By: Amy Dozier on July 16th, 2024

Print/Save as PDF

Announcing Open Enrollment Changes? 7 Tips for Employers.

Total Rewards | Benefits

Reviewing your employee benefits can be an arduous process. You’ll spend time working with your broker to explore the market, find the best options, and agree on a reasonable employee/employer premium split.

However, the hard work doesn’t end there. The next stage is the most important one of all: communicating with your team.

Good communication is just as important as the changes you're making to your benefits offering. Employees need to understand the impact of their new benefits options, especially if it changes their coverage or increases their contributions. Most importantly, they need to be ready for the next Open Enrollment window. 

7 tips for open enrollment communication

If handled well, this moment can be an excellent opportunity to show your team that you care. A great benefits offering shows that you’ve listened to feedback, gathered data about employee needs, and secured options that suit each person. Empathic communication at this stage will make your people feel that they’re more than just numbers—they’re valued individuals.

Here are some communication tips to make open enrollment as easy and engaging as possible.

1. Develop a comprehensive communication plan

A well-thought-out communication plan is the backbone of successful open enrollment. Start by understanding your organization's philosophy on benefits and ensure that your messages align with this philosophy. Your plan should outline the timing, methods, and frequency of communications.

  • Key Messages: What are the most important points employees need to know?
  • Timeline: Establish a timeline for when each message should be delivered, starting a few weeks before open enrollment begins.
  • Channels: Decide on the channels you'll use to reach your employees, such as email, intranet, physical mail, and in-person meetings.

2. Create clear and engaging written communications

Your written communications should resonate with employees on a personal level. Writing as though you are speaking to an individual helps make the information more relatable and easier to digest.

For instance, having your broker develop a Benefit Guide summarizing all available plans can be immensely helpful. This guide can serve as a go-to resource for employees, providing clarity and reducing the number of questions they may have.

  • Simple language: Avoid jargon and keep explanations straightforward.
  • Bullet points: Use bullet points to break down complex information into digestible pieces.
  • Visual aids: Incorporate infographics and charts to represent data visually.

3. Use multiple communication channels

Different employees have different preferences for how they receive information. You can ensure that everyone gets the message by leveraging multiple communication methods.

  • Email and newsletters: Regular updates can keep employees informed about timelines and changes.
  • Snail mail: Physical copies of important documents can be useful, especially for employees who prefer to read things on paper.
  • Automated messages: Use systems that can send scheduled reminders and updates.

4. Schedule open enrollment meetings thoughtfully

Open enrollment meetings are a cornerstone of your communication strategy. These meetings offer a platform for employees to ask questions and get real-time answers.

  • Varied times: If your team works on different shifts or is located across multiple timezones, make sure that you schedule at the best time for everyone. If necessary, schedule multiple sessions at different times. 
  • Evening sessions: Hold at least one evening session so employees can attend with their spouses, who may play a significant role in benefit decisions.
  • In-person and remote sessions: Don't forget that you need to include remote employees, either in virtual sessions or by allowing them to dial into meetings.

5. Send timely and frequent reminders

Consistent reminders help keep open enrollment top of mind for employees. A well-timed reminder can be the nudge someone needs to complete their enrollment. Here is a suggested timeline: 

  • Two weeks out: Announce that the employee benefits annual enrollment period is approaching and provide a schedule of overview meetings.
  • One week out: Send meeting invites for the scheduled sessions.
  • First day of enrollment: Announce that open enrollment has begun.
  • Midway point: Send a mid-enrollment reminder.
  • Two days before close: Remind employees that open enrollment is about to end.

6. Offer personalized support

Personalized support can make a huge difference in the open enrollment experience. Employees appreciate knowing that there's someone they can turn to for help.

  • Dedicated helpdesk: Establish a helpdesk or hotline specifically for open enrollment queries.
  • One-on-one sessions: Offer one-on-one sessions for employees who need personalized assistance.
  • FAQ: Maintain an updated Frequently Asked Questions section on your intranet or company website. Alternatively, you can set up an FAQ channel on Teams or Slack. 

7. Evaluate and Iterate

After the enrollment period concludes, take time to review the effectiveness of your communication strategy. Collect feedback from employees to understand what worked and what didn’t.

Evaluation Steps:

  • Surveys: Conduct post-enrollment surveys to gather employee feedback.
  • Metrics: Analyze open rates for emails, attendance at meetings, and other engagement metrics.
  • Continuous improvement: Use the insights gained to refine your strategy for the next enrollment period.

Communication is key to a successful open enrollment

The more you communicate, the more informed your employees will be and the fewer questions they will have, making the process much smoother for you.  The amount of communication will vary depending on several factors, including how many changes are being made and the nature of those changes.

If you are unsure about what to communicate and when, however, I would always err on the side of over-communicating!  You want to ensure employees know it is Open Enrollment time and know the benefits you are investing in to help them meet their personal needs.

If you need more insights or personalized support, Helios HR is here to help. Book a call with a Helios HR consultant and let's talk about keeping your team productive and engaged

Contact Us CTA  (3)