Annual enrollment has begun, and I am already overwhelmed. My phone has been ringing off the hook and my inbox is completely full. On top of all the AE drama, I have my own day-to-day tasks to complete. Sometimes, I even forget to eat, I’m so busy! Not to mention, it’s only the beginning! How will I ever get through this....
Does this seem like it could be a page out of your own diary? We understand that AE is a stressful time. It can feel like an ice-cold, super-strong and bloodthirsty vampire breathing down your neck, ready to suck the last drop of life out of you. Fortunately, you can channel your inner Van Helsing and pack your bag with a few metaphorical garlic cloves and crossbow arrows to get you safely through the woods. Here are a few tips:
Don’t let the AE vamp control your mind; focus on your mental and physical health.
Stretch. This is the busiest time of year, when the emails seem endless and many of us are practically paralyzed with busyness. It’s easy to sit long hours without getting up to stretch. Sitting for long periods of time has been proven to be bad for heart health, posture, breath and circulation. Set a timer on your phone to remind you to get up, walk around, stretch and look at something that’s not your computer screen.
Take breaks. It may sound counterproductive but taking breaks throughout the day is very important to productivity. In fact, not taking breaks is like a wooden bullet to the chest of a vampire – a recipe for disaster. Without taking adequate breaks throughout the day your work, mental and physical well-being and overall work performance can suffer. Go for a quick walk around your building. Go grab a coffee. If you work in a building with stairs, take a break and climb a few flights. Anything to give your mind a rest!
“When we work, our prefrontal cortex makes every effort to help us execute our goals. But for a challenging task that requires our sustained attention, research shows briefly taking our minds off the goal can renew and strengthen motivation later on.”
Timing is everything. According to timing expert Daniel Pink, you have a peak productivity phase, a trough and a recovery phase throughout the day. Try scheduling all your difficult projects during your peak productivity phase, your admin work during your trough and your brainstorming during your recovery. Not sure when your peak is? To find out, you must first answer a question: are you a lark, an owl or a third bird? Each one has its peak at a different time of day. Can’t figure it out? Here’s a hint: a vampire is definitely an owl.
Be sure you stock up on wooden bullets and crossbows.
During AE there are many tools at your disposal that can help lighten the workload. For example:
AI – Our AI personal benefits assistant, Sofia can help answer your employees’ benefits questions 24/7, 365 so you can focus on bigger picture ideas.
Benefits technology – Your benefits technology solution should be like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, effective and relentless in helping you reach your goals, in other words, your partner. Without a benefits solution that works with you, AE can seem like the endless night. Unsure if you should insource or outsource your solution? Check out our e-book that breaks down the pros and cons of each. Or, maybe you’re ready to issue an RFP.
Communication – Unlike a vampire coming up behind you for a snack, it should come as no surprise that your employees don’t want to learn about their benefits. In fact, they dread annual enrollment almost as much as going to the DMV. In fact, 45% of workers say they are apprehensive about the process. Why? They simply don’t know enough about their benefits. The organizations that see the highest engagement are those that have a personalized, year-round benefits communication strategy. Sending your benefits guide a week before AE isn’t going to hit the mark or be very effective in helping your employees choose the right benefits. For better results and higher ROI, try an omni-channel approach.
Bring the problems into the sun.
Let’s face it, not all things go according to plan during annual enrollment. Which is why, as an HR leader, you need to prepare your team with four pillars of project success to avoid the AE drama:
Commitment – ask for a commitment to succeed.
Resilience – when things go wrong, don’t give up or play the blame game.
Ownership – ask for your team to own results, good or bad.
Continuous Learning – ask for a commitment to learn, even from errors.
Now, this could be you…
Today, I was able to take a 30-minute walk, which cleared my head and I was able to tackle my big project for today in my peak productivity. I even had some extra time in the afternoon because my personal benefits assistant was able to handle almost all of the questions from my employees today. What a relief! And, even though there was an error in one of the data transfers, my team didn’t give up and we learned a new way to process documents that will make everything run smoother in the future!
If you want to learn more about how your benefits administration technology should work with you, check out our e-book below.