16 Jul

The Five Biggest Headaches of Open Enrollment Communications

Lauryn Nosek | | Employee Communications

stressed HR managerSome years are easier than others when it comes to updating the employee benefits your company offers but creating an effective open enrollment communications strategy is never easy. You need to weigh employee engagement and the impact that has on enrollment in the different plans, which impact costs to the company in myriad ways, and the snowball just keeps rolling and building until it bowls you over. So which headaches are the biggest?

1. Measuring and Tracking Engagement

Departments need to have a way to show results, and human resources is no different. For benefits enrollment, gathering the data to show your approach is working can be tricky. Campaigns involving printed materials can’t be effectively tracked. Employees can take a handout or benefits guide and then toss it in the bin when they get back to their desk or at home. There’s no way to know which parts they’re spending their time on or whether it’s because it’s important to them or because they don’t understand it. Emails offer little more information for reporting because you can usually tell whether or not they were opened, but there are so many dead ends to measuring their impact.

2. Cost of Communications

If there’s one place where measuring the impact of printed communications materials is easy, it’s the cost. Benefits guides are expensive to print and even more expensive to reprint, which can mean running down to the wire to make sure everything has been finalized three times over before sending them to the printer. But typos and other mistakes happen. You can catch and address them in benefits enrollment meetings but can you guarantee everyone’s paying attention? And how many meetings are necessary and what should their overall size and duration be? Are the benefits offered dependent on other conditions like full-time or part-time status? Having a dedicated team to execute benefits meetings costs money, especially if there are multiple sites and travel is required.

3. Effective Employee Education

employee education sessionAs healthcare and the requirements surrounding it have grown increasingly complex, making sure employees understand how their benefits work has become a crucial part of the open enrollment communications process. If workers don’t know what they’ve signed up for, it can cause unnecessary stress when they need to use them—and paperwork headaches for human resources and the company as a whole. But not all employees need the same level of education either. Younger employees with less experience of employee benefits probably need more guidance than workforce veterans. You could be wasting the time of those who have been through the same open enrollment meetings every year—or worse, going into detailed explanations could confuse those who had enough understanding to complete enrollment.

4. Customizing to Employees’ Specific Situations

The struggle to provide employees with the right amount of benefits education for their experience level spirals into the question of how the benefits themselves can be customized for workers’ specific needs. There are so many diversity metrics across modern workforces that make a one-size-fits-all approach ineffective. But how do you address the various needs across age, gender, marital status, employment level and more? Segmenting your approach can drive costs too high or stretch your department too thin. One-on-one sessions might be an ideal solution, but they’re also completely impractical for most companies. Decision-support tools are increasingly popular but not all user experiences are created equally so make sure to find one that’s simple to use and straightforward in how it presents the results.

5. Making Communications Cohesive with Company Culture

Digital communications are the increasingly obvious solution to many of the above issues, but finding digital options that fit with your company’s branding and culture can be trickier. Many digital solutions companies don’t allow much tailoring of content or style, which can leave you with incomplete messaging that doesn’t fit the tone you want to set—and some of those companies lock you into multi-year contracts that make trying a new approach in subsequent years an even bigger hassle.

Here at Flimp Communications, we’re familiar with all of these concerns and have worked to tackle them both at a one-on-one level and by refining our products and processes to incorporate affordable levels of customization that work best for our clients’ needs.

Our CEO, Wayne Wall, will be presenting as part of an Employee Communications Council-sponsored webinar exploring effective open enrollment communications tactics. Register for the webinar and join the discussion starting at 2:00 p.m. ET/11:00 a.m. PT on August 9, 2018.