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Open enrollment communications that work for benefits leaders

Open enrollment is critical but not always top-of-mind for employees. Here's how to craft communications that capture attention and drive action.


You know how important Open Enrollment is, but it’s not top-of-mind for every employee. Capturing employees’ attention and driving them to act is challenging, but critical.

Here are ways to make each OE communication more powerful and effective:

01. Use More Than One Format:

Some employees respond to plain text, but others need a more engaging vehicle, like video. Video puts a face to OE, making it more personal—and therefore, more powerful.

How to do it:

  • Don’t replace all your written content with videos, but rather add videos to your text communications. They can close gaps and reinforce your messages.
  • Remember to share videos in multiple places: via email, on screens in your facilities, etc.
  • A series of short videos instead of 1 long video usually increases viewership. It allows employees to watch over multiple sessions and pick the content that’s most relevant to them.
  • Vary the visuals, to get folks to watch more of your video. For example, rather than just 1 person speaking to the camera the whole time, you could record a conversation between 2 people or show employees while you have a voiceover.
  • Consider hosting your videos on a platform that offers analytics, so you can see how many employees got through which parts of each video. This information could inform which videos you make next.

02. Break Out Your Requests:

Some employees respond to plain text, but others need a more engaging vehicle, like video. Video puts a face to OE, making it more personal—and therefore, more powerful.

How to do it:

  • Create a break-out of the steps you need each employee to take. For example, that could be: making a list of anticipated healthcare needs, consulting with family members, compiling their questions, comparing dental options, comparing medical options, deciding on spending accounts, etc. Create a unique communication for each of these steps.
  • Make sure your registration system allows employees to save work in progress. If not, make sure you keep election steps together.
  • Share with employees that you’re breaking it out, so they know to expect this. Develop a calendar or a checklist to figure out how you’ll roll it out.
  • Offer an estimate of the amount of time each step will take, and put this in email subject lines and posted headlines, to make it feel manageable.

03. Use Plain Language:

Understanding can be a roadblock during OE. Confusion over benefits language can sap motivation and make enrollment seem out of reach. Your team can bridge the gap by supplementing confusing health plan jargon with plain language.

How to do it:

  • Figure out which terms cause the most confusion, and make sure you have a “translation” for employees. Glossaries and dictionaries like this one can help. Circulate and reference this in Q&A sessions, emails, videos, etc.
  • Consider anything that’s unique to specific offices or populations. For example, there may be language used in specific cities or analogies that work well for specific worker types.
  • Ask your health plan partner to use the revised language—or both the original and the revised language—on your OE sign-up page. Or, make sure the page links to the glossary, so employees can access it at sign-up.
  • Make sure your visuals are easy to scan and match the plain language. Aim for award-winning clarity.
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