You might be thinking that it’s not the right time yet to start pulling together your open enrollment plan, but it’s never too early! In reality, the earlier you start planning the higher the chance you’ll be able to execute a successful open enrollment. A big part of that success will be how well you’ve communicated with your employees about open enrollment. Without the right internal marketing and communication strategy in place, plan participation will suffer and employees will miss out on the great offerings that you have spent so much time getting together for them. Here are some things to consider when thinking about a communication plan.

Planning for Success

Map out your strategy - this is a marathon, not a sprint

According to a study from Health Advocate, 41% of employees feel that communication around their benefits is too infrequent. So, when thinking about your overall communication plan you should be treating this as a full-on communication campaign. Ensure that you flesh out your timeline for communication, which should include communication at every stage of open enrollment: before, during, and after. This way you’re not front-loading the communication to employees and then going radio-silent on them. Also be sure to space out your communication to give employees time to think about their benefit options but also build in reminders to ensure the enrollment process gets done on time.

Know your audience

Communication around open enrollment is not a one-size-fits-all deal. For example, employees with families, workers getting ready for retirement, and millennials will all have very different needs. It will be important to share information that is relevant to employees and their scenarios, otherwise you’ll lose them right off the bat. This is true for both the messaging and method you use to communicate with these different groups. You may want to consider polling your employees to see what method of communication they would prefer. This will not only help you understand how information is best consumed by your employees but also gives them a sense of engagement and that they are influencing the process.

Shake things up

If you have polled your employees about their preferred method of communication, you probably received a variety of answers ranging from email to in-person meetings – which is a good thing! Even if you didn’t survey your employees, you should be serving up information in different ways to better ensure you get the message across anyway. So, shake things up! Don’t just use email to get the word out but use texts, create postcards, posters, or even short videos. You may also be able to leverage your HCM solution to display pop-up reminders when employees log in or embed videos explaining the process.

Keep it simple

Regardless of the communication method, keeping your message simple is the cardinal rule for effective communication. If you provide too much information at once people will tune you out. When crafting your message be sure to provide clear, concise information with the links to tools and resources that can be used to provide additional details. Keep jargon or legalese out of your communication and be sure to highlight what’s in it for the employee. Keep in mind what the priorities are for each piece of communication and that you will have multiple opportunities to share information with employees so be strategic about what and how much to share when.

Have fun with it

You will want to catch and hold people’s attention with your communication so why not have some fun with it? Think of catchy subject lines to make emails stand out. Go all out and create a theme for open enrollment, some sites actually provide free themed templates for print materials that you customize. You can also incorporate these themes when creating presentations for webinars or in-person meetings.

All of this takes some planning and that’s why it’s never too early to start thinking about open enrollment. It is important to have a strong communication strategy to ensure that your employees are in the loop every step of the way. Personalize your communication with employee by understanding their needs and how they prefer to receive communication. Keep your message simple and have some fun with it. Don’t be afraid to use themes and different mediums to get the word out. If you keep your employees informed and engaged open enrollment will be a success.

Published: Tuesday, July 30, 2019