Although employees enroll in benefits within a span of days, planning for your annual open enrollment period begins weeks (months, really!) in advance.
12 weeks prior to Open Enrollment
- Develop a communications plan with key messages and communications tactics.
- Consider ways to leverage data and how to use design to make information more consumable.
- Consider an interactive, online platform to help employees understand and choose benefits.
- See how a Virtual Benefits Assistant helped one Westcomm client provide handy tools to understand and evaluate their benefits.
8-10 weeks prior to Open Enrollment
- Reach out to vendors to gather information and updates.
- Update your benefits guide with new benefits, dates and things to know for open enrollment.
- Send out Save the Date communications. This may be an email, a postcard or a flyer, but we always recommend that at least one piece is sent to the homes since spouses/partners are typically part of the benefits selection process.
6-8 weeks prior to Open Enrollment
- Ramp up communications and education on some of your key benefits—this really should be a year-round effort, but it’s especially important as employees begin to think about their benefit choices for the year ahead.
- Add new rates, plans, etc., to supporting materials.
- Update your HR portal so it is the go-to resource for employees during open enrollment.
3-4 weeks prior to Open Enrollment
- Send out the benefits guide, employee newsletter, FAQs and any other materials that are part of your open enrollment communications.
- Highlight new benefits and changes—be direct and clear so employees understand the changes and how it impacts them.
- Send out talking points and FAQs to managers—they are often the first stop for employees when questions arise.
During Open Enrollment
- Educate employees about their benefits, available tools and enrollment deadlines.
- Remind employees about OE deadlines—make sure employees understand that if they don’t enroll, they can’t elect benefits again until the next year or have a qualifying life event.
- Monitor online questions and adjust communications as necessary.
After Open Enrollment
- Celebrate that you made it through—a lot of work went into open enrollment!
- Communicate when employees can expect to receive any new ID cards.
- Debrief about open enrollment—goals, results, highlights, lessons learned, etc. All of this will help lay the groundwork for the following year.
- Consider a short employee survey to gauge the successes and gaps in communication.
- At the beginning of the year, communicate benefit reminders like preventive care, ID cards, EAP, etc.
Want a quick, printable reference guide? Download it here!