How to Communicate Changes to Your Open Enrollment
September 23, 2019 | David Blum, Vice President of Employer Solutions (Midwest)
Change is inevitable in any job and in any industry, and naturally your benefits plans and packages are subject to this as well. In the U.S. health care economy, it’s not unusual for employers to change providers or make other changes.
Typically you make changes that are calculated to benefit your employees. Educating employees on the changes, though, can be difficult. Employees must know how to utilize their new benefits before the changes go into effect. Imagine the frustration an employee experiences trying to use an old card for a new health savings account. Clear communication ahead of time also reduces the backlash you experience in your call centers.
Here are three ways you can prepare employees for any changes in benefits before they happen.
Reach Employees Where They Are
No doubt you’ve had to reach employees for other reasons, and your organization may even have a preferred communication method. If that’s the case, use it. Follow communication standards and precedents to communicate open enrollment changes. For example, if your employees are used to receiving email communications, reach out that way. You can consider adding a brief survey that requires receipt confirmation, just to be sure your employees are aware of the changes ahead.
If employees don’t have access to emails when on the clock, communicate in group meetings or huddles. Calls or text messages can also be a great way to communicate, if your employees have authorized it. Finally, try triangulating and using more than one method of communication — you don’t want to risk someone missing out on important knowledge. It’s better to tell someone something twice than not at all!
Interpret Changes for a General Audience
No one likes combing through paragraphs of legal jargon just to have a vague idea of what has changed in their health care policy. Make your communications concise — and use plain, simple language. It’s a great idea to offer resources for further information on a policy or provider change, but don’t front load your communications with the change’s legal precedent.
Most importantly, when communicating changes to your open enrollment, tell your employees exactly how the change will affect them — and use examples when possible. Employees need — and want — to know how to navigate the change while remaining compliant. Focus on communicating practical applications of the change over unnecessary background information. You should always provide call center information as backup, but your goal should be effective written communications that answer questions and lessen anxieties without employees having to reach out.
Be Consistent in Your Communications
Working with Winston will help standardize your communications. We work with both employers and brokers to create an all-encompassing communication strategy. Utilizing this approach will keep your employees informed but also set a standard type and method of communication.
Employees will know where to look for information on any upcoming changes, and will expect frequent updates throughout the year — not just heading into open enrollment. Education solves most of the problems your employees will encounter, so head theirs off with a comprehensive benefits education program.