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Open Enrollment: The Start of an Effective Year-Round Communication Plan

Crafting an intentional strategy that starts with open enrollment can support your people, their families, and your organization.

Communicating employee benefits is tricky. On one hand, candidates and employees are increasingly demanding comprehensive benefits tailored to their needs and those of their families. On the other hand, people avoid what they don't understand, and insurance tends to top the list. A year-round communication strategy can bridge this gap, and it can all start with open enrollment.

Open enrollment is a unique opportunity to set communication expectations for the following year – especially if you require your employees to make a selection. The easier open enrollment is for your people to navigate, the more likely they are to engage throughout the year. When planning your open enrollment communication strategy, help your people A.C.T. by focusing on accessibility, clarity, and timeliness.


Beyond ADA accessibility for materials, consider the diversity of your population’s needs:

  • Language: navigating benefits is challenging – even more so with limited English skills. Resources for non-English speakers can help you embrace your entire population.
  • Family and offline access: your benefits are for the entire family, and much of life happens outside business hours. Minimize barriers to support your people and their families with access to benefits and financial information when needed.


Clearly and simply outline what’s changing and what your people need to do.

  • Action-oriented: focus on what people need to know so they can act during open enrollment. It’s tempting to provide utilization guidance (i.e., emergency room vs. urgent care), preventive care reminders, and more – but those create noise during an already stressful time.
  • Separate the changes: Instead of weaving the new plan information with your year-round materials, pull all changes into one document. This approach allows your year-round materials to remain evergreen while allowing your people to make informed decisions.


  • Final decisions: questions often begin once open enrollment is mentioned. Consider holding off on announcements until final decisions are made to ensure a consistent narrative.
  • Two-week window: even for more significant changes, two weeks before open enrollment is often an optimal runway. Your people have several tasks and obligations competing for their attention, and deliverables need to be meaningful with a clear call to action to make the most of their time.

Other Open Enrollment Communication Priorities

Open enrollment is a crucial part of the employee benefits experience, but it’s a few short weeks out of the year. The other 11.5 months are just as important. Consider the following:

  • Post-enrollment follow-up, including reminders about ID cards, refilling prescriptions, and other essential tasks before the new plan year begins.
  • New benefit orientation reminders, including network reminders, shceduling preventive care, or downloading the new carrier mobile app.
  • Monthly touchpoints with enrollees to maintain meaningful engagement. The OneDigital total wellbeing calendar is a great way to provide practical, relevant information at a regular cadence.
  • Meeting the needs of new hires. First impressions matter, and onboarding is where to make a positive impact. Following the same approach as open enrollment, provide your new employees with accessible, clear, and timely action-oriented materials that sit atop, and connect to, your year-round materials.

Open enrollment is a key event for your people and your organization – but it isn’t the only opportunity to communicate benefits. When you help your people A.C.T. during open enrollment, you’re establishing the foundation for a successful year-round strategy.

Looking for more open enrollment tips? Check out this post: Breaking Through the Noise: How to Craft an Effective Open Enrollment Communication Plan.