Even as pandemic-implemented protocols and restrictions are starting to lift, many individuals are still facing stress and uncertainty around their long-term health and financial well-being. With this in mind, it’s important for employers to engage their employees in benefits decision-making as early and as often as possible this year as we approach another unique Open Enrollment season.
How to Start Building an Open Enrollment Communications Plan of Action
According to the 2019/2020 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey Report, only 40% of employees feel the health and wellness resources provided by their employers adequately meet their personal needs. Even less employees (32%) believe their employer-offered financial wellness benefits and resources are meeting their needs. So the question is, do you not have the benefits and resources or do employees not know about what you have?
If there were ever a time to take stock of your Open Enrollment approach and tailor it to your employee’s current and future needs, this data points to a clear reason why. And, while you might not have your hands-on finalized materials from benefits providers or detailed updates to share, this is still a great time to take stock of the current situation, brainstorm what needs to be communicated, and start to build a plan of action. Here’s how:
Evaluate Your Open Enrollment Process
Start by assessing last year’s Open Enrollment — what went well, and what didn’t — from the procedures themselves to the employee experience, communications successes and failures. You can reflect on your 2020 Open Enrollment goals, the effectiveness of your Open Enrollment resources, tools and technologies, and measure the popularity of each benefit product with employees.
Audit Your Open Enrollment Communication Materials
Part of the evaluation process is taking an audit of last year’s Open Enrollment communication materials. You can pull the key collateral, mark it up with changes and recommendations for revision, and even solicit employee feedback on which communications resonated and which didn’t.
You can also start pulling together and updating frequently accessed support materials such as FAQs, benefits guides, and glossaries of commonly used benefits terms.
Communicate With Benefits Providers
By reaching out to benefits providers early, you can begin outlining any new information about their resources and even leverage certain vendors to help directly support your Open Enrollment efforts. SHRM has a helpful list of key questions to ask your benefits broker, which can give you some insight on how to effectively approach them.
Here are a few questions you can ask your providers before Open Enrollment begins:
- What types of online enrollment tools do you offer?
- How much support can you offer our HR department?
- What collateral materials can you provide?
- Do you have enrollment FAQs, informational videos, etc. that we can share with employees?
Gather Employee Feedback
Solicit employee feedback in an online poll or survey, or sit down and start asking what they want more information about. Find out where the communication gaps lie by learning exactly how they like to receive their information. While some employees may opt for face-to-face updates, others might want their Open Enrollment communications delivered through email or text. Start by asking how they typically access benefits-focused materials, and tailor your communications to meet them where they are.
Consider the Benefits of Going Digital
Whether it’s an e-guide to Open Enrollment, links to interactive or gamified benefits websites, or even a virtual benefits fair, this year’s Open Enrollment might have to be delivered a little bit differently than Open Enrollment’s past. Think about using a comprehensive benefits decision support platform to engage employees with the offerings best suited to their needs, offering educational video training or tutorials, inviting engaging guest speakers with subject-matter expertise, and utilizing other digital Open Enrollment approaches that reach employees remotely and still make them feel included. Plus, many online platforms offer reporting that can help you determine employee behavior and communication preferences so you can further tailor ongoing messaging.
Better Open Enrollment Planning is Better for Everyone
Equally as important as the types of benefits you offer is the promotion of the benefits themselves. By leveraging the right resources and tools and preparing a comprehensive communications approach, you can increase employee engagement and empower them to make the best decisions for their unique health and wellness goals.
When employee needs are the center of Open Enrollment planning and prep, it’s a win for the entire organization.