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How to Up Your Game in Benefits Communication at Open Enrollment This Year

JULIE LILLEGREN
Communications Specialist at HNI

It's that special time of the year when HR employees everywhere are beginning to feel that sense of dread that looms around Open Enrollment.

A few of the questions you may be kicking around: “What worked last year? What didn't? What changes do I need to get across to employees?  What can I do to make things run smoothly (and get out of this one with my sanity still intact)?"

f111577896157382ba3435899064dda3But thinking about rolling out plan changes and communicating with employees shouldn’t leave you feeling all “doom and gloom.”  For better communication at enrollment this year, we have some quick hit tips:

1. Know who you're talking to

While HR professional might understand every detail of HSAs and the many ways to take advantage of them, chances are employees don't have that same level of subject matter expertise. If you want to limit the revolving door of questions come Open Enrollment, help your staff understand their options in a way that makes sense to them.

Educational videos or decision support tools may be worth considering if your plans are complex. Tools like Alex can help break information down for employees in a fun and engaging way and help them make smarter decisions about their health – while alleviating much of the administrative burden for HR.

2. Give your benefits materials one cohesive "look and feel"

The design and tone of what you communicate should be consistent and professional. Some companies enjoy playing with themes, while others find a more subtle style fits their company culture best.

Regardless of the style you choose, a little extra effort in packaging your communications can go a long way.  Think of all of the hundreds of thousands and dollars that are poured into your benefits plans.  It’s worth committing the time, resources, and energy to communicate effectively with employees and ensure your investments in employee benefits is truly valued.

Design not your forte?  Make friends with your marketing team and enlist their help, or consider partnering with an outside firm.

3. Keep communication simple

Those masses of vendor pamphlets and shake pieces? There is a special place for those: the recycle bin.

Take some time before the Open Enrollment crunch begins to sift through and condense information to just the core messages that employees need.

A benefit guide is a great way to pull information together and eliminate extra digging. Rate charts, bullet points highlighting key dates, FAQs, and easy to access vendor contact information are all helpful items to include for employees in the enrollment process. These can be printed and/or posted on the employee intranet.

As tempting as it might be to just stuff the guide with as much information as possible, resist that temptation! Try to keep it between 4 and 12 pages. Even if it's all in one place, information overload is still information overload.

4. Mix up the communication media

Now that all the Open Enrollment details have been hammered out and have a spiffy look to them, it's time to get the word out to employees.

We recommend using multiple communication vehicles to do this: email blasts, intranet announcements, flyers around the office and [if you're including spouse and family benefits] direct mailers will help ensure you're reaching employees. Assign a designated team to coordinate when communication will go out.

5. Prompt and remind

Have you communicated to employees about Open Enrollment dates? Yes? Great!

Now comes the next step: communicate to employees about Open Enrollment dates. Then, don't forget to communicate to employees about Open Enrollment dates.

And after that, communi-- okay, okay, you get the picture. While it may seem a redundant and unnecessary task, reminding employees about upcoming dates will minimize the number of employees saying, "I didn't know when Open Enrollment was, is it too late for me to still enroll?"

Gearing Up for This Year’s Enrollment

Phew!  There’s a lot to consider, but once you start tackling these items, your Open Enrollment communication plan will go from crawling, to walking, to eventually running victoriously through the finish line with an effective and engaging strategy.

Your people deserve effective communication about their benefits.  You’ve invested in designing a program designed to benefit them – so leverage communications as a vehicle to make sure they understand and appreciate the value of what the company is providing to them.

 

 

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Topics: HR / Employee Benefits