Something Scary: Failure to Communicate Can Wreck Open Enrollment

It’s time for open enrollment – an opportunity to engage employees, promote retention and ultimately increase participation in valuable employee benefit options. The key to making open enrollment successful for everyone involved is communication. Yet, according to MetLife, only one-third of employees find their company’s benefits communications easy to understand.

  1. The message: Address employee concerns. Speak to what motivates employees. With a workforce from different generations and lifestyles, their benefit needs are different. The messages they receive should be more personalized as well. Some companies are using predictive analytics to tailor messages throughout the year to the health, financial and lifestyle needs of each employee. It’s especially important to explain the role of non-traditional voluntary benefits and how they can positively affect employee’s personal financial situations.
  2. The mode: Don’t rely on only one communication vehicle. Use a variety of communication methods. Today’s diverse workforce prefers to receive information different ways, ranging from obtaining it online, through the company intranet, text message, email, mail sent to their home and even one-on-one consultations. Most importantly, find out what they want. A National Business Group on Health survey reports 95% of employers have failed to assess their employees’ communication preferences.
  3. The tools: Decision-support tools and personalized offerings can help employees learn about their benefit options and make informed decisions about what best suits their needs. Additionally, presenting and communicating voluntary benefits in a way that integrates with core offerings can make benefits choices more effective.
  4. The frequency: Although it’s vitally important during open enrollment time, it shouldn’t end there. Benefits communication should be a year-round effort. And according to MetLife, two-thirds of employees want to receive benefits communication year-round.

Advisers must clearly articulate benefits offerings and assist their clients with benefits communications during open enrollment and year-round. Helping employees understand the value of the benefits and how those benefits can make a difference in their lives drives the success not only of open enrollment but of employee retention.

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