Just like a coach calling a winning play, HR leaders must execute the right strategies at the right time.

Updated 2024

For two football teams, coaches and players are gearing up for the most important game of the year. One team will walk away champions.

I am a die-hard Colts fan, and even though my hometown team did not contend for this year’s final game of the season, I will be dedicating Sunday, February 11 to watch the festivities.

The teams, halftime entertainers, advertisers and fans are all part of pulling off an amazing game day experience. In 2022, Nielsen reported 90% of Americans tuned in to watch the final game of the season.

For must of us at home, it means prepping for our big-game traditions. Many will be gathering around the TV to watch the game, eat their favorite football snacks and argue over which commercial is the best.

Some will be most excited about the National Anthem and the halftime show, while others will use halftime to update their predictions for the remainder of the game.

Open enrollment is the Championship Game of the employee benefits world

Organizations start each year with a clean slate, but have a similar same goal in mind at the end of a plan year — great execution and winning. In this case winning means executing a successful open enrollment. And it all starts with your team.

Every team has a leader, much like a quarterback, surrounded by subject matter experts who work together to help you innovate and develop new strategies while also integrating those that are tried-and-true. Key offensive players will help you think of proactive moves to drive success. Defensive players will help you protect that investment and contain costs. And just like an NFL team’s salary cap, organizations must operate within their budgetary constraints.

Employee benefits are complex. Consequently, an organization must have the basics— blocking and tackling—down pat, but also continue to innovate and develop new plays to achieve and exceed goals.

Just like calling a play, leaders must execute strategies at the right time, or it may result in a loss. This is where a year-round communication and education strategy is important. An effective employee benefits communication strategy is vital to ensure your team is ready to go when open enrollment arrives.

As you face challenges throughout the year, continue to meet employees where they are. Only then can they truly understand and value the benefits being offered.

Remain nimble and have the right bench strength in place to adjust strategies as needed. Maybe a vendor isn’t delivering as they had promised, or you are anticipating a sudden shift in employment that may impact your current strategy. Like a football team shifts their strategy when a player is injured, you must be mindful enough to adjust along the way.

As the final game gets closer, all the preparation of these pro teams kicks into overdrive. This reminds me of the employers we work with that are faced with getting a benefits administration system ready with all the demographic data, rates and rules to ensure benefits are entered correctly. On top of that, creating communications, a benefits guide and the open enrollment presentation are key to flawless execution.

What does a win look like for HR leaders? A win is an open enrollment that is financially positive for your organization and drives real value for your employees.

Regardless of who wins on Sunday, the two competing teams will be celebrating their success — well, one more than the other. But they both will have much to be proud of. Win or lose, all the teams soon will be re-evaluating and rebuilding for next season.

If you had a less-than-ideal open enrollment this past year, that’s okay. There is always next year. If you had a successful open enrollment, it’s time to do it all over again and get back in the huddle.

So, what’s your game plan?

  • Are you preparing already for your next open enrollment?
  • Do you have the right players in place with the right expertise to help innovate and advise?
  • Do you have players on both offense and defense to contain costs?
  • How can you improve communications in 2023, building up to a successful open enrollment and building value with your greatest asset — your employees?

If you don’t know where to start, we would love to help.

Cheers to an eventful game day and successful open enrollments!

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Amber Chittenden

Authored By

Amber Chittenden

Principal | Chief Client Officer
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