Employers and Human Resource teams are in the throes of preparing to kick off open enrollment. Increase employee engagement and satisfaction heading into a new benefits year with the best open enrollment tips for employers.

It’s essential for your employees to feel informed and empowered when they select their workplace benefits. Health coverage, life insurance, retirement plans, or flexible benefits – a well-planned and thoughtfully executed employee benefits strategy guarantees a smooth and successful open enrollment period for everyone.

How can HR professionals best communicate their choices with employees, and equip them with the information they need to confidently make informed decisions? How do people leaders avoid confusing or overwhelming your team members? What’s the best way to support your employees through the open enrollment process from the first email to the final deadline?

Take a look at our best tips to prepare for open enrollment. Engage and educate your employees, help them understand their benefits options, and empower great benefits choices!

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Best open enrollment tips for employers

Each year companies strive to surprise and delight their employees with benefits programs. The most popular employee benefits demonstrate that your organization values its employees’ well-being and cares about their financial security and work-life balance.

According to the 2023 MetLife Employee Benefits Trends Study, employees who feel cared for are 92% more likely to be engaged at work and fewer than half (46%) of workers rate salary as the most important factor in the employee experience. According to a 2022 survey by Willis Towers Watson, 59% of employees are willing to trade lower compensation for more generous retirement benefits, and 46% for a more generous health plan. Getting your benefits and your open enrollment strategy right matters.

1. Communicate clearly and frequently

Clear communication about benefits offerings and the open enrollment process is the first step toward employees understanding their options and making informed choices. Open enrollment communications should begin now – months before open enrollment period starts.

Open enrollment communications should begin now – months before open enrollment period starts.

Early outreach should provide an overview of the enrollment process, preview notable benefits changes and additions, and outline deadlines and expectations for employees. Raise awareness with frequent communication throughout the open enrollment process, and repeat important information via channels employees prefer such as emails, town hall meetings, and 1-1 consults with HR team members.

2. Listen to feedback

Smart companies personalize benefits programs to fit the goals of their workforce. When companies engage employees in benefits selection, they are empowered to make more informed decisions aligned with their unique needs.

When companies engage employees in benefits selection, they are empowered to make more informed decisions aligned with their unique needs.

Listen before you communicate and encourage employees to share their wants and needs. Your people come from diverse backgrounds and circumstances. Don’t miss out on the opportunity their valuable feedback gives HR teams to offer more inclusive benefits programs.

3. Diversify info sessions

Host virtual, in-person, and on-demand info sessions to help employees understand benefits options no matter where they work. Include sample employee profiles that closely resemble employees’ own situations. Offer benefits recommendations for each profile to help employees make well-informed decisions that align with their unique needs and preferences.

Interactive sessions, workshops, and Q&A segments encourage active participation in the open enrollment process. Employees can ask questions and share experiences, leading to a deeper understanding of benefits. Be aware of generational differences in your workforce and consider diverse learning and communication styles during benefits enrollment.

4. Make it easy

If you want exceptional engagement and a smooth enrollment process, make it as simple and easy as possible for your people to complete tasks and meet deadlines. Clear instructions, open access to enrollment forms, and straightforward benefits summaries help employees understand and appreciate benefits and take the correct action during open enrollment.

Employ user-friendly technology platforms for benefits enrollment that allow employees to navigate through benefit options, compare plans, and make selections easily. Decision support tools, such as calculators or quizzes, can help employees choose the best benefits for their individual needs.

5. Offer 1-1 support

Open enrollment can involve complex benefits choices that employees may find confusing. One of the top areas where employees are looking for employer support during open enrollment is how to get the most from their benefits. With this in mind, employees may need additional contact during benefits selection to make best-fit decisions.

In 1-1 meetings, HR representatives can explain benefits in simple terms and review individual employee circumstances, such as family size, health considerations, and financial costs to offer personalized recommendations.

6. Make it fun

A gamified benefits fair challenge encourages light-hearted, fun employee engagement during the open enrollment process. Remote, hybrid, and in-office employees alike can complete tasks in a challenge related to the employee benefit programs as they visit each benefits partner.

Challenges can motivate employees to actively participate and learn more about their benefits. And those who compete can enter a raffle for meaningful rewards that recognize their efforts!

7. Incentivize engagement

Employees can boost their benefits by attending educational sessions and then choose from perks such as extra PTO days, wellness programs, or professional development opportunities. Reward your people for completing enrollment before the deadline with awesome incentives.

Encourage your people to share the love and earn rewards! Participants can refer colleagues to participate in open enrollment or attend sessions, and both employees will be recognized and rewarded.

8. Follow up

Personalize contact with employees to highlight the importance of completing open enrollment by the deadline. Varying follow-up outreach to include email, text messages, and phone calls keeps employees informed and engaged throughout the enrollment process, and makes sure personalized support is provided.

Recognize and celebrate employees who participate in enrollment activities and complete open enrollment early. Use company-wide announcements or social media shout-outs to showcase employee achievements and inspire others!

Go beyond health insurance

During open enrollment, employees expect the opportunity to select or make changes to traditional employer-sponsored benefits. Core benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, and life insurance play an essential role in promoting the overall health and financial well-being of employees. What elevates the modern employee benefits program is extended and flexible benefits, which create happier, healthier, and more engaged employees.

For example, extended benefits like Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) allow employees to set aside pre-tax dollars to cover eligible medical expenses. However, HSAs are only available as an add-on with a qualified High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP).

An even more flexible benefit is a Lifestyle Spending Account (LSA). LSAs cover a broader range of employee wellness and lifestyle needs and are not tethered to specific health insurance plans. LSAs can help employees with expenses that contribute to their overall health and wellness, such as fitness classes, meditation apps, tuition reimbursements, and dependent care support. A survey by the Transamerica Institute found that employees are most interested in benefits that support physical health (95%), wellness (70%), and financial well-being (77%).

Level up your employee benefits this open enrollment season

Congratulations! You’re ready to tackle this open enrollment season. You have ideas for a clear communication plan and fun challenges and incentives. You’re prepared to support your employees with engaging info sessions. Now it’s time to empower your people, cultivate loyalty, and embrace a more holistic and inclusive approach to employee well-being in the workplace.

Open enrollment is the perfect time to introduce Lifestyle Spending Accounts. Employees are already thinking about their benefits and making decisions about their health and well-being.

The 2022 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey by Willis Towers Watson found that 72% of employees are interested in lifestyle benefits, and 62% say they would be more likely to stay with their employer if they offered flexible benefits.

Lifestyle Spending Accounts are the ultimate elevated flexible benefit offering. They can even launch off-cycle with a concentrated or localized employee population, any time your company is ready! And you can spotlight the program’s success and expand to a company-wide or global offering during next season’s open enrollment. Reach out to our team today for a demo of Espresa’s LSA platform.

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