“The Major Compelling Event”

You’re probably not thinking about it too awfully much this time of year (mostly because it gives you nightmares), but the Benefits Open Enrollment process is right around the corner.  For many of you, the bulk of your work in Q4 is dedicated to just getting through this arduous and time-consuming process.

Open Enrollment Process - frustrationHaving worked in the HR technology industry for 20+ years, I can empathize with those who are still tackling the open enrollment process manually.  I’ve heard the horror stories, witnessed the late nights necessary to meet deadlines, and seen the travel schedules of HR specialists chasing down those final few forms. It can truly be a nightmarish situation.

Those of you who don’t have an HRIS system know that the technology could significantly reduce these nightmares, but you’ve never been able to get approval through your budget process. There’s always been something else that is a higher priority or more deserving of the company’s dollars, right?  The reason for budget denial seems to always be something along the lines of “That’s why we hired you,” or “We need the human element,” to assist our employees with this process.  So how can you turn this into a positive?

Of all the things an HRIS can do (and the list is long), open enrollment processing remains the most compelling reason I’ve heard HR executives give to justify the purchase of a system.  It is the primary function that can deliver a clear, hard ROI savings—through the reduction of travel, printing, and mailing expenses, as well as the reduction of time spent in face-to-face sessions (or even online) explaining your plans and helping with form completions. An HRIS helps eliminate errors caused by transposing numbers from paper forms to benefit carrier sites. Without the efficiencies and automations an HRIS system offers, many of you are forced to ignore other duties and responsibilities during your open enrollment (OE) season, not because you want to, but because there is only so much time in a day.

What advantages can a HRIS system bring to help improve the open enrollment process for HR and employees:

  • Eligibility rules that determine when an employee is eligible for coverage are automated.
  • The calculation of employee and employer contribution amounts are automated.
  • Deduction amounts flow directly into your payroll system via an interface.
  • Carrier connections eliminate errors by simply sharing information in your HRIS to specified benefit carriers—removing the need to re-key data.
  • Open enrollment via employee self-service delivers all forms needed for signature. It is also very simple to provide employees with links to benefit provider sites and benefit coverage documentation, as well as videos and tutorials on completing the OE process.
  • Alerts let the system do the work for you by notifying employees when the OE period is open and when forms and benefit selections are due. Alerts can even be set to deliver reminder emails as deadlines approach.
  • Configurable workflows allow you to simply review submitted information, then approve and easily accept benefit selection inputs with a click of the button.

Even without considering all of the advantages noted above, HRIS implementations can lead to an overall reduction in healthcare costs, the single largest expense to an employer other than payroll. The savings can help justify hiring another employee or returning significant dollars to be spent on revenue-generating projects for your company.

Improving the open enrollment process can easily be justified as a key organizational objective. And when presented in the manner described above, executives will listen.


Meet the Authors:
Tim Burkholder has spent his entire 20+ year career working with HR, IT and Finance professionals and advising them on software technology purchases for HRIS, Payroll, Time & Labor Management, Recruiting, Onboarding, Performance Management and Learning Management Systems. He is specifically focused on mid-market organizations and has a broad understanding of their critical human capital management requirements to ensure the successful evaluation, selection and transition to the right solution. Using a consultative approach, Tim’s experience and true understanding of vendor capabilities allow him to justify to executives why they should invest in HR Technology and ensure a clear return on investment.

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