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Rethinking Open Enrollment 

on July 25, 2022

Our workforce cringes at the thought of moving into its end-of-year rituals. The typical rhythm of the business calendar for the fourth quarter includes worn-out activities such as performance reviews, talent planning discussions, compensation planning prep, annual compliance training, and the most dreaded event of all, open enrollment. Our workplaces have changed over the past two years, yet many programs have remained unaltered; it is time to change that. Unfortunately, employee feedback and adoption rates regarding company benefit programs remain low.  

A Human-Centered Solution to Open Enrollment 

A recent report by Alight, a business solutions company, confirms this. They surveyed 2,000 US workers and found that only 45% enrolled in their employer’s health plans. The report also mentioned that most benefit programs were confusing, not user-friendly, and did not clearly articulate their value. It may feel impossible and overwhelming to rethink our Human Resource activities on top of everything else.  However, one can apply simple human-centered design techniques with the three following steps: 

  • First, identify who your audience is. Understand your employee demographics. Be able to answer the following – who are the different employee voices in your workforce, what do they each care about, what issues are top of mind for them, what are their concerns, and what is their preferred method of communication.  
  • Second, identify and define your audience’s problems and their root cause. You can use data from your benefits broker, engagement survey, or run a quick pulse survey of your own and speak with a sample of employees. You can ask yourself why five times to ensure you have dug deep enough to find the primary source of the problem. 
  • Third, brainstorm tailored solutions. Ensure your solutions tie back to your defined problems and weave them into your open enrollment activities and communication plan. 

Design Engaging Open Enrollment Communications  

You are ready to design open enrollment communications that capture your audience’s attention. A good narrative will grab an employee’s attention, help them understand their need, and inform them of how to act. Think of the employee as the story’s hero, and you are their guide. It is your role to prepare them with the appropriate tools, resources, and information to conquer their benefit and open enrollment challenges. For example, you can create a communications calendar with short communications highlighting different topics that speak to your identified audience problems instead of repeating the open enrollment instructions and when people need to enroll. Better yet, automate the step-by-step instructions and post them in a centralized place with a hyperlink within your communications.  

Find Automated Solutions 

Utilize different communication methods to augment your emails. Or, use a software solution like MeBeBot that can link to videos and summary plan descriptions and highlight your critical open enrollment talking points via push messaging directly to employees within their flow of work (Teams, Slack or Webchat). You can use MeBeBot’s chatbot feature to be the centralized source of information to answer your employee’s common questions, keeping you free to spend time guiding your hero through the moments that matter most. You could also create interactive communications in which you highlight employees’ stories about how they have utilized your benefits programs to make a difference in their lives. In addition, you could supplement the instructions to enroll in benefits with a video walking them through the process visually.  

Identify your Open Enrollment Wins and Opportunities 

Finally, it is essential to gather feedback throughout the process. In doing so, you can learn what is and is not working and update future communications to address those concerns. The benefit of utilizing a tool like MeBeBot is that you can gather real-time user feedback (from the types of questions employees ask, when they ask them, and from what geographic region); it also surfaces frequently asked questions so that HR can quickly respond. After open enrollment, spend time reflecting on how things went. Note the things that worked well and be sure to celebrate them, and also the areas of opportunity that you can incorporate into next year’s launch.  

About MeBeBot   

MeBeBot’s AI Intelligent Assistant, recently selected as a “Brilliant Bot” in the Slack App Directory, seamlessly installs in Teams, Slack, or web portals to provide employees with instant automated answers to global HR, IT and Ops FAQS. It also provides real-time usage Dashboards, Push Messaging, and custom Pulse Surveys, generating instant employee feedback on of-the-moment questions. MeBeBot’s “one-stop bot” is trusted by leading organizations to elevate the employee experience so work can be more meaningful and valuable.    

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