Scaling the First Benefits Enrollment Hurdle: Employee Engagement

Employees have a lot on their minds at the best of times, both professionally and personally. This state of affairs can make it tricky for human resources management to engage workers and get important messages across. It can be especially difficult to get the workforce's attention at this time of year, when members of staff tend to be focused on the holidays and the important task of completing any projects that need to be crossed off their to-do lists before the year's end. The fact that it's benefits enrollment season may not be a high priority for them - or, something that isn't on their radars at all.

Engaging employees may seem like a challenge for HR management but it's not impossible, provided have the right tricks up your sleeve.

Here are a few tips to get workers to sit up and take notice that open enrollment is coming.

Keep communication short and sweet

Employees have a lot on their plates. With this in mind, scheduling a long meeting about benefits with a huge amount of information might not be the best way to engage your workers. Sure, they'll be physically present in the conference room, but their minds will likely be somewhere else. Rather than taking the "knowledge dump" approach, HR management should boil down the facts to their most basic form and ask themselves the following questions:

  • What key details do employees need to know?
  • When do they need to know this information?
  • What's their pre-existing level of understanding about the topic at hand?
  • What should they take away with them?

Once HR has solidified these objectives, it's time to condense the answers to the questions. A good rule of thumb is to construct short, simple sentences, avoiding terms that might go over employees' heads and minimizing the use of confusing acronyms. Long, complicated can quickly disengage workers - and once you've lost their attention, it's going to be hard to get them re-engaged.

Reinforce through repetition

Taking a "one and done" approach to anything related to benefits enrollment is a mistake. For instance, say you hold a physical meeting in the office. Taking this approach might be a good way to reach the members of your workforce who are in the building, but what about all the employees who are on the road, telecommuting, on vacation or out sick? Similarly, if you send a single email, it might get accidentally deleted or starred by a busy worker who intends to come back to it later but never does. If you hang posters and leave it at that, members of staff who rarely or never come into the office will be out of the loop.

To make sure all employees get the message, reach out to the workforce multiple times, ideally through different channels.

Don't limit yourself to one medium

When something as important as benefits enrollment season rolls around, relying on a single channel to get critical information across is inadvisable. Here's a list of just some of the ways you can ensure your message reaches employees:

  • Hang posters in the office
  • Send out emails
  • Make a post on the company's intranet
  • Hold in-office meetings (but make sure they're short and sweet!)
  • Hand out brochures and flyers
  • Mail information to workers' home addresses
  • Add important benefits deadlines to workers' electronic calendars

The bottom line

Whichever channels you choose to disseminate information, ensure that your message is brief, to the point and unambiguous.

Workers will need to delve more deeply into the particulars of benefit enrollment at some point, but the first stage is to engage them. Once they're aware it's enrollment season and understand that they need to take a look at their coverage, you can point them in the direction of employee benefit management software. This can help guide them through the process and ensure they end up with the plans that correspond best with their individual needs.