open enrollment tips
Corporate Culture

Enrollment or Employee Engagement Worries? Try These 7 Tips!

Mark Fitzgibbons
Mark Fitzgibbons
Communication Director, Employee Benefits

Open enrollment is just around the corner, and for thousands of Human Resources professionals, the planning and preparing are well underway. If you’re having a hard time getting employees to take notice of their benefits and engage with the programs you provide, you’re not alone. It’s a story we hear a lot from new clients. In fact, it’s one of the most common problems we’re asked to solve.

So, while your organization may have some specific and unique cultural or program roadblocks, use these seven tips to avoid the most common employee engagement pitfalls.

1) Make a plan to help employees take action.

Skipping this critical step may be why employees are tuning out your benefits communication. Documenting your communication strategy is as easy as recording your top three to five benefits goals and then defining what communication efforts support them so that you can focus your communication efforts (and budget) on what matters most.

An example could be, “We need to reduce prescription drug costs by 11%.” To achieve that goal, you’ll need employees to modify how they use the prescription drug plan. Your communication strategy defines how you’ll tell employees what they need to do differently. Add success measures to your strategy so that you can see if what you’re doing is making an impact, and then regularly evaluate your progress.

2) Make your benefit materials easily recognizable.

A strong benefits brand gives your communications recognition, reliability, and credibility — and helps cut through all the other messages competing for employees’ limited attention. Work with your internal communications department, your marketing team, or an outside firm to develop guidelines for everyone to follow. Then, align all your messaging to this brand — including those from internal sources and outside vendors — to create more consistency in look, feel, and tone.

3) Make benefits information easy to find.

Giving your employees and their family members a painless way to connect with benefits information and administration platforms — wherever they are and whenever they want to — is a must for high benefits engagement. A branded benefits website enhances your year-round communication efforts and also lets other decision-makers (like spouses) easily access information. Eliminate unneeded barriers to information by removing passwords to get to non-personalized information. Be sure to promote the website by including the URL in all benefit communications. And be sure it’s built to work on mobile devices, not just desktops.

4) Ask employees what they think.

Talking to your employees is critical to understanding their needs, what’s working, and what can be improved. Low-cost ways to gather feedback include online surveys, quick 1:1 chats, or informal meetings. Use these opportunities to learn about their frustrations or satisfaction with benefits. An easy way to gather feedback more frequently is to conduct mini focus groups to “pulse check” your strategy. Just talking to 15 to 20 employees for a few minutes each can yield great insights.

5) Reduce legalese and benefits-speak.

Even those of us who make our living in benefits have a hard time understanding some of its terminology at times. Imagine how employees feel when they’re confronted with unintelligible phrases like “embedded deductible,” or left to ponder the differences between an SBC and an SPD. Even for a highly educated audience, simplifying messaging to a sixth-grade reading level helps people quickly digest information so they can easily take action. Try relocating legalese to footnotes and replacing complex explanations with visuals.

6) Give employees multiple ways to connect.

There’s a reason news outlets give you a variety of ways to engage with their content — print, online, live, online streaming, podcasts, etc. That’s because different people have different comfort levels and preferences when it comes to how they want to receive information. If you’re relying heavily on one channel — email, for example — try a mix of push (email, print) and pull (benefits website) channels.

7) Highlight what matters most to each individual.

Your employees are a mix of ages and have varying interests and expectations. The benefits older workers value may not be of interest to younger employees and vice versa. Targeted messages will help you get better engagement because they provide information that’s immediately relevant to each employee. Delivering content by life stage, demographics, and benefits usage cuts through the clutter to help employees feel more confident in their choices and take appropriate action. To take it up a notch, use advanced analytics to get even more specific on whom you’re reaching with which vehicle, and the channels they most prefer.

Hopefully these seven tips helped out, and if you’re interested in taking employee engagement to the next level, let’s talk and see whether you’re doing all you can to grab your employees’ attention.

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