8 Tips for Effective 2023 Open Enrollment Communication
October 18, 2022
Now more than ever, employees are looking to their employers for guidance on navigating their available benefits and how to stretch their dollars further. As such, clear and effective open enrollment communication is critical. Employees are likely paying more attention this year as they also navigate record-high inflation and work to maximize every hard-earned dollar. That means employers have an opportunity to shine by effectively communicating and guiding employees throughout the open enrollment process and even the rest of the year.
Communicating With Employees
Educating and informing employees about their benefits package is an integral part of open enrollment. Effective communication is critical to educate and inform employees about new, returning or expanded benefits options. Consider these eight communication tips:
1. Start early. Get the word out early about benefits offerings so employees have ample time to understand their benefits, consult with family members and determine their needs for the following year. There’s no such thing as communicating “too soon” about enrollment. Research shows that repetitive messaging and reminders increase the odds of an employee seeing enrollment information and understanding the upcoming benefit changes and how they work.
2. Develop key messaging. After solidifying benefits options, employers need to plan their communication strategies. The first step is figuring out key messaging, focusing on new or updated benefits offerings, and developing FAQs to address common concerns quickly.
3. Select a mix of appropriate channels. Just as many workplaces operate in a hybrid model, employee communications can be successful when done in a similar manner. For example, digital channels can help distribute and house information virtually, allowing employees to access it when and where they need it. There’s still a time and place for companywide on-site meetings and mail-to-home print communication. Postcards and other mailers are still relevant and can serve as a reminder to discuss and review benefits options at home. Every workplace is different, so it comes down to selecting various channels that are relevant and engaging to each organization’s specific employee demographics.
Keep it simple. It’s vital to simplify any benefits information being shared. Employees don’t need to know everything, so employers should highlight what’s necessary to understand about each benefit and the information to help them decide if they need it. Links or attachments could explore the benefits further and offer the fine print.
- Make it digestible. It’s crucial to catch employees’ attention and present the key message immediately before they lose interest. Traditional benefits booklets can be lengthy; instead, employers could deliver bite-sized information to employees. Consider methods such as videos and emails with a centralized hub for further details and resources they can explore. If all open enrollment information is given at once, it’s easy for employees to become overwhelmed and, ultimately, disengage with employer-provided information. Digestible communication makes it easy for employees to know what to focus on and take action.
- Use real-world examples. When possible, employers can put benefits offerings in context with real-world scenarios. Employees can relate to stories, so find ways to bring the options to life. For example, instead of describing telemedicine as a 24/7 benefit, highlight that an employee could get health care answers in the middle of the night when they or a child are running a high fever. The chances of employees needing to use health care benefits during the next year are highly likely, so help reiterate the importance of complete coverage.
- Avoid jargon. Avoiding HR or benefits-related jargon is best to help make benefits easier to understand. Additionally, many benefits are acronyms, so employers should help decode and explain the alphabet soup to employees.
- Personalize communication. Ultimately, employers want to engage employees with open enrollment information, and a personalized approach can help. It’ll depend on the workforce and their working environments, but employers will likely need to segment their employee audience and tweak messaging so it resonates. For example, open enrollment methods and communication would look different for remote, on-site and non-wired employees.
Benefits can be complicated. Although open enrollment is the most pivotal time to highlight benefits to employees, employers have an opportunity to educate employees throughout the year. Ongoing communication after open enrollment can help encourage employees to understand and utilize the benefits available to them.
Educating and informing employees about their benefits options is an important part of open enrollment. Effective employee communication is an ongoing process, but it comes down to helping employees feel well-informed about their benefits options and confident about their choices.
As always, feel free to contact your Hylant representative to discuss how we can assist you with your employee benefit questions. Don’t have a Hylant representative? Click here to find one near you.
With 20+ years of experience in employee benefits, Teri has held strategic, development and leadership roles in her career. At Hylant, Teri is responsible for providing leadership in the areas of communication and employee engagement. Her expertise focuses on our client’s greatest assets, their employee population.