Open Enrollment Best Practices: How to Boost Employee Engagement

Oct 25, 2023

Open Enrollment is a crucial period for your organization, as it allows your employees to make decisions about their benefits and healthcare coverage for the upcoming year. However, OE isn’t just a matter of paperwork and compliance; it’s an opportunity for human resources to engage employees, improve satisfaction, and retain top talent.

In fact, Employee Benefits News reported that “findings from [John Hancock’s] 2023 stress, finances and well-being report establish that increased awareness of the benefits offered and an uptick in employee engagement seems to deepen the relationship between employees and their employer while helping lead to better financial outcomes.”

HR Teams should follow Open Enrollment best practices to boost employee engagement and benefit both employees and the organization.

Open Enrollment Best Practices

1. Understand Employee Needs

Understanding the diverse needs and preferences of your employees is the foundation of successful engagement during Open Enrollment. One size does not fit all when it comes to benefits, so take the time to gain insights into what matters most to your workforce.

Collecting employee feedback is a valuable method for understanding these needs. Conducting surveys or feedback sessions allows you to gauge employee preferences regarding benefits packages. Additionally, your HR team can analyze data from past enrollments and assess trends and utilization patterns to make informed adjustments.

2. Craft Personalized Communications

One of the most effective Open Enrollment best practices is crafting personalized communications. This is a core way to engage employees during the OE season. Rather than sending generic messages, tailor your communications to individual employees’ needs. Here are some tips for crafting personalized messages:

  • Segmentation: Categorize employees based on their demographics, family status, or previous benefit selections. Send information relevant to their specific situation.
  • Storytelling: Share real stories of employees who have benefited from the available options. Personal anecdotes can resonate with employees more so than dry data.  
  • Customized Recommendations: Provide personalized benefit recommendations based on employees’ preferences and needs, showcasing how different plans can meet their specific requirements.
  • Interactive Tools: Develop online tools or calculators that help employees make informed decisions based on their unique circumstances.

3. Leverage Multiple Communication Channels

To reach as many employees as possible, it’s crucial to utilize a variety of channels for Open Enrollment communications. Here are some options to consider:

  • Email: Send regular emails with updates, reminders, and important dates. Ensure they are concise and visually appealing.
  • Benefits Website: Create a dedicated Open Enrollment section on your benefits website where employees can access information and resources at their convenience.
  • Social Media: Share informative posts and reminders on your organization’s social media profiles. Encourage employees to ask questions and engage in discussions.
  • Printed Materials: Some employees may prefer physical materials. Provide brochures or pamphlets with essential information.
  • Employee Call Center: Offer your employees high-touch, year-round support with an Employee Call Center. This channel should have the ability to deploy custom communications and targeted outreach for all benefits and HR messaging.

4. Interactive Q&A Sessions

Hosting interactive Q&A sessions or webinars can significantly enhance employee engagement and should be considered an Open Enrollment best practice. Here’s how you can make them effective:

  • Choose the Right Platform: Select a mobile-optimized user-friendly platform for webinars or Q&A sessions. Ensure it’s accessible to all employees, including remote workers.
  • Schedule Strategically: Plan these sessions at times convenient for most employees, considering various time zones if applicable.
  • Facilitate Engaging Discussions: Encourage employees to ask questions and share their concerns. Prepare knowledgeable speakers who can address common queries and provide clarity on complex topics.
  • Record and Share: Record the sessions and make them available for those who couldn’t attend. This way, employees can review the information at their own pace.

5. Clear and Accessible Information

One Open Enrollment best practice that leads to successful engagement is providing clear and easily accessible benefits information. Here are methods to incorporate:

  • Infographics: Create visually appealing infographics that simplify complex information. Visual aids can help employees understand benefits more easily.
  • FAQs: Develop a comprehensive FAQ section that addresses common questions and concerns. Keep it updated as new inquiries arise.
  • Interactive Tools: Build decision-making tools that allow employees to explore various benefit scenarios and understand the potential impact on their finances.

6. Incentives for Participation

To motivate employees to actively participate in Open Enrollment, consider introducing incentive programs. These incentives can come in various forms, including:

  • Contribution Matches: Offer to match a portion of an employee’s contribution to their healthcare or retirement plans.
  • Prize Drawings: Hold raffles with enticing prizes for employees who complete their Open Enrollment process early or engage in educational webinars.
  • Wellness Programs: Tie Open Enrollment participation to your company’s wellness programs, offering rewards for healthy behaviors.

7. Celebrating Successes

Finally, don’t forget to celebrate the successes of your Open Enrollment efforts. Recognize and appreciate employees who actively engaged in the process, and share the positive impact it had on the organization. Ideas for recognition include:

  • Employee Spotlights: Highlight employees who made informed benefits choices and explain how they positively impacted their lives.
  • Thank-you Events: Host appreciation events or virtual gatherings to acknowledge the effort put into Open Enrollment.
  • Social Recognition: Use social media and internal communication channels to publicly thank and celebrate engaged employees.

Engaging employees during Open Enrollment is a crucial task for HR. By following the above Open Enrollment best practices, HR Teams will be well-equipped to create a more engaging and successful Open Enrollment process. 

A productive and effective Open Enrollment not only benefits your employees but also positively impacts employee satisfaction and retention, contributing to the overall success of your organization. 

At Totem, we understand that this season can be a trying time for HR Teams. We encourage you to continue checking the Totem Blog for more Open Enrollment best practices and resources posted weekly!


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