Benefit Plans Changing? Start Communications Early

Generally, every good communication has a call to action…something an employee needs to act on soon. And timing is important. There’s no sense telling them what they need to do, if they can’t do anything about it right then and there.

But as rules go, there are always exceptions. And communicating change is one of them.

Take Open Enrollment. If you’re introducing a totally new plan next year, start educating employees well ahead of decision day. Many people want time to talk with someone at home about the options. Often there’s math involved, and sometimes a search for providers in a new network. You may be steeped in health care and benefits, but most employees only think about them during Open Enrollment. It’s a big, complicated decision.

Help prepare your employees now for changes to come with a four-part pre-enrollment benefits communications campaign. Tell them:

  1. What’s changing: Announce the new plans.
  2. How will it work: Tell them how the new plans work and how they compare to current plans, even the costs. If new plans offer less coverage or are more costly, tell people upfront. If it’s a new network, encourage them to see if their existing providers will be in-network next year.
  3. Why it’s changing: Maybe say something like, “The company’s long-term strategy for health care is …” (But don’t offer too many details because that can cause confusion.)
  4. What they need to do: Encourage them to prepare for Open Enrollment, review their current benefits, compare to the new plans being offered, consider next year’s situation and health care/prescription needs, etc.

By educating employees now and preparing them for what will be different, they’ll have time to learn about the changes, share what’s happening with their family, and be ready to make smart decisions. That probably means fewer calls to HR, too.