Benefits Administration

5 Pain Points of Open Enrollment and How to Manage Them

Open enrollment can be a time of opportunity and challenge for employees and HR managers alike. For employees, choosing employee benefits is a big, and sometimes complex, decision. For HR managers, once employee benefits are selected, you face even more work in getting employees to sign up during open enrollment. That effort can strain your whole organization.

It can be difficult to communicate with employees through so many channels. HR personnel are often pressed for time, especially with health care regulations changing every year. And when you automate systems or hire outside help, what you thought were solutions sometimes cause new problems for your staff.

We’ve identified the five biggest pain points throughout this open enrollment process, and examined how they can disrupt your human resources department. We offer solutions for each of these.  Read on to learn how your employees can painlessly sign up for the quality benefits they need.

  1. Communicating with employees is difficult because people prefer to consume information in different ways.

HR admins use multiple methods of communication (examples include paper documents, email, websites, and video). That takes time. If your messaging across these methods is inconsistent, employees may not fully grasp what they need to know about their benefits. It’s a recipe for dissatisfaction and more work for admins.

 Solution: Find an integrated benefits administration system that provides consistent and effective communications options across multiple channels — print, web, chat services, etc.

  1. HR departments have increasing tactical and strategic responsibilities with no growth in budget or staff.

Overloaded HR admins can’t complete work accurately. That results in low-quality enrollment execution and rework. It also means unhappy employees.

Plenty of complex topics can potentially confuse employees: carrier changes, new health insurance offerings — you name it. Your HR reps can face lots of questions.

Solution: Follow these three key best practices for benefits administration.

  • Allow employees to take care of many tasks themselves, reducing HR’s time investment.
  • Keep it rules-driven. That ensures workflows are followed accurately and to completion, reducing hands-on work and frustration.
  • Incorporate call center services and helpful tools such as live chat and online avatars to improve employee self-service, understanding, and satisfaction.
  1. It’s difficult to keep up with changing health care regulations.

Change is the one constant in health care. Policy changes both large (e.g., the Affordable Care Act) and small can lead to noncompliance with regulations and costly penalties.

Solution: An integrated regulatory logic and reporting dashboard up to date on the latest policies can ensure compliance and minimize penalties.

  1. Carrier/Payroll files/Feeds do not work properly.

Relaying incomplete enrollment data to carriers can create employee dissatisfaction and a lot of manual rework for HR admin teams.

Solution: Utilize vendor quality processes (e.g., Six Sigma) that regulate workflows in feed preparation can minimize enrollment errors and payroll withholding errors.

  1. My vendor isn’t knowledgeable, responsive, or available.

When systems are implemented inefficiently or they work inconsistently, no one’s happy. Your HR teams become frustrated by their lack of familiarity with their benefits administration solution, and they panic without rapid response to problems.

Solution: A dedicated account manager who ensures the system functions as expected, provides client training, and resolves issues efficiently. This support begins at implementation and is customized to the specific needs of your business and workforce.

Vendor quality processes (like Six Sigma) that regulate workflows during implementation ensure the capture and application of business requirements. Your expectations of timelines and deliverables are managed throughout so there are no surprises.


You may have recognized some of these open enrollment pain points. However, there are solutions for each. An integrated benefits administration system (like ours) can help your HR staff efficiently guide people through the enrollment process and help employees make the right health insurance decisions for their families.