Compliance Corner: Q&A on Preparing for a Successful Benefits Renewal
Monday October 31st, 2022
Estimated time to read: 2 minutes, 30 seconds
Benefits Enrollment time is upon us. Every HR rep knows just what an important time of year this is for HR and all employees. Employees will be electing new benefits, but they will also be renewing benefits from prior years. HR reps might be thinking about what they can do to be best prepared this season.
In this month's Compliance Corner blog, isolved's HR Services Manager Andrea Cruz answers questions about being prepared for a successful benefits renewal.
Q. What can HR reps do to prepare for Benefits Renewal?
A. Evaluate your benefit renewal processes and data from prior years with a special emphasis in reviewing any lessons learned, areas of strength and/or improvement. From there, develop a plan to mitigate anything that was identified as part of your renewal process for this year.
Apart from this, get to know what your employees’ current and greatest needs are and draft your communication strategy around those needs. This may include tailoring your benefit materials to better promote a specific benefit, preparing/delivery pre-enrollment materials and making additional webinars available regarding services, etc.
Q. How early should HR reps begin communication with employees?
A. It’s never too early to start communicating to your employees about their benefits, in fact, the earlier the better. Benefit Renewal and Open Enrollment details should be advertised one to two weeks before employees can enroll. This will allow them to be aware early, plan around that timing and ultimately read any available enrollment material ahead of time to select their new benefits.
Q. How can HR reps prepare their employees for Benefits Renewal?
A. While renewal season might be seen as the best time to communicate about benefits the most effective method of communication is to make benefit education an ongoing process. Being proactive and ensuring your employees feel comfortable with their available resources will allow you to create a more positive overall experience. But other than that, you can prepare your employees by:
- Creating and executing a communication strategy that works for your employee demographic and the tools they have available to review their benefits.
- Setting up Benefit Orientation sessions to discuss key details which include what’s changing and not changing.
- Providing support and resources to address particular and specific employee situations and questions.
Q. How can HR reps stay compliant during Benefits Renewal?
A. By starting the process as early as possible and planning your renewal approach and strategy accordingly. Then, gather all required plan documentation and benefit plan disclosures that must be presented to your employees this year and identify how it will be distributed. Keep in mind that not all documentation can be shared electronically so understanding those specific requirements will be key.
Next, communicate with all your third-party vendors. If you use other TPAs for COBRA or payroll administration, make sure that they are aware of your renewal timeline and any changes that they may need to be made aware of. Also consider what information they need such as plan documentation, rates and payroll schedules and what deadline they need that information by in order to complete their configuration and mail any other required notices (COBRA notices, etc.) by their specific compliance timelines.
Q. Is there anything special that can be done to ensure a better experience with a hybrid workforce?
Leverage virtual opportunities to engage with your employees.
This can be done either by hosting a kickoff webinar event, or a virtual open enrollment fair or creating a one-stop shop benefit education website and providing all your employees with additional technical resources.
Offer flexibility when enrolling and communicate with a hybrid workforce in mind.
A comprehensive communication strategy that goes over not only their benefit options, but available resources can help employees understand what they have at their disposal to make the best decision for them and their families and encourage overall participation.
Andrea serves as an HR Services Manager for isolved, bringing more than a decade of benefits administration and benefits billing experience to the team. In Andrea’s current role she manages the Managed Benefits Team which is responsible for providing day to day benefit administration, reconciliation, and auditing support to various clients.
*This blog is not legal advice. Please seek proper legal advice.
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