We’ve all just gone through it. The dreaded but necessary open enrollment season. If you’re an employee who watched a benefits enrollment video online or in a recorded session this year, you probably experienced a chat box that was full of lots of detailed questions from colleagues all over the company, with frazzled HR and benefits reps typing fast and furiously to answer all the inquiries.

During this COVID-anxious time, we can all agree that it wasn’t the best experience. Too many links, too many “call this person who can help you answer that”, too many deflections and not enough information and answers. Couple this with video conference fatigue and the gathering of disparate information across a multitude of sources—then the absorbing all of that information—and it all seemed even more challenging this year.

COVID-19 is changing the way our employees feel about benefits.

Open Enrollment Is the “Black Friday” of Knowledge Management

If you’re an HR employee, well, hearts go out to you. There are many resources out there that explain how to properly execute open enrollment, but not in the world we’re currently living through. Your teams worked harder than ever and faced new challenges while having to think on the fly about ways to solve them with no playbook in hand. You needed to get information to your employees across a fragmented communication landscape and gather information from new stakeholders who were also dealing with the same issues. Even though you may have received more complaints and more questions, many kudos to you for crossing the chasm.

It’s well known in the knowledge management and employee experience communities that open enrollment season is the “Black Friday” for the sector. That’s not something that someone outside of HR or IT might think about, however. Employees take for granted that open enrollment, usually falling right around the holidays, is the busiest time of year for employee support organizations. It’s vital that data is collected and analyzed during this time of year and it needs to be organized, easy to access, and simple to understand. No easy task, especially with all of the newness we’re currently faced with.

KM Should Take a Page from Commerce

Now, more than ever, we need sound numbers in knowledge management. Before, during and after Black Friday, commerce companies diligently track their sales, have distinct conversion KPIs they identify and measure, and know exactly what kind of dollar signs they are able to generate – almost instantly. It might not seem like the same playbook, but employee support groups should be tracking towards similar metrics and measures of success. The exact data points might be different, but the methodologies are surprisingly related.

The importance of getting support from technology tools is paramount. The coronavirus has changed just about everything in the way we do business—and a lot of the changes will last. Using the right tools to modernize and deploy information access across a company is not just the way of the future; it needs to be the way of right now. But what tools should you use? And how do you go about making the right decision when choosing such important technology?

How To Identify the Best Open Enrollment Technology and Metrics

First, it’s vital to deeply understand the firmographics that make up your employee base. You need to know the essential numbers that drive your business, of course, but oftentimes even the simplest data might be difficult to access across legacy systems and siloed organizations. The size of your company matters, and choosing the right tools is very dependent on how complex the information is to find.

Here are questions to ask yourself:

  • Is your company data on premises or in the cloud?
  • Do you work in an HR department that’s just one of many?
  • Or could you easily surface all the information about your employees in a couple of spreadsheets?

The answers to these questions will guide you to make the best decisions about your technology providers.

For open enrollment specifically, there’s a question of open enrollment technology vs. benefits administration tools. They’re similar, but open enrollment tech should be deployed if you have a smaller, more agile company and benefits administration tools are better if you have a larger organization that’s prone to turnover. When choosing new insurance and health care providers, be sure to ask which administration and enrollment tools they can easily connect to. That way, your data and goals can be tracked without you having to worry about involving your IT department too much.

Now, it’s about tackling all of the data and creating metrics of success that align with your proprietary information. Companies don’t always do a great job of tracking their open enrollment analytics across the board. If companies were to track sought-after metrics like employee engagement with open enrollment content, cost savings for customers with new health plans and queries and issues that internal stakeholders were facing, HR teams would not only see cost effectiveness rise, their jobs would get easier because the employees they represent would be happier and overall their company would see less attrition. Because knowledge management is not seemingly tied to direct ROI, these numbers often get de-prioritized—however, the benefits are faultless.

We think a lot about the specific metrics and objectives that are going to drive success for an organization when it comes to knowledge management. We believe tracking things like percentage of enrollment by a certain date and number of employee questions managed before enrollment closes are key. This gives the HR department the opportunity to optimize efforts in real time and measure the needs of their employees so future benefits roll outs can run more smoothly.

We work closely with our customers to try and identify exactly what’s most important. The last thing that we want to do is implement technology without understanding even the most contextual goals. Sometimes that means guiding employee experience departments to think a little differently, and even use more “rudimentary” tools like Excel spreadsheets to begin the process of ideating the right metrics and analytics to drive success.

Measure Knowledge Management ROI

Recently, we did an ROI analysis for a large oil and gas company so that they could see the benefit that the Lucidworks technology was providing from a knowledge management perspective. We were able to prove that the time saved by streamlining data discovery created hundreds of millions of dollars in upside for the company. That’s something to write home about. When you couple efficient knowledge management technology with better communication and tracking processes for benefits, those cost savings can almost double. Your employees are your customers and when their experience is more effective, they in turn create better experiences for your end-users. All boats rise.

There’s a chance that we’ll return to some semblance of normalcy soon, but it’s likely our workforces will remain more geographically distributed. Therefore, ensuring that you’re modernizing your systems and creating diligent analytics disciplines will remain important. Feel free to contact us to find out more about how Lucidworks can help you navigate your next “Black Friday”.

About Jenny Gomez

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