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Open Enrollment

5 Steps to Ace Your Open Enrollment Presentation

by Caroline Boyland August 17, 2022

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Ace Your Open Enrollment Presentation

With the end of August in sight, many employees are feeling a lot of things. We all know that September can be a polarizing month—for many, it’s a month filled with weddings, end of summer bbqs, and the exciting promise of pumpkin-spice-everything in the air. For others, it’s a devastating reminder that Summer Fridays, beach weekends, and flip flops are about to be a thing of the past. And for HR teams, the start of fall is a reminder that for most organizations, open enrollment is right around the corner.

But unlike the Halloween decor that's starting to pop-up on store shelves, open enrollment season doesn't have to be spooky. With proper preparation and planning in advance, HR teams can crush each step of their open enrollment journey, starting with the enrollment presentation.

Open enrollment presentations can be difficult—how do you communicate each benefit option, along with any changes or new offerings, to a diverse group of employees who all have different health and financial needs and family structures? It feels impossible to please everyone, and creating a presentation that feels personalized to each employee is almost impossible, but by following a few simple steps, you’ll be on your way to a comprehensive, engaging, educational open enrollment presentation!

Whether you're a seasoned pro or this is your first time, follow these five easy steps to ensure your presentation is a success, and you'll be well on your way to an all-star open enrollment season.

1. Start with logistics

In 2020 and 2021, the biggest challenge was figuring out how to take your typical in-person presentations and make them virtual. Now, we have a bigger challenge on our hands. With many organizations operating in a hybrid model (with some employees remote and some in the office), it’s key to make sure your benefits education and enrollment presentation can reach all of your employees. Ensuring you’re not leaving anyone out if they are in the office or working from home is a top priority.

In today's hybrid workspaces, whether you want to give your presentation in person or if you're comfortable doing it remotely is often up to you. Both of them have pros, cons, and elements to consider for the employees not present for the session.

While in-person presentations allow you to build a personal connection with your employees (and keep them engaged and excited), they can be more logistically challenging. Because of this, you’ll want to make sure you over-prepare ahead of time, so that audio and visuals all work as expected during the live session. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure everyone in your organization has equal access to benefits education, so in-person sessions require live-streaming to any and all virtual employees as well.

If you would prefer to present remotely, it’s easier to get on everyone’s schedule, and make sure audio and visuals are up to par. However, it’s difficult to make a personal connection and keep employees engaged—this means looking to games, surveys, or fun asides to keep employees excited throughout the session.

Whichever option you choose, it’s important to remember that no matter whether your organization is in-office, hybrid, or fully remote, the chances of you getting 100% employee attendance is very slim. Offering incentives to join (like teasing the announcement of a new wellness benefit) ahead of time can encourage participation and attendance. Regardless, you’ll want to ensure that the session is recorded, emailed out, and hosted somewhere easily accessible for employees to revisit or watch if they can’t attend the presentation.

2. Lead with definitions

Once logistics are nailed down, it’s time to plan your content. To get the most out of your presentation, you’ll want to make sure your employees are following along from the start. This means tackling the most head-spinning aspect of benefits right out of the gate—the jargon.

While HR leaders are intimately familiar with benefits related terms and abbreviations, to many employees these feel like a foreign language. Even if they’ve heard the terms, chances are they can’t define them off the top of their head, so it’s key to open up your presentation with an ABCs of benefits slide. Here, you can list out the definitions of terms you’ll use throughout the session, like HSA, FSA, PPO, Copay, Deductible, 401K and others. Alternatively, you can create this slide and send it out to employees ahead of time so that they can reference it on their phone or laptop during the session.

Leading with definitions will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and help avoid any confusion or misunderstandings later on.

3. Keep things short and sweet

Studies have shown that the average attention span is only about 20 minutes, so it's essential to keep your presentation engaging and easy to follow. An hour long benefits presentation is sure to lose some employees, whether that be for attention span challenges or conflicting external meetings. That means that you’ll need to make sure your slides are clear, concise, and visually appealing.

  • You want to avoid overwhelming employees with too much information at once, so try to stick to one central point per slide.
  • If you have too much text on the screen, viewers tend to read ahead instead of listening to you, so try to use bullet points or short phrases instead.
  • If you're using charts or graphs, make sure they're easy to understand at a glance.
  • And lastly, don't forget to add some visual interest with images, videos, or animation.

4. Talk about the value of voluntary benefits

To truly maximize learnings, be sure to outline the value of the different voluntary benefits you offer. Most employees will enroll in medical, dental, and vision by default (though, you’ll still want to communicate their options and changes to existing plans), but many employees overlook voluntary benefits or see them only as an additional cost.

Choosing to enroll or not enroll in voluntary benefits can have major health and financial implications for employees and their families—not to mention they can be helpful in both attracting and retaining talent.

Spending some time discussing the value of voluntary benefits like accident insurance, hospital indemnity, critical illness, and others can help employees visualize how these plans could help them in their everyday lives.

After the impact that the pandemic has had over the past few years, we've seen the value perception of benefits such as critical illness and hospital indemnity grow exponentially. It's more important than ever to ensure employees are aware of what they have available and the effort your company makes to provide these types of benefits.

5. Allow time for questions

When booking the meeting, make sure you allot a buffer of time at the end of the session for employees to ask questions while they’re still top of mind. Remember that employees will often have specific questions about their benefits that they want to be answered, and this is your chance to address them.

Benefits are a sensitive topic, so if you're not sure about the answer to a question, it’s not taboo to let employees know that you don’t know the answer or that you’ll follow up with them later one-on-one.

It’s also important to note that not all employees will feel comfortable asking questions in front of their teammates (for example, maybe someone is planning for a pregnancy and wants to ask about fertility benefits, but doesn’t want to share this with the wider company). Because of this, you should consider setting up office hours at various times where employees can sign up for a time slot and meet with you personally.

Presentation day

Leading up to your session, it can be helpful to present a dry run in front of a colleague. This will ensure that they catch anything that may still be unclear or confusing.

By preparing ahead of time and keeping these five tips in mind, you'll deliver a presentation that helps educate employees, giving them confidence in their options and driving up participation rates.

Ensuring your employees understand their benefits is critical to keeping them happy and engaged in their work. With a clear and engaging presentation, you can help your employees get the most out of their benefits and take control over their health and financial potential. This will make sure that they feel valued by their employer and appreciate all the hard work you put into taking care that their benefits are the best they can be.

And if you’re looking for a way to improve your benefits experience, streamline benefits education, drive participation, and more, learn about the value of a Benefits Decision Support tool, here.

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