Open Enrollment Communications (Part 2) — Try Some Marketing 101 Tips

In this Part 2 of our two-part series on Open Enrollment communications, let’s talk about making them relatable and relevant.

One of the first rules of marketing — know your audience. For HR, this means don’t just think about your employees. Think like your employees. Heck, you are an employee.

When Open Enrollment season hits, chances are you’ll be making some decisions about your benefits. Just like all the other employees. What (and who) are you thinking about when you’re comparing options? Your family? Your health? The costs? The coverage? Yep…just like all the other employees.

If you can hold on to that “employee to employee” connection when you’re writing to them about benefits, you’re more likely to create understandable, compelling communications. Make your messages relatable and relevant, with a hint of emotion.

Relatable — We’re all people. We can empathize with each other. Remember this when you communicate to your employees. Make an emotional connection — that’s how to get employees to engage.

What does that mean? Many of your employees have families they love, and so do you. And you all want the best benefits you can get for them. Relay that feeling.

Relevant — Present information from the employees’ points of view, not the company’s. Avoid touting your company’s awesomeness (“We’ve added a great new dental plan”). Talk more about why it matters to them (“You have more dentists to choose from in the new plan”).

Instead of saying, “We have a new enrollment system,” say, “You can enroll faster and easier with our new enrollment system.”

Keep the message conversational, too. If you were talking to a colleague, how would you get your message across? Probably not in a verbose, run-on sentence with oodles of detail. Read more about that in Part 1 of this series.

Don’t Bury the Bad News

They may not like bad news, but they like it even less when they find it hidden among other news. Employees are adults. They can adapt to change if you’re honest up front and help them through it.

Rip off the band-aid. Give them the “why” of the situation through consistent and continuous communications.

  • Tell the same story the same way, and tell it often.
  • Provide a specific date when they’ll know more.
  • Be honest and open (or “transparent” if you speak HR).

Are your rates increasing? Probably because the company’s costs keep increasing. Explain that to employees. “U.S. health care costs are expected to rise 6 percent this year, but we’re keeping your increase lower, at only 3 percent.”

HR professionals tend to be criticized for overexplaining and using confusing terms that make benefits hard to understand. We know why that happens, and we get it.

But put yourself in employee shoes when you communicate. Wait…you’re wearing employee shoes.

Want to talk through your OE communications? We’re here for you.