You Can Make a Difference During a Hectic Open Enrollment Period!
‘Tis the season! While certainly a play on words, it seems to be the rally cry around our office right now. Not because we’re getting close to a smattering of holidays, but because we work in the employee benefits business, and it truly ‘Tis the Season’ for all things benefits related.
A large majority of our clients are set on a calendar year, meaning that their plans will renew and start again beginning on January 1. For some, this can mean:
- new plan designs
- new insurance carrier partners
- new benefit offerings
- new employee benefit guides
- new rounds of questions from their employees
To prepare for these questions, many employers are in the throes of either planning or executing on annual enrollment, or as some say, open enrollment.
What Open Enrollment Entails
Backing up a skosh, I should work to bore you into submission with the foundation that must be laid prior to even stepping foot into open enrollment. Open enrollment is the Super Bowl of our year.
It ties together countless hours of work on items ranging from budgeting to benchmarking, equity vs. equality, risk exposure to cost share, wellbeing to network coverage, employee assistance to pet insurance, and everything in between. It is a symphony of caring for people while being stewards of the company’s budget.
It represents a magical two-week confluence of HR and Finance. Driven on the backend by carrier-specific deadlines for ID card creation and payroll deadlines, this is a highly technical and often stressful time of the year.
As part of this seasonal process, people become dauntless taskmasters. We move from strategy to execution and grow to be increasingly focused on deadlines. This work is all for naught if our employees’ experience during this critical time fails.
With employers owning a significant portion of the overall benefits cost share, it represents their single largest investment in people (and often overall) behind payroll. Said differently, employers own much of the bill on this and want their people to see both the value and experience in the coverage.
With that as a backdrop, it is a season where we can lose sight of the work that is actually being done by our clients and teams alike. At the core of this business are people — both those we serve and those we serve alongside. However, as is the practice with most stressful periods, you revert to the task at hand and focus more on completing the list rather than the body of work that the list represents.
Building an Employee Experience During Open Enrollment
Because of that, I wanted to share a great example of how it’s possible to build an employee experience during open enrollment.
Holmes Murphy has had a longstanding partnership with Turner Construction and is lucky to consider them both clients as well as friends. A team of true professionals, the work they do to build some of the most incredible buildings across the globe is only second to the work they do to build their people. An incredibly benevolent employer, no stone goes unturned when it comes to the benefits they offer their employees.
Mired in this pity party that is a hectic open enrollment period, my business partner (and friend), Annemarie Lowe, Director of Benefits at Turner Construction, sent me an article she recently had published in Manage HR magazine. Annemarie and her team at Turner are responsible for the overall Turner employee experience, focused heavily on benefits. This particular article that she published focuses on the evolution of Turner’s wellness program into a full blown wellbeing experience, “Healthy Me, Healthy Mind.”
Focused on many facets of the employee experience, Turner has migrated their lens to physical, emotional, social, financial, and work wellbeing. While the article merits a read, what Annemarie did for me and our team by putting her work and thoughts onto paper was substantial. She reminded us in a season fogged with deadlines, that the work we collectively do matters. We are touching people’s lives, we are partnering to expand both resources and avenues for access, and, to steal a term from Turner, we are doing it from a place of Active Caring.
We are privileged to think alongside the team at Turner and flattered to be a part of a bigger purpose. Turner has evolved their program to match the modern employee, and along the way, they recognized that this work is about the employee and that, as Annemarie puts it directly in her article title, “Employee’s Health Matters.”
It is a great article, but moreover a great reminder that the cumulative work in employee benefits truly makes a difference in employees’ lives. Turner team, thank you for the partnership and thank you for the purpose in our work.
Now, it really ‘Tis the Season, and I’ve got a rate table to calculate. Oh, but in the meantime, if you need help along the way as you’re working through open enrollment, remember, we can help you out. Just touch base with us!
Published on: 10.31.22