Compare any two months of the year and the work of HR professionals will look vastly different.
The year begins with the post-holiday wellness streak, followed by Tax Day prep, then the summer scramble as employees balance childcare with school being out, and before you know it, it’s time for annual enrollment again.
Annual enrollment (AE) is perhaps the most significant employee-facing project that HR departments undertake each year. It’s certainly when the largest number of existing employees consistently interact with their HR departments. To complete AE successfully, HR professionals must harness huge amounts of data, interface with a range of internal and external stakeholders, and distill complex benefits information into friendly, easily understood communications. In other words, it’s a behemoth.
For most HR departments — which are increasingly being asked to do more with fewer resources — preparing for AE at any time except when it’s absolutely necessary can be a challenge. And yet AE is most successful when it’s supported by detailed preparatory discussions, in-depth benefits research, and quality HR data which has been thoroughly vetted for accuracy.
By dividing these AE must-haves into more manageable parts throughout the year, HR departments can set themselves up for success before the big event. And what better time than the brightness of spring to look at existing practices in a new light?
We recommend starting your spring cleaning by focusing on the “smallest” element of AE: HR data. It’s contained, manageable, and cleaning it up can be executed by all members of the HR team. By cleaning your HR data now, the time you put in will pay off in significant business value for your organization.
Here’s how to get started with a seasonal data refresh to guarantee a smooth AE process come fall:
- Determine what you want to know. HR departments famously have a long list of stakeholders. Before you begin your data refresh, make sure you’re aligned with key leadership on what the priorities are. Doing so will focus your time and can even provide your project with a “mission statement,” whether it’s “find more opportunities for perks” or “offer new benefits for a more diverse workforce.”
- Make a list of everywhere you have data. In addition to your benefits and personnel software, it’s likely you have internal files that serve to track employee data. This might be a spreadsheet containing employee start date information or a list of everyone’s birthdays. Don’t overlook these as you make a list of everywhere you are saving data.
- Keep your data safe. Before you begin updating your data, it’s smart to meet with your IT team. If you’ll be transferring data between applications, you’ll need to ensure you’re operating with the proper cyber security protocols in place. In the wrong hands, employee data is incredibly sensitive — you’ll be grateful you took the additional step!
- Create a process for collecting and correcting data. The goals that you determined at the outset of the data refresh will come in handy here. If you’re looking for updated demographic information, that might mean reaching out to employees. If your goal is to better understand how employees are engaging with their health care benefits, you may need to work with your benefits provider to understand their usage.
- Consider gathering qualitative data. Data may not sound like the most personal entity, but it can be a surprising way to show empathy. If you’re already reaching out to employees to ensure the data you have on file is correct, you can use this as an opportunity to ask qualitative questions about benefits and your employees’ needs. You may discover employee sentiment that helps you make benefits decisions. After all, 9 in 10 employees are more likely to stay with an empathetic employer that understands their concerns.
- Make it actionable. Don’t let your efforts go to waste by tucking your employee information away until AE. Spring is the time to get creative with what this data can mean not only for employee benefits, but for employee engagement at the office and possible perks, too. Data is, of course, incredibly important when advocating for resources with the C-suite and board of directors. Make sure you are ready to make a business case to support your goals by using the collected data in a directed way.
Data, believe it or not, is a tool of empathy. The better you understand the data reflecting your employees’ needs, the more able you’ll be to develop an AE process that is easy and offers benefits that reflect your company’s values.
Interested in learning more about how we can help analyze and clean up data? Check out our reporting and analytics capabilities below.