Open Enrollment 101: How To Plan A Flawless OE
September 17, 2019
Jill Garrison
Timer  Read Time: 4 minutes

Open enrollment is the Super Bowl of benefits, the culmination of a year’s worth of planning, strategizing and hard work. And, much like a championship game, open enrollment requires a solid playbook to guide you to benefits success!

In part 1 of our 3 part series, we’ll cover everything you need to plan for a successful OE.

Be sure to download our full Open Enrollment Planning Playbook for an in-depth look at how to plan, execute and measure your OE.

Establish a Baseline

Before you start setting goals and outlining tactics for this year’s open enrollment, you’ll want to first establish a baseline for measurement. What benefits do employers typically offer, and what are your company’s historical participation rates? Knowing where you’re starting is essential for setting realistic goals for where you want to go.

Based on data from the 2019 Benefits Benchmark Report, health insurance is still the most popular employee benefit, followed by dental insurance and vision insurance.

Though these numbers are broad and include a variety of industries and company sizes, it’s a good starting point to benchmark your organization’s offerings.

Set Goals, Objectives & Tactics

Before you strategize your game plan for this year’s open enrollment, it’s important to first set goals and objectives. What would you like to achieve?

A few common OE goals include:

Decrease or maintain health care spend for the upcoming year

Engage employees in a new wellness program for next year

Increase employee participation in 401(k) retirement savings plan

Increase engagement with millennials with more relevant benefits

Next, match your broad goals with specific objectives. When setting objectives, be as specific as possible. Include actual numbers for dollar amounts or percentages to better measure effectiveness.


Specific OE objective examples:

Increase HDHP participation by x%

Increase voluntary benefits participation by x%

Enroll x new employees in the company 401(k) plan

Successfully roll out and engage employees in a new program

Increase employee contribution to HSA by x%

Tactics are much smaller steps along your strategy path that can be adjusted as needed based on performance. Individual tactics will vary based on your goal and your audience(s), which we will define next. Often, tactics map out specific communication points or educational plans to help your organization meet your objectives and goals.

Establish Your Audience

Another important pre-OE consideration is to clearly define your primary audience or audiences (aka, your employee populations). This will vary greatly based on the size of your organization and your industry. Your audience will dictate your tactics and how you communicate and educate your workforce.

Why take the time to define your workforce population? Blanket communications are an antiquated approach when it comes to conveying announcements related to benefits and enrollment. Instead, take a more personalized approach by carefully crafting unique and meaningful messages to reach each employee group via the channels they prefer. Not only will this improve your response rate to communications but also enhance employee engagement across the board.

Putting it all Together

We’re almost finished with your OE planning. The last step is to take everything you’ve defined this far – your goals, objectives and audiences – and combine it all into a single cohesive strategy. From there, we’ll break down the individual tactics you’ll need to take to put your strategy in motion.

Here’s an example of how you can use this approach to map out each of your open enrollment goals, objectives and tactics:

Now you’ve got the basics to kick-start your open enrollment planning. But, this is just the tip of the OE iceberg! 


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