Throughout the year, but mostly between October and December, employees have the option to change or add to their personal benefits package during open enrollment. (dun dun duunnn).
Many employees simply tune out communications regarding open enrollment because it doesn’t affect them, but there is always a small population of employees that look to Human Resources (HR) and internal communications for guidance.
Traditionally, HR has taken the lead on open enrollment communications because they know the benefits packages the best. However, an internal communicator needs to play a huge role, if not lead all efforts, to ensure communication is effective and efficient.
Communicating about open enrollment is easier said than done. The topic isn’t sexy and doesn’t typically engage or excite employees. However, you can always dress something up and make it look better by packaging and presenting it differently.
Without the right communications and guidance, employees can and will be lost in the decision-making process and may be left waiting for their cruise ship at the airport. Here are 10 tips to help you improve your internal communications for open enrollment and lead employees, not lose them.
1. Benefits fair – Invite benefit providers to your office to answer employee questions. Holding a benefits fair is a great way to capture a large audience and raise awareness for open enrollment.
2. Targeted emails – Don’t treat every employee the same. A Millennial and someone close to retirement have different needs and wants. Send targeted emails to groups of individuals with information that pertains to where they are in life.
3. Video – Spice up your communications and capture your audience with a creative video. Utilizing an iPhone and iMovie, you can create a simple video that serves its purpose. Services like VideoScribe are also great for telling complex topics in an informative and creative way.
4. Infographic – This creative option enables you to communicate complicated topics in an engaging format that might otherwise be dull.
5. Head’s-up warning – Don’t surprise employees that open enrollment is here. Giving employees ample warning allows them time to review materials and make educated choices instead of a rushed decision.
6. Plan ahead – You know well in advance when open enrollment is and should be prepared with content weeks prior. Getting out ahead of the process will save you time and give you a buffer for unexpected hurdles (they always come up).
7. Simplify – Remember how confused you were the first time you opened a benefits packet? Don’t assume employees understand the language used. Break down the content into understandable and digestible information.
8. Using benefits – So, you have a 401k; what now? Instead of communicating only about how to enroll or what benefits are available, communicate to employees on how they can use their benefits.
9. Surround and drown – Don’t just assume that an email and poster will work. Employees are busy, and when open enrollment comes they need to act fast. Use multiple channels to communicate to employees because what works for one segment of your workforce might not work for others.
10. Year-round effort – Promote your company’s benefits throughout the year. Don’t let open enrollment be the one time that your employees hear about the benefits offered.
Embrace the challenges that come with communicating open enrollment, and look at it as an opportunity to use your full palette of skills and channels. If planned accordingly, this can be an easy couple of weeks and a shining best practice for future open enrollment communications. Remember to always engage, inform and inspire employees, associates, teammates, contractors and executives through your communications.