Congratulations on completing another annual enrollment season!
It’s tempting to put a bow on it and call it a wrap, but to do so would be a waste of an opportunity. Use this set of questions that HR professionals should be asking themselves now to:
It seems obvious, but to make benefits easier to digest, keep it simple. Only two-thirds of employees said their employer’s communications regarding benefits were easy to understand.
Write shorter sentences and delete intimidating jargon from documentation. When sending out email communication, be sure to include the most important information at the top of the message. Also, point out key deadlines and ensure there’s a direct link so the receiver can take necessary action in as little clicks as possible.
Ensure that the right employees are presented with the right benefits in the right way.
Workforces might be split between on-site employees, remote workers, hybrid, or a combination of these. Meet employees where they are to communicate effectively. There is no single perfect way to engage everyone. Many employees prefer their personal email address over their company one, while others may want a text message reminder and a link to download an app to enroll.
Analyze preferences and moving forward, focus on communicating via their preferred channels. There is a better chance they will get, and subsequently act on, the message.
Personalization is an empathetic practice, eliminating the irrelevant. Benefits communication that is tailored to what matters most for employees reduces employee confusion and frustration. Using a rules-based benefits administration platform, configuring these types of messages can happen automatically.
One study found that 87% of employers have a “strong sense of loyalty” to their employees. Yet only half of employees are feeling the love, skeptical that their employer has their best interests in mind.
Bridge this gap by asking employees to provide their feedback. Ask if they feel their benefits will adequately cover their needs for the next plan year.
Let’s take it one step further.
While employers have employees’ attention, it might be prudent to ask what benefits are a top priority for them. If some of the top priority benefits are already being offered, then this may be a good opportunity for re-education and avoiding some of the panic around rising medical costs. On the other hand, if there is a benefit that is not in scope, it’s just as important to address their concerns. Communicate why that benefit might not be on the roadmap now but could be considered in the future.
Being transparent with employees about the company’s benefits offering, while also being open to peoples’ thoughts, can build trust and encourage retention.
When asking for feedback from employees, also consider the benefits enrollment process itself. Questions like language preferences, feedback about changes that were implemented, the ease of using the administration platform, and whether or not they feel confident in their enrollment decisions, are all important to ask. For 45% of employees, enrolling in benefits isn’t just a chore—it’s significantly stressful.
The data gathered now will help establish strategies that mitigate stress in the future.
Simultaneously gathering data from a benefits administrator can be valuable as well. Analyze key statistics like employee activity within the platform. Find out what aspects, education materials, or voluntary benefits have the highest engagement. Evaluate email open rates and notice whether the click through led to a spike in enrollment numbers immediately following that email.
Furthermore, take this opportunity to think outside the box. Some employers use external platforms to manage their retiree and alumni populations with great success. Others use their chat platforms, or software that is already in use company-wide, as an additional method of communication and data collection.
After collecting and analyzing the data, it’s time to take action. For instance, if there is a high population of first-time FSA account holders, send them communication about next steps, like when to expect their FSA card, a list of eligible expenses, and how to file a reimbursement claim.
Education is crucial. If engagement with certain point solutions, like telemedicine, or provider search tools were high, send instructions on how to take advantage of those benefits. Host regular information sessions about how to understand an EOB, or how to check a 401(k) balance.
This leads us to fostering engagement all year-round. One simple way to do this is to outline what key information should be shared and when throughout the year. Intertwining humanization, empathy, and transparency with the steps above will ensure future success next annual enrollment.
Finally, focus on the goal of what is best for employees. Instead of simply stating “these are the benefits we offer,” offer something more meaningful and show compassion for their wellbeing. For instance, because the month of May is mental health awareness month, send a reminder about EAP services. This will encourage employees to activate on their benefits the company has provided for them.
Want more ideas to maximize benefits messages by linking them to key engagement and decision-making moments in employees’ lives? Dive into our sample engagement calendar, “Engagement Energizer: 12 Months of Better Benefits Communications”