As we head into fourth quarter, you are probably thinking, “wait…it’s here already? How am I going to engage employees during the mandatory meetings that inevitably are forgotten?”
Is this the time of year that you dread the most? Most employers do - and since benefits are one of the biggest financial investments you make for your employees, it’s critical to make sure your employees (and their dependents) know their options. How can employers successfully get the word out this open enrollment?
As a plan manager, the priority is always if employees are engaged during open enrollment and if they have any clue as to what their benefits offerings are for the year. In fact, 93% of employees choose the same benefits each year rather than making changes during open enrollment*, which can result in enrollment into a poorly fitting plan for themselves and their dependents. Getting the attention of your employees and keeping them engaged throughout the open enrollment meetings is critical in avoiding those types of scenarios. My strategy has always been to share real-life scenarios to help personalize the benefits experience for employees.
For many employers, the first item on the benefits communication checklist is to get the word out about open enrollment and any important changes to the benefits offerings. Here are 5 ways to get the word out to employees this open enrollment:
Companies must strategize and come up with ways to increase revenue and streamline efficiencies. Consider putting the same effort behind educating employees about their benefits offerings. Include important components such as cost, containment and utilization to ensure you are giving employees the full picture.
You should also be strategic about the style of messaging you are providing to your employees. Think about the composition of your target audience, the most substantial changes to the benefits package, the financial impact and how you can best deliver this message in a way that reaches employees? Finally, how can you make those communications fun and engaging? These questions can help inform how you approach your open enrollment communications strategy to develop a thoughtful plan of attack.
Text Messaging Campaigns
Did you know that 98% of text messages are read within 2 minutes? Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? More and more employers are using messaging apps such as Teams and Slack in their daily work life, and many companies are opting to use traditional text messaging campaigns to help spread the word about important benefits information. This provides quick delivery of messages right into the hands of your employees rather than in an inbox that could easily be overlooked.
Your text message campaign could be as short and straightforward as this example:
- First Message: Open enrollment starts November 1st at 9 am. Bring a co-worker!
- Second Message: Great news! We are adding new benefits this year. Come to open enrollment next Monday at 9 am to learn more.
- Third Message: Don’t forget – open enrollment starts tomorrow! Looking forward to seeing you there.
Several different generations engage with videos every day on various social media platforms, so it makes sense that many employers are adopting this trend and using short, animated videos to help explain benefits and inform employees about important dates and deadlines. In a 2017 study of employee benefits video response rates, it was found that 94% of the employees who viewed a video took some action after doing so, including logging into the online enrollment software and accessing benefits information.
These can be distributed via email, embedded on a company intranet page, or shared on an internal social media account for your employees to interact with, and studies show that employees are much more likely to watch a short video than read an email. Animated videos are a great way to bring fun and humor into the open enrollment experience as well.
In the past, many employers have opted for creating comprehensive benefits kits comprised of benefits summaries, insurance carrier flyers and HIPAA notices all stapled together and provided at open enrollment meetings. But those same employers have noticed that the majority of those kits are either left behind or tossed in the trash. People simply don’t have the time or attention span to read page after page of detailed benefits jargon. Instead, consider offering a condensed Benefits Brochure on glossy paper that provides a high-level overview of the need-to-know benefits information in everyday language your employees can understand.
You’re able to capture the most meaningful items, such as costs and coverage and employees are not intimidated by the length and complicated benefits vocabulary. This is a great way to take what might seem like a complicated benefits plan, make it short and simple, and drop it into your employees’ hands.
Recorded Open Enrollment Presentations
With so many employers allowing employees to work remotely or having offices scattered across the country, communicating with all your diverse employees can be a challenge, particularly because you are unable to get everyone in the same room at one time. Recorded open enrollment Presentations (ex: Brainshark, Prezi) allow you to capture the feel of a live meeting and share the information via an easily accessible link for remote employees and their dependents. Many employers are now shifting away from live meetings altogether and instead opting to share a recorded benefits presentation so employees can watch at their convenience and even re-watch any sections that might be of particular importance.
Strategizing the delivery of “Getting the Word Out” and engaging your employee population in an intentional way is your first step to success during open enrollment. Make sure to pause and examine what is working. Don’t be afraid to be creative and think outside the box this season.
*Aflac. 2017 Aflac WorkForces Report for Businesses. Accessed October 1, 2019.