HR Tech and Open Enrollment

HR Tech and Open Enrollment

It’s that time of year again that everyone in HR dreads… Open enrollment. It can be difficult to foresee all of the problems that could potentially arise, but what if you could implement a better strategy for addressing this hectic period? Surely, reducing the stress that is open enrollment is an attractive concept for anyone working in the world of HR.

In regard to open enrollment, employees rely heavily on the fact that they will be well-informed of their options in a timely manner, for this is only in the best interest of the employee as well as the company. According to Kathryn Moody, “A good open enrollment experience relies on communication. Communicate early, often and in many forms”. The less employees know about open enrollment, the more stressful the process becomes. So how do we best approach the challenge of communication around open enrollment?

 As technology continues to advance, the millennial generation in particular is seeing a significant shift toward using smartphones as their main tool for communication. The solution becomes clear: in order to conquer the challenges of open enrollment, companies should look no further than texting and artificial intelligence. Just imagine, texts to handle all of the general questions that employees would normally be contacting HR about, not answered by HR (well, not personally at least). With automated text messaging, employees can get all of their questions answered, quicker than if they were to go through HR. You can create templates to send out to your employees in order to get a better idea of what they are inquiring about. HR can avoid answering all of the tedious, general questions that employees may have, spending more time on the serious, complicated inquiries that require more traditional methods of human interaction. 

Take IBM’s Watson, for example. IBM’s machine learning technology has become so advanced that artificial intelligence is likely to become the future of communication; in this case, aiding in communicating employee benefits. Larger companies are simply unable to handle the considerable amount of inquiries that they receive on any given day. Sadly, we can no longer rely on obtaining information directly from our managers or even the HR department itself, given how engrossed they are with other work. Michael Hough, executive VP at Advance Medical, agrees that “Technology is playing an increasingly important role in how benefits are delivered”.

Does this solution apply solely to the period of open enrollment? Of course not! Why not reduce the stress of work and implement improved methods year-round? Articulated brilliantly by Dinesh Sheth, CEO at Green Circle Health: “you should not be looking at open enrollment any different. It should be part of a continuum” and that “the real goal is not really short-term, not what’s happening this quarter”. Moody also argues that “[employee] benefits communication should be continuous and throughout the year”. On this, we couldn’t agree more. Enacting a seamless form of communication between HR and employees would make a great deal of improvement in work experience and culture over time.

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