I know of an employer - which shall remain nameless - that began communicating its benefits enrollment period the day enrollment began.

No, I'm not kidding. Yes, it's a real company. I know - I couldn't believe it either (obviously why I've withheld the employer's name; it would just be too shameful otherwise).

Can you imagine just surprising employees with an open enrollment announcement like it's a last-minute shopping deal?

Starting today, and for one week only at Company X - get your benefits for next year! Take care of everyone on your shopping list with wide selections from medical, dental, life and disability! Don't miss your chance - after next week, these benefits will be GONE until next year!

Anyway, after nearly a decade of covering the benefits industry, I was appalled by Company X's weak enrollment showing, and I think you'd agree. Without even asking, I know that you took last fall's benefits enrollment season with much more care and seriousness than that - I'm certain you were Santa to Company X's Grinch.

And for that (and so many other things this year), I'm immensely grateful and am positive 2012 is off to a solid start. I hope your employees feel the same way. If not, I can show them Company X's enrollment "materials."

Still, no enrollment season is a "Miracle on 34th Street," no matter how well you plan, communicate and execute. So, in a clip on BenefitsTV, EBN's go-to communications guru, Jennifer Benz of Benz Communications, suggests benefits focus groups. Post-enrollment, these could be a good way to pinpoint what was amazing and what was awful during last year's enrollment period so that you can have an even stronger showing this year. Read more about how to convene effective focus groups in an article on page 8.

In another BTV segment, Benz also suggests the start of the plan year as an ideal time to communicate benefits, particularly wellness programs, so you can catch employees while New Year's resolutions are top of mind. Most of us resolve to lose weight in the new year - what better time to remind employees that your company subsidizes gym memberships?

Watch Benz's latest clip offering post-enrollment communications tips, share your thoughts in the comments and then raise a glass to a job well-done - or at least a job done better than Company X.

Send letters, queries and story ideas to Editor-in-Chief Kelley M. Butler at kelley.butler@sourcemedia.com.


The data in the By the Numbers section in EBN December should have been attributed to Staples Advantage. Also in that issue, two charts in Benefits Barometer, "Average annual premiums for single and family coverage, 2006-2011" and "Percentage of companies offering defined benefit plans and retiree health plans," contained inadvertently duplicate data. We regret the errors. A corrected and expanded version of Benefits Barometer is available at ebn.benefitnews.com.

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