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Words of Wisdom from an HR Pro on Enrolling a Segmented Workforce

Words of Wisdom from an HR Pro on Enrolling a Segmented Workforce
Posted on Thursday, October 13, 2016 by Marcy Klipfel
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shutterstock_400876114-618505-edited.jpgTo all my fellow benefits pros out there – are you stressed? 

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Trust me, I feel you. Without a doubt, annual enrollment is the busiest time of year for us. There are so many complexities to manage that it can feel like a never-ending uphill battle. But take a deep breath, step away from your mountain of to-dos, and rest assured! We’re here to help with expert tips from a benefits pro who has already conquered the annual beast that is enrollment.

Susan Lowe is the Director of Benefits at Sephora. With 10 years of experience in benefits and compensation, you’ll definitely want to pay attention to her words of wisdom.

Given that Sephora has three unique populations across its workforce, each with different age demographics and priorities, Susan has experience meeting the needs of a segmented workforce. The company successfully completed its annual enrollment in August, thanks, in part, to an effective communications strategy that kept its employees’ varying needs top of mind.

We connected with Susan to get her tips on how to effectively educate, engage and enroll employees. Here’s her advice on what to remember most as annual enrollment hits crunch time:

One size does not fit all

The key to successful engagement is understanding that people like to receive communications in different ways. This year, Susan and her team made a concerted effort to develop and execute customized communications plans for each of the company’s three populations: distribution center employees, store employees, and field support center employees.

At the distribution center, for example, employees have been slower to embrace technology, but are still eager to understand their benefits. Recognizing that focused, face-to-face discussion would be better received, Susan’s team decided to hold a separate enrollment period for the distribution center team, ahead of the rest of the company.

The benefits team spent a week onsite at the distribution center conducting workshops about benefits and enrollment, as well as providing the opportunity for one-on-one meetings. It was a huge success – the team was able to get in front of every benefits-eligible employee at the center.

The company’s store employees tend to be younger and prefer quick, to-the-point communications. To grab their attention, the benefits team developed eye-catching materials that heavily incorporated Sephora’s familiar branding. They also created a compelling video that all store employees were required to watch.

Finally, at the company’s field support center – or headquarters – Susan and her team hosted four onsite presentations over the course of two weeks, knowing that this employee base tends to be incredibly busy and would appreciate the flexibility of having multiple options to attend the seminar. The benefits team also got on the schedule for different departments’ town hall meetings, making the process even easier for employees by coming to them.

Tune in to different priorities

Not only does each employee segment have different communication preferences, but they also have different priorities when it comes to benefits. For example, the distribution center workforce tends to have higher medical claims utilization than other employee segments. So, the team focused on that aspect of benefits when engaging distribution center employees more than when they engaged support center or store employees, who have lower claims utilization.

Further, the store employee population is dominated by Gen Z and young Millennials, with many having never before selected benefits. Providing “benefits 101” information to this population was important, as well as keeping them aware of key deadlines.

Leverage the gift of time

The tactics Susan and her team deployed sound great, right? But you may be wondering – “How could I ever get something like that done?” It’s all about making time. At Sephora, Susan and her team view Businessolver – their benefits administration partner – as an extension of their team and use the time they would be spending on administration to create and execute employee communications.

Whether or not you use a benefits administration partner, work with your team to divide and conquer responsibilities and get ahead of deadlines so that you can free up time to focus on employee communications. Recognize that even though custom employee communications may require a little more effort on the front end, the outcome will be so worth it. The more you can engage and educate your employees in a way that works for them, the easier enrollment will be.

To learn more, check out our Annual Enrollment Bootcamp webinar for other smart tips from Susan and our team of enrollment experts.