The summer is flying by and we will soon be heavy into fourth quarter chaos, which means endless group open enrollments. I know most of us rather not even think about that, but now is the time to start putting together your open enrollment communication plan.
Communication is a key component to any successful group open enrollment. Not just your average renewal meeting with your clients where you communicate their past years trends, costs, and communicate their renewal options. I’m talking about the communication that is done with the employees to effectively communicate their employer’s benefits!
While the ACA has made more employees aware of health insurance in general, it has not made it any easier for them to understand, and some would argue it’s even more confusing now! More importantly, it has not made it easier for them to determine what benefits they should select for themselves or their families, especially when their group changes carriers and benefits every year.
Look, benefits are not glamorous, I don’t think any of us walk into a room of bored strangers and start talking insurance because we want to liven up the room! And to most employees when they see those dreaded emails from HR about Open Enrollment, they roll their eyes and take a deep breath. And I get it, it’s the same way I feel when tax time rolls around.
So let’s make benefits fun! To answer the question you are thinking right now in your head, Yes it is possible! If employees look forward to open enrollment, they will be more engaged, and ultimately make better decisions which can help save them (as well as your clients) money.
First things first…
What gets your attention these days: a funny video of a cat fist bumping their owner, funny memes, catchy advertising, commercials or tweets? Well if it’s catching your attention it’s safe to say it will also catch the attention of your employees. Create an open enrollment campaign using one or more of these things to communicate benefits in a unique and funny way. Treat open enrollment like you would any marketing campaign, and what makes it easier is you should know your target audience better than anyone else. For example, if your employees use their mobile phone a lot for work, then sending text communication (memes) would work. Likewise, if you have a lot of research employees who are always on their computer, then using online videos may work better for them.
Who doesn’t love a great party theme? I can always incorporate a good theme, so why not do it for open enrollment as well! You can not only design your open enrollment communication around the theme, but you can also incorporate it into a benefit’s fair. I once did a retro 70’s themed open enrollment campaign, topping it off with a benefits fair equipped with inflatable couches, lava lamps, tie dye, and costumes. Employees could not wait to come down to see everything and talk to all the carriers and vendors who had tables there as well. It gave them a chance to talk benefits and ask questions in a fun environment. We also included some games into our entire campaign!
If you don’t have a location to have a benefits fair or open enrollment meeting, don’t stick to the boring one-hour webinars with 50 slides on benefits. If anyone even shows up to the webinar you will lose them at slide two, trust me! Try communicating in small doses. Why do you think Snapchat has taken off so well, because it’s short little clips? People want something in under a minute and while I know that seems daunting, it can be done! An effective campaign can use smaller pieces of information over a few weeks to build a great open enrollment campaign!
Making open enrollment fun, and getting employees engaged in selecting benefits will pay off in a multitude of ways. No matter how large or small the company is, you can design something that fits in their budget and no doubt, you will see a difference!