Whether you refer to it as a “recap,” a “debrief,” a “huddle” or a “review,” once you wrap up Open Enrollment, it’s smart to conduct a thorough post-OE assessment.
While your team might still be coming down from the stress of OE, it’s still a prime time to talk about lessons learned, so you can assemble a plan that improves next year’s outcomes. Give them a brief break, then jump back in. The more you plan ahead, the smoother the next OE season will go!
The key to getting the most out of your OE assessment is being as objective and in-depth as possible — soliciting feedback from every point-of-view and using the next few months to implement your findings.
With some time to spare before OE 2022, here are five steps for conducting an effective post-OE assessment:
#1: Circle back to employee’s OE questions
If you’re not taking detailed notes during OE meetings and town halls, you’re missing out on a major opportunity to address employee concerns. Now is the time to document questions raised both in large group settings and one-on-one meetings. You can create content that answers these questions, where tips and best practices can be shared that are particularly relevant to your audience.
A post-OE Q&A sheet is a great way to show your employees you’re listening to their concerns. It lets them see that their questions and ideas are shaping the organization’s benefits package while helping your HR department function to meet the needs of the workforce as a whole.
#2: Take an action-based approach to benefits communication
In addition to making note of questions employees asked, what actions did they take in response to your OE communications? An action-based versus a blanket approach to OE communications means you’re communicating with employees while they’re taking action on their benefits (i.e. filing a claim or setting aside money in their HSA).
During this window of time, your communications can help steer them in the right direction and offer helpful, informative guidance to make benefits decisions that meet their unique needs. It goes above and beyond educating employees and strives to intercept in the most pressing moments of their benefits selection journey.
#3: Evaluate how smoothly things went during the OE lead-up
Did your employees seem prepared for OE this year? Could you have done more to educate them on their benefits and mitigate their concerns beforehand?
When reflecting on your OE lead-up campaign, here are some other questions you can add to your OE checklist:
- Which communications materials were the most well-received?
- Which communication channels were used most regularly? Group meetings and town halls? Intranet? E-mail? 1:1 meetings? Print pieces? Mailings?
- Were there a lot of questions and confusion or did employees feel confident in their decision making?
By evaluating specific metrics, you can also address any speedbumps or glitches in the lead-up process:
- # of employees who enrolled before deadline
- # of employees who attended OE info sessions
- # of click-throughs on important OE communications
- # of employees who elected a particular benefit
#4: Track enrollment rates and look for patterns
Doing a little digging can help you discover distinct patterns in your enrollment rates. For example, you might learn that a certain employee population seems to need more assistance than another. Or that various groups respond better to a specific type of communication or media format (i.e. e-mail versus instructional video versus social media) than others.
Once you start tracking some of the metrics mentioned in step five, you’ll see a bigger picture of which Open Enrollment communication strategies work best for your employee audience.
#5: Survey employees for feedback
Any good post-OE assessment contains an actual… assessment. A post-OE survey solicits firsthand employee feedback to see what you did well, identify concerns, and improve your process for next year. Maybe the benefits communications were complicated or lacked a personalization factor. This is your time to ask employees for their opinions.
A post-OE employee survey can give you even more actionable data to make smarter decisions about topics that necessitate future employee benefits communications.
Here are a few tips to get started:
- Define the purpose of the survey upfront - Survey fatigue is real. Be clear about why you’re asking employees for feedback and help them understand what’s in it for them.
- Choose the most effective online survey tool - Does the interface allow participants to use “skip logic?” Does it show several different question types (versus simply open-ended answers or multiple choice)? Is there a library of available templates? Is the data easy to analyze and export?
- Ask the right questions - The goal of a good post-OE survey is to gather employees’ opinions but, in order to maintain people’s attention and get accurate information, it’s crucial to keep it short and sweet. Decide which questions are ‘need to know’ rather than ‘nice to know,’ that way you can increase participation rates.
- Remind employees of available resources and tools - At the conclusion of the post Open Enrollment survey, consider including a short list of available resources and tools such as your benefits guide or OE FAQ page. After all, you want your employees to keep thinking about their benefits long after Open Enrollment is over.
Create a Year-Round Communication Strategy
After you’ve taken some of the steps listed above, you can pause for a bit, but building on your momentum can help you create and implement an OE communication strategy that keeps employees engaged with their benefits throughout the year. This cohesive employee communication strategy should support your goals, address employee concerns and keep employees informed.
You can use the materials, tools, communication channels and data you utilized in your post-OE assessment to craft this year-round communication strategy.
- Send quarterly updates via email to highlight time-sensitive and seasonal benefits and programs (i.e. wellness program incentives, flu shot reminders, etc.)
- Track enrollment rates and use an action-based communication approach year-round
- Monitor your progress and continuously track the success of your employee communications and any questions that arise
Along the way, you’ll continue to learn what is and isn’t working with your benefits communications. Think of this as an opportunity to step back, refine and re-deploy.
You might not notice the effects of your changes right away, but, over time, you should start to see trends that speak to your success and employees who are engaged and knowledgeable participants in their benefits selection.