Open Enrollment: How Communicating Your Benefit Impacts Your Employees

diverse colleagues having a meeting at work

Benefits are a huge concern for companies who want to stay competitive. Today, the job market is candidate driven. Compensation is important, but so are benefits and how they reflect a company’s values.

That’s why an internal communication strategy around something like your fertility and family building benefit is just as important as the benefit itself. Are you communicating your benefits during open enrollment and throughout the year? Are you encouraging engagement and building a better experience for your employees?

We’ve ranked 4 strategies (low to high) that we commonly see and how they affect employees and the workforce. If you don’t have a robust strategy around explaining your benefits, you may be losing more money than you think.

1: The “Basics (No Strategy)” Strategy

Picture this – you’re discussing this year’s new benefits and employee communication.

Your organization typically updates and distributes open enrollment guides and hosts a few webinars that explain all employee benefits in (and often have little to no attendance). You aren’t sure how effective this is, but “we’ve always done it this way.”

Sound familiar? If so, your company may not have an actual benefit communication strategy in place.

Often times, we find that companies use this strategy when they don’t have the time to create one. They don’t usually know where to start to get the right info into their employees’ hands.

The truth is how you talk about your benefits can have a big impact on your employees’ decisions and your bottom line.

Attributes of the strategy

  • Often make uninformed decisions around their benefit (and company money)
  • Are confused or overwhelmed with benefit documents
  • They commonly pay upfront costs when they don’t have to
  • Increase in absenteeism due to subpar health outcomes
  • Frustration with the employer due to a lack of support

Score: Low
Sure, your benefits may be great, the best in fact. But, if you don’t communicate them effectively, will your employees know that? How often does your staff answer questions that could be answered on a self-serve portal? If you have great benefits, you need a strategy to match.

If not, you’re throwing money at benefits your employees don’t know exist. That’s the same as not having any. You’re losing valuable employees to competitors who are publicizing their benefits package.

2: The “Passive Education” Strategy

After creating benefit resources for open enrollment, your company relies on employees to reach out to find any information on their benefits. In other words, there’s no real outbound communication to employees.

According to recent survey, 42% of employees say they devote less than an hour of time to researching and choosing their healthcare plans.

Consider that almost half of your workforce could be making uninformed decisions around their benefits – and what that could cost your company.

Attributes of the strategy

  • Creating a detailed (and sometimes overwhelming) benefit resource via your company’s intranet or similar resource
  • Intranet links to vendor portals and pages
  • Comprehensive open enrollment guides
  • Benefit-specific webinars (oncology, fertility, medical, etc.)

If you’re creating resources that employees only find if they look hard enough, you’re not providing benefits for all your employees, especially the ones that put in the hours.

Impact on Employees

  • Only some of your employees will receive the right info, usually the most diligent ones
  • Busy or less-diligent employees will have the same experience as employees who didn’t have a benefit at all

Score: Low
This strategy works only if you have a highly engaged workforce. Employee engagement can be a constant challenge for organizations big or small.

Often, employees can be distracted by competing priorities including their work. Your employees don’t know what they don’t know, bringing this communication strategy to none.

Communication strategies 1 and 2 create a domino effect that hurts the organization from the inside. This can include (though not limited to) high absenteeism and turnover rates that are way more costly than it’d be to provide a stronger strategy for employees.

3: The “Active Education” Strategy

Your company actively informs employees of their benefits during open enrollment. There’s often incentive for employees to learn and understand their choices.

Attributes of the strategy

  • All comprehensive materials that the “passive education” strategy has (detailed benefit resources, webinars, open enrollment guides, etc.)
  • Benefit/Wellness fairs and lunch and learns
  • Use of influencers for groups/teams to encourage and notify of new and existing benefits
  • In this scenario, the employer is taking an active role in communicating employee benefits

Impact on Employees

  • Makes smarter decisions around their health, saving them (and the company) money
  • Often appreciate the time you save them by providing open access and communication
  • It builds trust and therefore, employees are more loyal to the company
  • Busy or less-diligent employees will have the same experience as employees who didn’t have a benefit. No employee will have to spend time searching for information

Score: Med
This strategy is a great start. Almost ¼ of U.S employees are confused when it comes to making decisions around their benefits, and 20% even said that it makes them anxious and stressed. This is your chance to create a support system for these employees.

But, there’s always room for improvement. For the next and most robust strategy, employers actively reach out to specific groups, meeting employees where they are.

4: The “Targeted Communication” Strategy

This benefit communication style is similar to the active education strategy. The huge difference is employers will cater to different communities about their benefits depending on their interests. They also inform employees during open enrollment and throughout the year.

For example, you may have employees who would rather receive an email or would prefer a more interactive approach with a webinar or benefits fair.

A targeted communication strategy helps bridge the gap for everyone’s preferred way of communicating and understanding their own benefits.

Attributes of the strategy

  • All active employee education, including materials, benefit/wellness fairs
  • Providing info or webinars on benefits for your LGBTQ+ employees
  • You notify all employees who’ve used a specific benefit of the changes in their administrator
  • Notifying your recent grad employees of a student loan repayment benefit
  • Notifying parent-support groups of new childcare or FSA benefits

Impact on Employees

  • Don’t have to do spend the extra time to find information on their benefits
  • Feel supported because there’s are no misunderstandings about their choices
  • Members feel seen and all communities are cared for
  • Members have a sense of belonging and feel like their employer actually cares

Score: High
Here at Progyny, we focus on providing inclusive fertility and family building benefits for diverse workforces and work closely with our clients to ensure they are communicating this effectively.

Communicating your awesome benefits is at the root of building your company values. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by communicating your inclusive benefits, and therefore your values, to your employees and beyond.

Your Employees and Beyond

Companies are always adopting new technologies and implementing new benefits to remain competitive… so why not have a great communication strategy to match?

No one strategy works for all companies. Find out what works for you.

People talk. If your employees know about their great benefits, so will their friends and family (and Glassdoor too).

Once you’ve created and tested a scalable strategy, it’s time to share it with the world.

Ask your PR and Marketing team how the company can benefit off of your communication strategy. Create campaigns around your awesome benefits. Let the world know.

The more the public knows about your benefits, the more competitive your company is. Your reputation will skyrocket.

Open enrollment season is upon us, and at Progyny that means our Patient Care Advocates are on hand to discuss benefit coverage and fertility education. What is you company doing differently this year?