Use new communication formats to make your open enrollment more effective.

When open enrollment rolls around, many employers simply send out an email or provide a giant stack of paperwork to employees and then assume that everything is understood. But if you want your benefits offerings to be understood and taken advantage of by your employees, you should be trying to do more to help your employees figure of what's what. For maximum efficacy open enrollment communication can't be a one-off HR task, HR leaders should instead consider taking a page from the world of marketing communications and take a more always-on communication approach.

Within the realm of marketing, messages are repeated often so consumers don't have the opportunity to forget. In fact, the common "rule of seven" says that consumers need to hear about something at least seven times before they make a buying decision, according to The Balance. By taking a marketing approach to open enrollment and delivering communications in a variety of ways, employers can improve the perceived value of the benefits they offer.

1. Case Studies

Humans like to relate to one another. By reassuring workers during the open enrollment communications process that they have similar challenges and struggles to their peers, you can help them focus on making the right benefit choices for them. Consider crafting a marketing campaign around why, for instance, some employees selected the new high deductible health plan. What made them make that decision? For organizations looking at a major shift in benefit offerings, such as moving from a traditional plan to a high deductible offering, these case studies can help to ease the fear of the unknown.

2. Storytelling

If the thought of highlighting individual employees doesn't mesh with your culture, then a simple side step is to tell a story. If you truly understand your employee base and what challenges or values they have in common, it's relatively simple to craft a handful of stories that touch on points that matter to your core population.

For instance, if your organization employs workers in lower-paying positions, then it's statistically likely that these workers are financially challenged and might benefit from education around money management, budgeting and decision-making. By telling a story of a fictional individual that embodies the characteristics of many of your workers, you can help them envision themselves in the story. This doesn't have to be highly produced or challenging, and having a handful of relevant, recurring characters in your promotions can help increase the awareness and interest from your workforce.

3. Video

According to Tubular Insights, videos on Facebook are five times more engaging than images. Have you considered the idea of using video within the context of open enrollment communication? It can be as simple as short snippets of smartphone video from the HR or communications team outlining new benefit changes or options. It could even be a compelling walk through or comparison of new, superior benefit options to those of the past. As Forbes reports, "Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it on video, compared to 10% when reading it in a text."

Open enrollment communication can't be a one and done proposition. Instead, HR leaders should work to engage employees on a deeper level by utilizing a variety of communication techniques.

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