The #1 Way to Improve Open Enrollment 

When it’s time for employees to enroll in benefits, the number one thing you can do to improve communications is: simplify.

A recent survey found that a third of employees don’t usually change their health insurance year over year because it’s too stressful. The decisions are hard.  

And it’s no wonder, since most plan materials are written to appease the legal department first, ahead of employees. If you want to improve engagement, instead of erring on the side of caution, aim for comprehension.

To increase Open Enrollment participation and boost employees’ confidence in their selections:

  • Focus on the benefit of the benefits. We use the “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM) approach to communication. Put advantages (consequences) or action items front-and-center in your Open Enrollment messages. “Enroll now. Save money on copays. Get answers.” Employees should understand what your communication is about, how they are impacted, and what to do next.
  • Say it like it is. Write to employees the same way you’d have a conversation with them. Use plain language, get rid of jargon, and keep sentences and vocabulary short and simple. As a test, explain the information to someone outside the HR department. When you find the right words to get your message across, write them down. Tell a story or give examples if it helps make the point.
  • Be brief. Summarize coverage, costs, and eligibility but don’t cover every possible situation. Based on our experience, less text = more understanding. (You can, and should, make plan documents available for employees that want to know more about the specifics.)
  • Go easy on the eyes. Use graphic elements like bullet points, charts, and subheads to make information easier to find and compare. And put related information in one place so employees don’t have to cross-reference multiple documents to get answers.

What About…?

  • Employees who don’t work at a desk…
  • Different demographics and learning styles in the office…
  • That company lawyer who’s sweating the details…

They all need the same thing: well-written information that’s formatted, organized, and easy to find. Keeping it simple and straightforward (KISS) is in everyone’s best interest. Refer them to a more detailed document and keep your main communications simple.

The Stakes Are Higher than Ever

Healthcare benefits have become more important to hiring and retention — the highest they’ve ranked in a decade, according to a 2022 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey by WTW. In the study:

  • Nearly half of employees said healthcare plans were a key reason they chose their current employer.
  • Six out of 10 employees said healthcare is an important reason to stay with an organization.
  • Forty-six percent of employees said they’d be willing to trade compensation for more generous health benefits.

That means Open Enrollment is your time to shine, so all your summer meetings, spreadsheets, and planning pay off. Keep it simple and see the results when employees enroll in benefits.

Not sure how to simplify truckloads of benefits information? We can help. We understand the language of HR and how to translate it for everyone else.

Check out these Open Enrollment makeovers for inspiration (see Part 1 and Part 2), and follow us on LinkedIn for more insight and advice.