5 Ways to Engage Employees for a Successful Open Enrollment

Written by Lauren Fischer | August 15, 2019

Employee Engagement in Open Enrollment

As the days get shorter and the school year begins, HR and benefits professionals are approaching a new season of their own: open enrollment.

While open enrollment is an exciting time of year for human resources, benefits and total rewards pros, it can also be stressful – especially if the time spent evaluating costs and selecting the most valuable plans for employees results in sub par participation.

Despite health benefits being the most important perk employers can offer, employee engagement in open enrollment continues to be a challenge for HR departments. And, according to a 2018 employee benefits survey, how benefits are communicated to employees may be the deciding factor in whether an annual enrollment program is successful, or, even detrimental.

Here are five tips to improve employee engagement in open enrollment season.

1. Choose Active Enrollment

Active enrollment or passive enrollment - that is the question. Or is it? With active enrollment, employees are required to make elections as opposed to having them rollover if no action is taken. While passive enrollment may seem easier to administer, it's a missed opportunity for employees to familiarize themselves with your enrollment platform, consider new benefits offerings or evaluate how their needs have changed over the year. Active enrollment increases engagement and encourages employees to better understand their benefits offerings, and, in turn, the value of working for your organization.

2. Implement a Communication Strategy

Think about the last movie preview you saw or promotion for an upcoming television series - it's weeks or months before the actual release date, right? Open enrollment communication should follow a similar approach, and bring awareness to employees well before open enrollment actually begins. For example, map out an email cadence that starts 1-2 months before open enrollment. This may also be accompanied by print materials around the office such as flyers and posters, or even mailed pieces like postcards. Don't forget face-to-face communication! Remind employees of open enrollment at your quarterly town hall or encourage department managers to lead meetings dedicated to OE.

Bookmark for later: How to Plan the Best Open Enrollment Communication Strategy

3. Speak to What Matters Most

Money talks - and many employees don't recognize the financial value of their benefits offerings. While it's easy for employees to focus on what comes out of their own pocket, the cost of the employer is often overlooked. Additionally, more than 80 percent of employees spend less than an hour reviewing benefits offerings, which could indicate a lack of interest, and, furthermore, cause missed opportunities for employees to save money or maximize benefits.

Keep financial information at the top of the conversation and communicate how properly evaluating benefits options could support financial wellness (and how the latter could result in spending more).  

4. Introduce and Educate

According to a 2017 study, one-third of employees said they did not fully understand what they signed up for during open enrollment. Additionally, a staggering two-thirds said reading about their benefits selections was long, complicated or stressful - both of which could discourage employees from playing an active role in future open enrollments.

To combat these concerns, keep new benefits offerings and education top-of-mind. Start by highlighting the newly-added or improved options you've prepared (starting with traditional core offerings runs the risk of losing their attention when it comes to discussing the more progressive options).

Additionally, utilize your benefits administration partner to provide employees with personalized benefits support for guided enrollment or questions about their plan. The benefitexpress customer care center connects participants to a live person via phone, email or live chat.

5. Make it Tech-Friendly

Today, you can do pretty much anything on a mobile device - including benefits enrollment. In addition to a robust set of offerings, the modern workforce also expects a mobile-responsive enrollment experience. Make sure your benefits administration partner provides enrollment technology that can be used across devices. Our benefits enrollment solutions promote ease-of-use for employees and are available any time, on any device.

Looking for more annual enrollment tips? We'll help you plan your best open enrollment season yet! Our Annual Enrollment Survival Guide e-book covers surveying employees, creating an enrollment strategy and more.

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Topics: For Employers, Annual Enrollment