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Your next open enrollment meeting: How to engage and empower employees

In-person meetings are a great way to educate employees on what your company offers. How can HR expand their impact?

You’ve planned out the upcoming enhancements, additions and changes to next year’s benefits packages. The next step? Communicating them with employees. In-person meetings are a great way to educate employees on what your company offers and field questions along the way. Follow these best practices to boost attendance, engage employees and make it easy for employees to take action.


Boost Attendance

First thing’s first. To boost attendance, plan meetings with two factors in mind: timing and location. You know your company best, and what works for one organization or industry won’t work for another. Consider the following:


Will it be best to hold one large meeting, or smaller breakout sessions?
Work around your existing company schedule. Is there an annual all-hands-on-deck meeting? Or, would it make more sense to schedule multiple sessions within a given workday? Think about the questions that your team can expect. Will it be easier for employees to ask questions in a smaller group?


How will the message be communicated across locations or to off-site employees? 
If you have multiple locations, arrange in-person meetings if possible. Another option is to record one meeting at your corporate location and sharing the video with other locations. This is also a great resource to add to your company intranet or distribute throughout the company to anyone that wasn’t able to attend the meetings.


Is attendance mandatory or incentivized?
Depending on your company culture, consider making attendance a mandatory activity for participants each year. Offering incentives based off attendance can also help. Try entering attendees into a giveaway or raffle, or award points towards your wellness program. It’s also important to think about convenience. Schedule meetings during paid hours and hold them in a convenient area, such as a break room, so they don’t have to go out of their way to attend.


Make it engaging

You have your audience, now it’s time to tell them about the great things you have planned for this year. Build excitement for new benefit offerings, and share how your team used outcomes or feedback from the past year to influence where you are now. Share stories of how offerings improve the lives of co-workers and why it’s important to the company to offer meaningful benefits.

Despite the advantages, HR teams already know that explaining health plan options can be confusing for employees. A recent Harris poll found that two in five insured Americans don’t understand the services covered under their healthcare plans, while another recent study showed that open enrollment is the most stressful time of the year for employees. Luckily, you’re here to make it simple. When planning out your presentation, ban unfamiliar acronyms and jargon. Use simple language and make comparisons to more familiar concepts when explaining a new one. You can even provide a glossary of common terms.

Supplement easy-to-understand language with visuals; a PowerPoint slide that includes videos or graphics makes information more retainable. Employees are bound to have questions. Leave enough time to address all questions, one-on-one or as a group.Consider having experts on hand to help employees make sense of offerings. 82 percent of employees at least somewhat agree they would be more informed about their health care choices if they sat with a consultant during the process, leading more employers to provide resources for employees onsite or telephonically. Request that vendor representatives attend to help field questions as they arise.

Make sure the conversation doesn’t stop there. After the meeting, make information accessible by sending the presentation out as a companywide email or adding the slides with notes to your company intranet. Create an FAQ document based on meeting feedback to anticipate similar questions throughout the process. Take inventory on how employees like to receive information and use your findings to get your message to the right audience. Consider adding a section to your company newsletter to ensure engagement all year long, or try mobile methods like texting to reach employees where they are.


Make it easy to take action

When processing complex or unfamiliar information (like healthcare benefits), we all just want to know what to do next. Decide what it is that you need employees to do, like enrolling in a plan by a certain date, and make it easy.

With that goal in mind – having each employee complete enrollment – think about how to make the process simple and actionable for employees.

First, make sure all of the steps you want employees to take are intact and easy to understand.  Have your team walk through the process themselves. Fresh eyes on enrollment forms or online processes can alert you of confusing instructions, opportunities to streamline or other barriers that may prevent employees from following through with completing the action.

Then, turn your attention to making it actionable. Can employees turn in enrollment forms or consult with a member of the HR team at the meeting? That way, information is fresh in their minds, and so are questions.

If onsite completion isn’t an option, make it easy for employees to remember what they need to do. Consider distributing handouts at the meeting that capture attention and are easy to follow. Provide a contact phone number or email for someone available to answer questions, and follow-up with employees with a reminder before the deadline. Depending on your culture and budget, consider incentivizing enrollment by a certain date. This can be anything from a company-branded promotional item to an entry in a raffle for a larger prize.


Employee meetings are a great way to get in front of your whole organization to review benefits and address any changes before the upcoming plan year. For more helpful tips, download our complete open enrollment guide.


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