Are You Making the Most of your Open Enrollment Communication?

Velma Williford, Consultants

Craford Benefit Consultants

Every year companies send out open enrollment memo’s for the health insurance they provide to their employees.  It is important (and required in most cases) but are you making the most of it?

The open enrollment communication sent by the employer to the employees provides employees with information about their benefit plan and employee contributions for the next year.  If that is all you are doing with it – you could be missing a large opportunity to communicate with your employees the value of what you provide to them.

First – it is an opportunity to let the employee know how much the company pays for their benefits.  By adding a simple column to list what the company pays every month (or paycheck) right next to what the employee is required to contribute it immediately brings awareness to the employee of how much it costs for the company to provide the benefit.  For example – if your communication indicates that the total premium that has to be paid is $600 per month that the employer pays $475, and the employee pays $125 it leaves a very different impression than if you only tell the employee that they have to pay $125. 

Second – it is an opportunity to make sure you are providing any legal notices that have to be sent every year.  Did you send your employees a notice about the plan Medicare Part D Creditability?  How about notices around HIPAA privacy statements? What about CHiP notices, Grandfather Statements, or notice of material modifications?  No? Combining all of this information into the open enrollment communication package means you have an easy way to document that the notices were given, when they were given, and an established routine that means you are less likely to leave something out by accident.

Third – it is a great opportunity for you to remind employees of where they can find plan documents, plan summaries, claim forms, custom service numbers for the insurance carriers, and reminders about other benefit items such as verifying their life insurance beneficiary information is up to date (nothing like a policy paying to the ex-wife instead of the current wife because you forgot to update your beneficiary). This can save your human resources team time and effort be eliminating time spent answeringquestions the employee could easily answer themselves if they knew where to find the answers.

Fourth – providing information to the employee helps them to understand that their salary is not the only benefit they receive from the company. Providing an educated culture of the “total reward” helps the employee to understand that the company has an investment in them.

Fifth - every year employers spends billions of dollars on employee benefits. Effectively communicating those benefits is important. How you communicate helps drive your corporate culture. Do you want to be seen as the employer who cares about their employees? Or the employer who makes decisions and then communicates them poorly?

Effective communication during open enrollment is your opportunity to express to your employees they are valued. If you’re not doing it right it can and will directly affect morale and retention. Do it right. Take advantage of the fact you are required to send out a communication and turn it into more than just a notice that you are going require them to spend more month to say on your benefit plan.

Are you ready to turn that open enrollment communication into an educational tool? The Benefits Consulting staff and Human Capital staff at Craford can help get your communication going on the right track.  Call us today or simply send us an email for a free consultation.  We look forward to speaking with you soon.


About the author:

Velma is a Consultant in our San Rafael, California office. She has 27 years of experience in the insurance industry providing benefit solutions, strategic benefit planning, and high-level customer service. As a Consultant at Craford Benefits Velma’s responsibilities at Craford include strategic short and long term planning, day-to-day servicing of clients, benefits administration, open enrollment coordination and communication, plan implementation, and special project work. As an integral part of the clients’ team, she provides complex problem resolution and ongoing service and support.

Prior to joining Craford Benefit Consultants in 2009, Velma spent 2 years leading a national team of client managers at MHN (a division of Health Net), 4 years as the California Group Operations Manager with Kaiser Permanente Insurance Company, and 14 years in marketing and client management positions with brokerage consulting firms. Her combined brokerage and insurance company background bring a well-rounded insider approach to client management and problem resolution.

Velma is a graduate of the University of Phoenix with a B.S. degree in Business Management, and a Masters in Business Administration. She currently holds four professional designations, Registered Health Underwriter (RHU), Health Insurance Associate (HIA), Managed Healthcare Professional (MHP), and a Professional in Human Resources (PHR).