Open Enrollment Made Easy: Templates & Tactics for Better Benefits Communication
Employee benefits play a crucial role in attracting and retaining the people you need to grow your business. But the complexities of benefits management can fill even the most seasoned HR pro with dread. It’s a time-consuming task, especially if you’re having to answer the same questions over and over during the enrollment process.
Imagine answering a question once for the whole company! That’s the goal of an effective communications plan. So what’s the best way to communicate with employees with clarity and transparency?
To help you take that first step in creating an effective benefits communications plan for your company, we’ve put together a free open enrollment communications plan that includes six employee benefits communication samples.
Open Enrollment Communications Plan Templates
- Communication timeline template
- Open enrollment kick-off email template
- First day of open enrollment email
- Deadline approaching email
- Employee survey + email templates
- Internal open enrollment FAQ template
In addition to the templates, below are six practical techniques for creating a successful benefits enrollment process that will reduce repetitive questions and reclaim valuable time.
6 Tactics for More Effective Employee Benefits Communication
Streamline the benefits enrollment process and make sure everyone knows the what, where, when, and how of your company’s benefits offering with the following tactics:
- Communicate early and often
- Establish a comprehensive training schedule
- Use different delivery methods
- Offer ongoing support
- Provide easy-to-find educational resources
- Use visual aids
1. Communicate Early and Often
Prepare employees for open enrollment by communicating early and often about the plans and processes they can expect. At least a month before the enrollment period begins, send a kick-off email that provides all the instructions you’d give someone enrolling in benefits for the first time at your company. Continue providing learning resources and communicating your plans and processes at a regular cadence until the deadline. This gives employees more time to familiarize themselves with their options, any upcoming changes, and the process for making their elections.
By taking a proactive approach and answering questions before they even arise, you’ll set the stage for a smoother enrollment experience for everyone and reduce the volume of questions you’ll receive throughout the process.
2. Establish a Comprehensive Training Schedule
Having a structured training schedule is a great way to make sure every employee knows how to make their elections or find answers to their benefits questions. A few ideas include:
- Hold company-wide, departmental, or team training sessions.
- Establish open office hours for employees to talk directly to HR.
- Share the schedule for these activities on your company intranet or add it to your employees’ calendars.
Make sure you’re also setting aside time in these training sessions for open Q&As or one-on-one conversations. For unique or sensitive cases, you want to make sure employees have the option to speak confidentially with HR about their benefits needs.
3. Use Different Delivery Methods
Everyone has different learning preferences, so your communication efforts will be more effective if you offer employees training options. By providing multiple methods, employees can engage with the content how they prefer, and it’ll be easier for them to find answers to their questions independently.
For example, in addition to sending out an open enrollment FAQ, you could also offer an online course or hold in-person workshops. Other ideas include:
- Pre-recorded videos
- Virtual or in-person benefits fair
It’s also important to provide training specifically for managers so they can be an additional resource for employees by communicating benefits information to their teams, following up on enrollment deadlines, and more.
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4. Offer Ongoing Support
While the main goal of a proactive communication plan is to preempt questions, many employees will still need help. In addition to holding open office hours, another way to offer more flexible support is to establish an “HR Help Desk.”
Your help desk could be a part of your intranet or a dedicated Slack channel where employees can post questions for someone on the team to answer. Having the questions and answers posted in a public forum can provide clarity for everyone in the channel. And having a clear point of contact or place for questions provides reassurance and creates a better employee experience.
5. Provide Easy-To-Find Educational Resources
The learning resources you provide your employees should outline the available benefits, explain the enrollment process, and define key terms and concepts for those who may be experiencing this process for the first time or just need a refresher.
These resources can look like the following:
- Company intranet blog or wiki
- Physical booklets
- Carrier-provided materials
- Email reminders
- Detailed FAQs
With a hub of ready answers at their fingertips, your employees will have what they need to make informed decisions, and you’ll have more time to focus on specific issues that may come up during the process.
6. Use Visual Aids
As employees weigh their benefits options against their budget, they’ll need support to wade through the often baffling world of copayments, coinsurance, deductibles, and how they all affect monthly premiums.
Visual aids can help you communicate this complex information in a more digestible way. Here are a few mediums you can play with:
- Illustrated example cases
- Interactive presentations
You don’t need to stress about having to become a graphic designer, though. A simple PowerPoint can make it easier for employees to understand and remember the key details about the benefits enrollment process, coverage options, and any changes from the previous year.
The Role of Open Enrollment Software in Streamlining Benefits Communication
Open enrollment software, or benefits administration software, can support and amplify your communication plan by offering a hub where all of the above tactics can be facilitated and delivered throughout the year.
A Centralized Platform
Open enrollment software provides a sort of benefits HQ where HR and benefits admins can quickly and easily send crucial information out to employees, including:
- Changes to plans and premiums
- Important deadlines and enrollment windows
- Dates for trainings or Q&As
- Educational resources and links to FAQs
For example, when you leverage automated communication features like Company Announcements in BambooHR, email notifications, or in-app messaging, your employees receive personalized reminders and relevant info directly. This keeps everyone on the same page, and you’ll field a lot fewer repetitive questions as a result.
Year-Round Benefits Management
Benefits administration software also streamlines both open enrollment season and any qualifying life events or new hire elections that can happen throughout the year, such as
- Marriage or divorce
- Birth or adoption of a child
- Loss of other health coverage
- And more
Qualifying life events allow individuals to make changes to their health insurance plans outside of the regular open enrollment period. With the right benefits administration software, you can easily open an enrollment window at any time. Employees can then click through the needed changes in their profile, guided by the system's built-in eligibility rules and workflows.
This not only simplifies the process for everyone, but it instantly updates their employee record in time for the next payroll run.
Clear Money Trail
Premiums, rates, deductions, HSA balances, contribution matching—your employees want to see where their dollars are going and what’s coming in. This piece of the communication puzzle can’t be overlooked, and benefits administration software should lay it all out in clear detail.
Having benefits and payroll on the same platform creates ease of use for everyone: minimized administration and data entry, increased accuracy, and real-time transaction history visible to the employee.
An Award-Winning, Complete HR Platform
In BambooHR, everything works together to help you manage data and benefits, hire talent, run payroll, and help employees thrive. Best of all, it's easy and intuitive for busy HR teams!
Start Your Plan Right Now With Downloadable Employee Benefits Communication Samples
Don’t know where to begin with building an official open enrollment comms plan for your company? Download these comms samples to get started before your next open enrollment period.