open enrollment communication

If you’ve gotten this far in our open enrollment communication series (Tip #1: Begin with the end in mind, Tip #2: Don’t be boring and Tip #3: See the world through your employees’ eyes), you’re almost done. To be sure, you’ve done a ton of heavy lifting already. You know what your goals are, you know what your motivating, action-driving open enrollment campaign theme is and you have some specific target audience segments that you’re speaking to.

(If you’d like, just take a break right here. You’ve earned it. Crank up some music, go get yourself a smoothie, or just plain veg out – whatever tickles your fancy).

What, When, How, Where and Who

Now, all you have to do is lay it out ALL of your planned communications on a calendar. There are a million ways you can do this (just do a search on ‘communications calendar template excel’ and you’ll have plenty of formats to choose from). A good general format is to have the channels of communication (i.e. email, meetings, postcards, etc.) stacked in the first column with the days across the top. The important point here is to be as comprehensive and specific as possible for every unique communication. This can be a tedious exercise, so give yourself plenty of time. For each communication activity (such as emails, posters, text messages, in-person meetings, postcards, social media posts, videos, contests, surveys… everything!) you’ll want to have all the details covered. These details are:

  • What is being communicated – the message and the creative
  • When – the date and time of the communication
  • How is the message being communicated – what channel is being used. (Here’s a handy sheet to download re: that.)
  • Where the communication is happening – mostly used for in-person meetings
  • Who is responsible for executing the communication – in the case where you might have other team members involved
  • Who is the message targeted for – Everyone or one of your segments

A couple of tools to check out to help you with this process are Google Docs and SmartSheet, especially if you have others who are helping you build the plan. Both these tools make updating and sharing super easy, and you won’t have to keep emailing the updated document around to everyone involved. Personally, I favor SmartSheet because you can easily add documents or links to the actual creative or collateral so that everything is connected to the plan and it’s all accessible by everyone involved.

One other thing you might consider adding to your calendar is a ‘progress against goal(s)’ milestone or multiple milestones. This will ensure that you check your progress throughout the campaign, and it will enable you to course-correct and amp up some of your efforts if you’re not tracking towards your desired goals.

>>>>>> Bonus: 4 Communication Ideas to Connect with Hard-to-Reach Employees <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

As you know, open enrollment communication is like managing a multi-channel marketing campaign. You have to hit your employees with multiple messages in multiple channels multiple times over the course of your enrollment period. And you’re probably using many tried and true methods, like email, postcards, posters, meetings, and webinars. Here are four unique, ‘out-of-the-box’ tactics to consider adding to your arsenal:

  • Provide an incentive or start a raffle. Incentives, especially cash incentives with a deadline, will have a direct impact on your response rates, especially for launching new programs. A recent white paper found that incentives improved the response rate between 74% and 147% depending on the type (guaranteed or raffle) and the value (low or high) of the incentive. Key to making an incentive program work is a multi-touch communication plan (up to 5 touches), with emphasis on the launch of the program and a ‘last chance/hurry’ communication as the program is coming to a close.
  • Communicate with text. Text messaging is becoming the preferred method of reaching people, especially for younger people. If your company does not have a CRM system to manage this, there are lots of vendors that offer this service at very reasonable prices (in the range of $0.03 per send) with all sorts of features. If you don’t have your employees’ cell phone numbers, perhaps a pre-open enrollment promotion (with opt-in signup and maybe an incentive to register!) could get you started.
  • Post updates via social media on Facebook and Twitter. Social media is a very efficient method to broadcast your message and solicit input or questions. You could set up a page for your open enrollment (or even an event page on Facebook). To get people to sign up, you could encourage people to share the page or, of course, provide an incentive. 🙂
  • Make simple videos. Videos are easy to produce, and you can use them to do a number of things. Two that may be useful are: 1) a kickoff message from your CEO or another highly recognized executive that can motivate employees to do what you want them to do and 2) testimonials from actual employees about what they discovered about their benefits last year, how useful their benefits were, etc. The videos don’t have to be perfectly produced. They just have ‘humanize’ the experience and present useful information that will motivate others. Once they’re produced, be sure to share them on your social pages, in your email communication, on your corporate intranet – wherever you need the message delivered.

If you haven’t read our prior posts, here are Tip #1: Begin with the End in Mind, Tip #2: Don’t Be Boring and Tip #3: See the world through your employees’ eyes.