Considerations for Open Enrollment Communication
No matter what time of year open enrollment falls within your own organization, it is always a time that involves a lot of preparation and hard work for everyone involved. Once the renewal decisions are made, one of the most important pieces of the renewal process comes into play: making sure your employees understand their benefit options and how you came to your renewal decision.
Oftentimes, open enrollment comes along with plan design changes, updated employee payroll contributions, and sometimes even moving to a different insurance company. With all of these moving pieces, it is important to come up with a strategy to effectively communicate the benefit information to your employees. Consider the below:
1. What means should we use to communicate the plan options to our employees this year?
Many companies decide to hold an annual open enrollment benefit meeting for their employees. This is a time set aside for employees to learn about their plans and the steps they need to take for the upcoming year. During the meeting, employees will be given details on the plans being offered for the upcoming year. For some organizations, it may be difficult to gather all of your employees at one time to hold an open enrollment meeting. If you have employees that are often out in the field or even located across the country, you may want to consider offering a webinar. This would give employees a link where they can view the presentation of the plans and will also serve as a tool for them throughout the year. Another benefit of having a recorded webinar is that employees can watch the presentation at home with their family to help make their decision. Depending on your organization, consider your options on what would fit best with your organization’s people and culture.
2. How do we explain our plan selections for the upcoming year to employees?
It is so important to explain the renewal process to your employees before providing them with all of the specific plan details. Being open and honest with your employees about the process you, as the employer, went through to make the decisions helps your people to understand the “why” behind changes that are being made. If your benefit plan design is changing or employee payroll costs are increasing for the upcoming year, it is important to explain the process and why you came to the decision that you did. Many times employees will just look at what the new cost is for the upcoming year and if they just see that it increased without any explanation behind it, this could cause frustration and can lower morale. If your employees understand all of the hard work, time, and resources you used to make your decision they are much more willing to accept the changes that are being made with an open mind.In order to implement an effective communication strategy during open enrollment, it is important to consider your organization’s culture and people. Choose the communication means that is most beneficial to your employees and remember to explain the “why” behind any changes during open enrollment.