Creativity Gets Employees Engaged in Open Enrollment

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By Kristen Ricaurte Knebel

Aug. 31 — Employers often spend a lot of time preparing open enrollment materials, only to have employees spend only a few minutes looking at their benefit options.

Because of this problem, employers are thinking up new ways to get employees to give more time and attention to open enrollment.

Employers are trying to make the information more user-friendly, including making the materials available on mobile devices, Craig Johnson, a partner in Mercer’s Philadelphia office, told Bloomberg BNA.

Open enrollment materials, whether they be videos or other types of presentations, are now being built to be mobile-friendly, Johnson said. One thing that helps this along is that human resources departments are striving to be more tech savvy, even sending out text messages to employees that alert them to open enrollment.

Knowing Your Audience

One thing employers should do before inundating employees with open enrollment materials seems obvious, but might be something some employers forget to do: ask employees in what form they want their communications.

An employer’s “role is to really understand their workforce,” which means they need to know who they’re talking to and how to best talk to them, Gerry Leonard, president of benefits services with ADP, told Bloomberg BNA. They can look at workforce demographics and do research, but “ultimately the best thing to do is just ask them,” he said.

“The old way was you either shoved the whole package in the mail and sent it to somebody or you blast them an e-mail. It was always tough for people to read a lot of the stuff that came in the mail. It’s very confusing,” he said.

Get Them Reading

The average employee is bad about reading open enrollment information, Johnson said. If employers don’t know whether their employees are really reading the provided materials, all they need to do is look at whether workers are clicking on pertinent e-mails or accessing websites with open enrollment information, he said.

It can be difficult to get someone even to spend 20 minutes on open enrollment, Johnson said, but having a good mix of media can help.

“People will remember 80 percent of what they see, 20 percent of what they read, 10 percent of what they hear,” Leonard said.

There are so many different ways to engage people in this process, including seminars, brochures and videos. It all comes down to knowing how to best get people engaged in the materials being provided, Leonard said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kristen Ricaurte Knebel in Washington at kknebel@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bna.com

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