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8 tips for effective 2024 open enrollment communication

open enrollment 2024

Now more than ever, employees are looking to their employers for guidance on navigating available benefits and how to stretch their dollars further. As such, effective communication for open enrollment 2024 is critical.

According to a Willis Towers Watson report, 84% of employers plan to expand their tools in 2023 to help employees navigate their enrollment decisions, compared with 70% last year. Employees are likely paying more attention this year as they navigate record-high inflation and work to maximize every hard-earned dollar.

Many of today’s workers want help understanding how much money to put aside for retirement, emergency savings and healthcare expenses. Employers have an opportunity to shine by effectively communicating and guiding employees throughout the enrollment process and the rest of the year.

As the 2024 open enrollment season approaches, employers are poised to provide their employees with resources and digital tools. Here are eight tips you can use to effectively communicate and distribute these materials so your employees better understand and act with more confidence when making benefits decisions.

Communicating with employees

Educating and informing employees about their benefits package is an integral part of open enrollment. Effective communication is critical to educate and inform employees about new, returning or expanded benefits options. Consider these eight communication tips:

1. Start early

Get the word out early about benefits offerings so employees have ample time to understand their benefits, consult with family members and determine their needs for the following year. There’s no such thing as communicating “too soon” about enrollment. Repetitive messaging and reminders increase the odds of an employee seeing enrollment information and understanding the upcoming benefit changes and how they work.

2. Develop key messaging

After solidifying benefits options, employers need to plan their communication strategies. The first step is figuring out key messaging, focusing on new or updated benefits offerings and developing frequently asked questions to address common concerns.

3. Select a mix of appropriate channels

Just as many workplaces operate in a hybrid model, successful employee communications can be done in a similar manner. For example, digital channels can help distribute and house information virtually, allowing employees to access it when and where they need it. Chat functionality with benefits vendors can also be a helpful digital tool to assist employees in figuring out which benefits they need.

Alternatively, there’s still a time and place for company-wide onsite meetings and mail-to-home print communication. Postcards and other mailers are still relevant and can serve as a reminder to discuss and review benefits options at home. Every workplace is different, so it comes down to selecting various communication channels that are relevant and engaging to each organization’s specific employees.

4. Keep it simple

It’s vital to simplify any benefits information being shared. Employees don’t need to know everything, so employers should highlight what’s necessary to understand about the benefits and information to help them decide if they need it. Links or attachments could explore the benefits further and offer the “fine print.”

5. Make it digestible

It’s crucial to catch employees’ attention and present the key message immediately before they lose interest. Traditional benefits booklets can be lengthy; instead, employers can deliver bite-sized information to employees through methods such as videos and emails. If all open enrollment information is given at once, it’s easy for employees to become overwhelmed and disengage from employer-provided information. Digestible communication makes it easy for employees to know what to focus and take action on.

6. Use real-world examples.

When possible, employers can put benefits offerings in context with real-world scenarios. Employees can relate to stories, so find ways to bring the options to life. For example, instead of describing telemedicine as a 24/7 benefit, highlight that an employee could get healthcare answers in the middle of the night when they have a child running a high fever. There is a good chance employees will need to use healthcare benefits during the next year, so it’s important to reiterate the importance of complete coverage.

7. Avoid jargon

Avoid HR or benefits-related jargon to help make benefits easier to understand. Additionally, many benefits are acronyms, so employers should help decode and explain them to employees.

8. Personalize communication

A personalized approach can help engage employees with open enrollment information. Employers will likely need to segment their employee audience and tweak messaging so it resonates, depending on the workforce and their working environments. For example, open enrollment methods and communication would look different for remote and onsite employees.

Key takeaways for effective benefits communication

Benefits can be complicated. Although open enrollment is the most pivotal time to highlight benefits to employees, employers have an opportunity to educate employees throughout the year.

It’s important to remember that effective employee communication is an ongoing process, but it comes down to helping employees feel well-informed about their benefits options and confident about their choices. This will encourage them to understand and use the benefits available to them.

If you’d like additional open enrollment support, don’t hesitate to reach out to HANYS Benefit Services today! Our dedicated team of experts is happy to assist you in your employee benefits and open enrollment process.

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