Oct: Open Enrollment — How to Get Their Attention

In this blog series, we’ll help you engage with employees about their benefits using month-by-month topics, along with messaging and ideas proven to grab attention. Plus, throughout the series, you’ll find downloadable templates and examples that save you the brain drain so you can get started quickly.

This blog issue focuses on October, but our downloadable calendar gives you a full 12 months of content.

Oct: Open Enrollment — Get Them to Pay Attention

Open Enrollment communications generally have three main goals:

  1. Educate employees about benefits enrollment
  2. Help them make the best decisions
  3. Get them enrolled before the deadline

And those three goals are best accomplished with three phases of messaging:

  1. It’s coming
  2. It’s here
  3. Last chance to enroll

Don’t trudge through the same plan again — use fresh, proven tactics to get employees’ attention this year.

Message #1: Open Enrollment — how can you make the best decisions?

In the lead-up to opening day, help employees understand why it’s important to spend time exploring benefits each year. Remember to pull in household decision makers by sending print pieces to home addresses. And engage managers well before enrollment begins — they see employees every day.

“Are the benefits you have now the best fit for next year?” Prompt employees to look at the current year’s health care needs and medical expenses, and then do the math for next year. If there’s a way to do that online, send them the link.

“You have big decisions to make. Will you be ready?” It feels good to go into a situation prepared, and with confidence. Encourage employees to explore benefits early and be ready on day one to accomplish the task. Point them to the available resources — benefits and enrollment guides, online decision-support tools, provider networks, etc.

Refresh and Simplify Your Communication Materials

If you’re still sending communications created years ago, it’s probably time to simplify and clarify. You’ll find tips in Part 1 and Part 2 of this OE blog series, and you can see before-and-after results in Part 1 and Part 2 of our makeovers.

Message #2: Open Enrollment is…open!

Make a big splash on day one, using multiple channels to be sure every employee gets the message — desk employees, plant workers, truck drivers, wait staff, etc. That means much more than email. Think about table tents in breakrooms, announcements in factories, banners hung at entryways…plus digital channels like e-newsletters, digital signs, webinars, etc.

“Make sure you have benefits next year. Enroll today!” Employees value the protection their benefits offer. So, remind them that now is the time to sustain that protection. Clearly show the when, where, and how of enrollment, and keep directing them to resources that can help them make smart decisions.

“You get one chance each year. And it ends on [insert date].” Create some urgency and restate the deadline in every communication. Tell them exactly which benefits can be elected only during Open Enrollment. And educate them on qualified life events, so they understand there are few opportunities to make changes during the year.

Have a Grace Period After the Deadline?

Don’t make that common knowledge. Many people are sticklers for postponing. So, stick to the one deadline for consistency.

Message #3: Last chance this year…to choose your best benefits for next year.

Around five days before the deadline, communicate the urgency of the situation. If possible, send the message only to those who have not enrolled. This is the time to make critical information crystal clear.

“Open Enrollment for benefits ends at midnight on [insert date].” Use matter-of-fact messaging to make your point.

“If you don’t enroll in benefits by [insert date], this will happen.” Ensure employees understand what it means if they choose not to take action. Will current benefits roll over or will they lose coverage? They won’t have an FSA, and HSA election amounts don’t continue year-over-year. For some employees, this is the only chance to purchase certain optional insurance without proof of good health.

This slow drip of communications will keep Open Enrollment in the minds of employees, with ongoing education and prompts to enroll.

As we head through 2022, you can find other blogs in this series by typing “year-round calendar” in the search area at the top of our website.

Download the year-round communications calendar — real ideas and examples