As leaders, we may be thrilled that we are not the ones leading open enrollment. Most of us barely have the interest or patience to handle our own coverage questions, let alone blow up balloons, coordinate events, and stay late to help others figure it out.

Yet by leaving open enrollment up to HR or the brokers, we are missing an opportunity to reinforce a positive culture. Here are three simple, yet impactful, ways leaders can improve open enrollment.

1. Be Open

First, talk about the options the company is providing and why the company has taken that approach. It is common for employees to assume the organization is trying to be cheap; but that can be an incomplete picture. Giving employees a glimpse of the bigger picture can help them feel more connected with and appreciative of their choices.

For example, does the company offer a lot of options to meet the diverse needs of the workforce? Or are there only a few options because of the size of the company or the market? Is it really expensive because cost-effective choices are limited due to age-banding?

Explaining why the options are what they are will remove one negative perception about the process. If the company does offer great benefits, then it is a fantastic time to underscore that!

2. Give Time

Second, realize this is not a pleasant time for people. Coverage is a high-cost item that touches our wallets and our families’ health.

Employees should not feel like they have to rush through the decision-making process. Make sure they have time to consider the plans, ask questions and talk to their families.

If this is also a busy season in the office, it is even more important to ensure employees have time dedicated to thoughtfully completing the process. Consider increasing staff coverage or approving overtime to account for the extra time employees need to understand their options.

As leaders, it is well within our power to create the time and space that supports employees during this stressful period.

3. Be Aggressive

Finally, follow up with employees to make sure they have taken the time to consider and question their options. Research shows that while employees need and have access to a lot of information to make their coverage decisions, they are often unsure how to get it and are unlikely to search for it.

The best and most successful open enrollments push the information to the employees. This starts with communicating the schedule in advance; providing clear access to critical information and sending the information to the employees.

Some organizations require sign-offs or mandatory attendance at open enrollment meetings. As leaders, it is critical for us to create an environment that emphasizes the importance of open enrollment.

Bottom Line

Simply giving employees the time and support to engage in a thoughtful open enrollment reinforces a positive workplace culture, creates goodwill, and emphasizes wellness. Healthcare can be a very personal issue; lead by example and help people through one of the most annoying, costly and frustrating times of year.