News for HR Professionals


It's that time again. Open enrollment season is upon us, and while we know you’ve been planning for months now, it's still not too late for some last-minute tweaks to make this year your best ever.

Can We Talk?

If you've already checked "create communication plan" off your to-do list, you're in great shape. But before you mark the plan as final, take one more look to ensure it's engaging and clear, with plenty of reminders and repetition to make sure your message gets heard and understood.

Why might employees not understand what's available to them? According to recent surveys conducted by Aflac and the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, 80 percent of organizations report that the biggest hurdle is getting employees to open and read the benefits information they receive, and 72 percent of employees say that learning about benefits is long, complicated or stressful. To overcome these challenges, try:

  • Customizing it. Different generations have different needs and motivations when it comes to benefits, so creating content tailored to individual groups may be helpful.
  • Simplifying it. Cut down or rework complicated benefits information so employees get all the relevant details in a form that's easy to digest.
  • Using multiple channels. Most employees want to receive benefits information either electronically or in print, but many also appreciate live group presentations and one-on-one consultations.
  • Making it fun. Consider incorporating a theme to tie your communications together and combat the “dry, boring” perception of learning about benefits. And remember, there’s no such thing as too much communication.

Marking the Calendar

By this point, you'll also have communicated the dates when employees can sign up for benefits. However, you might be surprised to learn that the length of your enrollment period has a major impact on how many employees enroll in benefits and the choices they make. Aflac's survey reveals that nearly one in four millennials report not spending enough time researching their options last year, and 50 percent of those point to "running out of time" or a too-short enrollment period as the reason. (Length isn't the only culprit: other research indicates that employees may skip benefits meetings because they’re too busy or don't find the meetings helpful.)

In addition to extending your dates, you may want to look at the following to move the dial on last-minute and late enrollments:

  • Is your process passive? That is, can employees auto-enroll in the same benefits at last year? While 93 percent of employees keep the same benefits year after year, they may not realize better options are available, or that they can take advantage of voluntary benefits.
  • Are you offering incentives? According to DCR Strategies, companies with a properly structured incentive program have a 79-percent success rate in achieving their enrollment goals, and enjoy as much as a 44-percent increase in employee performance. Use incentives to give employees a reason to learn and complete their enrollment ahead of time.

Get the Party Started

Is your benefits fair planned? About one in five employees prefer to receive information through a benefits fair format, and 49 percent say they trust an insurance agent or an HR employee most when it comes to advice on benefits. Another 51 percent indicate that they want more personalized information and advice during the enrollment process, so a fair is your chance to provide what they’re looking for. Before the big day arrives, make sure you have everything you need lined up: Reach out to benefit providers, ask for attendees and request kits now to make your fair a success.

While you're contacting providers, don't forget your Nationwide pet insurance voluntary benefit. We have free open enrollment kits, including fliers, table signs and gifts, to help explain the benefits of pet insurance to your employees. Representation at open enrollment events is also available on a limited basis; contact your Nationwide representative for more information.