Open enrollment to strengthen employer branding

Use open enrollment to strengthen your employer branding

Each year around this time, there are a few things people dread … weather getting colder, days getting shorter, the Lions out of playoff contention (that’s a personal one) and having to figure out health insurance plans.

Large and small organizations alike spend countless hours analyzing costs and options each year to give employees something of value so they get quality health care coverage and take care of themselves and their families. But so often, organizations just send out a packet of information with a deadline and not much else. Good luck! 

We don’t think that’s right.

Here’s a couple of things you can do to take the annual open enrollment event and put it to your advantage to strengthen your employer branding.

Use open enrollment as a key brand message

Health insurance plans are one of many reasons an employee decides to join or stay with a company. They want to know that they are cared for and, in turn, can care for their families. So when employee communications sends out the information around benefit enrollment, the messaging should lead with just that … we care. That is a big part of your employer branding, the care and thought you put into taking care of your employees.

Communicate the purpose of health insurance

Again, lead with the why (I talked a bit about that in another blog post, which led off with a Mister Rogers quote, so worth reading for that alone). Why do you have a competitive benefits package? Lead with that reason and purpose, and the employees begin to feel that you do care for their needs, and they aren’t just a number (cue the Bob Seger song).

Talk about personalization and flexibility

People love to feel unique and special. Here’s a chance to show them they are. Open enrollment packages should include a wide range of options so that each employee can choose what works best for them and their family. Providing a variety of flexible choices gives employees autonomy in selecting the benefits that are most important to them. This encourages more engaged workers since they feel like their voices are heard. It also demonstrates to existing employees that their job security is valued and respected by the company.

Speak beyond the basics and show the breadth of coverage

We seem to focus on physical health benefits, but usually the plans provide much more.  Employers should ensure their open enrollment communications cover all relevant topics such as health insurance options, retirement plans, dental plans, vision plans, life insurance coverage, disability coverage, wellness programs, flex spending accounts, educational assistance programs, vacation policies, etc. When creating an open enrollment communications plan, it’s essential to make sure employees see all that is offered to reassure them that they are receiving the best possible benefits from their employer. 

Open enrollment is also an excellent way for employers to demonstrate they are taking an active role in helping employees manage stress levels while at work or at home. Employers may want to consider offering support services such as mental health counseling or financial stability education programmes during open enrollment periods so workers can take advantage of these resources when needed. 

Utilize all the internal channels to get your message across

Communicating regularly about open enrollment is critical in order for it to be successful in strengthening an employer brand. Employers should use various channels such as email newsletters and other internal platforms to inform workers about upcoming open enrollment periods as well as any new initiatives or available options related to employee benefits packages. Sending regular reminders throughout the duration of the enrollment process will keep everyone informed about deadlines and encourage participation from all staff members who may not have been aware of the offerings otherwise. 

Use job postings as real estate to strengthen your brand

Many employer branding strategies start with an employee value proposition that usually includes some sort of care and reward. Yet when talking about career opportunities at an organization, this equates to some print at the end of a job posting that says you offer a ‘competitive benefit package.’ Not much else.

Instead, lead with how you care and support your employees, such as a benefit package to ensure the health and well-being of them and their families.

Open away

We have many opportunities to reinforce our employer brand messaging across the employee lifecycle, and one of those comes to us each year at this time. Use annual enrollment as a way to strengthen your culture and build on your reputation as a great employer.