In general, it’s not a good idea to communicate something to your employees until they can actually take action. Why tell folks about something they have to do, when they can’t do it until a few weeks from now? But as with all rules, there are exceptions.
Take annual enrollment. If you are introducing a totally new plan next year, you shouldn’t wait until decision time to start the education process. For example, one of our clients is transitioning to high-deductible HSA plans. The new plans won’t be a total replacement this year, but will be by 2015.
To prepare their employees, we are distributing information through a four-part pre-enrollment series:
- New plans are coming
- How the new plans work and compare to your current plans
- The company’s long-term strategy for healthcare – till 2015
- How to prepare for annual enrollment
Breaking the information into four parts keeps each communication piece focused and simple to understand. It also helps to build momentum as the campaign ramps up to annual enrollment.
The goal is to educate employees before they have to make a decision. As our client said, “We want them to be able to have the conversation with their spouse prior to receiving their final enrollment packet. That way, they can figure out their questions and bring them to the meetings to get answered.”
Which brings me to the final point. Pre-enrollment communications isn’t just for employees. We are also educating their HR team so they understand how the new plans work and can answer questions accurately. Providing comprehensive Q&A’s and talking points will help to ensure everyone across the organization is delivering the same message. And that’s a good idea, right?