Open Enrollment Communication – Make It Simple but Make It Count

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If you’re anything like me, as a HR/Benefits leader you’ve gone through countless open enrollments, hosted a variety of health fairs, traveled to multiple business locations, and sent email after email to capture the attention of your employees to tell them the good news, “Open Enrollment starts today”.

While we all know the importance of a year-round employee benefits communication strategy, that’s not what is on your mind right now. You are focused on one of the most critical times of the year for you, for your employees, and for your employee benefit plans. I know from experience that right now you are worried about trying to educate your employees in a short-period of time, and help them understand their options so they make the right choices. Because time, money, and resources are limited, it’s not unusual for most organizations to default to previous years’ open enrollment communication formats and processes.

We have to keep things simple this time of year, and everything we do must count. This is no different with open enrollment communications. If we get into the weeds with employees, if we don’t educate employees, and if we don’t utilize the many different critical methods of communication, we will continue to experience the same apathy we get every year. We need employees’ attention and we need them to be involved.

Here are 3 simple steps that you can take to assist in ensuring your open enrollment communication is more effective:

  1. Know who the decision maker is. How often is the spouse of the employee the decision maker when it comes to electing the right insurance coverage for the family? Don’t expect the employee to always bring information home. If you are not sending information to employees’ homes, in all likelihood, you are not reaching the decision maker.
  2. Use technology. You should be capturing and storing spouses’ email addresses and cell phone numbers (for texting purposes) in your Benefits Administration or HRIS system. Spouses should be able to elect to participate in receiving any emails and text messages that pertain to important insurance decisions and critical events such as open enrollment.
  3. Know your employees. Your employees are likely to differ by age, gender, education, family size, and lifestyles. Make sure you understand how these differences can drive their communication preferences and expectations, and therefore, the MULTIPLE mediums (i.e., posters, postcards, emails, text messaging, QR codes, employee meetings and webcasts (include spouses), internal websites, etc.) you need to use to communicate open enrollment to your employees.

I cannot stress enough how we, as HR/Benefit leaders, must always know and understand our employees and our culture and incorporate this knowledge into everything we do. This includes all employee benefit plan communications, but it is especially important during this critical time of employee decision making, open enrollment.

I’d love to connect with you on LinkedIn or on our website and hear about your employee benefit communication challenges. Let’s talk!

At NextLevel Benefit Rewards Consulting, we are reinventing the employee benefits broker/consulting model.

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