Benefits enrollment has always been a complex process. And today, a majority hybrid workforce and a growing diversity of employee needs means getting your people signed up for employer-sponsored support requires a diligent and proactive approach to benefits communication.
So what can your company do to make sure workers understand how best to take advantage of your upcoming open enrollment period? Let’s talk about it.
A recap on open enrollment
Most typically, employees can sign up for health insurance and other benefits during a designated “open enrollment” period wherein they are able to opt in for the very first time, or modify an existing plan.
The process of signing up for benefits – especially under a deadline – can feel daunting to many employees. Once they’ve committed to a certain plan, any changes that need to be made will have to wait until the next open enrollment period. Workers must be helped to understand ahead of time which benefits are best for them if they are going to confidently take advantage of this time-limited opportunity.
Setting open enrollment communication success metrics
An important question to ask yourself when designing any new strategy – how will you know if it’s working?
Defining success metrics for your open enrollment communication strategy will allow you to measure in real-time the efficacy of any tactics you employ. This allows you to find the major successes in your execution, as well as locate areas of continued opportunity to ensure your efforts trend towards improvement.
Your strategy’s metrics will depend on the specific needs of your company and employee base, but these common indicators can help to get you started:
Communications engagement. Whether employees are opening your benefits enrollment emails, attending workshops, watching your video content, etc. can help you to understand the success of your communication material itself.
Benefits engagement. Consider measuring benefits engagement both before and after the launch of your communications strategy. An increase in this statistic will indicate that you’re on the right track, where a similar measurement might mean there’s more work to be done.
Employee satisfaction. The goal of your communications strategy should always be to clarify and simplify the process of open enrollment to your workforce. Consider asking employees directly how they found your communications plan, was it helpful, and are there any changes they would like to see in the future.
Open enrollment communication best practices
Discovering the best benefits communication strategy for your unique workforce will be an ongoing process. Here are some top tips to help set your foundation.
Communicate everywhere, and often
A globally distributed workforce both in and out of the office necessitates a diverse strategy. Warehouse employees may get the most out of a physical bulletin, whereas open enrollment communication for remote employees are more likely to be digital. So, information regarding benefits sign-up should be placed where your workforce is most likely to see it: social media, email circuits, taped to a lunch room table, etc.
Plan also to have regular communication delivery, especially in the months leading up to open enrollment so it is at the top of everyone’s mind by the time the deadline rolls around.
Tell them what they need to know
Avoid making your open enrollment comms sound too much like a marketing campaign. Clear, informative, accessible messaging is what will draw employees in and encourage participation.
It is also critical to design your outreach for different employee groups – make sure you understand the composition of your employee base, and offer benefits which address the needs represented.
Employees with complex health needs face eligibility challenges not shared by other able-bodied individuals. Employees with families will want to know up front whether your benefits package extends to dependents. And new employees may not know which questions to ask to understand how they can participate.
Your communications strategy needs to take employee diversity into account, and speak directly to them.
Get management on board
Solicit managers and leadership at large to field questions and help employees to navigate to the next step of their open enrollment experience following initial outreach. Ask managers to include conversations about benefits during regular evaluations – this can be a great opportunity to further educate employees on the value and accessibility of certain benefits, as well as to gauge satisfaction and success rate of your new communication strategy.
Using surveys, manager report-backs, data gathering, etc. take stock of the shifts in benefit participation and employee satisfaction to help inform your communications strategy for the next open enrollment period. Not what worked, what didn’t, and modify your plan for next year.
What’s Next: Open Enrollment Communication Strategy
The success of any benefits package depends on employee engagement. And benefits are increasingly important to a workforce which is continuing to navigate inflation, exorbitant healthcare costs, and the ongoing effects of a devastating pandemic. Despite increased need, employees may not understand how to sign up for the life-changing benefits your company offers – and it’s your job to tell them.
But different employees have different needs, and whether or not they click through your expertly-crafted open enrollment email may hinge on whether or not they feel the outreach speaks directly to them. How do you personalize communication at that scale?
To find out – and find a breath of relief – check out our other article all about open enrollment communication templates, to help simplify your benefits outreach.