3 Ways to Enhance Your Open Enrollment Communications
Many HR professionals are right in the middle of the annual race against time called Open Enrollment. It’s that wonderful time of year where we work tirelessly to review company benefits, potentially go out to bid for new benefits, and then share any updates with employees. Oh – and then track them down one by one to make sure they enroll before the deadline. Sound familiar?
The Human Resources Department routinely handles Open Enrollment every year. We are familiar with the plan documents, deductibles, employee contributions, and copays. By the time the new plan year rolls around, we can probably recite them off the top of our head! But, we must remember that most of the employees we work with and support every day do not live in our world and don’t speak benefits as well as we do.
I have managed Open Enrollment for several companies for over a decade now, and no matter how much I plan ahead, it’s always a rush to the finish. Through all the conversations with brokers, plan administrators, and the HR team, it can be easy to forget about our critical audience – our employees.
Communication is an important part of Open Enrollment
A lot goes into this process: enrollment booklets/guides, meetings, emails, and plan documents. This is a chance for your employees to enroll in benefits, make changes to or take advantage of new benefits, as well as ask you questions about plan options. This is the optimal time of year for your employees to learn everything about their benefits from you.
For plans that begin on January 1, you are currently in the middle or end of your enrollment period, so most of the communication has already occurred. That doesn’t mean you’re done for the year.
Here are some proactive ways you can communicate before, during and after your Open Enrollment period to ensure your employees know what benefits they have and how to use them.
1. Don’t Wait to Communicate Changes
Once a change has been decided, start communicating it. Change can be hard. If the change is going to be perceived as negative, such as increased paycheck contributions, be honest about why the decision was made and explain the change. Don’t wait until enrollment for your coworkers to learn what is different. If it’s a positive change, like a new benefit, then there is no reason to wait to share the good news! My colleague recently wrote this article about change management which can help you prepare your employees for change.
2. Help With Decision Making
If your company offers multiple plans for your employees to choose from, give them tools to help make the best decision to suit their needs. Many plan administrators or brokers have decisions tools you can purchase. These tools will walk your employees through their life/family situation to help them make their decision. If that is cost prohibitive, create real life examples to demonstrate how each plan may help people in various situations. Here is a resource to create examples.
3. Effectively Communicate
There is a LOT of information for people to get lost in. To help employees understand their benefits, think about spreading out information throughout the year. A benefits newsletter sent periodically throughout the year (monthly, bimonthly, quarterly) can provide snippets of information to employees about their benefits. There are several great purchased email software programs like Constant Contact which allow you to create email newsletter templates to send to your list of employees. Word offers several free templates that can get you started before you commit to a paid option.
Open Enrollment is a major project for any HR professional. Fahrenheit Advisors is ready to help you manage the details, keep your human resources efforts moving in the right direction, and ensure a successful Open Enrollment experience. Contact us today at Experts@FahrenheitAdvisors.com to get started.
About the Author
Jillian Zemp provides a broad range of expertise in recruiting, benefits and wellness, performance management and development. Utilizing her project management experience, she has an outstanding success record of implementing organization-wide programs. Jillian supports clients by providing fractional human resources expertise with a hands-on approach and strategic guidance.