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10 Tips for Engaging Employees During Open Enrollment

Oct 09, 2018

Not getting the results you want from your open enrollment strategy? To make the open enrollment process as engaging as possible, it’s important that you educate and communicate with your employees in a focused and relatable way that drives interest, awareness and understanding.

People tend to make benefit decisions emotionally. Taking a creative approach to open enrollment can help establish an emotional connection with your employees that can be more effective in engaging them in benefits education and enrollment. Consider incorporating the following steps to appeal to employee emotions by creating a strong, memorable open enrollment experience.

1. Survey Your Employees

Find out what matters to your employees with a survey. Identifying benefit priorities and preferred methods of communication will help you strategize where and how to focus key messaging. Survey results not only provide employers information on what their employees want, but workers feel their needs have been heard by decision makers.

2. Assess All Available Resources

Consider all the resources you have available and how to best utilize them in efforts to effectively reach employees. Some of the many resources you should build into your open enrollment plan include:

  • HR staff
  • Budget
  • Marketing or communication employees
  • Carrier and vendor partners
  • Agent or broker services
  • Benefit materials
  • Media channels

Don’t overlook your managers. Involve them in promoting the benefit package and the events and materials HR makes available. Your managers are a layer of reinforcement who can communicate open enrollment messages to their teams.

3. Prepare

Don’t miss your open enrollment goals due to lack of preparation. Develop a thoughtful and purposeful open enrollment planning calendar encapsulating each action, touchpoint and deadline. Map it out and make it broad. Illustrating the steps and deliverables of the strategy will clearly identify where adjustments need to be made to close communication gaps, competing initiatives and a potential missed audience.

4. Generate Interest and Excitement

Generating interest and excitement is the most effective – and simplest – way to increase open enrollment engagement. Start by selecting a theme and pepper it through all your open enrollment announcements and events. Incorporate contests, games and trinkets. You can even encourage some friendly competition by dividing employees into teams. Incentives may include participation rewards through raffles, giveaways and more to gain momentum, encourage participation and ultimately enrollment.

5. Don’t Forget About Benefit Carriers, Vendors and Partners

Your benefit carriers, vendors and partners may offer some services you can creatively leverage during open enrollment. You might be surprised that some of your partners can offer some of their services, support or materials onsite for your employees during open enrollment. Don’t forget to ask them for trinkets for giveaways or for event sponsorship.

6. Communicate and Repeat

It’s important to communicate information to employees via multiple channels multiple times. Each piece of communication should adhere to the 5 Cs:

  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Conversational
  • Convenient
  • Consistent

Your open enrollment initiatives should be purposeful as they should each support your targeted outcome of successful enrollment with reminders to fulfill any calls to action. And benefits are boring, so jazz it up! Use of consistent colors and branding makes your benefit materials easily identifiable.

7. Make it Easy

All communications materials and messages, from handouts to video content to social media to presentations, need to clearly tell what they are supposed to do. That means simple and to-the-point. Communications should lead employees through the appropriate steps, not lose them along the way from information overload. Deliver content in bite-sized chunks and include or embed links to more information, resources or decision support tools available to them.

8. Be Transparent About the Benefits Package

Make it about your employees – it is their benefits package. Consistently convey “what does it mean” and “why does it matter to me.” As long as it’s relevant to your employee base, it will resonate. You can achieve engagement by being honest with employees, answering their queries, letting them know what is changing and what are the reasons behind the decisions.

9. Explore New Methods

Consider new ways to reach the varied demographics of your employee population. In addition to the usual table tents, placemats, posters, flyers, postcards, mailings and emails, play with different media types such as:

  • Digital screens
  • Screensavers
  • Text
  • Intranet
  • Discussion forums
  • Videos
  • Video conferencing

Want to go further? Consider floor decals, bathroom stall messaging and mirror clings, elevators and other employee common areas. While meeting employees via their preferred method of communication, you can still maintain a single hub for all benefit information with those channels leading employees back to that resource.

10. Communicate in Person

In-person messaging remains the most effective way to engage an employee, yet that also can be fulfilled in a variety of ways. In addition to traditional open enrollment meetings, personal messaging suggestions include one-on-one sessions – scheduled or via “open office” hours, utilizing benefit ambassadors, conducting town halls or holding a benefit open house for walk-ins.

For those with families, consider holding a casual benefits information session after hours with light refreshments for employees and their families.

You’re On Your Way

Taking a creative approach helps you make an emotional connection with your employees that can be very effective around open enrollment. Employees are invested in their own well-being, after all, and you’re sharing with them how your company’s benefit package adds value to their life.

Following these tips will give you the foundation to provide an engaging, multi-channel experience that meets the diverse needs of your employees during open enrollment.

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