When the leaves start falling from the trees, internal communicators know that the Open Enrollment Period (OEP) is right around the corner. With this year’s open enrollment window almost upon us, it’s worth knowing all the internal communications tools that can help your open enrollment announcement reach employees before time runs out.
Temperatures have gotten cooler, trees have begun to change color, and pumpkin-spice-everything has hit the shelves. These are the signs that fall has arrived. With fall comes an event that every internal communicator is well-versed in… open enrollment.
Whether 2022 is your first open enrollment or you’re more seasoned than spiced cider, there are a few ways you can use a modern intranet’s features to effectively communicate your open enrollment announcement.
What is open enrollment?
For anyone who doesn’t know (mainly our internal comms peers outside the US), open enrollment is the annual period when employees can enroll in or make changes to the benefits they receive from employers, including health insurance.
It’s also a time when employee communications teams use every tool they’ve got to ensure the important messages and announcements reach every employee at the right time. For benefits beginning in 2022, most organizations in the US will schedule their open enrollment period to last between two and four weeks, from November 1, 2021.
Open enrollment can be a challenging period for internal communicators because in addition to hard deadlines, many employees will be unfamiliar with healthcare terminology or the language and principles used in different benefits options. So, how should comms, HR, and other employee communications professionals best inform employees about their choices? What are the best ways you can help employees navigate open enrollment season?
Keep your open enrollment announcement top of mind
You won’t get out of an OEP without drafting at least one article explaining the process, the deadlines, and the overall importance of this event. Save yourself from fussing with publication dates or worrying that new content is going to push it out of sight by marking that article (or articles) as a key page on your intranet platform. This will keep it top of mind AND pin it to the top of category listings and content widgets for as long as you’d like.
You can also keep an open enrollment announcement reminder at the top of your site for the duration of the enrollment period using a Broadcast banner. Since most enrollment periods run over several weeks, your employees could become desensitized to the message over time. In that case, I would recommend sending two or three multichannel Broadcasts over the course of the enrollment period to remind your users that action is required. Using a range of different communications channels will mean that employees are more likely to receive and engage with your announcements.
For those of you who have signed on to get our latest feature, Digital Signage, you have an extra tool that can be used in your locations where the intranet may not be easily accessible, such as warehouses and storage facilities. Pulling content from your intranet software and displaying it on video screens, along with an automatically generated QR code that users can scan to access the intranet content, means more eyes will see that important message.
Ensure employees know that action is required
One phrase no communicator likes to hear is, “No one told me about that.” Using Mandatory Reads for your open enrollment announcement gives you the ability to require action from your users, while providing you with data to follow up with line managers or department heads who can cascade communication within their teams, if necessary.
An important event like open enrollment has a natural call to action, but you can also remind users that action is required using tools like Interact’s ‘Blocking Notification’. This kind of notification is great for getting eyes on the message, since users must click out of the notification before they can proceed to the intranet. With a system like Interact Software you can also create tracking, so you can collect statistics on who has seen, not seen, or acknowledged the message.
Tie it all together
Open enrollment is never a one-and-done communication. It’s more like a full-on internal communications campaign that can include HR updates, process documents, FAQs, and a whole assortment of additional content to support this event. Using intranet features like topic personalization or a ‘related content’ tool, you can tie all these pieces together to provide a seamless content journey that uses a range of multichannel options.
Recommended content is a particularly good intranet feature because it can surface related content based on user behavior. Once the recommended content has been identified (other parts of your open enrollment announcement, for example), it can then be brought to employees’ attention when it is pinned to the pages they regularly browse. If you have a related content feature in your intranet software then you can curate your own content list and display it prominently. That way, users who view the article announcing open enrollment can also easily find related FAQs, insurance overviews, process documents, and more.
Now is also a great time to start using a topic specification tool, if you aren’t already. This can be as simple as creating an open enrollment ‘topic’, which you then assign all your content to. Users can easily subscribe to the topic to be notified about the latest information or anytime information changes. This means they don’t miss any of the available material or any important deadlines.
Whether you decide to implement one of these ideas or set out to build your own cornucopia of communications, I am sending wishes for effective communications during this upcoming open enrollment season for 2022.