Few business owners or HR pros would argue that open enrollment isn’t one of the most challenging times of the year, even under normal circumstances. This year, COVID-19 has led to millions working from home, making it challenging to hold face-to-face meetings or town hall sessions to launch your annual benefits programs.
But you can still provide effective education, communication, and engagement strategies, even for employees who may have to rely on virtual open enrollment options.
The key to successful open enrollment communications during challenging times? Plan ahead.
Turn challenges into opportunities by planning for what open enrollment will look like at your company. How can you best leverage technology to streamline procedures?
- Your logistical team should include your tech pros. Work with them to ensure the user experience is easy, clear, low-stress, and easily accessible for everyone. Effective tools and processes should be built right into the systems that employees use for their day-to-day work.
Education and communications go hand in hand.
Your goal is a workforce that cares about optimizing the value of their benefits and making the best choices for themselves and their families in a timely manner.
- Spread your messages over multiple platforms. Use a blend of social, online, and traditional media. Provide numerous access points to information and present it in various ways to make sure every employee understands it. Your tools may include brochures, newsletters, videos, emails, texts, or a dedicated communications app. Postcard mailing to homes can also be valuable, for instance, for employees who may not have a home printer but want to easily review material with family members. You can even include optical labels that launch an open enrollment portal or stream videos when scanned on a smartphone.
- Design a communication plan that provides crisp, relevant messages without being overly repetitive. Some employees may have completed open enrollment early on while others are still undecided, so avoid communication overkill by targeting your messages to each of these audiences.
- Offer decision support tools for active enrollment. These guide people through their choices based on their expected healthcare use, family status, income, and other factors. This leads to heightened benefits awareness. During open enrollment, your return on your HRIS investment surfaces.
- Reinforce individual sessions between an employee and a benefits counselor. It may have to be via Phone, Zoom, or video chat, but reassure people that they don’t have to make decisions in a vacuum.
- Encourage questions. Communication and education are two-way streets. Answering questions from employees and their family members is an opportunity to build engagement and satisfaction. It also helps you evaluate and continuously improve your business.
- Involve front line managers. They can reinforce messages and assist employees in using your HRIS and other open enrollment resources available to them.
HR Works, Inc. is a total solutions provider of HR management and benefit services, including open enrollment planning and administration. Our trained benefits specialists can help educate and prepare your employees to make the right informed decisions every step of the way. Contact us today to learn more.