Open enrollment is an exciting, yet stressful time of the year for Human Resources, Benefits, and Total Rewards professionals. It’s the culmination of all the work that went into selecting the most valuable, competitively-priced, and most comprehensive voluntary and core benefit options for your employees. Enrollment periods in the U.S. range but for many HR teams, it’s the period leading up to November 1st through December 15th that is most hectic.
According to SHRM’s 2018 Employee Benefits Survey, “How benefits are communicated to talent may be the difference in whether a program is successful in impacting recruitment and retention, has no effect, or is even detrimental.”
Communication Matters | How to Drive Employee Benefit Adoption
To ensure benefits are understood and accepted by your employees, here are three recommendations to improve engagement:
- Appeal to What Matters Most to Your Employees
According to a 2017 Aflac study, 74 percent of employees admitted there are at least some components of their benefits that they don’t understand. Furthermore, the study found that less than 10 percent of employees changed their annual benefit selections during open enrollment, and more than 80 percent spent less than an hour reviewing their options. This signals a general lack of interest and/or time from your colleagues.
Money talks. At the end of the day, there’s a good chance that many individuals are leaving money on the table by not properly evaluating their benefit options. Therefore, try to weave in an example of money saved, or how the benefit can improve the individual employee’s wellness and perhaps even that of their family members.
- Introduce “What’s New” or Employer-Paid First
As I mentioned above, many employees tend to disregard communications surrounding benefits and open enrollment. If you start by talking about the more traditional core benefits first, it will be difficult to retain their attention when it comes to the more progressive options you’ve prepared!
Lead your open enrollment meeting by explaining any newly added or improved benefit offerings, especially if the benefits are being covered or subsidized by your organization. This can ultimately help to combat short attention spans. Incorporate a cause that everyone can rally behind. For example, rolling out a new wellness program to help employees better maintain an optimal work-life balance.
- Try Different Communication Channels
It’s been said that a person needs to hear a message seven times before they remember and act on it. Many HR teams run benefit fairs or “office hours” to entice employee engagement and questions. Inviting benefit vendors to participate, and perhaps even run a special contest in the cafeteria, is also an option to explore. Digital promotions on any leader boards or screens throughout your office, especially leading up to your benefit fairs, will help to increase attendance, and provide employees with the chance to directly engage with your vendors. Themed benefit fairs also help to rally the troops and create excitement around what’s new.
15-Min. Webinar | HR Communications & Open Enrollment
With today’s talent shortage, the open enrollment period can make or break an employer’s competitiveness in the labor market. To attract, engage, and retain talent, you’ll want to devise an effective strategy for communicating and building excitement around the benefits that set your organization apart.
Watch our 15-minute, on-demand webinar replay: HR Communications & Open Enrollment, for best practices and strategies for success during open enrollment season.