As you may have guessed, open enrollment is a BIG topic around here. You could say it’s the Olympics of healthcare. And being an HR professional, we don’t have to tell you twice—I’m sure you’ve had just about as many late nights as we have during this time of year. 

We prepare for months to ensure our team members comprehend our new and existing healthcare and benefits offerings. We create marketing, messaging, promotions, benefits presentations and webinars—all so employees understand and properly use their healthcare options. 

At Jellyvision, one of our main goals is to help you empower your people to participate in (and maybe even enjoy??) open enrollment. As such, we’ve created a lot of valuable, fun, and juicy resources over the years to guide your open enrollment process. To make it easy-peasy to access them all in one place, we’ve collected them here: in our Ultimate Open Enrollment Communication Playbook. 

Let’s dive in!

The Perfect Open Enrollment Communications Timeline

Open enrollment is a marathon, not a sprint. Just like any long-term, large operation, it requires weeks of preparation and planning. 

That’s exactly why we’ve put together the perfect open enrollment communications timeline—recently updated for 2021! 

This timeline includes five easy steps to kick off your planning and strategy session, as well as a detailed outline of the 12 weeks leading up to open enrollment.

Each year, open enrollment gives us its own unique twists and turns. In 2021, that may mean communicating with hybrid teams, dealing with cost increases, or bolstering access to mental-health benefits. We know about the ebbs and flows. That’s why we’ve included tips in our open enrollment timeline on how to be agile in your approach and reaching employees where they live.

Follow our Open Enrollment Communications Timeline to embark on your planning journey!

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Back to the Future: What 2020 Taught us About What to Expect for This Year’s Open Enrollment

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again—one of the best ways to plan is by looking back at the previous year’s lessons. And that’s never been more true for HR professionals than during the tumultuous year we’ve had. For instance, some studies estimate that COVID-19 sped up digital transformation in the workplace by six years. That’s a lot of advancement and change in a short period! 

So, we’ve rounded up insights gleaned from these unique times that apply to this year’s open enrollment. The link below will give you the full report, but here are the highlights: 

  • Selection stress: Picking and using benefits is stressful; half (52%) of employees agree. How to fix it? Better benefits education—20% want more info and help in this area. 
  • Mental health conundrum: While employers understand the need for more mental health resources and benefits, their team members aren’t aware of increased support options available. 
  • Soaring costs: Both employers and employees know about rising healthcare costs. This means we need to spend more time and effort explaining how to best utilize plans, minimize costs, and become better healthcare consumers.
  • Let’s get digital: Virtual open enrollment and tech tools are no longer optional. Whether your team is remote, hybrid, or in-office, they still want digital resources to guide them through open enrollment. 

6 Must-Have Tools for a Successful Virtual Open Enrollment

As we’ve mentioned, virtual processes are here to stay. While some physical or in-person practices need to remain, a mostly digital approach can help you limit HR costs and better reach your team members this year. 

Here are six essential tools for a successful virtual open enrollment: 

  1. Email campaigns: Our inboxes are our lives. As such, emails are the communication bedrock to a successful virtual open enrollment.
  2. OE cheat sheet: While detailed emails are needed, most people are scanners. When they see a wall of text, they often tune out. (Or read and promptly forget). To get around this, include a one-page PDF “cheat sheet” with all the important details and dates for your open enrollment. 
  3. Benefits FAQ page: Save your HR team’s precious time by keeping a living document of all the questions employees ask throughout open enrollment. Include short, clear, informative answers. Make this available company-wide. 
  4. Benefits guide: Work on digitizing this long-form piece of content to expand access to employees (as well as save on the cost of printing/mailing). 
  5. Virtual office hours: We’re all used to Zoom by now, so offer open sessions for employees to virtually drop in and chat with HR about OE questions and concerns. 
  6. Benefits webinar: To inform all (or most) of your company at once, host a webinar to discuss open enrollment. Record this session and have it available for employees to reference later.

For more guidance (and handy templates!), hop over to our blog post, Six Must-Have Tools for a Successful Virtual Open Enrollment.

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Open Enrollment Communication Templates to Steal in 2021

We’re big believers in working smarter, not harder. That’s why we created a complete set of open enrollment communication templates that you can download, fill in the blanks, and send to your employees. You’ll get: 

  • A fill-in-the-blank email campaign 
  • Postcard templates to send out to WFH team members 
  • Sample intranet ads 
  • And more! 

You have enough work to do! Download our open enrollment communication templates, customize with your company’s details, and move on to the next to-do list item.

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Why You Should Pitch Open Enrollment as Your Employees’ Annual Financial Check-Up

Too often, employees think of open enrollment as a dreaded burden instead of seeing it for what it can be—an opportunity for a financial check-up. 

A high-level review of salary, benefits, and retirement programs is a task that’s easy to push to the back burner. But open enrollment can provide an annual reminder for your employees to prioritize their financial wellness and education. For example, with a little bit of time, they can save money with a new or updated health plan, utilize an HSA to leverage their savings, or optimize 401(k) and other retirement options. 

But finances are scary and daunting. When you throw confusing health insurance plans into the mix—it can be a lost cause.  So it can be tricky to convince your employees that it’s time to review their finances. 

Here’s how to convince your employees that open enrollment is a great time for a financial check-up. 

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How to Nail Your Open Enrollment Presentation: A Guide for HR Teams

Ah, the open enrollment PowerPoint template. A tool you look at every year and try to spice up, so it’s not a snooze fest for your team members. In reality, how exciting can presentations be, especially when they’re filled with technical healthcare information? 

While it certainly can’t rival Coachella-level excitement, you can definitely use a few tricks and tips to make your company-wide open enrollment presentation a bit more engaging. 

Here are seven easy ways to improve your open enrollment benefits presentations.

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9 Tips for an Engaging, Readable, Not-Boring Benefits Guide

We’ve already touched on the all-important open enrollment tool—the benefits guide. This long and essential document outlines all the ins and outs of open enrollment and healthcare plan changes for the upcoming year. 

And it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Our recent survey found that nearly all (91%) of employees agree that understanding their benefits package is essential. (They just need help to remember this guide is a key part of that understanding). 

Here’s an in-depth look at creating an in-depth tool: an engaging, readable, not-boring benefits guide.

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7 Ways to Help Your Stressed-Out Employees Make Informed Healthcare Decisions During Open Enrollment

If one thing’s for sure, it’s that open enrollment will stress out some of your employees. 

Healthcare and benefits are inextricably linked to money, which is a nerve-wracking realm for most. When we asked employees the first thing that came to mind when selecting benefits, cost and price were the two most common responses. Runners-up included words like “overwhelming,” “headache,” “stressful,” and “difficult.” Ouch! Moreover, 24% spend 7+ hours researching their health insurance. (No wonder they’re stressed!) 

The upside is that as a HR pro, you can help these anxiety-ridden employees make better decisions. By supplying your team with the right info and framing open enrollment as an opportunity rather than a burden, you can turn the process from a headache to a helpful experience. 

Drive even more informed healthcare decisions with these 7 pointers for helping stressed employees.

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The Post-Open Enrollment Survey Every HR Team Should Send

Open enrollment is done—rejoice! 🎉  But before you close the book on that chapter until next year, it’s important to have a post-mortem to debrief on successes and failures. A post-open enrollment survey, for instance, can gather invaluable feedback while it’s still fresh in the minds of your team. 

We’ve outlined a few other tasks to do right after open enrollment, which will put you in a much more prepared place for next year’s process. 

Here are three things to do after open enrollment is over.

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This open enrollment season is yours for the taking

Open enrollment is an important time for your employees and your company as a whole. You invest thousands (if not millions) of dollars into your benefits offerings, and want to make sure your ROI is strong. The key to unlocking that is education, understanding, engagement, and utilization. 

The more informed your team members are, the more money you’ll both save in the long-term. Not to mention, you’ll have healthier, happier employees. That’s the whole point right? To improve and enhance the lives of your people? 

Use our open enrollment communications playbook to enhance your strategy and empower your employees to take advantage of this critical time.