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As you begin planning for your company’s next benefits open enrollment, the best place to start is with last year’s process. Did you meet your goals? What kind of feedback did you get from employees? What communication tools were the most well received?

And considering changes that have resulted from COVID-19, there are a whole new set of questions to consider. How has your workforce changed? Are most employees back in the office? Or is it a hybrid with some in person and others virtual (by choice or mandate)? Are there new benefits being offered that are unfamiliar to employees and need more explanation?

If you don’t have clear answers to all of these questions, consider surveying employees—especially if many are still working from home. The insights you gather will help improve how you communicate. Use a short online survey or conduct virtual focus groups to hone in on five key topics and think about how the pandemic may have impacted:

  • Employees’ preferred method of communication (email, text, website, direct mail, etc.)
  • Ease of understanding benefits choices, costs and enrollment instructions
  • Ease of enrollment process (whether online, phone or in-person)
  • What employees value most about benefits
  • Questions and concerns employees have about benefit plans

Armed with this information, you can map out a more effective communications strategy, which may include:

  • Mix of communication tools and timing
  • Personalized communication with current plan elections
  • Decision-making tools to help employees choose a plan that is best for them
  • Videos to help explain complicated benefits information (i.e., HSAs, high deductible health plans, FSAs)

A hybrid workforce may require you to think outside of the box for 2022 enrollment. You may need to consider offering new high-tech communication options that still provide high touch (virtual) capabilities, like cobrowsing or decision support tools.

Cobrowsing capabilities allow an employee and a benefits counselor to review information together, then the benefits person can hand the controls over to an employee to enroll. Decision support tools give employees the opportunity to evaluate plan options at their own time and pace with a tool that how shows plans stack up or highlights which plans are best for you based on a variety of factors.

Open enrollment communications will always be more effective if it is part of a larger benefits communications plan that consistently occurs year-round. Ongoing communication efforts can improve understanding and decrease costs to employees and your company. Employees will come to understand that your organization truly cares about their health and well-being—and that will benefit both you and your employees.

Want to chat more? Reach out at or follow us @westcomm on LinkedIn for more insights.