Don’t wait until open enrollment begins to start communicating with employees about open enrollment. Instead, the best time to start making sure your employees are prepared to choose benefits for the coming plan year is well in advance of open enrollment. While you shouldn’t advise individual team members about what benefits to choose, the company should provide advance information about what options are available so team members have the information they need to select the health insurance plan and other benefits that best meet their needs.
How to Create a Benefits Package
Use our guide to simplify creating a benefits package.
Proactive Communication Prior to Open Enrollment
Proactive employee communication is critical. One of the best ways you can help your team prepare for open enrollment is to start communicating with them about the process well in advance. Share information on the exact timeframe within which they’ll need to select plans and highlight what has changed with regards to benefits plans, options, and costs since the previous year. Here are some ways you could try sharing this information with your team:
- Open Enrollment Preview Webinar: Host a webinar that highlights any changes since last year and details on how open enrollment will flow this year. Allow employees to attend live or to view a recording of the webinar at any time. If you can, leave time for employee Q&A!
- Post a FAQ Guide/Resource Center: Provide a frequently asked questions (FAQ) resource with key facts about available benefits (health insurance plans, vision and dental options, etc.) and how to sign up during open enrollment. This is typically integrated into HR management platforms that include benefits administration, like Justworks. If you don’t have a benefits platform, you can compile this information and post it on your company’s intranet, being sure to update it as new information becomes available.
- Benefits Support Hotline: Make it easy for employees to get answers to their questions about benefits enrollment. At a minimum, provide a point of contact, phone number and email address. Chat, text, and availability via Slack would also be beneficial. Justworks customers enjoy around-the-clock access to support around understanding health insurance, which makes it easy for even small businesses and startups to support employee needs. Remember: The more questions employees can ask (and get answered!) in advance, the less hectic open enrollment will be.
- Advance Announcement: Send an email or Slack message to all employees with details about the upcoming enrollment period, including when they should expect to receive details about plans for the coming year, timeframes, and how they’ll go about electing benefits. Include a link to the FAQ document.
- Snail Mail Follow-Up: Consider sending a letter version of the advance announcement to employees’ homes via regular mail. This can be beneficial for any company, but especially for organizations with remote or distributed teams. Include a copy of the current version of your FAQ document, with a link to where it can be found on the company’s website or HR platform. Be sure to include a notation that the document will be updated as new information becomes available.
- Intranet Banner or Block: Make sure information about the upcoming enrollment period is front and center on your intranet, ideally in the form of a highly visible banner or block. When employees log in, they should see a reminder about the upcoming benefits election period every time. Include a link to the FAQ guide and contact information to get more information.
Communication Best Practices During Open Enrollment
Your focus on helping your team prep for benefits enrollment should continue through the open enrollment period. While proactive efforts in the weeks leading up to open enrollment can help set the stage for things to go smoothly, it’s important to continue providing resources and reminders throughout the entire process.
- Continue Intranet Reminders: Keep information about open enrollment highlighted on the intranet homepage, adjusting the message to indicate that open enrollment is now open. As the end of the benefits election period draws near, transition the message to include a countdown to when open enrollment closes.
- Ongoing Access to Informational Resources: Continue providing support for employees’ questions and need for information throughout open enrollment, both online and via direct communication to contacts who can field questions and provide information and answers.
- Calendar Notifications: If you have a company calendar that employees use, consider setting up a calendar notification for the beginning and end of open enrollment, as well as periodic reminders throughout the timeframe. This can be beneficial in any company, but is particularly important for organizations with employees who work remotely.
- Individualized Follow-Up: Keep track of who hasn’t yet enrolled and reach out with follow-up messages urging them to do so as the end of the open enrollment period draws near.
Open Enrollment Success
Making uninformed benefits choices during open enrollment — or missing open enrollment altogether — can be a costly mistake for employees and, in the absence of a qualifying life event (QLE), is one they’ll have to deal with the consequences of for a year. By being proactive in providing reliable information and expert support to employees well in advance of — and throughout — open enrollment, you will be doing your part as an employer to help make sureteam members have access to quality benefits while also setting your company up for an open enrollment period that’s both efficient and effective.
Simplify Employee Benefits and Open Enrollment
The idea of implementing such a comprehensive open enrollment communication plan can seem overwhelming to small businesses and startups, but it doesn’t have to be.
- Working with a professional employer organization (PEO) like Justworks not only makes it possible for smaller companies to provide employees with access to big company benefits at affordable rates, it also simplifies the process of planning, implementing, and managing open enrollment.
- As a Justworks customer, you won’t have to compile the information needed to communicate effectively with employees about open enrollment yourself — that will all be handled for you. From a helpful online health insurance resource center to 24/7 full-service support for you and your team.
Justworks customers have easy access to everything they need to help their teams prepare for and complete open enrollment, without having to direct internal resources away from core business functions.
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.