As fully remote workforces, hybrid models, and traditional in-office structures continue to evolve, open enrollment, whether done virtually or in person, has endured as an effective way to meet the needs of your workforce.

Here are strategies to improve your open enrollment by engaging employees and bring in the human element.

1.  Highlight Mental and Physical Health Resources

The mental and physical impacts of the pandemic are still being felt more than a year later. To help your employees navigate this challenge:

  • Promote online health resources, including telehealth and virtual access to clinicians.
  • Share if and how employees can access mental health services through a telemedicine provider.
  • Create an incentive, like a raffle, to encourage employees to download the telemedicine app during open enrollment. Downloading the app helps remove barriers to care.
  • Explain coverage of mental health services under the medical plan(s).
  • Highlight all Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) available and explain what they cover, how employees can access, and if the EAP is available to employees’ family members.
  • Promote programs that support mental health in tertiary ways, such as caregiving benefits like daycare in the workplace or tutoring sessions for dependents.
  • Offer information on COVID-19, including any new guidelines, information on variants, and vaccine access.

2.  Use Technology to Reduce Strain on Your HR Team

There are many resources that can assist you with open enrollment, such as mobile apps, virtual enrollment fairs, and chatbots. From targeted email alerts to push notifications during key open enrollment dates, your communication can go beyond standardized emails. If you are looking to reduce the burden on your HR team, embrace technology and find engaging solutions to drive utilization and benefits awareness.

3.  Increase Financial Wellness Education

The pandemic caused great financial uncertainty, including concern about employment status, threats to income and long-term savings plans, debt accumulation, and more. Financial challenges were reported as one of the most common causes of stress among employees, affecting physical and general well-being. Employers can emphasize all financial benefits available during open enrollment, including additional life insurance, disability insurance, long-term savings plans, and 401(k) retirement plans.

4.  Distribute Information Through Multiple Channels

  • Utilize mobile apps, explainer videos, interactive videos, or gamification to convey open enrollment information.
  • Divide open enrollment meetings into smaller sessions to individually address medical, dental, and supplemental insurance options. This is a more digestible format for online meetings, empowering employees to explore their desired benefits.
  • Incorporate a quiz or trivia game after a session to engage employees and increase information retention. Prizes or a department leaderboard may incentivize employees to engage further.
  • Create short, concise guidebooks that focus on key points.
  • Digitize the guidebooks into brief, interactive chapters to make them easier to digest and to share with spouses.
  • Create short, targeted communications that convey key details about open enrollment.

5.  Add in the Human Element

  • Work with your broker or consultant to provide a dedicated enrollment and communication team to help enroll employees in a one-on-one setting with a benefits counselor.
  • Give employees access to a call center enrollment with multilingual capabilities where licensed benefits experts can educate employees about their specific benefits.
  • Provide employees with videos and materials on open enrollment and then schedule small group sessions to answer questions. Compile these answers into a resource that can be shared with all employees.
  • Set up an online scheduler to give employees the option to meet virtually with the HR team.
  • Use Zoom breakout rooms to discuss topics in smaller groups.

6.  Share Company Messages and Build Culture

Use open enrollment to share company-wide messages that convey primary objectives, future plans, address employee concerns, and reinforce key messages for your organization. If your policies around PTO, sick time, remote work, or work flexibility have changed, highlight those changes and how they benefit your employees.

Open enrollment is a unique time when all employees hear the same message from your CEO, leadership team, or HR director. However you approach culture in open enrollment, maximize the potential to connect with your workforce and build trust in your organization. If you have offices throughout the country, consider having a local leader open the open enrollment for in-person meetings or add a custom video greeting for virtual meetings. Use this time to demonstrate your commitment to their health, family needs, and safety.

Use Your Resources

In tumultuous times, healthcare and benefits are in the forefront for many. Your Hays team is here to help strategize and execute a successful open enrollment communication plan for you.


This document is provided for general information purposes only and should not be considered legal or tax advice or legal or tax opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. Readers are urged to consult their legal counsel and tax advisor concerning any legal or tax questions that may arise.


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