Congratulations, you survived another open enrollment season! There’s a natural surge of employee benefits communications around open enrollment (OE), but they shouldn’t stop there. Expanding your communication plan to help employees make the best use of their benefits throughout the year is a must – even more so in the current benefits climate.

Viewpoints from Jodi Perry

Do you know what your employees don’t know?

Survey them to understand in what area of benefits they’re least educated. During OE, most employees spend ample time reviewing their medical benefit offerings but most probably don’t know they have an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) or that there’s an awesome rollover feature for their dental plan. Maybe your organization offers a tuition reimbursement program that not many people are taking advantage of. You will have a better idea of what topics to include in your communications plan by starting with a survey.

So, you’re ready to get going. Now what?

Engage your employees. Does your workforce understand that their pay is just a small part of their total compensation? A Total Compensation Statement lays out the big picture for them. This is a great opportunity to show employees the benefits they’re missing out on.

Keep your message relevant. 2020 threw us a curveball and made us throw our existing communications calendar out the window! It would not have made much sense to continue with the plan without addressing the elephant in the room. I’m sure 2021 will give us a lot of surprise topics as well!

It’s ok to be repetitive. During open enrollment, employees may be overwhelmed with benefits information. And in a room full of their peers, they may be hesitant to ask questions. Reminders about benefits like telehealth, health savings account (HSA) usage, and the importance of preventive care are best communicated outside of the OE window when employees can more readily absorb and digest the information.

Keep the message short and informative. These two concepts don’t need to clash. I don’t know about you, but if my human resources team sent out an email longer than a giraffe’s neck, I probably wouldn’t read the whole thing (sorry!). A header, main message, and where to find more information is plenty.

Have some fun! Communications don’t have to be boring. Keep your employees’ attention with a conversational tone – one that doesn’t sound like a reference book. You know your employees best, so use your judgment here.

Analyze what worked. Have you previously executed a year-round communication? What worked and what didn’t? How do you know? Emails programs like Mailchimp or Constant Contact let you see how many people opened your email and clicked on links. Numbers don’t lie – review the most clicked-on links in 2020 and talk about that subject again. Like I said above, it’s ok to be repetitive as long as it is relevant.

Our Communications & Engagement team has developed and tested best practices over many years of experience. We’re here to help you create a comprehensive, thoughtful plan for year-round benefits communications – just ask!


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EPIC offers these opinions for general information only. EPIC does not intend this material to be, nor may any person receiving this information construe or rely on this material as, tax or legal advice. The matters addressed in this article and any related discussions or correspondence should be reviewed and discussed with legal counsel prior to acting or relying on these materials.


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Jodi Perry

Director, Communications & Engagement Consulting