Annual enrollment is a stressful time for human resources and employees alike. Making few changes and leaning into a passive enrollment can seem like the easiest solution for all involved. It’s more time consuming for HR as it falls on them to roll over workers’ choices from the previous year. But while a passive enrollment can save a few headaches in the short run, letting it happen without a concerted effort to increase employee engagement could cause long-term harm.
Build a Benefits Knowledge Base or Watch It Crumble
Studies show that employees generally have a less-than-robust understanding of healthcare benefits. For this reason, passive enrollment holds a lot of appeal for employees. They don’t have to wade through confusing plan details or look up unfamiliar terms. They can give it a cursory glance and decide it’s not worth the effort of figuring out how what they have differs from what they could have. But employees deciding to think about it later means they’ll be less prepared when they need to file a claim.
The annual-enrollment period is too often the only time employees hear about company-sponsored benefits. It’s also the time of year when they’re used to learning about healthcare and benefits. If employees know you’re having a passive enrollment, they’ll likely skip the educational aspects too. And, as with any information taken in, if it isn’t used regularly, it’ll probably be forgotten. So, when you make changes to your benefits offerings that necessitate an active enrollment, you’ll have to re-educate your employees about the basics.
The best way to ensure your workforce retains its knowledge base is to communicate about benefits topics throughout the year. However, it’s easier said than done. Which, again, leaves annual enrollment as your main opportunity for communicating benefits to workers.
To Change or Not to Change?
If you only have one opportunity a year to educate your employees about benefits topics, then you can’t afford to lose it due to a passive enrollment. One way to ensure they pay attention is to develop your communications strategy as though you’re having an active enrollment. If you hold webinars to review plan changes during active enrollment, then keep the webinars but review how to use the voluntary programs you offer. If you message employees multiple times during active enrollment, then message them several times during your passive-enrollment period. Just because your benefits package is the same as last year doesn’t mean you won’t be providing workers with information that’s new to them.
Of course, the exact-opposite approach would draw attention to your passive enrollment too. Change your messaging approach entirely. Did you use mailers and flyers last year? This year, go digital. Haven’t used video before? Break out a camera. If you want something less drastic, you can combine print materials with digital options, like our digital postcard campaigns. Presenting that information in a new way or highlighting overlooked or under-performing initiatives (like wellness programs or pet insurance) grab workers’ attention and drive them to take action.
Aggressive Campaigns for Passive Enrollment
Regardless of the changes, one goal remains the same: get your workers to enroll on their own (or re-enroll, so your HR team isn’t swamped rolling it over for them). At Flimp Communications, we offer tools and services that make it easier for HR and employees to navigate the enrollment process. Our library of licensable explainer videos covers almost 50 benefits and HR topics, with each title available in English and Spanish.
Beyond our other video production services, our digital postcard campaigns are ideal for push employee communications like open enrollment. Digital postcards allow you to gather a multitude of resources and present them to employees in an interactive, on-demand microsite. Videos, benefits guides, enrollment-portal access and decision-support tools can be shared with workers via email, text message, even via printable QR codes. With tracking and hosting, digital postcard campaigns make it easier than ever to measure your workforce engagement.
Do more than just save your HR team the hassle of rolling over everyone’s elections from last year. Educate your employees. Keep their benefits knowledge robust. Get passive (enrollment) aggressive.