Shifting Gears after a Successful Open Enrollment

Shifting Gears after a Successful Open Enrollment

It’s November. That means you can see the light at the end of the open enrollment tunnel. Or maybe your company’s already driven clear through.

Your communications strategy got you through this hectic season. But what happens at the end of the year? Although your human resources staff and communications team deserve a break, there is still work on the road ahead.

Communicate often. Don’t slam the brakes because OE season has passed. After the enrollment ends but before the new plan year starts is a great time to educate your employees and start thinking about the next journey.

According to an LIMRA study, just 38% of companies surveyed even have a formal benefits communications plan. Of that group, 65% measure their plan’s success. Measurement is a useful tool to create engaged healthcare consumers. Employees who think their companies communicate benefits well have increased loyalty and engagement.

Survey your employees now, when open enrollment is still top of mind. Some possible questions to ask:

  • Did you feel like you received enough information about available benefits?
  • What information was the most useful in helping you make decisions?
  • How would you like open enrollment messages delivered?
  • What could we do better next year?

Answers can be used to craft next year’s open enrollment campaign. Employee feedback sparks conversation, whether you use an outside benefits communications firm, like Trion, or handle your own communications.

One question to ask yourself is: What can we do to rev the engines for 2018? Create targeted communication pieces to explain to employees how and why to use their benefit. You already showed your employees how to choose benefits. Now, educate them on how to use those benefits. Take a lesson from employee benefits communications firms. They help clients teach employees about the available benefits and wellness programs year-round.

Introduce a communications plan around new benefits

Is your company introducing a high deductible health plan with an HSA next year? Now is the time to teach employees about what medical expenses do and do not qualify for their HSA funds. It’s their hard-earned money in that health savings account, help them make the most of it. Are you offering an EAP program for the first time? Remind workers about its online resources and counseling services to help cope with relationship and financial stressors and other concerns.

Remind employees of flexible spending account conditions

Can employees roll over funds? What is the deadline to use those rollover funds? Is there a grace period to incur claims? Craft communications pieces that teach the answers. If employees had a lot of money remaining in their 2017 accounts, educate them on making smarter choices for next year.

Talk to employees about wellness programs

January is a popular time for health-related resolutions, but many people think about their goals now. Create communications pieces that guide employees on the path to wellness. Remind them about reimbursements for gym memberships offered through your insurance carriers. Include education about how to sign up. Help workers start off 2018 by kicking their smoking habit. Let workers know about free or low-cost smoking cessation programs from the insurance company or EAP.

Simple, specific messages are key to post-enrollment communications. Lists and infographics are great uncluttered and engaging options. An infographic that shows ways the EAP can help employees destress or a list of the Top 5 Ways to Use Remaining Healthcare FSA Funds are two examples.

Tailor messages to the right audiences. Employees enrolled in a PPO for example, don’t care about how to take advantage of their HSA. Likewise, those with only a dependent care FSA don’t need reminders about rollover funds.

Use the information from your post-enrollment survey to choose the right vehicle. How do employees prefer to get benefits messages—flyers mailed to their homes, emails sent to their work address, in-person events? Meet employees where they will be most receptive to your message.

You can pat yourself on the back for a successful open enrollment season. You can also assess where the path was smooth and where the road was bumpy. Take this time to assess the highs and lows of 2017’s open enrollment. And make a plan to drive towards something bigger and better in 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Danielle Love

Danielle is a benefits communications specialist, working on behalf of clients to write, edit and design dynamic print and virtual communications. She also manages the Trion Communications blog, which highlights the practice’s diverse areas of expertise.

Trion Communications Danielle.Love@trion-mma.com

The “After” of Open Enrollment: Post-enrollment Communications

The “After” of Open Enrollment: Post-enrollment Communications

It’s finally over! I’m not talking about the presidential election, although I’m sure most of us are glad that’s over, too. No, I’m talking about Open Enrollment. My final client’s enrollment window opened this morning, which means all of the dozens of enrollment communications I’ve helped create for my clients are done.

That doesn’t mean, however, that my to-do list is blank. Far from it. My work now focuses on the “after” – that is, post-enrollment communications.

What does that look like? For some clients, it’s a video campaign slated for early January designed to help employees know what to do and expect when the new plan year begins. For others, it’s a wallet card listing vendor contact information so that employees can easily reach out to the right resource for help. We shape each client’s post-enrollment communications around who they are, what they offer, and what kind of support we believe their employees need most.

Whether you engage a vendor like the Trion Communications team, or you handle communications yourself, it’s a growing imperative in the benefits world to do something after enrollment season ends. Going silent the rest of the year is no longer the status quo. As I’ve said in a previous post, if you aren’t regularly supporting your employees in getting the most out of their benefits, you’re missing a huge opportunity.

So what should your post-enrollment communications focus on? These questions can help you get started:

Have you introduced a consumer-driven health plan or moved to total replacement CDHPs? CDHPs require knowledge and buy-in from employees. If you don’t tell employees what they need to know and support them in using the plan effectively, you risk setting them up for dissatisfaction, both with the plan and with you.

Have you changed, added or dropped any other plans or vendors? Have you added voluntary benefits like accident and critical illness insurance? Gotten rid of a popular PPO plan and pushed enrollment into a different type of plan? Changed vendors for dental or vision so that employees may need to find new in-network providers? Tell them what they need to know and do to use the new benefits successfully, and offer a place (intranet, benefits portal, enrollment site, etc.) where they can easily access information anytime they need it.

What were the most common questions you fielded from employees during Open Enrollment? If you got 20 inquiries from different employees about how much they can contribute to an HSA or how often they’re eligible for new glasses under the vision plan, you should take that as a sign. Your communications can be as simple as a list of FAQs that you post to the intranet, or you could turn it into a regular series of brief emails from HR, with each email providing the answer to one common question.

Do you offer benefits or programs that historically have low utilization/participation? Is engagement with your wellness program low? Does no one call the EAP? Do most employees not contribute up to your 401(k) match limit? Actively promoting what you offer year-round is a win-win for you and for your employees.

Need more help crafting a post-enrollment communication plan? Check out the client samples in our portfolio to give you some ideas, or feel free to give us a call to see how we can help!

Written by Jill Diffendal

Trion Communications jill.diffendal@trion-mma.com