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Posted on September 28, 2017 by in Business, Employee Benefits

One of the primary goals of open enrollment is to ensure that all your employees are aware of and educated about the benefits that are available to them. You’ve put so much time and effort into creating a robust benefits package—don’t you want your employees to understand, appreciate, and use them?

Open enrollment meetings play a key role in allowing HR professionals to communicate directly with employees about these company benefits. Make the most of your open enrollment meetings by not just improving the meetings themselves, but by using the pre and post-meeting time effectively.

In preparing for this year’s round of open enrollment meetings, don’t just pull up your PowerPoint presentation from the last few years, update some numbers, and hope for the best. A few strategic changes to the way you manage open enrollment meetings can help ensure company-wide success.

  1. Listen to your employees: Survey employees prior to any meetings to find out what they want to hear. Be sure to specifically address those topics or concerns in your meeting, but incorporate what you know they need to hear as well.
  2. Make time for Q&A: Your employees have questions, so make real time to answer them—don’t just ask in the last two minutes of the meeting and rush through.
  3. Pay attention to the audience: As an HR professional, you may joke about all the glazed eyes you see in open enrollment meetings, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you feel yourself losing your audience, don’t keep droning on—draw them back in with a quick joke or question.
  4. Make your meetings mandatory: If your open enrollment meetings aren’t mandatory already, how many people would you say voluntarily show up? One physician who speaks at open enrollment meetings estimates that only 1/3 of employees show up for meetings that aren’t mandatory. By making open enrollment meetings mandatory, you’re communicating how seriously you take the health and wellbeing of your employees. Enlist management to help you enforce this rule—send them a separate communication, underline the importance of their support, and rally them to be your “open enrollment ambassadors.”
  5. Offer a few different meeting times: Even if the meeting is mandatory, it’s unrealistic to think that every employee is going to be able to make it to a one-time open enrollment meeting. Hosting the meeting on a few different days, at different times of day, to accommodate varying schedules will give everyone the ability to fit it into their already busy schedules.
  6. Don’t go too long: What you’re saying is important, but figure out how to do it succinctly. You’ll lose your audience if your open enrollment meeting runs too long and instead of walking away armed with information, they may just need a break.
  7. Consider the use of video for family members: For example, spouses may be highly involved with your employee benefits, but never get to attend your open enrollment meetings. Create a video detailing everything they need to know and send it out via email. You’ll be amazed by how much they appreciate it.

Another important thing to remember is that you don’t have to start from scratch every year and overload your HR department with work to do for open enrollment meetings. Leverage relationships with your brokers to ease that burden. The benefit partners you’ve chosen may already have marketing materials available to assist you in open enrollment and employee education.

Brokers may also have innovative or interesting presentation ideas for you to make your open enrollment meetings more engaging. For example, IdentityForce provides meaningful marketing support to companies who offer our identity theft protection services as an employee benefit. We can coordinate with you and plan to be present for your open enrollment meetings or HR fairs—we’ll even host an IdentityForce giveaway to create some excitement around the benefit. We also provide content, like infographics and guest posts for newsletters to educate your employees and make your job easier.

Meetings are essential during open enrollment season—put the effort in to making them effective and successful and your company will reap the benefits.

Looking for more open enrollment tips for HR professionals? View our 15-minute webinar, “HR Communications and Strategies for Open Enrollment.

Graphic for the HR benefits meeting