Many employers have fallen into the trap of surrendering to the negative perception around open enrollment and benefits, not realizing the massive opportunity to stand out as an ’employer of choice’. What if you allocated 5%-10% of your total cost of benefits (e.g. healthcare, dental, life insurance, gym membership) and spent that money on marketing the benefits to your number one customer: your employees? Open enrollment acts as the perfect time to re-invent your strategy for communicating the value, tools, and resources you provide to your employees through employee benefits.
Here is how you do it.
Focus on what’s Memorable
Throughout the year your employees will be asked the question, “So, how are the benefits over at ABC company?”.
The moment of truth…
This is where the perception of your company as an employer of choice will be elevated or displaced. The answer to this question will depend on the benefits which stand out to them, whether this be negatively or positively.
Give them something to talk about.
What is attractive to your population? What benefits will create ‘noise’? When implemented with purpose and rolled out with relevant communication, the buzz around offering the benefit will certainly outweigh the cost. Imagine the memorable story told about your organization when offering the following benefits:
“Because we realize the quality time needed to take care of the new addition to your family. Growing your family is difficult and we are here for you financially and emotionally.“
“Because we know 65 percent of you have student loans that are causing you financial stress. We want to show you how much we care by taking on some of the burden.”
“Because we know how important it is to have the opportunity to develop into the person and professional you want to be. We will provide the resources to take you where you want to go”.
Build the Momentum
The products and services your company sells have to be communicated and marketed year-round to your customers. Benefits are the same. They have to be communicated and marketed year-round to your more important customers: your employees.
What is your marketing strategy for selling the benefits you have already purchased? Meet with your benefits broker partner and find out the resources you have available to create a marketing content timeline.
Here are ways you can communicate benefits throughout the year and leading up to open enrollment:
Send out a monthly newsletter focused on the workplace and benefits program. Consider sending out highlights from the benefits you offer, adding tips and tricks on getting the most value out of your plans, and insert links to the sites and dashboards employees should know about.
Host a monthly or quarterly lunch and learn
Call on your benefits broker and professional network to provide sessions for employees around topics that can enhance the value and understanding around benefits or improve their wellbeing. Need some samples to work off? Try these:
- Telemedicine as a time and money saver
- Own it: The modern guide to budgeting and buying a house
- Buy your Prescriptions where you buy your peanut butter
- Creative ways to spend down your FSA
Speak their Language
Half of the negative perception around open enrollment is caused by the hour-long meeting where HR and benefits brokers belabor the definitions of terms an employee won’t remember when they walk out the door. Employees are versed in knowing whether they are being sold to and whether they are seeing a cookie-cutter presentation.
Here are ways you can keep it simple but valuable:
Tell stories about how the health insurance will look and feel when it’s used. Employers can do this by explaining the process employees can go through when they need to find a quality doctor or need to get a prescription.
Make the conversation relevant by telling a personal story about the deductible instead of giving a definition.
Help the employees narrow their options by explaining what type of buyer would sign up for the Platinum plan vs the Silver plan vs waiving coverage.
Make the presentation elementary with more pictures and less words. The presentation should be a conversation rather than a lecture. Ask questions throughout to check for understanding and encourage engagement.
Offer a method of communication for everyone. Employees want to receive their benefits information in various ways. It’s easy to tailor the communication to meet all preferences. In-person meetings, webinars, a benefit guide, benefit administration site.
Creating a brand around benefits is an easy concept to grasp but a difficult process to implement. If the ideas above leave you in an overwhelming place where you don’t know where to start, lean on your internal resources to bring you the answers and ideas. Connect your internal marketing person with your benefits advisor and see how they can work together to create your marketing strategy. The marketing team will have the skillset and the general knowledge of the organization, where your broker should have the concepts and material.