How to Make Your Open Enrollment Remote Worker-Friendly
  • Tools & Best Practices

How to Make Your Open Enrollment Remote Worker-Friendly

There are 8,760 hours in a year. On average, companies dedicate 336 of those hours to their open enrollment period. But employees spend just one of those hours actually selecting their benefits.1

As an HR and benefits leader, you want to make sure that decision is made with care and that your employees are selecting the right benefits for themselves and their families.

So, while the time employees spend selecting benefits may not be significant, the amount of time you spend planning for and preparing employees for open enrollment rightfully is.

Now, does your company rely heavily on a remote workforce? If so, that preparation just became more difficult. Connecting with employees that you don’t often see face-to-face can be a significant challenge.

The truth is that the traditional workplace is shifting. Technology allows employees to communicate and collaborate anytime and anywhere. More employers are incorporating work flexibility as an option for employee retention efforts. Then, there are also those industries, such as retail and hospitality, that inherently have a geographically distributed workforce. In fact, one in five employees now work remotely 100 percent of the time, and 43 percent of employees work remotely in some capacity.2

Of course, out-of-sight doesn’t mean out-of-mind for you. But how do you make sure that your remote employees are fully prepared to make the best benefit decisions at open enrollment?  

Engaging Remote Employees Prior to and During OE

Creating a plan that caters to your remote workforce is a must. Here are some considerations as you build out your plan to put benefits engagement in overdrive for those employees spread across multiple locations:

Personalize the message with video  

Did you know...

  • One minute of video equals 1.8 million words.3
  • Employees are 75 percent more likely to watch a video than read.4

Video is effective. There is no faster way to extend your presence and message across your workforce than with video.

Plus, videos have the unique quality of being able to convey tone and emotion, which can go a long way in personalizing your communication. That’s important when your workforce isn’t physically in the office.

Your video campaign can begin months before open enrollment and can include many different types of videos. Here are some ideas you might consider:

  • Creating a series of videos to simply get employees primed for open enrollment. Think of it as a monthly countdown to decision-making time.  
  • Providing videos that define basic health care and insurance concepts, so employees have a quick, go-to resource to clear up any confusion they might have.
  • Introducing a new benefit plan? Share what employees can expect, what it means for them and how they can compare their options to make the right choice.
  • Trying to get those procrastinators to select their benefits earlier during open enrollment? Send a video message from your CEO encouraging them to take action.

If you want direct face-to-face time with employees, but you can’t be there in person, consider setting up meetings via a video chat app or your internal video conferencing system. For clusters of employees that work in remote offices, it’s a good opportunity to connect them to the benefits team, show them that you’re there to support them and answer their important questions.   

Want to incorporate video into your strategy? Check out ways to boost your benefits campaign.

Try out text messaging for quick nudges

You might text your friend to plan a night out, or your spouse when you need something picked up at the store, but why not text your employees about open enrollment?

Text messages can be easy to create, manage, and schedule, and they’re increasingly the preferred form of fast communication these days. How do we know? Well, here are the facts:

  • More than six billion texts are sent every day in the U.S.5
  • The average adult spends 23 hours a week texting.6
  • And texts have a 99 percent open rate, and most of that is almost immediate.7

So, texts are really a perfect vehicle for quick, pointed messages that support the rest of your communication efforts.

Ask your benefits technology vendor about options to automate text communication with employees.

Create a new type of connection with social media        

Social media may seem like a funky way to communicate benefits, but that’s really why you should consider it.

More and more of your employees are on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And you can take advantage of that to meet them where they are and make a new type of connection with them. Especially for your remote employees who may not feel as connected to the organization, social media is a great way to cultivate your benefits brand.

Of course, you have to be careful what you share on a public network, but social media can supplement your other efforts and help to get employees primed for open enrollment.

Also, consider your internal social networks like Jive, Yammer or Salesforce Chatter (among others) as places to engage your employees. They’re on these networks to collaborate with peers and connect across the organization. So, it makes sense that you would start a conversation there, too.  

Get a little help from support center friends

Even with the best technology in use, you'll always have employees that need one-on-one support to get their questions answered. When it comes to your remote employees, they may not have the ability to attend your company’s benefits fair and obviously can’t just swing by the HR office to ask questions.

So, they are likely to turn to their phones to call someone for support. And if you have a large remote population, those calls can quickly become overwhelming during the open enrollment period.

Turning to a dedicated support center can enable you to scale up your support when you need to, giving employees a way to get reliable answers to their questions without putting additional strain on you and your team. It's a win-win.

Just make sure that your support center partner will take the time to get to know your company and its benefits program inside and out, so employees get as seamless an experience as possible. The best-case scenario is that your employees can't tell the difference between calling into the support center and calling into your office!

Looking for a partner to help support you this open enrollment? Click here to learn more.

Tap a benefits champion

Last year’s HR Technology Conference featured Marriott Hotels' head of HR as a speaker. He discussed the difficulty of getting the benefits message across clearly when workers are spread across multiple locations (and for Marriott, "multiple locations" is an understatement).

To address this issue, Marriott's HR team came up with a unique idea. They appoint a “benefits champion” at each location to serve as a liaison for the benefits team, keeping benefits top of mind for employees at that location and sharing information and encouragement leading up to open enrollment.

This idea not only helps reinforce your benefits brand and open enrollment messaging, but creates a powerful peer-to-peer connection that employees appreciate.

Tried and true email campaigns

Of course, no open enrollment plan would be complete without considering email.

Email communications can be an effective way to drive employees to action during open enrollment, when done correctly.

By segmenting your remote employees and sending them targeted messaging around benefits and open enrollment, you can show them that they are an important part of the organization and keep them engaged.

For more resources to help you manage your open enrollment message, download your free toolkit to communicating benefits like a marketing professional.


1 2017 Aflac Workforces Report
2017 Gallup State of the American Workplace 
3 Insivia
4 Forrester Research
USA Today
7 Forbes