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3 Tips for Effectively Communicating Open Enrollment

It’s that season again! Pumpkin spice, football, sweaters, open enrollment, falling leaves …

While most non-HR people don’t add open enrollment to this particular list, the fall season brings just that to many organizations. Employees are gearing up to make big decisions regarding health insurance and other benefit options, which can be stressful not only for them, but for their families as well. Clear and effective communication between employees and HR is crucial for a successful benefits enrollment period.

Unfortunately, many employees continue to find themselves bogged down by unfamiliar language and concepts. To make your company’s process run smoother, HR professionals must become tutors, if you will, of open enrollment. The following tips may help.

1. Utilize different mediums

Once your organization has its benefits chosen and the details settled, employees must be made aware of the options being offered. A single notification may not be enough to properly communicate your company’s offerings during open enrollment. Time to get creative!

  • Post flyers in the break room
  • Circulate direct mailers to your employees’ families to look over
  • Create a benefits guide
  • Send email blasts
  • Use social media posts to inform followers
  • Schedule in person or virtual training with a Q&A section
  • Digital signage

Using different types of communication methods allows your organization to appeal to multiple generations of employee. If your organization has an internal communications team, this is the perfect time to collaborate.

Once you have notified employees of open enrollment, the conversation isn’t over. Maintaining an open dialogue will help reduce the number of questions employees have about selecting and using their benefits.

 2. Keep channels open

An ideal way to communicate benefits is to create a guide for employees. This document can answer those repeated questions, such as:

  • “What has changed?”
  • “When is open enrollment this year?”
  • “Am I too late to sign up?”

Highlighting key dates, emphasizing changes in certain areas and including a FAQ section can help both you and your employees.

The language surrounding open enrollment can be confusing. To minimize frustration, consider creating a course regarding these terms within your organization’s learning management system for personnel to refer to when enrolling. The Society for Human Resource Management also has an effective health benefits glossary to help employees better understand crucial words or phrases they might encounter during the process.

Yet, questions and open enrollment can’t seem to get away from each other. This is why it is crucial for employers and HR professionals to keep discussion opportunities open to employees. Hosting a Q&A session, creating a dedicated email address for employee inquiries or meeting with employees by department can reduce confusion and help employees feel valued during open enrollment.

3. Know their needs

Workforces vary from year to year, and as millennials and Generation Z workers become the majority, employers and HR professionals should evaluate their processes annually. Understanding what works and what doesn’t is critical to effective communication between employers and employees.

Surveys and discussions with team leaders are two ways to gain feedback from your employees about the benefits process. An ideal survey tool allows employers to easily and effectively attain meaningful results regarding open enrollment. Tailoring your benefits to your workforce allows for better and more specific communication. Additionally, ensuring HR embraces a culture open to feedback and suggestions from employees can go a long way in getting the information required to best understand the gaps.

Taking into account your employees’ needs during the process shows care and concern for your workforce. They feel valued and are more likely to participate in your benefits when communication is placed at the forefront.

Though it can be a stressful time, open enrollment is essential to a balanced, talent-attracting organization. Proper communication gives employees the opportunity to focus on their needs, while driving engagement and satisfaction. Finally, employees who understand the benefits are more likely to engage and use them effectively.

About the author
Author picture, Jennifer Kraszewski
Jennifer Kraszewski
Jennifer Kraszewski, Paycom’s senior executive vice president of human resources, has more than 20 years of HR leadership experience, driving transformative, business-focused human capital strategies in high-growth industries to achieve efficiencies, compliance and employee engagement. Named by Human Resource Executive® magazine as one of the Top 100 HR Tech Influencers in 2020 and 2021, Kraszewski is a featured blogger and hosts webinars on HR topics through the Society for Human Resource Management, HR Daily and She is SPHR- and SHRM-SCP-certified.