Football is back, school is in session, and HR teams are knee deep in open enrollment planning; fall must be right around the corner. And although now is the time for employers to review and update their open enrollment communications strategy, employees are unlikely to be thinking about impending benefit decisions. This year, in addition to refreshing provider materials and ensuring new compliance requirements, we suggest HR departments take a step back and review your enrollment process through the eyes of your employees.
Communication is a foundational element of seamless and effective open enrollment. As you look to make open enrollment and new employee on-boarding as user friendly as possible, consider the following six communication strategies:
- Use multiple mediums: Employees have a variety of learning styles and consume information differently, particularly across generations. Utilize e-mails, face-to-face meetings, webinars, and printed materials to accommodate the many needs within your workforce.
- Incorporate segmentation: Just as message delivery should be varied, the messages themselves should be segmented based on your population. Segments to consider include age, salary, family status, and location.
- Simplify language: Benefit jargon can be confusing for employees. Using plain English and terms that your workforce will understand is crucial. Individuals need to be able to fully understand their choices in order to decide between them.
- Include spouses: Don’t forget about spouses in benefit communication efforts, if your plan covers them. For married couples, benefit planning is often a family matter and spouses should be informed about the various plan options, as well as enrollment events and deadlines.
- Apply personalization: Benefit decisions are subjective and employees need to understand how various elections will affect them individually. Tools that incorporate an individual’s specific situation and goals are helpful.
- Make clear calls to action: When employee action is required, regardless of the type of communication, make the action extremely clear. Benefit communications can be quite lengthy and, all to often, important tasks can go unnoticed as participants suffer from decision fatigue. Consider making a concise checklist for employees that highlights action items and deadlines.
There is no question that open enrollment is a busy time for HR departments and employees, but effective communications can make a world of difference in their quest for success.