Effective Strategies to Help You Improve Employee Engagement During Open Enrollment | Mike McRitchie | Resume and LinkedIn Profile Writer

Effective Strategies to Help You Improve Employee Engagement During Open Enrollment | Mike McRitchie | Resume and LinkedIn Profile Writer

Open enrollment is an important time for employees to make changes to their benefits coverage. Promoting open enrollment effectively is crucial to streamline the benefits selection process and foster more informed employees, which ensures that you and your employees are getting the most out of the benefits packages. Here are some strategies to improve engagement during open enrollment.

Begin Early and Communicate Clearly

Employees are busy keeping up with projects and deadlines and managing their personal lives. It’s easy to see things slip through the cracks, including emails about open enrollment.

Make sure you communicate open enrollment dates early and often to prepare employees for the enrollment period. You should provide all the information they need to know, including pertinent dates, detailed information about plan options, and educational resources.

Emails are a good reminder leading up to the open enrollment period and the deadline, but you can take it a step further with calendar notifications, intranet resources, or a quick call or meeting. This is an opportunity to not only prepare your employees but address any questions they may have.

Focus on Educating Employees on Benefits Offerings

One reason for a lack of engagement can be a fear of the unknown or uncertainty about the process. You can help your employees prepare by offering educational resources to help them understand their benefits offerings and make informed decisions.

Benefits can have complex language that’s difficult for employees to navigate. Consider implementing various decision support tools that clearly explain eligibility requirements, coverage options, and enrollment procedures. You can also make use of various interactive tools like coverage calculators that can help employees estimate their long-term premium costs and medical expense savings. This ensures they feel more confident about the coverage options they choose.

Another option is to host live or recorded webinars covering different aspects of open enrollment and benefits, including health insurance, retirement plans, and wellness programs. With live webinars, leave time for employees to ask questions or address concerns. For prerecorded webinars, offer employees a chance to submit questions in advance.

You can also provide support with scheduled Q&A sessions. Employees will be in a group, so be sure to reinforce that it’s a safe and non-judgmental space to encourage questions about plan changes or benefits offerings. If they need more support, offer individual consultations with benefits specialists to address their unique circumstances.

Take a Personalized Approach

Your employees need more than a one-size-fits-all approach to benefits education. Differing ages, lifestyles, and priorities can greatly affect how your employees view their benefits and how to make choices.

A personalized approach is best, but you have to understand the diverse needs and preferences of your employees to tailor messaging to them. For example, younger employees may be more focused on tuition reimbursement, wellness programs, or career development opportunities. Employees who are nearing retirement may look for retirement planning like 401(k) and pension benefits.

Furthermore, many employees have various opinions when it comes to the value of their benefits. Some employees may only be interested in adequate health insurance coverage or childcare assistance, while others may be looking for more comprehensive options, including professional development opportunities or flexible work arrangements. Due to this fact, employers should consider carefully how to balance their benefits budgeting appropriately while still ensuring that all employees view their benefits as a valuable component of their total compensation.

When you’re communicating with employees, identify the common concerns or pain points for each group and provide information and resources to support them. Interactive benefits calculators can help employees understand the financial implications of each benefit choice and make more informed decisions based on their goals.

While educational resources are a big help, they’re not always a substitute for one-on-one consultations with benefits advisors to discuss specific concerns and offer personalized recommendations.  

Make the Process Accessible and Convenient

If the open enrollment process is intimidating, employees who are unsure about the process will be more likely to procrastinate and less likely to engage. Make sure the open enrollment process is accessible and convenient to encourage participation.

Online platforms for benefits enrollment offer a convenient option for employees to access information about the benefits, compare their options, and enroll in plans. It should be intuitive and mobile friendly, giving employees the option to complete the process from whatever device they choose. Like communication, the enrollment documents should use simple, clear language, visuals, and step-by-step instructions to help employees complete the process with minimal barriers.

You can also help employees with flexible scheduling for enrollment periods and support services, such as extended office hours. If employees have flexible schedules or feel overwhelmed with their workload, they may not seek the help they need to understand their benefits.

In addition, remote support like live chat, virtual assistance, or phone services may be more accessible for employees, especially if you have remote or hybrid employees. You could even use video conferencing platforms for virtual consultations to provide personalized assistance, no matter where your employees are.

The key is to offer versatile options. Some employees may prefer face-to-face interactions, while others may prefer self-paced, independent learning through tutorials, educational videos, and FAQ resources. These resources should be available all year, not just during enrollment periods.

Consider Using Incentives and Gamification

Incentives and gamification make learning more fun, which is a growing trend in benefits administration. Employees feel encouraged to reach the next level or collect the “prize,” and interactive platforms promote engagement naturally.

For example, offering small rewards or incentives for employees who complete their benefits enrollment process early – or by a certain deadline – can encourage them to stay on top of the dates. Rewards don’t have to be extravagant. Simple rewards like gift cards, extra vacation days, company swag, or other rewards can be motivating. Another option is to provide participation-based rewards for employees who engage with educational resources and attend benefits information sessions.

Quizzes or challenges can spark similar motivation by making the process more interactive and educational. Create quizzes that test employees’ knowledge of their benefits options, eligibility criteria, and coverage details. Challenges can be activities that encourage employees to explore different benefits and evaluate how they align with their individual needs and goals. Offer rewards or recognition for high scores or achievements.

An important part of gamifying the enrollment process is creating stakes. In addition to rewards, you can implement leaderboards or progress-tracking tools to foster lighthearted competition among employees to take on the challenge. Then, when you recognize the top performers, it spurs others to engage with the process and take more control of their benefits.

No amount of incentives or gamification matters if employees don’t know about it, however. Make sure you communicate the elements of the process and highlight what employees can gain by taking part, such as the available rewards.

You can take a similar approach to any other giveaway, contest, or event. Communicate through multiple channels, including emails, intranet announcements, bulletin board posters, and team meetings, to ensure employees know about your contests and how to participate.

The culture of benefits engagement starts at the top. Encourage your managers and leaders to promote enrollment and participation in the contests or games. They should be available to help employees as needed and provide assistance, whether they’re participating or not.

Get Employees Involved in Open Enrollment

Creating more engagement around open enrollment is more than checking off a procedural box. Look at it as an opportunity to cultivate empowered and satisfied employees by giving them the tools and resources they need to take control of their benefits decisions and feel more confident in the process. 

Author Bio: Frank MengertFrank Mengert continues to find success by spotting opportunities where others see nothing. As the founder and CEO of ebm, a leading provider of employee benefits solutions. Frank has built the business by bridging the gap between insurance and technology driven solutions for brokers, consultants, carriers, and employers nationwide.

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