Six Steps to Level Up Your Benefits Enrollment Communications

If you’re a Human Resources communicator, you’re probably knee-deep in planning for Benefits Annual Enrollment right now. It’s a busy time of year for HR teams because this is your annual opportunity to make a splash. Now is the time to not only help employees make informed decisions, but to market the holistic benefits package your company offers — and remind employees about the value and support you provide. Here are six steps to ensure you meet your Annual Enrollment communication goals this fall.

  1. Meet employees where they are.

Be sensitive to what your employees are going through right now. As a result of the economy and recent political events, employees are taking a closer look at the benefits they get at work. In the tight labor market, employer benefits are also taking center stage when making employment decisions. So even if employees don’t have to actively enroll, remind them about the entire benefits package you offer. They will appreciate hearing about hot topics, like:

  • Financial wellness benefits and support tools
  • Time off and remote work policies
  • Mental health benefits and resources
  • Family-building support for same-sex couples
  • Coverage for travel services related to abortion
  • Healthcare in support of the LGBTQ+ community, such as gender transition, targeted therapy, and other inclusive services.
  1. Communicate the why.

Healthcare premiums will be going up for many employees this year. Even in non-inflationary times, cost increases can be a hard pill to swallow. Remind employees that costs are increasing everywhere, and benefits are no exception. Let them know how much you’re contributing, so they understand your investment in their healthcare as well.

The past year has fostered some soul searching for employees and companies alike. Chances are you’re making some changes based on employee feedback. In your communications, note the areas in which you’ve invested this year, and why.

Did employees ask for better reproductive care, virtual health care, or more robust mental health resources? Did you adjust your plans to better align with company values? Are you working to better address employees’ diverse needs? All of these issues are trending right now, and the more transparent you can be about your decision-making process, the more engaged your employees will be.

  1. Keep the hybrid experience in mind.

We’re all still figuring out how to optimize the hybrid work environment. Here are a few activities that can help bridge the gap between remote employees and those in the office:

  • Have a virtual benefits fair – this allows participants to log into different rooms to learn about various benefits and the enrollment process. But be sure to keep your in-person benefits fair, too. Employees appreciate the opportunity to talk directly to a representative.
  • Record webinars and Q&A sessions – this allows employees to watch the sessions at their leisure. Plus, if the primary decision maker is not the employee, they can watch it at home with other family members.
  • Offer incentives to attend in person. If, like many companies, you are struggling to bring people back into the office, consider offering an incentive gift or raffle to draw people in.
  1. Level up your digital game.

Employee expectations are higher than ever before, so aim for a consumer-grade digital experience. View your Annual Enrollment communications as an integrated marketing campaign, complete with graphics, targeted audiences, tactics, and metrics. For example, it’s a good idea to create an enrollment brand that has a unique look and feel, as well as a tagline and key messages.

Work with a savvy digital design team to leverage your brand across all the media you use. Think digital first, since it’s cost-effective and available to most users – but don’t forget the people without access to every tool, such as family members and mobile workers. Here are a few creative ideas to spark your imagination:

  • Create a Slack channel dedicated to Annual Enrollment. The channel should be monitored by a benefits specialist who can answer questions and respond promptly to employee concerns.
  • Leverage social media channels and collaboration software like Workplace and SocialChorus.
  • Build a simple website with various benefits “paths.” Make the site available outside the company firewall, in case the health care decision-maker is not the employee.
  • Offer a “what’s changing” infographic, sent via email or in a mailer to homes, so employees can get a quick snapshot of the decisions they need to make.
  • Don’t forget the analog route. If you go “old school” with print materials sent to homes the entire family can review their benefits materials together.
  1. Keep it simple and action oriented.

As always, getting and keeping employees’ attention can be a challenge. So start with your end goal in mind. What do you want people to think, feel or do after reading your communication? Then, use as few words as possible to get your point across. Keep the information brief, visual, and jargon-free. Take your cues from consumer media outlets, like TikTok, Twitter, and Netflix. Use “teaser” content wherever possible and provide links to more details.

This article has more great tips for keeping things simple.

  1. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Employees, like all of us, are inundated with information both inside and outside of work. As much as we’d like them to read everything we write, it’s just not realistic to assume that they will. So you’ll need to keep the communications flowing – before, during, and after the Annual Enrollment period. Continue to repeat critical information, such as decision points and deadlines, throughout the season.

Benefits Annual Enrollment season is a great time to connect with employees and drive them to action. But integrating all the media channels available to you, crystalizing your message, and developing an appropriate cadence of communications – all while meeting high employee expectations – is a big job. If you need support creating or executing your integrated marketing plan, contact us.

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