Preparing for an Engaging Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment! It is a challenging time of year- one filled with a plethora of communications, confusion about benefits elections and employees navigating their healthcare. Having an effective and engaging Open Enrollment is pertinent to ensure that individuals enroll in coverage, understand their access to care and feel connected to the organization.

Only 17% of individuals report that they understand their total annual health care costs.  Finding solutions that fit your workforce are key to improving enrollment rates and employee retention. In a study conducted by Aflac, 80% of employees stated that a well-communicated benefits offering would make them less likely to leave their jobs.

Before Open Enrollment begins, reflect on the prior year to determine what worked and what didn’t. Recall how employees responded to your mode(s) of communication and evaluate what can be done differently for this year to increase engagement.

Here are 4 things to consider to prepare for your Open Enrollment:

1. Reflect on Previous Years – Reflect on previous years to identify any gaps.  Here are few good questions to discuss with your team in preparation (quick tip – an employee benefits survey will provide a good glimpse into what your employees are thinking):

  • What worked last year?
  • What was the most common feedback response from employees?
  • What was the most engaging vehicle of communication?
  • What troubled employees the most?

2. Prep Your Employees– Notifying employees about the upcoming Open Enrollment is pivotal-  plan for your staff to know the dates and deadlines of enrollment. Encourage employees to review the previous year’s benefits package and write down questions they had in the past. Consider providing a checklist of things for your team to do to prepare for enrollment. Be transparent about your benefit offering and discuss changes up-front to avoid confusion.

3. Remind and Encourage– Open Enrollment shouldn’t be the only time you discuss benefits with your employees. Benefits should be an on-going, year-round discussion. This will help minimize the flood of questions at Open Enrollment.  Develop a schedule to communicate on a monthly or quarterly basis- even if just seasonal information, such as flu shots. Remind employees that Open Enrollment is their time to change elections and review plans. Premiums can change and life circumstances arise- employees will appreciate the encouragement for them to re-evaluate their health coverage to address their current health and lifestyle needs.

4. Create Effective Communication Materials– Utilize your HRIS to setup an internal portal to share pertinent company benefits details.  If you do not have an HRIS platform Google Docs make a good “hack” to share information across your organization. Either technology will allow you to post plan information (for new hires and Open Enrollment), and potentially link to the benefits admin platform. Additionally, you can communicate with your employees through interactive emails with engaging headlines, flyers around the office, webinars/live meetings, or even slack messages. Whether you have a benefits broker who will prepare a Benefits Enrollment Packet and/or Presentation, or you need to do prepare one yourself, having prepared content with your benefits details will simplify the process.  Know your audience at your organization to determine the best medium for communication.

Open Enrollment communications can be challenging, regardless of the size or demographics of your employees. Rethinking your strategy can change the whole experience – from streamlining the process for the HR team to enhancing employee engagement.  

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