10 Ways to Reach Employees This Open Enrollment

10 Unique Ways to Reach Employees This Open Enrollment

There can rarely be enough communication about something as complex and important as benefits enrollment. Bombarding employees with information during the once-a-year open enrollment period won't guarantee they retain all the information they need to make the informed benefit decisions. Instead, benefits administrators should think about different ways to deliver meaningful messages that will capture employees' attention and encourage them to take action leading up to and during open enrollment. 

Here are 10 unique ways to reach your employees this OE:  

Think Digital

Today’s employees are more tech-savvy than ever, especially now that the majority of the workforce is made up of millennial employees. Speak their language and bring the benefits experience to them. That may mean experimenting with channels that are non-traditional for your benefits team. But the payoff could be big when you move them past an action-oriented process to a connected benefits experience. 

Here are some key tactics to consider for a digital approach to reach employees:

  • Mobile engagement just makes sense as mobile devices inherently bring an always-on, connected mentality. It’s ideal for digital natives that expect this level of connection or for remote employees that can’t make it to the office. And considering that 98 percent of text messages received are opened within three minutes (according to Pew), it's practically a surefire way to make sure they receive the communication. Try crafting short messages to get employees primed for OE or to remind them to enroll.
  • Social media should be part of your strategy if it’s not already. Whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or any of the other social platforms out there, employees are engaged on this medium and you should be too. Think it’s not the right place to be? Major employers are adopting it to connect with employees. For example, the ready-to-assemble furniture giant, IKEA, chose Twitter to prepare employees for OE. They sent tweets such as, “If I don’t enroll in benefits now, can I do it later? Go here b4 it’s too late.” Not only was IKEA able to reach out to their employees about their benefits with less than 140 characters, but they were also able to communicate with them in a highly accessible way for social savvy employees. 
  • Blogs are both powerful and engaging. Benefits are complex, but regular posts by HR and benefits administrators offer an opportunity to dispel that complexity and in a way that’s approachable. You can open up the posts to comments so that employees can add questions or comments. Take it a step further and ask employees to contribute posts themselves. For instance, if you know an employee that had an impactful benefits experience, ask them to write a blog post on how their benefit coverage helped them. Employees hearing from their peers can be an effective way to get them engaged on this important topic.  
  • Video has many positive aspects – customization, personalization, and appeal to your visual learners. It also allows companies to foster familiarity. For example, if a company is initiating a major plan change for the benefits they offer, employees can watch a senior manager explain why the change was made and how it impacts them, rather than read an impersonal internal memo. Video is an easy way to offer clarity and lets your employees find answers to common questions quickly.
  • Virtual message boards may be relatively old, but are still a useful means of digital communication. They can easily be used for targeted communication and are a way for individuals to ask questions and get responses from other users, or search previously posted questions to find answers. Not only does this allow for effective and efficient communication, but it also fosters a sense of community within a company.

Expand Your Reach

Some of the more outside-the-box methods are great opportunities to engage employees in their health. It gives you the chance to add some new ways to engage employees, highlight the unique value of your company’s benefits and brand your benefits.

Expand your reach with these engagement techniques:

  • Incentives like contests or promotions encourage employees to engage with their benefits and complete OE. One way to do this is by holding a contest for employees that complete OE on the first day. Give out prizes to the entire group or select one grand-prize winner. These serve as motivators for other employees to get started.   
  • Lunch & Learns or Health Fairs offer employees a way to connect face-to-face and bring your benefits to life. Inviting family members to attend gives a call to action for all members of the plan and encourages investment from the entire family. Make them an event that employees want to attend. One major retailer, The Limited, saw great results by incorporating prizes for attending, healthy snacks and fun themes.   
  • Webinars delivered leading up to open enrollment provides digestible touch-points for employees and gears them towards making the right choice for them. Perhaps you're making a big plan change or adding a new offering. Maybe you've noticed employees ask questions around the same areas each year. By offering quick, 20-to-30-minute webinars, employees can attend the ones that make sense for them and you can make them available on demand for those that can’t attend.

Don’t Forget the Tried & True

Traditional methods for engaging employees can be effective and are still very necessary, but it’s all in making sure you do it correctly. Take a page from your marketing peers – have a strong call to action, make it clear whom the information is coming from, and don’t water down the message.

The old-school techniques that still make a difference:

  • Email is still an important part of your strategy. Many employees expect this form of communication, especially when it relates to HR and benefits. But it doesn’t have to be the same old thing. Make it fun, incorporate your theme and use subject lines that makes someone want to open the email – anything you can do to add some flair that engages employees can help you accomplish your goal.   
  • Printed pieces (posters, flyers, postcards) add more color to your OE as they offer a great place to highlight company themes and branding. They can be spread out throughout your office and put in places employees frequent to serve as reminders. Consider sending postcards to your employees’ homes so that their entire family is informed about OE.

Whatever approach you choose to take this OE, make sure to keep the lines of communication open with a planned approach. Connecting your effort across all of the channels with a consistent brand voice and clear information will help you optimize the results and help your employees connect with their benefits.

Need some help with your employee engagement plan this OE? Get the OE Power Pack, complete with sample communications, templates and resources for timing your OE communications.