By Jessica Shawn
Human Resources Business Partner at WEX
The time is now to disrupt open enrollment! While much of the work in the last months has been focused on rate renewals and designing your benefit offerings, the focus must now shift to the open enrollment communication plan. With a couple years of digital open enrollments behind us, it is key to identify barriers and opportunities as you develop your communication strategy.
Why don’t employees understand their benefits?
Benefits can be complicated and for some the options overwhelming. Employees may feel their benefits have complex rules and jargon that may be confusing. Benefits are also not top of mind for many employees.
Employees are often more focused on frequently used benefits such as vacation and paid off policies (PTO) rather than insurance, voluntary benefits and retirement plans. However, they’re most likely not communicated any differently than other benefit offerings.
We also focus a great deal on benefit communication during open enrollment but may drop focus afterwards. Consider a year-round communication strategy that continues to engage employees. Open enrollment can often feel like a firehose of information, so drips of information to reinforce messaging throughout the year can help. Employees may have more capacity to digest these messages outside of the open enrollment period and in turn identify how to better maximize a benefit they already have or one they should enroll during the next benefits cycle. A great example of this is education at summertime around how to maximize your health savings account (HSA) dollars for typical hot weather spending such as sunscreen and aloe vera!
Simplifying open enrollment
Nearly 70% of employees who are eligible for benefits agree that they are more likely to work for an employer who offers voluntary benefits. However, less than half of benefit-eligible employees actually take advantage of employer-offered benefits. How can you simplify your open enrollment process to improve enrollment rates?
Enrolling in benefits should be straightforward. Simplifying design and streamlining the employee experience can create benefits programs that matter to their employees. Look for ways to simplify and automate the enrollment process where possible and maximize any technology you have to make it user-friendly. Many HR leaders still see value in a postcard or benefits catalog being sent home as decisions on primary benefits can take time and include other decision makers.
Communicating benefits as an HR leader
When it comes to open enrollment, there’s no such thing as too much communication. From digital landing pages to postcards to catalogs, there are plenty of options to ensure you are using diverse communication methods to reach and educate all employees. As an HR leader, how and when you communicate benefits matters. Consider these tips from WEX HR leaders:
- Provide testimonials from real employees. Examples of how an employee might use a benefit to help them further understand its value.
- Dedicate time for employees to ask questions. Develop an FAQ resource for trending questions.
- HR pro tip: Track major themes within questions to identify areas of focus within your communication plan.
- Make your benefits content engaging. Content that is relevant and relatable will be memorable by your employees.
Open enrollment is a busy time for HR leaders and benefit teams. Ease the benefits experience with WEX’s Open Enrollment Toolkit. It’s complete with information guides, handouts, and videos to help you prepare for open enrollment and communicate the true value of employee benefits. And check out our guide to help you remove the guesswork out of this year’s open enrollment with the data you need to win this open enrollment.
The information in this blog post is for educational purposes only. It is not legal or tax advice. For legal or tax advice, you should consult your own counsel.
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