5 Tips to Humanize Open Enrollment

Posted in Best Practice Thoughts & Culture

It’s that time of year again (if you're in the U.S.)! Your company has updated its benefits offerings. Now it’s up to you to present the updates to the team and make sure they take action during the open enrollment period.

As you kick off the conversation with your team you glance around the room (or Zoom) and notice you’re being met with blank stares. Open enrollment has put everyone to sleep again.

The open enrollment process can be complicated, and unless you’re trained to read legal and medical language, it can quickly become overwhelming. Thankfully, a great internal communications strategy can streamline the process and increase open enrollment participation. You can avoid blank stares with these five tips to humanize the experience.

1) Plan Your Communications Strategy Early

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Communications about open enrollment should start about three months before it actually begins. This doesn’t mean describing the entire process from start to finish in an email to employees every week for three months. We’re begging you don’t do that.

Instead, plan to utilize a mix of teasers, short text blurbs, reminders, and detailed information using a variety of approaches with the team. Include diagrams of changes, Q&A sessions with your provider or a benefits specialist, presentations during your company meetings, a written breakdown, and reminder alerts using a tool like Enboarder.

Variety in communication is especially important if your workforce includes multiple generations. What works to reach Gen Z employees won’t always work with Gen X.

2) Call Out the Changes

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Some people know what they’re looking for during open enrollment and others don’t. In either case, if there are any major changes to your benefit offerings, make sure to explain exactly what changed.

Keep in mind that employees need time to review the benefit options with their family members to make informed decisions, so it’s important to send these details about the plans early on.

3) Be Clear, Concise, and Open

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It’s easy for folks to become overwhelmed when reading through these types of corporate messages. Open enrollment updates are typically written in a combination of medical and legal jargon and your team probably won’t immediately understand how these changes will impact them—unless you write these updates in a simple, straightforward way.

As you create the updates you’ll send to your team, be sure to explain them in a clear and concise manner. As a rule of thumb, write like you’re explaining them to an intern who is fresh out of college and has no idea how deductibles work.

⚡Stay Compliant

As you’re helping your team navigate open enrollment, ensure you’re staying legally compliant with regulations regarding privacy in healthcare. In the United States, this law is called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). HIPAA ensures the privacy of a person’s medical records and needs to be properly disclosed to employees.

4) Communicate Deadlines

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First, make sure you know your open enrollment deadlines. As part of your communications strategy, clearly communicate the deadlines to sign up for or decline coverage and the qualifying life events that will allow the team to change their coverage throughout the year.

⚡Qualifying Life Events

Lean on your benefits provider for the list of qualifying life events. If they don’t proactively send you this list or have it available on their platform, just ask for one.

5) Leverage Technology

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Encourage your team to complete the open enrollment process on schedule by giving them the steps they’ll need to take within your benefits software. If you’re leveraging their online platform your steps will look like this:

    1. Log in to your benefits software
    2. Follow enrollment instructions
    3. Confirm your benefits choices

With technology, that’s it!

Your team can explore their options, learn more about your available benefits, and take advantage of online resources through your provider.

Make your job easier by using a tool like Enboarder to deliver open enrollment information to your team in an actionable way. Learn more about how Enboarder can connect your teams at every stage of their employee experience beyond just open enrollment.