Ideas to educate your employees during annual benefits enrollment

October 04, 2023

man and women at work learning about benefits

Leaves are falling. There’s a chill in the air. It can only mean one thing: Annual benefits enrollments are right around the corner!

Yes, it’s that time of year — employers will set aside a few weeks to organize and discuss enrollment in various insurance plans, retirement plans and other benefits for their employees. Dust off those PowerPoints, update those brochures and start freeing up your calendars.

To help prepare you for high engagement and success, we wanted to go over a few ideas you can use during this busy enrollment period that are intended to make the process easier for everyone.

Review and reflect

First, think about what happened last year. Do you remember feeling frustrated and stressed, or did the experience generally go smoothly? Look at your numbers. Did everyone enroll? Was anyone too late or left out entirely?

We learn from our past experiences — and mistakes, if any were made. Go through your data from last year and see where you’d like to make improvements, then follow through with those improvements for a better process this time.

Sort out all plan details

Make sure all the contracts are signed and all the terms are agreed upon between you and the insurers. Check and make note of any new features available for your employees in your retirement plan and other benefits programs. Promoting new features to your employees helps them understand the full value they can derive from your retirement plan and employee benefit programs. 

Being on the same page right away is critical to ensuring accuracy in any communication. Nothing should be up in the air, and all plan terms, timelines, costs and limitations and exclusions must be set in stone for the coming year.

Be inclusive

Inclusion is quite broad in this sense. Primarily, you must make sure you’re accounting for all employees, who come from different backgrounds and have different needs — even different communication and learning styles. This is important for actively informing your workforce about each aspect of enrollment, but it’s also crucial as far as what types of insurance to provide in the first place. Don’t leave anyone behind.

Health, dental, vision and life are the major insurance plans. But what else might your employees need? Are they well versed in everything their existing plans — including their 401(k)s — entail? Maybe it’s time to include financial wellness programs in this round of enrollment to help them strengthen their financial literacy.

Are your retirement plans working for everyone? Enrollment season provides a great opportunity for reviewing every benefit on the table and seeing where adjustments are needed.

It may be wise to send a survey well ahead of time asking for your employees’ thoughts, perspectives and requests, then take it all into consideration when preparing for presentations.

Provide different learning options

Along the lines of inclusivity, remember that not everyone learns the same. Some people are visual learners, some need detailed explanations of how something works, some may need lively discussions in a group setting and so on. Think outside your own parameters and remain flexible to presenting these benefits in a variety of ways.

Create enough “handout” materials

Sometimes people need to let things digest for a while, then go back and double check the material. Give employees the opportunity to look over benefit plan information after any presentations and before they enroll. Physical brochures, a printed or downloadable one-sheet, a slide show, a video or website they can bookmark — any informative material people can return to as they wish.

Proactively offer one-on-one learning sessions

It’s possible some employees may have questions or would like a little more clarification on some of the finer points that weren’t covered during informational sessions or in the handout materials. They may also desire the privacy of a one-on-one discussion rather than raising their questions amid big groups.

Think ahead and free up your calendars to offer one-on-one meetings. Create a calendar that works for you and send out a shared sign-up sheet employees can use to schedule appointments with you.

Be available

Beyond proactively scheduling appointments, remain available for impromptu meetings or questions that may arise. Prioritize benefits questions during this enrollment period so you’re not pushing this aside, allowing yourself the time to provide assistance with employees when they need you at a moment’s notice.

Over communicate

While you don’t want to bombard your employees with email after email of benefit information, it’s better to over communicate than under communicate. Your employees may not even know what they don’t know, may not realize which questions should be asked, so even if they aren’t approaching you, they may not be entirely clear on all the ins and outs. This is especially true for any new benefits, such as financial or physical wellness programs.

But if you’re sending frequent, regular and informative communications throughout the course of open enrollment, you have a better chance at hitting all the vital points employees need to understand.

This notion includes your actual presentation materials, too. Define all the terms and jargon. Explain your agenda. Include relevant contact information. It’s all helpful.

Good luck!

We wish you all the best during this hectic time of year.