Employee benefits are typically 32 percent of total compensation costs, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). During the open enrollment period, employees can select new benefits or change their benefit options. However, they don’t always understand the enrollment process or the importance of selecting certain benefits.

Below are four tips to help ensure that your company’s open enrollment is a success.

1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

If you only have open enrollment once a year, it’s important to ensure that everyone knows when it starts and ends, and the steps they need to take during this period. Since open enrollment is such an important event, consider using every communication avenue that’s available.

Hanging posters around the building, putting banners on the physical walls — in addition to making banners for the company’s Intranet, sending emails, including open enrollment information in your email signature block, and mailing physical postcards are some of the ways to inform and notify employees. Videos are another way to communicate information and this channel even provides the option for step-by-step instructions.

2. Supply the Right Information to Help Employees Make Decisions

Employees need more than just general enrollment information. They also need supplemental information that can help them understand their options.

Plan comparison charts can help employees understand the pros and cons of each option to decide, for example, which plans require a referral to see a specialist, what are the medical deductibles for each plan, and what are the medical and prescription out-of-pocket maximums for each plan. Online calculators can also help employees accurately determine their costs.

In addition, it may be helpful to provide definitions of the terms that employees may not understand. While words like copay, health savings account, out-of-network, and high-deductible health plan are familiar to you, don’t assume that your employees know what these words mean. Definitions that include examples can provide clarity.

3. Provide a Variety of Enrollment Options

Treat your employees as individuals — in other words, realize that a one-size-fits-all strategy is not the best approach. Some employees prefer having all of the open enrollment information available online so they can view it and make selections at their convenience, which may be at work or at home, on a desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile phone. Using a responsive design, you can ensure that the information is easily viewable regardless of an employee’s browser, device, or screen size.

However, when using the online route, it would be helpful to have a chatbot, or at least a web page with a list of frequently asked questions to cover some of the most common concerns that employees may have about the open enrollment process.

Also, be sensitive to the fact that some employees may not like self-service enrollment. They may prefer to meet with a representative to go over their plan, so offer this option as well.

4. Prepare for the Unexpected

What is your plan for employees who miss the enrollment deadline? Will they automatically be re-enrolled in their existing plan or will their coverage be discontinued?

You should also have a Plan B to address issues on the company’s side. For example, make sure the system has been thoroughly tested to ensure there are no glitches. It would also be a good idea to keep your best IT people on hand during open enrollment to assist employees who may be committing "user errors."

If your technology is handled by an outside source, it’s even more important to ensure that the process will be seamless.

Following these four tips can help to make your company’s open enrollment process less stressful and confusing, resulting in a win-win for your company and your employees.