How to Boost Open Enrollment Communication

5 Best Practices for A Successful Open Enrollment Season

Open enrollment is quickly approaching. It’s time to share changes to benefits and ensure employees review the most updated plan documents. Like any other campaign, it’s essential to set goals and have a strategy to ensure employees sign up for benefits. You’ve spent the time to put out RFPs and select the best benefits, and now it’s time to show off your hard work.

Benefits play a crucial role in attracting, engaging and keeping top talent. Employees who understand their benefits are more likely to make the most of them and appreciate the value provided to them by their employer. Open enrollment becomes more critical to organizational success as the workforce becomes more diverse and dynamic. With these new pressures, we know open enrollment can be stressful for HR and employees. HR professionals have the task of communicating complex topics and ensuring employees receive information.

At National Alliance, we pride ourselves on delivering innovative benefits and high value to our clients. We’re here to reduce stress and help you have a successful open enrollment season.

Here are five tips for providing clear open enrollment communication to members:

1. Have a plan and start with a review of the last open enrollment season

  • Review data – what worked and didn’t work last year? What were you able to accomplish for your organization? What are your workforce demographics? Employees with young families, older workers preparing for retirement, empty nesters and young singles have different benefits needs and interests.
  • Ask employees what they think or review survey information you gathered after last season. How would they like to receive OE information? If you have a planning committee, ensure employee participation.
  • Review materials provided by National Alliance early and decide what customizations are needed. Check in with us if you get stuck or need tips and resources to make enrollment as smooth as possible. Conduct an audit of your OE materials and start making revisions.
Sample Timeline:
  • 4-6 months out: Hold initial conversations and begin the planning process. Set communications strategy and identify needed materials.
  • 2-4 months out: Schedule live meetings and webinars, and roll out your communication plan, including teasers about OE.
  • One month before OE: Test campaigns and ensure you have everything you need to go live.
  • Go live: Roll out your communications plan and measure your results.

2. Set measurable goals for Open Enrollment

You must know what you’re measuring on the front end to show results. How else will you know your Open Enrollment campaign was successful? Your goals should be SMARTE: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely and equitable. Goal setting is also an opportunity to gain leadership and employee buy-in. Consider setting goals around connecting with employees, assisting with employee retention, or lowering the overall cost of benefits.

3. Offer clear, concise open enrollment communication

Even seasoned HR professionals have a tough time keeping up with all the insurance terminology. To avoid employee confusion, share plain language and explain any unusual terms. Incorporate visuals, including photos and videos, when possible, to engage employees. Make it easy for them to know which benefits are available and provide helpful information for their benefit elections.

  • Avoid jargon and explain terminology
  • Use visuals and illustrate benefit choices with real-life examples
  • Offer side-by-side comparisons

4. Create a plan to communicate across multiple channels

We recognize that life’s daily stressors can get in the way of taking care of important business like open enrollment. Communication gurus have long promoted that it takes at least seven interactions for a message to take hold. In today’s crowded channels, it’s likely many more – so plan to reach employees where they are. Send messages well in advance to allow plenty of time for questions. Don’t forget about remote/hybrid workers and overcoming language barriers. Document which employees have received information when possible and collect analytics to measure which channels were most helpful in getting your message out.

  • Email campaign – plan for a series of emails
  • Internal websites – be sure to post images and links on your company intranet
  • On-site meetings
  • Mail – one of the most expensive options but still relevant in today’s digital world
  • Workplace signs and posters

5. Keep it going all year

Much of the content you create for open enrollment is good to share all year. Drive a culture of health and wellness by promoting benefit usage. Set your employees up for success by providing tools they can use to evaluate their financial and coverage needs. Your open enrollment campaign should be a jumping-off point for your year-long benefits education program. Providing timely and helpful information can increase your employees’ financial and physical wellness.

Open Enrollment is a time to share how your company’s benefits package adds value to your employees’ lives. With National Alliance as your partner, our open enrollment communication support will help you drive a successful campaign.

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