Open enrollment can be the most stressful time of year for HR teams as you reach out to your entire workforce and help get them signed up for the next year of benefits. But there are definitely ways to reduce the stress even if it doesn’t disappear.
One way to successfully administer the open enrollment process for benefits — and make things as seamless and worry-free as possible — is to outsource this function to a company that specializes in the process. Why should you outsource open enrollment? And what questions should you ask to find the right partner? Keep reading for our advice.
Why Outsource Open Enrollment
Outsourcing lets you and your team do more with shrinking budgets and less staff. It can help reduce the complexity, costs and stress associated with implementing open enrollment.
The benefits include:
- Reduced staff workload. Outsourcing can reduce the burden on your staffers and let them focus on areas where they can have the highest impact — for example, communicating with employees about changes. Outsourcing open enrollment means you won't have to bring in seasonal staff to help manage the workload.
- Specialized expertise. With experience working with a wide range of organizations, outsourcing providers can tap specialized expertise to help you navigate the complexities of open enrollment.
- Simplified enrollment process. Many providers unify open enrollment under one platform, regardless of how many different carriers are involved. This can greatly simplify the enrollment process for you and your company’s employees.
- Better employee benefit selections. A partner can help guide employees on the best plans for them, leading to less confusion and better long-term satisfaction with benefits.
- Increased access to technology. Technology solutions are key to helping companies achieve their benefits objectives, and this is particularly true as more companies transfer open enrollment to digital platforms. An open enrollment partner can create a communication strategy that includes texting, email and videos, to help you reach your employees where they are.
- Increased compliance and lower risk and liability. Compliance with benefits regulations is a top challenge when it comes to open enrollment implementation and an area where vendors can provide guidance and expertise.
How to Pick the Right Outsourcing Partner
There’s no shortage of ways to provide support in the open enrollment process. Some vendors specialize in cloud-based solutions. Some streamline specific processes. And others provide a comprehensive solution to open enrollment implementation, from compliance and communication to call center support and auditing who is benefits eligible. Whatever your specific needs, you’ll need to address a few key questions to find the right fit:
- How much experience does the vendor have with companies like yours?
- Do the vendor's offerings fit your employee population's most pressing needs?
- How can the vendor support you on compliance and communication?
- What digital options and innovative technologies does the vendor offer?
- What is the initial investment? What benefits will be realized immediately? What gains will there be in the long run, and do they balance with the initial investment?
- Will the vendor be able to grow with you in future years, flexing the amount of support they provide?
In the end, outsourcing open enrollment for your voluntary benefits, whether in full or in part, can save you and your team time and money. Learn more here about the benefits of outsourcing.
Editor's note: This article was originally published in 2012, and updated substantially in December 2018.