The Employee Benefits Blog

How to Build an Effective Open Enrollment Communications Strategy

Posted by Colin Bradley on Tue, Sep, 16, 2014 @ 09:09 AM

How to Communicate About Open EnrollmentNo matter when you hold open enrollment, getting the word out about it can be a challenge. Putting together a communication plan for open enrollment can help ensure you reach the most people and get them the information they need to make informed decisions about their benefits. Here are some tips for creating an effective open enrollment communication strategy.

Communicate through a variety of channels.

Because different employees respond to different media, let them know benefits meetings are coming up through a variety of channels. “I find the best approach for open enrollment is an email and a flyer at first, notifying the employees of the benefits roll-out meeting,” says Sarah Greene, vice president of human resources for Centerfield Media. “In the email, I usually hint at what will be unveiled but I will let them know that their presence is required as there are time-sensitive materials that will need to be submitted.”

Remember millennials.

Your younger employees may need a special effort from you to get the message about benefits. “Benefits communication and education efforts typically are not designed well for the millennial workforce, so younger workers pay less attention and do not take full advantage of all that is available. Consequently, the value millennials place on their employer’s benefits program tends to be lower than perhaps it should be,” says Phyllis Falotico, assistant vice president of group marketing at Guardian Life Insurance Company of America.

Falotico suggests having internal corporate influencers provide employment benefits enrollment messages to millennial employees via blogs, peer-to-peer meetings and gamification. “By finding effective ways to encourage workers to open a pamphlet, click on a link or watch a video, providers and plan sponsors can greatly increase the chances that participants will achieve greater financial planning success,” she says.

Log some face time.

“The most effective means to communicate with employees is in small groups and one-on-one, in person. That is not the only means, and it shouldn't be the first channel, but it is the most effective channel,” says Tim O’Brien, owner of O’Brien Communications, a corporate communications consultancy that has handled a wide range of internal communications.

Open the floor.

After employees receive the detailed package, there should be at least one orientation meeting when employees can ask questions, O’Brien says. In addition, there should be an opportunity for employees to ask questions one-on-one.

Keep the conversation going.

O’Brien recommends putting together a newsletter or updating information on an internal website to keep people updated about due dates, plan overviews and frequently asked questions. This is also a good place to highlight any plan changes so employees remember them, and to include contact information -- whether an HR contact or someone with the plan -- in case people have questions.

Keep track.

Greene says she keeps an attendance sheet at open enrollment meetings to ensure everyone gets the information they need, and in case some employees need follow-up or review.

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Winston Benefits is an HR solutions company that helps businesses enhance and optimize employee benefit plans, enrich compensation and rewards programs, and save money on benefits communication, enrollment and administration. Contact us to learn more.

Topics: benefits communication, employee benefits enrollment, open enrollment