Many employers have some trouble keeping employees engaged during the open enrollment season. The sheer complexity of employee benefits can increase confusion among employees and that may be reason enough for employees to drop away. Confused employees typically do not make sound choices about their benefits programs. So it is vital that steps are taken to clarify any unclear information and ensure employees stay engaged in this process.
This is often easier said than done. However, understanding where confusion may creep in and implementing a proactive plan can streamline the enrollment process while providing employees enough clear information to make informed decisions regarding their benefits programs.
Why Employees Don’t Stay Engaged
There are many roadblocks to employee engagement during the open enrollment season. Employee confusion about benefits and the enrollment process is one of the biggest issues. It can leave understaffed HR departments feeling overwhelmed and stressed as they try to answer the deluge of questions that typically come during that time. Addressing these questions on an ongoing basis (or as the information becomes available) it is possible to reduce confusion and simplify the process. Implementing some (or all) of these steps can help streamline open enrollment and educate employees in a more efficient, effective manner.
Make Yourself Available to Answer Questions
Accessibility is key to a smooth open enrollment season. Create canned responses (that you can customize if desired) to common enrollment questions. If possible, establish an email address specifically created to handle questions and distribution of information. That way, questions received via email can be addressed, whether it means sending a pre-formatted response or setting an appointment for a face to face meeting.
Finally, set aside some time for face to face meetings to field questions. In larger organizations, you can set up a booth in different sections and allow employees to come and talk to you. Setting office hours for this purpose is also a good idea.
Start Communication Early
The earlier you can begin communicating with employees, the better. Begin providing information about benefits before enrollment season even begins. If you can put the information in front of employees on a regular basis, they will become more familiar with their benefits choices – and more comfortable.
Create a strategy to distribute information. Automate where you can using tools like an email automation platform to send letters, and intra-office communication to broadcast throughout the organization. Even a quick text message or social media post can start getting employees thinking about the enrollment process.
Choose User-Friendly Technology
Apps, websites, and email are all great ways to get your message to employees. It is also important to note the shift from desktop computers to mobile devices as a way of connecting to the internet, checking email, and more. Mobile usage statistics from July 2019 showed that while 3.72% of people used their tablets to access the internet, 45.09% used their desktop computer, and an incredible 51.19% used their mobile devices.
Meeting employees where they are and creating digital information that they can carry with them and review at their leisure can make the enrollment process that much better. Create a website or develop an app that will help employees review their various benefits options and help them get the information they need. Email is another very effective tool, as is a website that is solely dedicated to the enrollment process.
Plan a Communication Strategy Aimed at Employee Groups
Identify the various employee groups within your organization and develop communication strategies aimed specifically at them. For instance, older employees may prefer printed information while younger employees may prefer information via digital media. Some employee groups that you may find in your organization include young professionals, professionals with families and employees nearing retirement age.
Even employees working in different sections can be classified into different groups. Someone working in the office will likely have different health needs than someone who is working in the warehouse or construction.
Make it Fun
There is nothing like snacks or lunch to keep employees engaged. Incorporate free food and beverages into meetings or benefits workshops to entice employees to show up and stay engaged in the enrollment process. This also continues to encourage the peer-to-peer connection that all employers desire. Make your presentations visually appealing and interactive. Videos can condense all the pertinent information you need to relay to your employees in a fraction of the time. When using visual components, stick to high-quality photos and clear, concise charts or graphs. By keeping them short and visually stimulating, you can also keep your employees’ attention and maximize the short time you have to meet with them.
Open enrollment doesn’t have to be confusing. When you take a proactive approach, you can head off potential issues before they start. It also never hurts to get a little help. Fortunately, Employers Select Insurance Services, Inc. is always here for you. Give us a call today at 916-248-4777. Be sure to visit our website and download our free checklist: Annual Open Enrollment Checklist. We are happy to help.