What is open enrollment for benefits?
During annual open enrollment, employees can elect or change benefits available through their employer, such as health, dental, life insurance, and ancillary benefits like pet insurance. Open enrollment occurs in November for calendar-year benefit plans starting Jan. 1. Because new benefits can often complicate decision-making, many employers start the enrollment process earlier to give employees and HR teams more time.
WHY COMMUNICATION IS IMPORTANT
After investing time and resources tracking utilization results, analyzing benefits trends, and securing the benefits employees want, and crunching your budget, you’ve assembled the best benefits package - one that’s right for your workforce and your business. Now it’s time for the big reveal.
Here's where communications can make (or break) the success of your employee benefits program. Effective communications can help employers:
Build Trust. Communication fosters an environment of trust and inclusivity, where everyone's voices are heard and concerns are addressed. According to the MetLife study,
101% of employees are more likely to trust their employer’s leadership when they understand their benefits program
95% are more likely to feel valued/appreciated
80 % are more likely to be satisfied with their current job
60% are more likely to continue working for their employer in 12 months
Manage Costs and Maximize Value. Communicating employee benefits helps employers manage costs and maximize value. According to a McKinsey study, communicating benefits can reduce the cost of benefits by up to 20% each year.
Help Employees Understand the Value of their Benefits. Let’s face it; benefits can be difficult to understand. And many workers misunderstand basic facts about health insurance and are not sure how to select the most appropriate plan during open enrollment. To address these needs, more employers are investing in ways to educate employees about the value of the benefits they provide.
Enhance Employee Satisfaction and Retention. When employers take the time to convey their intentions, updates, and changes, employees feel valued and respected.
Attract Future All-Stars. Effective communication doesn't just resonate with current employees; it also sends a powerful message to potential recruits. A top-notch benefits package can make your business stand out and drive better talent outcomes in a competitive job market.
Impact Participation. Lack of education and communication leads to a lack of use. According to a recent MetLife study, 59% of employees wish they were more informed to get more value out of their benefits.
PREPARING TO LAUNCH
Transparent, engaging, and informative communication plays a pivotal role in ensuring that employees fully understand the value of these benefits so that they can make informed decisions. But engaging a diverse workforce with diverse needs, representing different job functions, is no easy task. Here are a few ways employers can help their employees better understand their benefit options.
Develop a Plan of Action. When your employees are well-informed, they're more likely to take advantage of what's offered. It's not just about ensuring the info reaches them; it's about ensuring they understand, appreciate, and are excited to be a part of it.
Craft Clear Messages. The cornerstone of effective communication is a clear and comprehensive message. Explain in simple terms what benefits are available and how to use each. Target your messages to different employee groups based on their needs.
Highlight the Value Proposition. Whether it's improved healthcare coverage, flexible work arrangements, wellness programs, or professional development opportunities, highlight how these benefits contribute to a more fulfilling work experience. To encourage employee participation, focus on the value that the new benefits program brings to their lives. Emphasize how the benefits align with their aspirations, well-being, and financial security.
Make it Personal. One size does not fit all when it comes to communication. Tailor your messages to different employee groups based on their needs, for example, training and development options for younger staff or family healthcare options for young families. These customized messages demonstrate you value each employee, fostering a sense of loyalty and engagement.
Get Creative. Capture attention and make education easy by getting creative with content. Visual aids can simplify complex information and make it more accessible. Use infographics, charts, and videos to illustrate key points and create comparison tables and charts to help employees make better choices. And while numbers and stats are great, being human is also essential. Personal anecdotes can illustrate how benefits help workers meet goals. Weaving in real-life examples and success stories make benefits more relatable.
Create a Dedicated Benefits Portal. Establish a dedicated online portal where employees can access detailed information about the new benefits program. This portal can host documents, videos, frequently asked questions and other resources. And remember, even if you provide employees with 24-hour, online access, it doesn’t mean they will understand how to use it. Ensure the portal is easy to navigate, allowing employees to explore the benefits at their own pace.
Make it Easy to Connect. Use multiple ways to ensure benefits information reaches all employees. According to the MetLife study, employees prefer a wide variety of methods when it comes to benefits communication: website, online/intranet, email, talking in person, paper/mail, by phone, and via meetings.
Tech-savvy younger generations appreciate digital platforms, such as mobile apps and online portals, for accessing benefits information and managing their perks. However, ensuring that these options include older employees who may prefer in-person communication methods is also essential.
Leverage Social Proof. Employees who see their peers benefiting from their new benefits program are more likely to embrace it themselves. Share success stories, testimonials, and case studies of employees who have reaped the program's rewards. A peer-to-peer strategy can build a sense of community and inspire others to take advantage of the same perks.
Offer Interactive Q&A Sessions. Communication isn't just about broadcasting messages; it's also about listening. Host interactive workshops and webinars to allow employees to ask questions, provide feedback, and share their experiences. These sessions can help alleviate any concerns or confusion.
Keep Communication Ongoing. You've rolled out your new benefits program, now what? After the initial launch, continue to provide regular updates and reminders about your benefits offerings. This sustained effort prevents the program from fading into the background and encourages ongoing engagement.
The Lasting Impact
In the end, introducing your new benefits program isn't just a one-time event – it's an ongoing commitment that strengthens the employer-employee relationship, fosters a positive work environment, and paves the way for continued growth and success.
Learn more about maximizing the value of your Employee Benefits by reading other posts in our 2023 Benefits Benchmark Report series:
- Unmasking the Annual Health Insurance Renewal Process
- Using Benefits Trends to Design Employee Benefits
- Are you an Employer of Choice?
- How to Provide Benefits for a Multi-Generation Workforce
- The Importance of Measuring Utilization of Employee Benefits
If you need help finding the right benefit options for your small business, just give us a call at (800) 446-6567.
About Propel HR. Propel HR is an IRS-certified PEO that has been a leading provider of human resources and payroll solutions for more than 25 years. Propel partners with small to mid-sized businesses to manage payroll, employee benefits, compliance and risks, and other HR functions in a way that maximizes efficiency and reduces costs. Visit our new website at www.propelhr.com.