fall calendar set with communications meetings for employees about open
enrollment? I would not be surprised if you answer, “We don’t hold meetings, everything
is sent out electronically.” Instant communications is not the best way to
deliver complex information, particularly changes in benefits plan offerings.
The message is more likely to get out, and reduce frustration, when multiple
communications channels are used.
Start With Email
great for announcements, summaries and distributing required Summary Plan
Descriptions (SPD). Email messages about benefits can get buried in a growing
in-box and might not reach the family decision maker. Employees often turn to
spouses, and even children, to help with these decisions.
to send general announcements and a schedule of events and deadlines. If you
insist on email as your best option for all information begin with a summary of
highlights or changes so employees don’t have to wad through dense content to
find them. Conclude with clear action steps that participants are required to
take for your open enrollment procession.
Add Mailings Home
crafted letters and information that is sent home strengthens the message. If a
change is resulting in increased employee out of pocket expenses this can be
described in a letter from the CEO that includes specifics about costs and cost
sharing. Enrollment materials can also be included in the packet from providers
or summarized by the employer or broker.
of information that is full of terms that no one will understand. If you are
introducing a Health Savings Plan as an option, or the new coverage for all,
don’t fill a page repeatedly extolling the features of the HSA to readers who
don’t know what the abbreviation stands for.
home is more likely to be read by someone else in the family. Conversation with
a spouse can lead to better understanding and satisfaction when everyone sees
the value in offerings and costs that are covered by the employer.
Include Face to Face or Remote
be explained in a meeting that anticipates objections and frequently asked
questions. This is not a Town Hall Meeting on Healthcare Reform but you can
face negative reactions, particularly when there have been significant changes
or increases in employee costs. Answering these questions in person gives the
opportunity to share correct information and avoid rumors. You wouldn’t want employees
thinking wellness initiatives for weight loss and smoking cessation are
negative attempts at controlling individual lives. We know how fast
misinformation can spread.
are really helpful when representatives from providers can be present. A health
fair or informal setting where employees can ask questions one-on-one can be a
great alternative to formal meetings. When providers do speak it is important
that they too minimize terms that participants may not understand. Brief them
first on the knowledge level of your employees so you can screen for jargon.
employees can be reached through teleconference, web based meetings and conference calls. Limit
the number of attendees in virtual meetings to increase participation and
opportunities to ask questions. You will score points for both in person and
online meetings when you invite spouses to hear the information. They may be
the one who actually completes the forms.
frequently asked questions for distribution and update them when you repeatedly
hear the same inquiry. After 3 employees describe repeated attempts to use
online resources, including passwords and group numbers, save frustration and
can cut down on complaints by including
step by step directions up front.
creative steps have you taken to improve benefits open enrollment communications?