on those paper forms, HR has to input all of the updated information into the payroll system, which poses the risk of human error. Manual data entry increases the likelihood of errors and requires additional time spent to enter information multiple times.

Access reporting and analytics

It’s impossible to make smart decisions about benefits without accurate, readily available data. Manual open enrollment will hobble you in this respect. You need the ability to see the progress of the current open enrollment at any point in the process, compare coverage costs from different years, and gauge how employee elections trend from year to year. With the right reports, you can make informed decisions about your benefit coverage and costs.

Enable seamless connectivity to carriers

After all the benefit election information is updated in your system, you still have to notify your carriers. If you have multiple carriers, this process can easily take weeks to complete. If you have the ability to automatically send all enrollments directly to the carriers, instead of having to update benefits in multiple places, you only have to do it once.

The open enrollment process can be challenging, but it can be less so when you use the technology that’s readily available to you. If you’re still stuck with battling manual processes, check out our article on how to make open enrollment more manageable.


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