Tips to Improve Benefits Experience Before During & After OE
November 19, 2019
Jill Garrison
Timer  Read Time: 5 minutes

*This post is a recap of a recent webinar with Jellyvision

Throughout the year, HR has stiff competition for employee attention — the hottest Netflix shows, holidays and events, endless spam and emails from other companies or departments… there’s no shortage of distractions!

But guess what? During open enrollment, you have your employees’ attention! Don’t squander this opportunity to truly engage and educate your employees during a critical time of year.

In this webinar recap, we’ll cover seven actionable tips to help boost the employee experience and make the most of your benefits before, during and after open enrollment.

1.) Grab their attention – and don’t let go!

1 in 5 employees say they often skip benefits meetings, throw away benefits mailings and never read the benefits descriptions. ( 😱)

Rather than making assumptions about how your employees respond to information and communications, why not just ask about their preferences? A 2017 Benefits Communication Survey revealed that most employees prefer electronic communications, though print and one-on-one consultations are still high on the list.

Additionally, the survey revealed that 65% of employees like to look at benefits info outside of work hours and 90% of employees with a spouse or a partner want to review info together.

This is exactly why it is important to have a multi-channel approach to benefits communication. In order to determine the best course of action and what channels to prioritize, consider the following:

  • Your workforce and its communication needs
  • How much time you have
  • How much money you have (communications budget)

2.) Make it Easy

So, what makes something ‘easy’? Three things, actually.

First, your messaging should be clear and avoid jargon. HR professionals often have the curse of knowledge, meaning it’s easy to get caught up in acronyms and industry-specific terms. Use a conversational tone with personalized salutations. Write your message a few times and make tweaks and changes as necessary until you are clear, concise and compelling.

Second, your enrollment process and communications should feel familiar and be easy to access. For example, if your company uses an intranet, use a single sign-on system to provide easy access to benefits enrollment. And, as a shopping experience, benefits enrollment should feel similar to any other shopping experience, complete with a shopping cart and checkout process.

Third, your benefits enrollment experience should be convenient. Your enrollment platform should offer a single place to shop for and enroll in all benefits and should eliminate unnecessary manual follow-up steps (like EOI statements). Additionally, employees should be able to stop the shopping process and finish later and enroll via any device. If your enrollment process is not a true single source for all benefits functions and is not convenient, employees might get frustrated and lose interest.

3.) Show your Math

To better convey the value of certain benefits or plan types, talk in dollars, not percentages.

Additionally, talk about the value of having lower monthly premiums and why that’s important. And, if offering a high deductible plan, consider re-naming your plan to something more appealing, like ‘low premium plan’ or ‘HSA-eligible plan’.

4.) Use lots of white space

As tempting as it might be, avoid cramming as much information as possible onto a single page.

Instead, try to limit yourself to one big idea per page and focus on what matters the most. Additionally, remove distractions and unnecessary elements from the experience (ex: pop-ups). Put yourself in your employees’ shoes and consider what they will need the most help with? And, organize your information so that it’s easy for employees to find what they need.

Start with the ‘big picture’ information and allow employees to drill down (via hidden tabs or content blocks) if necessary. Filtering functionality and built-in help features are also great ways to provide assistance, when needed, without cluttering a page with information overload.

5.) Hammer home pre-tax benefits

HR managers often assume that employees don’t appreciate HSAs and 401(k)s enough. But, in reality, they simply don’t understand them!

40% of HSA-eligible employees didn’t open an account in 2017. And, 83% of HSA-eligible medical expenses are not being run through an HSA.

Make your employer match front and center. Make it clear they’re leaving money on the table by not taking advantage of the match. And, incorporate benefits videos and other educational elements into communications and directly within the benefits shopping experience to help employees understand what an HSA is and how it works.

6.) Make it super unintimidating

Run your benefits communications through the 7th-grade test. If it’s too complicated for a 7th grader, it’s too complicated for your workforce.

You lose 30% of your audience when your comms are boring. So, don’t be boring! Use humor to surprise and delight employees throughout the process.

7.) Get your metrics in order

Stop and think about why communicating benefits is important to your organization. Now, write a sentence to define your position. This will help everyone in HR (and other departments) stay on the same page about the ultimate goal of your efforts.

Then, keeping your mission in mind, establish your short and long-term benefits goals.

Remember: Higher engagement = higher satisfaction = higher retention.

Don’t forget to download your FREE copy of our Open Enrollment Playbook for more tips on how to plan, execute and measure your OE efforts.

Examples of short-term goals include:

  • 100% of employees will have logged into their online open enrollment account
  • 85% of our employees will enroll in the 401(k)
  • 100% of our employees can tell us our 401(k) match

Examples of long-term goals include:

  • Every one of our employees and their dependents feels confident their health coverage will protect them
  • 85% of our employees feel like they’re on track to retire with enough money to live
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