Fall, better known to those in the employee benefits industry as open enrollment (OE) season, is quickly approaching. Despite the fact that we benefits professionals have been working hard on updates and planning all year, everything comes to a head for the employee at the open enrollment meeting when we give our presentation. After holding hundreds of open enrollment meetings and trying different tactics to engage employees, we know that some employees will inevitably: fall asleep (even when we crack jokes!), turn off the logical side of their brains and let emotion rule, or ask the same questions year after year.
What’s the best way to engage employees? I’ve tried many different tactics over the years including showing funny health insurance memes, putting my face up on a webinar screen so employees think I’m looking at them, asking for employee participation by show of hands, and trying to connect with employees personally.
The reality is that most employees find insurance confusing. You stand a better chance of getting through to employees by activating them long before their OE meeting. Familiarizing employees with health plan concepts throughout the year helps them to process information a little bit at a time, priming their brains for a productive OE meeting discussion and smoother enrollment process for everyone involved. Consider these communication tactics:
- Send out short surveys help to gauge which concepts are trickier to grasp for a particular workforce – you can spend more time communicating those ideas.
- Use opportunities, such as sending out a routine notice, to remind employees about their benefits and upcoming OE meetings.
- Share sample questions and answers with employees before their meeting and prompt them to speak to their loved ones and bring their questions as well.
- Provide employees with “cheat sheet” resources like a business card, mobile app, email address or intranet website for them to go to with questions throughout the year.
- Send a short post-OE survey asking for recommendations for the next year.
One of the best open enrollment meetings that I’ve ever held was on the day of a very bad snowstorm in NYC when most offices were closed. The employees were shooting questions at me – and each other – and truly getting a great grasp of the information. However you decide to handle your open enrollment and employee activation, a great benefits consultant should be able to guide you expertly through the process.