Many people love a surprise, but surprises related to health insurance and other employee benefits are not usually well received. Open enrollment is a prime opportunity to not only help employees with their insurance needs, but also to provide them with the information that they need regarding coverage changes, when they should receive their ID cards, and other concerns. This is not a time to wing it, having a well-structured plan is the best way to approach employee benefits. As a result, your staff will feel more confident and relaxed while your employees will be better informed.
1. Give ample notice of the open enrollment period with a timeline and plan.
Let employees know well in advance when the open enrollment period will begin and how long it will last. A checklist or planner will help them prepare and seek assistance if needed. Include information on coverage needs and budget constraints, any changes to the current plan, comparisons to other plans, and be available to answer questions.
2. Create a list of potential questions and answers.
If you anticipate certain questions, assemble them with their answers in a handout that you can provide in the employee benefits packet prior to the beginning of open enrollment. Include information for contacting you to discuss the specifics of their own situation. This can also be used by your staff to help them prepare for fielding questions.
3. Provide usable information that employees can apply to their own circumstances.
It is okay to compile more general information for employee packets, but when talking to employees individually, you want to speak to their specific situations. Give them information that they can apply to those situations that they can actually use. A person’s work environment has a significant impact on how they receive, process, and use information – and the type of benefits they need, so keep that in mind when you meet with them.
4. Structure your messaging to be transparent and informative.
Just as coverage can change from one enrollment period to the next, so can people’s needs. Maintain a practice of transparency about coverage changes and cost increases while providing vital information on the benefits. Helping employees identify key features that fit their own unique needs means providing a lot of information. Calculators and tools that allow for comparing plans are very useful for this purpose. Avoid passive enrollment and help employees get the coverage that they actually need.
5. Identify different employee groups and create packages that speak to each one.
Employees who are nearing retirement have needs that are different from employees with growing families. Look for specific target groups within the organization such as young singles, single parents, and empty nesters, then structure your packages to meet each group’s unique needs. This is also a good opportunity to introduce ancillary benefits like life insurance, disability, and illness and injury plans.
6. Be prepared to field benefits questions.
Preparation is absolutely vital when discussing benefits with employees. You should have all necessary tools and information on hand so that you can access it quickly and easily. The process of discussing and selecting coverage should be accomplished quickly and easily.
- Educate your team on messaging and preparation.
- Structure messaging to address why benefits are set up the way they are.
- Highlight the organization’s big picture benefits strategy and how it all works to the employee’s advantage.
- Find value points such as promoting retirement savings or encouraging wellness measures through the use of the benefits.
7. Don’t overcomplicate it.
Employees are smart but can get overwhelmed with complex messaging. Keep it as simple as possible.
- Provide visual aids such as charts and infographics, as well as decision support tools, information packets, and checklists.
- Choose several key messages to highlight. This allows employees quickly see what they need to know, but still provide access to all details that they can review at their leisure. Being drawn into an exhaustive explanation of benefits may cause them to glaze over.
Remember: The objective is to help employees choose the best coverage for them, so keeping the message clear, simple, and brief is a best practice.
The opportunities that are presented to you during open enrollment are priceless. You can use this time to not only help employees get access to health benefits or upgrade their benefits, you could be the motivation they need to take charge of their health and take better care of themselves and their family.
Download our free ebook 8 easy steps for your best enrollment season ever for more useful tips.