Open enrollment communication can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Our toolkit of customizable email templates simplifies the communication process for HR leaders.
This year’s open enrollment period presents a critical opportunity to provide working parents with benefits that will help them care for their families, fight burnout, and stay productive. But any HR leader knows that adding benefits is only half the battle: encouraging employees, and especially working parents, to engage and interact with their benefits is a different story.
The new landscape of open enrollment
Employees, especially those starting and raising a family, are searching for the best benefits when evaluating roles and opportunities. As new apps and services emerge every day, employees are looking to their employers to provide more meaningful benefits that support them both in and out of the office.
As HR leaders, you know that building comprehensive benefits is key, but it's only the first step. That's why employee benefits communication during open enrollment is so important—it's an essential component of educating employees about their benefits options, ensuring that they engage throughout the year.
Email template library for HR leaders during the open enrollment process
Navigating the intricacies of open enrollment can be a challenge for HR leaders and their teams alike. To encourage employees to actively engage and ensure they are well-informed, we've curated an open enrollment toolkit filled with email templates. These templates are designed to effectively communicate key benefits information and streamline the process for everyone involved.
Communication timeline for the open enrollment period
Effective open enrollment communication ensures a smooth and successful process. For many employees, navigating the complexities of benefit options can be overwhelming, making timely and clear communication from HR leaders paramount. Use the timeline below when scheduling your email communication based on the templates linked above.
- Four weeks before open enrollment begins: Kickoff email
- Three weeks before open enrollment begins: Benefits overview email
- Two weeks before open enrollment begins: Changes from last year email
- On open enrollment launch day: Launch day and step-by-step guide email
- Midway through the open enrollment period: Troubleshooting and assistance email
- 24-48 hours before open enrollment ends: Last chance reminder email
- After open enrollment ends: Closure email
Five tips for smooth open enrollment communications
Kathleen Davin, Director of People Operations at Maven Clinic, shares her top five tips for effective communication during this open enrollment period.
Tip #1: Be upfront about any changes
The first thing that Davin recommends is figuring out any changes to benefits—and communicating them in a clear, concise way. “Make sure you’re sharing with the full team about what changed,” says Davin. “You have to make sure those changes are crystal clear, with open enrollment communication that is approachable and easy to understand.”
These communications can involve presentations during company-wide meetings, office hours, and emails with clear calls to action. This may seem like overkill, but consistent, straightforward delivery is essential, as nearly one-third of American workers admitted they do not fully understand the employee benefits they selected during their most recent open enrollment process.
Tip #2: Set clear deadlines early and communicate them often
A successful open enrollment process requires a detailed timeline from the first reminder to the final deadlines. “I recommend making a decision-making flowchart telling people, ‘If you want to make a change this year, here’s what to do by this date,’” says Davin. “It ensures people are hitting all the deadlines in the process.”
Most HR professionals advise giving teams between two to four weeks to look at their choices and make their selections. By communicating clear timelines and deadlines frequently, you can ensure that all changes are submitted on time.
Tip #3: Personalize employee benefits communication
After sending open enrollment communication to the whole team, it’s time to sit down with team members individually and talk through their options. “One-on-one office hours are very effective during open enrollment, as HR teams can work with employees to see how this personally affects them,” explains Davin. “Benefits are very personal to people.”
One-on-one communication also ensures that any questions can be answered and employees can use their benefits to their fullest potential. A lack of benefits utilization may be an issue employees aren’t even aware of—according to a 2022 survey by Voya Financial, less than half of benefit-eligible employees actually took advantage of the benefit coverage offered by their employers.
“It’s important that people feel taken care of throughout the process and know it’s going on,” says Davin. “You have to follow up with people on how they are impacted individually.”
Tip #4: Create a hub for resources
It may take time for employees to feel fully educated on their benefits, as a comprehensive understanding of benefits develops throughout the year, not just during open enrollment. “During open enrollment, employees are making a decision that is going to be relevant all year,” explains Davin.
Davin also recommends reaching out to employee groups after open enrollment to ensure employees continuously understand how to use their benefits. “After open enrollment has closed, ERGs can be a great place to follow up.”
Beyond open enrollment, employees may need to revisit areas of benefits when they’re relevant to them, such as when they begin to start or grow their families. “You have to find those opportunities to check back in,” says Davin. “There might be a new parent going out on leave, so you remind them about a product like Maven or reshare your company’s leave policies. It’s about making sure people have the right communications when they need them.”
Tip #5: Find trusted vendors
At the end of the day, you can only send so many emails or have so many meetings. “You’re only one person, you can only do so much to make sure your employees understand their benefits,” says Davin. But investing in trusted vendors that can serve as a go-to resource for employees and their families could make open enrollment decisions easier. “It’s about finding partners that your employees know, where they feel confident their questions will get answered. That just takes so much off your plate.”
HR leaders understand that open enrollment brings up a myriad of questions from employees. Below, we've compiled a list of frequently asked questions that employees typically raise. Copy this library and share with your team to streamline open enrollment communication and ensure employees are well-informed.
1. What is open enrollment?
Open enrollment is a specific period each year when you can sign up for or make changes to your benefit plans, including health insurance, dental, vision, and other ancillary benefits. Think of it as your annual window to review, adjust, or enroll in the company-provided benefit options that best fit your needs and those of your family.
It's essential to actively participate and make informed decisions during this time, as your selections will typically remain in place for the entire upcoming year, barring any qualifying life events.
2. How do I change my current health plan?
If you wish to make changes to your current health plan, simply login to the benefits portal and select the 'Change Plan' option. Follow the prompts, and don't forget to review and confirm your changes before finalizing.
3. Can I add or remove dependents during this time?
Yes, open enrollment is the perfect time to update dependent information. Visit the 'Dependents' section in the benefits portal to make necessary additions or removals.
4. What happens if I miss the open enrollment deadline?
Missing the deadline means you'll have to wait until the next open enrollment period to make changes unless you experience a qualifying life event like marriage, birth of a child, or loss of other coverage.
5. Will my current benefits automatically roll over to the next year?
Unless stated otherwise, if you don't make any changes during the open enrollment period, your current selections will generally roll over to the next year. However, always check specifics with your benefit plans as there may be exceptions.
6. Are there any new benefit options available this year?
We're always evaluating our offerings to better serve our employees. You can review any new benefit additions or changes in the benefits portal or the open enrollment guide provided.
7. What resources are available to help me decide which plan is best for me?
In addition to the benefits portal, we have a selection of tools and webinars available to help you compare plans and make an informed decision. Visit our company resources portal to learn more.
What employees expect from their benefits package
Understanding what employees value in their benefits package is crucial for HR leaders. Employee expectations have shifted in recent years, especially as the global health landscape and economic factors evolve. The Open enrollment period is a good opportunity to reassess and align benefits offerings with employee expectations.
Here's what employees are looking for in their benefits package today:
Health insurance plans
Comprehensive health insurance plans remain the cornerstone of any benefits package. Employees expect a range of options that fit different needs, including individual, family, and high-deductible plans. Ensuring that these plans are competitive and affordable is key to attracting and retaining talent.
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) or Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)
As more employees opt for high-deductible health plans, the importance of a health savings account or flexible spending account. HSAs and FSAs allow employees to set aside pre-tax income for future medical expenses. Offering both HSAs and FSAs can give employees the flexibility they desire in managing their health and well-being finances.
Women's and family health care benefits
Recognizing the unique health needs of women and families is essential. Leading platforms like Maven have paved the way by offering services like fertility support, maternity and postpartum care, pediatric expertise, and menopause support. Incorporating such specialized care into the benefits package demonstrates a commitment to the diverse needs of employees, ensuring they feel supported at every life stage.
The landscape of benefits has expanded, with many employees now expecting a range of voluntary benefits. These can include things like life insurance, dental and vision care, or even perks like pet insurance and gym memberships. Offering a diverse set of voluntary benefits can cater to a broader range of employee needs and life situations
Simplify benefits communications with a quality benefits partner like Maven Clinic
Your benefits communications often tend to be as complex as your plan. To streamline your open enrollment process, look for benefits partners that help you with employee communication during open enrollment and beyond.
Maven Clinic is a comprehensive platform covering all your family benefit needs. We provide employees with 24/7 access to clinical, emotional, and financial support during their reproductive health journeys. By consolidating fertility, maternity, parenting, and menopause benefits into one, easy-to-use platform, we remove some of the complexities from your benefits administration and communication. Looking for vendors to serve as trusted partners during open enrollment? Learn more about Maven today.
We’re always here to answer your questions—and that starts now.