July 8, 2020 Open Enrollment, Payroll & Tax Support

Achieving a Smooth Open Enrollment For Your Business

“Begin with the end in mind,” suggests Wise Consultant Janice Burnett, CPP, PHR. “When is your vendor expecting to get an open enrollment file from you? What is the drop-dead date? Take that date and work back from there.” Janice estimates that 10-14 weeks before your vendor expects your file is when you should begin your open enrollment preparations. “If you have changed vendors, you’ll have to create new plans and plan for new file feeds to be built. Factor in 3 to 4 additional weeks for testing. In the 10-14 weeks, the focus will be on educating your employee population, putting together communication documents, and having open enrollment meetings while configuring your system.”

Preparing for Open Enrollment

With seven years of practitioner experience in addition to 15 in the HR and payroll industry and the experience of guiding dozens of clients through open enrollment as a consultant, Janice knows the score. “If there is anything in your configuration that isn’t working, it’s going to show itself at open enrollment time. Especially with clients who are fresh out of implementation. Going into open enrollment, there may be configuration required to correct or address issues missed during implementation. It can be painful sometimes, but once you get it right, you are set for the new plan year and moving forward. Working with clients to make their system compliant along with sharing and advising on best practice is an added benefit of a Wise Partnership and something we take seriously.”

Open Enrollment User Experience

Janice outlines that once you have obtained executive approval for your plan, configuration can be tweaked to match up with plan documents while solid communication with your vendor and employees can pave the way for a smooth self-service process. “It’s not just the compliance side of the house, it’s the user experience as well. You want to make sure it’s not a cumbersome process and that you clearly communicate. It’s not just having the open enrollment meetings, but also making sure the system itself is intuitive, that as the employee goes through it on Sunday night at 11:00 with their spouse, they can clearly navigate without having to call you or run into issues.”

Open Enrollment Accuracy & Time Management

It’s a full-cycle process, which means that looking downstream is as important as solid preparation. “You want benefits to work but you also have to think about the impact on payroll and the vendors themselves. When all is said and done and employees have made their elections, it’s all for naught if the first paycheck in January is not correct,” says Janice.

Managing your time can be the most challenging aspect of open enrollment. Janice knows the stress of how full your plate can get. “You have to factor in having open enrollment meetings, doing configuration, testing, and juggle it all while your regular day job doesn’t stop. With us, you have a partner. You can have us do the heavy lifting with configuration and testing while you focus on your every-day tasks.”

Wise Knows Open Enrollment

Janice’s colleague, Amanda Babbidge, GBA, also a consultant with Wise, agrees. “Maybe your carrier took extra time getting back to you with new rates, requirements, specifications and eligibility. We can come in and quickly get it done so you can focus on the employee experience while we help you with the technical and functional side.”

Amanda has over 25 years of experience in the benefits world. “Generally, we like to start by sitting down with a client and taking a look at last year’s open enrollment. How did that go? What kind of issues did you have? What kind of feedback did you get from your employees? Which questions came up over and over throughout your open enrollment season? All that gives us an idea of what kind of changes need to happen in the system that are not based on plans or rates but more on the employee experience.”

The relationships she builds with clients is a priority to Amanda. “Once we get the vendor information and decisions from [the client’s] executive team, we have more hands-on, detailed conversations. Some clients want to really get in there and do the work with us so they can learn. It’s important for clients to understand the background of the configuration so they know if there are changes that need to be made and what the impact of those changes will be. We try and educate no matter how involved the client is in the process.”

Learn More Payroll and HCM Information from Wise Consulting

Janice loves how our benefits clients come back to Wise year after year, grateful for the trust they have in us to get the job done right. “That’s the Wise partnership. It’s what we do.”

If you have questions about open enrollment, contact a Wise consultant at 800-654-4550 or HCMHelp@WiseConsulting.com.

team of hr professionals planning for open enrollment season

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