Effectively Communicating Open Enrollment Makes a World of Difference

It’s that time of time of year again: open enrollment! As an HR manager, you’ve prepared behind the scenes for months—selecting the best benefit plans for your company, managing grueling RFPs, and renegotiating better rates. The hard part should be over, right?

Not so fast! 😅

Communicating effectively with employees is the last and most critical step of the process to get all of your employees enrolled on time (with as little headache as possible!).

Challenges of Communicating Open Enrollment With Hourly Employees

If you’ve run an open enrollment program before, you may remember all the confusion and chaos that quickly ensued. In industries like manufacturing—with thousands of distributed hourly employees, multiple shifts, and language barriers—you’ve got your work cut out for you.

Email is unreliable

In a 2020 report, 43% of employers said they found it challenging to communicate to deskless workers, and manufacturing hourly workforces are notoriously hard to reach. Most manufacturing hourly employees are not given a company email address, so they often have to provide their personal email address—which they may not check regularly.

Word of mouth is often in one ear and out the other

Relying on word of mouth communication is a recipe for disaster. When it comes to open enrollment information, the number of details to remember is endless! Think: deadlines, terminology, costs, and what’s covered and not covered. Without proper documentation for employees to reference later on, critical information is at risk of slipping through the cracks.

Paper packets are often lost or misplaced

No one likes having to keep track of paper documents. Especially on a manufacturing floor (where employees aren’t sitting at a desk all day) paper handouts often get lost, misplaced, or even accidentally tossed out.

Coming up with a plan for open enrollment communication that actually works

The tried-and-true strategies for open enrollment communication that work well at smaller organizations with a majority salaried workforce may not be as successful here. What you need is a plan that caters to your diverse team’s unique needs and requirements.

Present open enrollment plan information where employees are most

It all starts with meeting them where they are. As we mentioned before, manufacturing hourly employees don’t have corporate email addresses.

But they do have a mobile phone.

Ninety-five percent of text messages are read within 3 minutes of being sent, and unlike mobile apps, there’s no need to install a new technology on personal devices and no learning curve because everyone can text.

Our employees won't download an app to their phone, so TeamSense was a great solution for us. TeamSense is easy to use even for our less tech-savvy employees. Everyone gets it, everyone can text.

Alyssa Reid

HR Manager, Precision Planting

3 Tips For Executing An Open Enrollment Communication Strategy

To ensure your open enrollment process goes smoothly, be sure to keep these tips in mind. For more best practices, be sure to download our eBook, “The Manufacturer’s Playbook for Open Enrollment Communications.”

Use Appropriate Channels of Communication

Manufacturing companies have often relied on bulletin boards, paper handouts, and daily stand-up meetings before or during each shift to communicate important information to their teams. This physical, in-person approach to communicating with employees works well—until it doesn’t. Due to challenges like language barriers and multiple shift schedules, there’s always a chance that important messages get missed.

It’s important to not only rely on in-person communication, but also diversify your communication methods with digital channels as well. These days, we’re seeing a huge uptick in manufacturers adopting text messaging as a means of communication for its simplicity and accessibility amongst manufacturing workforces.

TeamSense is THE best way to communicate with employees because everyone has their phone nowadays. When we need to send reminders or have employees submit paperwork, we just text them!

Kannetha Williams

Human Resources Business Partner, FryMaster

Keep Things Simple With The Right Messaging

In a study, 76% of employers said that their employees do not open and read communication materials or access resources regarding open enrollment. 🤯 It’s no wonder a separate survey found that 85% of employees are confused about their benefits.

We get it—there’s lots of unfamiliar terminology, pages of documentation, plus brand new policies to learn each year. Making sure your employees are up to speed on all of it is no small feat.

Keeping communications short and easy to understand will help employees absorb your message without feeling overwhelmed from information overload. Filter announcements through the lens of what employees absolutely need to know, while keeping additional details available and accessible elsewhere.

Offer Ongoing Support & Educational Resources

Questions will inevitably arise during this process, but there are ways to get helpful answers to your employees quickly and efficiently—while maintaining your own sanity! Spare your inbox by capturing and consolidating frequently asked questions ahead of time via digital surveys and forms. Then, make use of town halls and webinars to answer them in bulk. Have a centralized repository of these questions made accessible in an employee portal or intranet for future reference.

Bonus tip: With TeamSense, you can send employees a text message to collect FAQs.

The Timeline You Choose To Start Communicating Open Enrollment Matters

Don’t wait until the last minute to start communicating open enrollment! Many organizations with hundreds or thousands of employees start preparing months in advance. If you’re not sure when to start, it can be worthwhile asking your benefits provider what they recommend.

Download our eBook for a full compilation of open enrollment communication best practices based on real customer experiences from leading manufacturers.

Happy enrolling!

Get Started with TeamSense