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May The Fourth Be With You — Jedi Training Tips for AE

May The Fourth Be With You — Jedi Training Tips for AE
Posted on Friday, May 4, 2018 by Rae Shanahan
may-the-fourth-be-with-youWhen it comes to planning for Annual Enrollment, Obi Wan Kenobi isn’t your only hope.


In fact, pulling off a successful AE is akin to using the force: What you need is focus, determination, and inner strength.

Here are four of our best mind tricks that will have you running AE like a Jedi master.

  1. Engage all citizens of the Galactic Empire. Like the Empire, your employee population may be large, complex, and spread over several hundred light years, but even if it isn’t, you need to plan for the fact that everyone doesn’t gravitate toward and retain information the same way. There are many ways to distribute AE information, and best practice is to use a variety of different touches and more than one medium.

    While most people actually still prefer to receive old-fashioned paper communications, studies have shown that workforces currently include five different generations of people who prefer different communication mediums. Therefore, paper shouldn’t be your only method. Other methods can include using a single print piece — like a postcard — to direct employees to online resources, including content you post on your benefits administration website.

    Emails are also a great and inexpensive way to communicate with desk-bound staff, and emails can link to additional content, such as static pdfs, e-guides, flipbooks, or videos.You can even utilize artificial intelligence to answer any questions your employees may have about their upcoming benefit enrollment. The objective is to provide messaging in small, digestible pieces that provide the most important information, while also offering additional content for those who want or need to get more details. 

  1. Take a cue from Yoda and Luke. Sure, Luke came from a family of Jedi warriors, but practice and exercise was still necessary to lift that plane out of the swamp! Being truly proficient at anything requires planning and work, and that includes fielding AE.

    There are lots of moving parts — from plan design to rates, from carrier files and ID cards to communications. Having a robust plan your team works from can mean the difference between breathing relatively easy or feeling like you’re in Darth Vader’s death grip. It’s not too early to dust off and start updating your AE plan from last year. Give yourself a deadline to redline that plan by a certain date. Then, begin to identify who will be doing what, and who on your team will be leading the charge. Don’t put off brainstorming other, better solutions. If you need outside help – for example, this year you want to create an AE whiteboard video — now is the time to begin planning for that also.

  2. Gather your crew. The Millennium Falcon only required a crew of two, but AE is probably a bigger job than just you and a first mate can handle. So, don’t make a “wookie” mistake and make sure you involve all stakeholders in the process. This includes your carriers, your benefits technology partner, your broker or consultant, and anyone else who will be helping you pilot AE. An onsite, all-team kickoff meeting is a great way to make sure everyone understands the flight plan.
  3. Think of AE as a franchise. Since that first Star Wars movie a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, we’ve seen prequels…and more prequels…and sequels. That’s because the events in the original movie represent a specific moment in time with both things that led up to them and things that followed them. Same with AE. While the 10 or so days when employees are making their elections get all the glory, there’s a lot that goes into them beforehand. And, don’t forget the downstream work.

And, more importantly, once enrolled, employees begin using their benefits. If you don’t consider and manage the ongoing employee experience and their level of engagement, you’re missing out on some box office gold.

Ready to start your Jedi training? Download our annual enrollment training infographic below for a step-by-step workout plan for your AE season.