Open Enrollment: Managing Employee Expectations

Posted: June 21, 2018

Open Enrollment is an exciting time. It is a chance for you to review the benefits you offer to your employees, and make changes or additions. It is also a time for your employees to make decisions about their insurance plans for the coming year. Remember, employees will be not be able to enroll in your group health plan if they waive coverage during open enrollment, unless they have a qualifying event. It is therefore important for you and your employees to have regular communication, especially if you’re going to be making changes to your plans.

Open Enrollment can also be a stressful time for your employees, as plan changes come into effect and premiums increase. This can lead to confusion and dissatisfaction. It is important that you keep in regular communication with your employees, so you can manage expectations and resolve complaints before they turn into larger problems. In order to keep your employees happy, and ensure that you have a successful open enrollment, we’ve compiled a few tips to help you out!

Talking About Premium Increases

One of the inevitable points of contention during open enrollment is the increasing cost of insurance. This mostly concerns health insurance, but applies to dental and other voluntary benefits as well. Premium increases occur during open enrollment, and premiums are often a top concern for employees. Further, they will certainly notice when they are paying more for their premiums than they were the year before.

First, it is important to address these concerns by ensuring your employees know that you have shopped the market. Much of this is done by your broker, but we keep in touch as we look across different carriers and plans. It can also be useful to demonstrate the pricing on the individual market, which is typically more expensive than group insurance. Finally, by encouraging preventative care, employees stay healthier, which affects the overall premium cost.

Benefit Concerns

With benefit changes, there is always an initial amount of uncertainty among employees as they are unsure what their new benefits will be. Particularly compared to the old benefits package, employees may express dissatisfaction over rates (as discussed previously), network and service coverage, and customer support. During these times it is important to make sure that employees stay informed of the changes so they feel as though they are in the loop. Benefit meetings, both on a group and individual level, go a long way toward educating your employees and easing their concerns.

If you are changing carriers, be sure to highlight the benefits that the change will mean. These could be a lower premium, a wider network, or a richer benefit. If the provider network will be changing, work with your employees and your broker to make sure that they have access to an in-network provider they trust. And if the coverage benefit is changing, be sure to highlight the premium savings or increased coverage over the old plan.

Soliciting Input

Employees are more likely to feel concerns about benefit changes during open enrollment if they have not been consulted during the process. Both during open enrollment and around halfway through the plan year, it is a good idea to check in with your employees to determine how they feel about their benefits. What is working? What isn’t? Are they any benefits they don’t currently have that they would like? Do they feel knowledgeable about their benefits?

Education about benefits leads to higher happiness among employees regarding their benefit package, and can be a helpful tool during open enrollment. Also, employees who are well educated about their benefits can provide more meaningful feedback on benefit surveys as you continue to tailor your benefits package to meet the needs of your employees.


Open Enrollment is an important time of year for you and your employees. A successful open enrollment can lead to increased employee satisfaction and retention. In order to ensure that your Open Enrollment is the best it can be, it is important to manage your employees’ expectations. As premiums increase every year, it is vital to demonstrate the advantages, both coverage and rates, of group health insurance. Communication, soliciting feedback, and education are effective tools to make sure your employees understand their benefits, make informed decisions, and know that their opinions matter. Benefit meetings are one of the most important parts of open enrollment, whether they are group meetings or individual discussions.

For those of our clients who would like to know more about the open enrollment process, or who would like to hold meetings with their employees, we are happy to provide those services. If you’d like to set up meetings, or just get more information, please email us at, or give us a call at 800-484-2199.

Contact us with questions