piggybank image2In a perfect world, you and your benefits team, like Scrooge McDuck, would have a secret vault filled with gold doubloons you could both a) frolic in and b) use to buy all kinds of fantastic open enrollment communications collateral.

Anything would be possible! Last-chance-to-enroll gorilla-grams sent to every home. A hologram of yourself (made to look 10 years younger, of course) that would materialize on people’s desks and answer all their questions. You could even pay a pharmaceutical company to make an amazing white pill like the one Bradley Cooper took in the movie Limitless, except instead of giving them superhuman memory and crazy blue eyes, it would give employees perfectly clarity about benefits….

I could go on.

Back in reality, of course, “unlimited funds” isn’t really something that happens in HR. As you well know, most benefits teams aren’t only strapped for time, they’re usually strapped for cash, especially when it comes to making and sending out open enrollment communications collateral.

So: what can you do to make a big impact during OE when you have an itty-bitty communications budget?

Here are 7 ways to effectively get the word out that are either FREE or more-affordable-than-you’d-think.


1. A “vouching” email from your CEO (or another trusted company leader)

CEO vouch









We all get de-sensitized to reminders or sales pitches when they come from people we’ve received a ton of reminders or sales pitches from before. “Yeah, yeah,” we think, whether it’s fair or not. And we gloss over the message, not giving it the attention it deserves.

That’s why it sometimes can help to pull in somebody from outside your department to vouch for the initiative you’re pushing, or, say, the new helpful software or decision support tool you’re offering.

The more casual and “from the hip” the “vouch” sounds, the more effective it’s likely to be.

(We’ve seen this happen firsthand with a customer of ours: the HR team sent out a public email announcing the arrival of ALEX, and after the CFO replied to all saying, “I’ve used this at a different company. It’s great. Really glad we’re doing it,” visits to ALEX spiked immediately.)

(For more tips on this approach, download our new eBook, the Ultimate HR Guide to Promoting Benefits Programs, Tools, and Resources.)

2. An email campaign…made up of really easy-to-read emails

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More likely than not, you’re going to be sending out an email or two or three to your workforce with information about open enrollment before and during the enrollment period. But not every OE email from HR is created equal.

If you really want your emails to get the most bang for the buck (not that bucks are involved here):

  • Write the way you talk (translate insurance jargon into “human English” as much as possible, so your employees aren’t left confused)
  • Break information down into sections with headers as much as possible, so everything is easily scannable (nothing gets folks to bail out of an email like a huge, scary block of text)
  • Put lists of information in bullet points, and place the most important bullets first or last
  • Lead with the most important information and consider putting secondary (“oh, by the way”) information in a P.S. section
  • Include a reminder to employees to forward the email on to their partner, if the partner is the actual benefits decision maker in the household

(Want to include a little lightness to these emails without sounding like a putz? Download 5 Tips for Using Humor in Benefits Communication for free now!)

3. Remind employees to forward email to spouse/partner if they’re the health care decision maker

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 11.43.23 AMConsider including a call-out in the emails you send to your workforce that says something like this: (Psst! Are you not the person who calls the health care shots at your house? If so, forward this email to whoever does. Thanks!)

4. Deploy a one-day-only company-wide OE reminder screensaver a few days before your deadline

It’s unexpected. It’s highly visible. And it’s free to employ, as long as your IT department gives the idea the okay.

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 5. Create a social media presence for your benefits team on Twitter and Facebook

twitter-birdMost likely, almost everybody at your company is on Facebook. And a ton are on Twitter, too. So why not use those channels to your advantage?

If getting people to “like” or “follow” you seems daunting, try offering a small incentive when you announce you’re starting up these accounts (say a month before OE). Anyone who does so gets entered into a raffle to win, say, $300 off their health insurance this year. This approach isn’t free, exactly, but for a minimal cost, you might be able to extend the reach of your messages.


6. Consider sending out at least one eye-catching OE-related postcard to the home addresses of your employees

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Make sure to put your company’s logo on both sides nice and big to alert whoever gets and sorts the mail to set it aside.

7. Provide talking points to managers to share during team meetings

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 11.48.07 AMYour company’s managers have more regular contact with their teams than you do. So don’t be shy about enlisting their help in getting your message across. Email them a handful of important talking points to pass along, and make sure to be explicit about when and how you’d suggest they share the information. The less thinking they have to do, the more likely they are to follow through.


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