Preparing for Open Enrollment Now to Avoid Burnout Later

Posted by Abbe Sodikoff

openenrollment_iconThe 2020 healthcare open enrollment period is nearly here, slated to run from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15, 2019, with Medicare open enrollment from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. As you know, with this seasonal spike in enrollment comes a much heavier workload. How can you best prepare for the influx to avoid staff burnout and increase productivity during this peak period?

Focus on Top Priorities

Open enrollment puts particular pressure on member and provider service representatives, enrollment analysts, and clerical resources. These essential functions will be tasked with a higher-than-normal workload this fall, resulting in competing priorities. A recent study found it takes as long as 23 minutes to return to an important project after an interruption, such as an email or phone call. With the urgency introduced by open enrollment, your staff does not have time to waste refocusing. Consider how to mitigate distractions by setting expectations around communication. Additionally, build a relationship with a staffing firm now to ensure you have enough resources when needs arise. Though you can’t eliminate interruptions entirely, this will allow you to spread out projects among qualified team members and lessen the impact of lost time. Insurance-focused staffing firms already have open enrollment on their radars and are building benches of relevant resources for you to leverage, allowing you to fill talent gaps and avoid overloading existing staff.


Increase Productivity Through Effective Time Management

Similarly, time management will become one of your employees’ most important skills during open enrollment. Harvard Business Review found executives have the ability to free up 20 percent of their employees’ time by introducing greater discipline in regard to time management. Giving your staff the tools to excel at managing their own projects will relieve you from some oversight pressure, make employees feel more confident and motivated, and help your organization keep up with demand. Start training your personnel on how to prioritize, set boundaries and communicate efficiently so they’re ready for heightened workloads in the coming months. When hiring new resources, consider staff with proven track records of effective time management so you can efficiently focus on the projects at hand.

Build the Right Team with the Right Skills

While functions essential to open enrollment may not require large teams year-round, this season has different demands. With peak periods comes temporary talent, and it’s important to determine the skills vital to each team before it’s time to hire those resources. Beyond technical requirements, optimize your team’s impact by hiring with human skills in mind. For member service representatives, you may prioritize empathy and sincerity; for internal-facing employees, perhaps you’re seeking strong verbal communication skills to ensure they proactively and clearly update their managers on project work. It’s best to create an enterprise-wide strategy regarding necessary non-technical attributes to promote team alignment and enable cross-departmental collaboration come open enrollment time.


Save Money Through Strategic Talent Arrangements

talentarrangements_iconA major benefit of utilizing a temporary staffing provider is access to a larger candidate pool. Staffing firms maintain relationships with the talent you need, so they can provide consultants with the exact skills you’re looking for at a moment’s notice. These specialized resources are ready to hit the ground running, decreasing training and ramp-up time and increasing ROI. Being open to flexible work solutions, including work-from-home talent or consultants who may not work during typical office hours, will also widen the candidate pool, giving you the opportunity to work with the best talent for your situation and often allowing for cost savings. Implementing remote work opportunities and flexible hours opens your organization up to retired subject matter experts, consultants beyond your standard geographical reach and more. These arrangements maximize productivity and improve employee morale, both of which are vital during open enrollment.

At Jacobson, we’ve built a robust pipeline of qualified candidates to help insurers meet their impending needs. From work-at-home resources to on-site talent, our database of insurance professionals encompasses all the functions impacted by open enrollment year after year. Is your organization prepared to tackle the 2020 open enrollment period?