If you’re having about as much luck getting your employees to pay attention to your open enrollment messaging as you are getting yourself to floss every day, it may be time to give your communication strategy a makeover.
Here are five tips on how to better get employees to perk up — and, more importantly, get them to take action — no matter what you’re promoting.
1. Focus on what employees stand to lose or gain
For most of your employees, choosing benefits feels like a “have to do” rather than a “want to do.” To turn that mindset around, make sure you answer the question “What’s in it for me?” clearly and often.
For example, if you’re trying to convince your workforce to give your new benefits decision support tool a whirl, you could focus on all its neat-o bells and whistles and hope they care. Or, you could make them care first, by appealing to their needs and fears.
Why should they use Thing X? Because if they don’t, they might not end up with the plan best for them and their families. Which will make them feel sad. Whereas, if they did check it out, they could save real money and hassle. Which will make them feel smart and happy.
2. Don’t be afraid to talk dollars and cents
Speaking of real money…you know those ads you see constantly that tell you how you’ll save hundreds (or thousands) of dollars by switching to this or that brand? Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they work.
So: don’t be shy about borrowing this strategy for your open enrollment communication, even if it feels weird and sales-y. How much could your employees save by choosing a different plan, or earn, long-term, by contributing $50 a month to their HSA? Run the numbers and share them.
3. Tailor some of your messaging to different groups
Yes, you want everybody to hop on the open enrollment train. But not everyone boards at the same stop. That’s why, in addition to creating general messaging, it’s a good idea to create messaging that appeals directly to the needs and motivations of various employee groups.
- For new parents: Did you have a child this year? Be sure to update your status during open enrollment!
- For new spouses: Congrats on your wedding this year! Will you be adding your spouse to your insurance? Joining theirs? Don’t forget to update your plan during open enrollment!
- For not-young employees: Behind on retirement savings? Find out how you can catch up during open enrollment.
4. Make sure the type of communication you use fits your workforce
If most of your employees are desk workers, a messaging campaign that blasts a bunch of email reminders and directs folks to your intranet to learn more makes perfect sense.
However, if a healthy amount of your employees don’t sit at a computer all day, you’ll need to take an approach that also leans on non-digital forms of communication like:
- Sending reminder postcards to their homes
- Hanging fliers and other eye-catching visuals in break rooms
- Asking managers to pass on important information during face-to-face team meetings
- Texting reminders (if you have your employees’ cell phone numbers)
5. Add a dose of humor
Why? Studies have shown that when we’re laughing and our defenses are down, we’re more engaged and likely to absorb (and retain) information.
If you don’t consider yourself a funny person, don’t worry. Since nobody expects benefits communications to be entertaining at all, even a few lighthearted touches can go a long way. And if the idea of even doing that makes you nervous, remember you can reach out to your team, or freelance content creators, for help.
In short, the key to grabbing more employee eyeballs is to veer as far away from cookie-cutter, by-the-book communications as possible. Your employees are human beings who hate wasting time, enjoy smiling, and crave the bottom line. Talk to them that way and they’ll listen.
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