Companies everywhere are preparing for the upcoming open enrollment season, but are you planning your strategy effectively? It’s going to take more than a single blanket email with walls of text to encourage eligible employees to participate in benefits enrollment.
Thankfully, we have you covered. To make the most of your open enrollment and promote it successfully, here are 6 of the best practices and tips for you to take advantage of.
1. Start Planning Early!
This is a pretty obvious tip, but it’s one that gets overlooked far too often. We all know that open enrollment is an overwhelming time, but the sooner you can get information and resources into the hands of your employees before enrollment actually begins, the better. It is much easier for an employee to make decisions on their benefit elections when they are fully informed about them.
2. Choose an Open Enrollment Strategy
We covered this in our previous blog post, but consider the pros and cons of an active enrollment strategy versus a passive enrollment strategy. The differences between the two styles could illustrate key factors your company will need to address in order to see successful employee engagement.
Active enrollment is a strategy the uses mandatory employee participation. Of course, this will take time and effort to pull off successfully. Despite this, utilizing an active enrollment strategy will allow an employer opportunities to better educate their employees on their benefits and inform them of new opportunities available for their coverage plans with carefully planned out communications, which we’ll cover further in this blog.
In short, a passive enrollment strategy is a hands-off strategy where each employee’s benefit elections roll over into the next period automatically, which helps employees that forget to update their coverage. Passive enrollment also simplifies open enrollment for the benefits department.
However, passive enrollment strategies also come with their own slew of issues. Without having an active role in promoting open enrollment to your employees, your company may face retention and productivity consequences. If your employees lack a clear, up-to-date understanding of their benefit options then they may not be electing options that best fit their present situations, leading to some unintentional backlash toward your benefits department.
We recommend reading our Passive vs. Active Enrollment blog for more information on choosing an enrollment strategy.
3. Set an Enrollment Date – Then Stick to It!
Setting your enrollment date early on will grant your benefits department breathing room for any possible issues, late questions or requests. In addition, this will allow you to plan your communications strategy in advance for your employees, including pre-communications like save-the-date notices!
To help you calculate the best time frame to hold your open enrollment, consider the following points:
- When will you finalize rates and plan designs?
- When will you know your employee contributions?
- How long will it take to organize your information and forward it to Steele so we can build your case?
- How long is the duration of your enrollment period? (Two to three weeks is the most common length.)
- Carriers will need this information in early December for January 1st effective dates.
- If you take deductions in December, make sure you allow time for reports to generate and December deductions to update.
If you need assistance with this, your Steele Customer Success Manager can help you determine how best to calculate your enrollment dates.
4. Prepare Your Pre-Enrollment Communications
Waiting until the week of open enrollment to blast benefits information to your employees is only going to overwhelm and confuse them. Coordinating a series of pre-enrollment communications in advance will allow your employees the right amount of time they will need to stay informed.
Here’s a few pre-enrollment communication strategies we recommend:
- At least three open enrollment awareness e-mails with instructions for how to enroll. This includes save-the-date messages and notices for new benefit options!
- Company flyers with enrollment instructions that can be posted around or used as payroll stuffers.
- Text and push notifications! The average office worker will receive about 121 e-mails throughout their workday, so why not get these communications straight into your employee’s hands instead of the unread pile?
By taking these preemptive steps, you’re ensuring that no employee gets left behind! If you aren’t sure how to set these communications up, don’t worry. Steele has you covered with premade flyers and e-mail templates, including enrollment instructions, fact sheets and e-mail drip campaigns.
For text and push notifications, we recommend checking out our Engage service, which is an all-in-one platform for employee engagement.
5. Keep Your Communications Consistent
These aren’t just your employees that you’re reaching out to – this is an audience that needs critical information relayed to them in an organized manner. Imagine this process as an internal marketing campaign. The materials you publish need to be consistent in both appearance and details. This means using the same assets across each piece of collateral, such as logos, colors and dates.
6. Engage with Your Employees During Your Open Enrollment Period
The most critical time for employee engagement is during open enrollment itself. Even if you prepare and execute the perfect pre-enrollment communications strategy, some employees are likely to miss out on one piece of collateral or another (or perhaps all of them). In instances like this, Steele’s Engage service can help you target segmented audiences within your employee pool, such as those who are eligible for benefits but haven’t yet started their enrollment process.
In addition to Engage, this is the perfect opportunity to utilize Steele-provided message templates for things like last chance notices, invitations to enroll, and much more.