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5 Open Enrollment Strategies to Improve Employee Engagement

Patrick Ball on October 07, 2014 01:27 PM

Open enrollment, the anual period during which employees may make changes to company benefits, like health insurance and wellness programs, is a great time to inform your staff about all of the offerings available to them. 

Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, much has changed in the health care world, making it all the more important for employees to understand their options. By finding ways to educate your employees about their benefit options, you can reduce mistakes, enhance participation and make sure employees have the coverage they need.  

Here, a group of executives and HR experts share their thoughts on how best to improve employee engagement during the enrollment process.Learn the about the Most Common Mistakes Employees Make During Open Enrollment

  1. Organize Focus Groups

    One of the best strategies to boost engagement during open enrollment begins long before benefits season. Ahead of benefits season, HR should conduct focus groups with employees to get a pulse for what types of benefits they want, and how the current offerings are meeting their needs. By involving employees early on in the process, you increase your chance of improving engagement come open enrollment time. 

  2. Host Lunch and Learns

    As the open enrollment period approaches, Lunch and Learns are a way cast a wider net and bring more employees together in a relaxed environment to discuss benefits. And remember the stone cold fact: Free food is a great way to attract more employees to your event.

    They wont be as much of a deep dive as focus groups, as Lunch and Learns should be informal and informational. Employers should conduct in-person group meetings with their employees, says Guy Clemente, national accounts manager for Tarpey Group in Fairfield New Jersey. The employer should use a human resource representative or an insurance representative to explain the benefit plan and to answer any employee questions. 

  3. Spruce Up Your Benefits Fairs

    Traditional benefits fair are in-office events allowing employees to casually browse the various benefits and options offered by all of your vendors and insurance providers. Employees can spend this time discussing personal needs with a helpful representative.

    Make your benefits fairs more interesting by holding a raffle, engaging in team-building exercises, providing free lunch or giving attendees small party favors. Ash Shehata, of KPMG, suggests personalizing the experience: Include a health risk assessment site, where employees can get their blood pressure checked and speak with physicians.

    Britta Meyer, chief marketing officer for WageWorks, says her team created an online benefits fair as a way of making the experience even more convenient. We offered virtual benefit fairs, as opposed to traditional ones, where employees could learn about their benefits at their convenience, she said. 

  4. Get Creative With Your Communication

    They say you need to hear or see something at least seven times before it sinks in. Well, when it comes to employee benefits, better make that 17.

    Benefits can be confusing for employees so all communications should be presented in a clear and simple format, says Clemente. The communications should be given in different forms, such as written documentation, or webinars and short videos.

    And dont forget the little things. Tinker with the subject lines in your emails -- you might improve open rates using Stop Losing Money as a subject line in place of Learn About Flex Spending. Engage employees in casual hallway conversations and post flyers and pamphlets on doors and walls around the office. Also consider a chair drop, in which a member of your HR team comes in early or stays late to leave benefits-related literature (and maybe candy) at every employees desk. 

  5. Online Enrollment

    Being flexible as an employer is a major component to having happy, productive employees. With the rise of workplace technology, your employees may find it easier or more convenient to make changes to their plans without meeting with an HR rep, attending a benefit fair or going to a Lunch and Learn. In those cases, utilizing a human capital management system allows employees to edit their settings online at their convenience.

    Online decision support tools should be provided to employees, such as online calculators, to aid the employees with their benefit buying decisions, says Meyer.

With all the changes happening in the world of health care, its more important than ever that your employees understand their options. These strategies will help you increase your enrollment and provide your employees with a personalized and informative experience.