How to Communicate Effectively During Your Next Open Enrollment

With the start of 2016 fast approaching, the Open Enrollment season is near for many of you in the months ahead, and we want you to have your best one yet!  Studies show that while most HR representatives think they are providing the necessary level of communication during open enrollment, a large number of employees feel undereducated in this area. Read below for tips on how to help your employees to stay better informed. 

In 2013 survey, it was discovered that less than 30 percent of employees knew they could make health plan changes during open enrollment. The survey also revealed the importance of follow-up communications and face-to-face meetings to increase employees’ understanding of their health plan in order to make better decisions for their unique individual or family needs. 

To help your communications reach your employees and promote awareness of options available to them during your next open enrollment period, here are some suggestions:

1.    Communicate all health benefits information available to employees during open enrollment time, not just medical plan information.  
2.    Educate your employees on the different terms they will be reading about, so for example, they know the difference between HMO vs. PPO or HSA vs. FSA plans.
3.    Provide opportunities for employees to have individual sessions with benefits counselors. These counselors can engage with employees and educate them on their benefits, help identify any coverage gaps, communicate what employees are spending on benefits and the value it provides. Remember, your PCMI Account Manager is a resource for you and can help you communicate benefits to your employee population. 
4.    Understand the needs of different generations and how to best reach them. For example, Millennials (20-34 year olds) prefer web apps, social media and face-to-face interaction. Generation Xers (35-49 year olds) prefer more intranet and social media communication while Baby Boomers (50+) respond best to direct mail and email.  
5.    In addition to varying communications efforts, consider segmenting your messages to address the needs of different groups. For example, you may have different messages for employees who are raising children, older workers who are close to retirement or younger workers without children.  What are the key concerns for each group? Always remember to write the messages from the perspective of why it would matter to them.