Enrollment Horror Stories: Tales from the HR Crypt
What could be more horrifying than Dracula, the Wolf Man and Rosemary’s baby combined? A dark and chilly enrollment season, of course!
With a web of paperwork, sneaking deadlines and a few zombie-like employees, enrollment season can feel haunting. We gathered a few enrollment horror stories and tips from a HR representative out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana to help keep you from turning into an HR monster.
1. The Curse of the Deadline
“We had an employee awhile back that waited until the last day of the 14-day open enrollment period to sign up for benefits. While attempting to enroll online, he fell asleep on his laptop on the last night of the two-week period. He missed out and, legally, there is nothing we can do after that window expires, because then we would have to open the period back up for everyone in the entire company. Enrollment deadlines are very important.”
Tip: To avoid the deadline curse, focus on employee communication. You should start communicating early and use the same message, rephrased and distributed through multiple channels. Targeted messages through different channels will reach diverse employee demographics that have different needs and preferred styles of communication.
2. Invasion of the Dependent Snatchers
“After enrollment, insurance companies usually conduct a dependent audit for enrolled employees. Meaning, if an employee has a dependent listed, the employee must submit additional paperwork to complete the dependent add-on. Typically, an employee would need to submit a birth certificate or Social Security card within a 50-day window after enrollment. Insurance companies mail out warnings, but unfortunately not all employees check their mail or act quickly. We had an employee do just that, and his kids were dropped from his insurance.”
Tip: Dodge the dependent snatch by creating an internal running list of all dependents. Send follow-up communications messages to those who are adding dependents to their plans to prevent “disappearing kids.”
3. The Uninvited Beneficiary
“During enrollment, employees select a new insurance plan and have the chance to update their dependents and beneficiaries. We recently had a case where one of our employee’s suddenly passed away from a heart attack. He still had his ex-wife listed as the beneficiary for his 401(k) and life insurance policy. When his new wife called to get information on his 401(k) and life insurance payout, we had to turn her over to our lawyers because she was not listed as a beneficiary on his enrollment paperwork.”
Tip: Escape a beneficiary nightmare by communicating to employees about their benefits year-round. Remind them that certain life changes, like getting remarried or having a child, may affect their benefits plan. Sending regular, consistent messaging about employee benefits will help keep you and your employees from unwanted beneficiary terror.
Avoid a chilling enrollment season and prevent yourself from becoming a walking dead administrator by reading some of our articles on employee communications and benefits: