Open Enrollment: A Guide to A Strong Annual Communications Strategy

What is an Annual Communications Strategy?

On the surface, it seems like an easy concept: just talk about our benefits, right? Sure, but your HR team has a need for more than just talk.

An annual enrollment communication strategy is a multi-faceted campaign to ensure employees and administrators have the information they need to make the best benefit decisions they can. Your strategy for annual communications should be planned out with a clear message and as much detail as possible regarding your company benefits, policies, and more. Why? Because your leadership and employees NEED it.

Despite the recent post-pandemic return-to-work trends in many industries, there is still a dire need for strong virtual communications despite any intentions for in-person meetings this year. Employers are looking to the market for communications tools, and HR technology firms are responding with new and more robust communication tools… tools that could be very useful come Open Enrollment season.

We are seeing this play out in the market through offerings like…

  • Bulk/Batch Emailing – this has been around in HR technology for some time now, but we are seeing technologies being improved for easier utilization and cleaner, modern interface. Bulk Emailing is ideal for mass announcements with pertinent information for OE.
  • Text Messaging – this is fairly new to the market, though only within the past few years have we really seen utilization really pick up as more and more providers offer it within their solution suite. It’s ideal for text messaging to be used for communicating quick touchpoints about your OE strategy.
  • Chat Bots – you’re probably quite familiar with chat bots across many of your technologies, but they’ve only been applied within the past few years in BenAdmin and HCM systems. Chat bots serve an important function to help employees through their enrollment right where they are without having to leave the webpage or pick up the phone.
  • Call Centers – many employers are opting to set up call centers to operate as a hotline for enrollment support. This is ideal for situations where an employee needs technical support or would like a warm transfer to a carrier representative.

So, what should be included in your Open Enrollment communications?
We’re glad you asked because we have a few recommendations!

  • Open Enrollment Start and End Dates – this is crucial. Post them everywhere and often!
  • Where is Open Enrollment occurring? (i.e., include a URL Link to your BenAdmin site) – make sure your employees know where and how to connect before going live.
  • How to get answers to questions & direct contact information – i.e., Contact “HR Person” at 555-123-4567 or email@yourHRdept.com – this can be a PDF document, a flyer on a bulletin board, a stuffing in a paycheck envelope, or periodic OE meetings & webinars. Whatever you do, advertise it everywhere!

As you head down the OE Communications road, some reminders from our team:

  • Check your system data – i.e., make sure you have mobile numbers available in your BenAdmin system before using Text Messaging.
  • Keep it light – short and sweet messages are key for an effective communication strategy; only include the most important details your employees need.
  • Test it out – your BTR service team is happy to support or advise on testing before sending live communications to all your employees.
  • Personalize it – applying colors and logos support confidence in the information presented, as well as reduces the chance an employee ignores the communication as spam.

Lastly, you may consider looking back to see what communication efforts worked well in previous years. If there is a strategy that really took off and you had good participation, that may be an option to consider for this year’s Open Enrollment. The sky is the limit, and BTR is happy to help in whatever way we can.

The BTR Extend technologies – PlanSource, Employee Navigator, and bswift – offer these types of OE communication tools. BTR’s Employee Service Center is an essential option for your Call Center needs and can support your HR team with tasks such as EOI and Dependent Verification. If you’d like a quote or details, reach out to BTRProjects@bentechre.com for more.

We wish you a Happy Open Enrollment season!

 

 


About the Author

Holli Brummett supports the Strategic Initiatives team as Strategic Initiatives Coordinator, focusing on new opportunities and business development for the BTR Extend Division. Holli brings to the team several years of Benefits Administration experience on multiple systems, working with broker teams as well as employers across many industries, including manufacturing, school districts, hospital systems, and more.