Employee benefits communications, especially around open enrollment period, continue to be a challenge to benefits teams each year.
The list of obstacles is long:
- Presenting complicated information in a simplified manner
- Cutting through the noise
- Reaching spouses who may be making family health care decisions
- Connecting with remote workers
- Messaging to different demographics, ages and income levels
Oh, and benefits teams must overcome these challenges with limited resources and little-to-no-budget.
Despite these challenges, meeting your benefits communications goals is achievable with a proven approach.
We recently published a new eBook, Open Enrollment Blueprint: Strategies to Deliver Measurable Impact, that outlines what tactics are effective based on our own research and clients’ success stories.
Here are some of the takeaways from the book:
Invest Where It Counts
Mailers are expensive, and meeting with each employee one-on-one, while effective, is not always feasible. Many companies turn to open enrollment fairs to answer employees’ benefits questions.
The not-so-pretty truth about enrollment fairs is that they are costly, can be a resource drain, and may not actually be effective.
According to ConnectYourCare’s Consumer-Driven Health Plan Enrollment & Usage Trends Survey, which surveyed more than 14,500 workers, less than 3% who elected a voluntary tax-advantaged account (Health Savings or Flexible Spending Accounts) said that an enrollment fair was the resource that influenced their enrollment decision the most.
If not enrollment fairs, what is effective in motivating employees?
When it comes to optional tax-advantaged accounts, the factor that was most influential when it came time for employees to make their HSA/FSA enrollment decision was “previous account experience,” as indicated by 38.9% of respondents.
After previous experience, 22.4% said enrollment communications were their top decision-making resource, followed by 17% that preferred savings calculators and 11.7% that put the most stock in advice from friends, family, or financial experts.
If this holds true for your employees, it means that at worst your approach to enrollment communications will be the source of guidance 1 in 5 employees turns to when deciding whether or not to enroll in a tax-advantaged health account.
Regarding the third most influential resource, savings calculators, awareness of these tools can be linked back to benefits communications produced by the employer, insurance broker working with HR, and/or the third-party administrator providing the benefit.
So while inertia is powerful, strong enrollment communication plans that leverage proven strategies coupled with creative, attention-grabbing approaches can be just as effective.
Interrupt… in a Good Way
To get an important point or concept across when talking to someone, you might put your hand up. Similarly, the best communicators find a way to interrupt thoughts to drive their message home.
One benefits team successfully drove enrollment in its new Health Savings Account (HSA) program by leveraging its corporate alert system.
The team built messages that employees had to read and click before proceeding with their work day. The strategy worked, and the team tripled their enrollment goal.
Other innovators built interruptions into their enrollment systems. Instead of simply allowing employees to select “Yes” or “No” when presented with the Flexible Spending Account (FSA) option, one employer boosted enrollment in this plan by requiring employees declining the benefit to check a box that said “I realize I am forfeiting this cost-saving benefit,” in order to proceed.
These tactics have proven successful in driving enrollment and engagement in real-life scenarios. But most importantly, remember that benefits education is an ongoing journey.
Successful communication programs are not finished when open enrollment concludes. Year-round education is critical to long-term success.