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October 18, 2021 Amelia Wilcox

Top 5 Considerations for Open Enrollment Season 2021

+ Why You Should Add Wellness Benefits to Your Package

With the pleasant fall weather and Halloween (and potentially Christmas decoration) shopping among us, HR leaders are also preparing for open enrollment season.

You can do some things these next couple of weeks to prepare employees (and yourself) for the open enrollment period. We will also offer some more benefit considerations as we head into the new year!

What is open enrollment?

Open enrollment is when companies allow employees to change which benefits they elect into. The open enrollment season typically starts in November, in anticipation of benefit plans beginning on January 1st.

Open enrollment season is a great time to introduce new benefits and remind employees of all the great perks your company offers

There are two primary considerations for HR leaders leading up to the open enrollment season: educating and encouraging employees to opt-in to these benefits and which new benefits should HR tack on so employees can work and live happier.

Communication is key!

First, let’s discuss how to prepare your workforce for the open enrollment season 2021. You don’t want to miss out on these tips!

How to Announce Open Enrollment Season to Your Employees

Here are some ways to provide the information your employees need to make their benefits decisions during this open enrollment period.

1. Provide an employee benefits guide

Do you have a one-stop doc for all your benefits info? If you don’t, now is a great time to create it!

Here are some employee benefits guide templates that you can use. Make sure to include all the benefits your company offers, their advantages, and whether employees will have to pay to enroll.

This guide can live on your company intranet. It should be a part of your company’s onboarding materials.

In this guide, you can also outline how open enrollment works.

2. Determine how to promote new benefits

So, you’ve added some new benefits. Great job! But your job isn’t done yet—you need to encourage your team to opt into those great perks.

Wellness benefits are surging in popularity. If you’ve added one to your benefits package, you’ll need to do more than tell employees about it; it needs to become a living, breathing part of your organizational culture.

Here are some resources that will help you achieve that:

3. Launch your open enrollment campaign

It’s time to put on your marketing hat! Think about what will bring the highest engagement rate. Emails? Announcing open enrollment during meetings? Posting an announcement on your company intranet? Slack?

You probably want to send an email or two to announce open enrollment to your employees. Here is an example email template you can use:

“Hi {employee first name},

It’s open enrollment season! That means you will be able to make changes to your benefits plan for the upcoming year.

Open enrollment starts on {insert date} and ends on {insert date}. Whether you would like to change your coverage or not, we ask that you’d please complete the open enrollment process. You will be able to:

  • Opt into new benefits
  • Change beneficiaries and dependents
  • {any other potential options}

Here are the benefits that will stick around in 2022: {plan names}

We are thrilled to be adding {new benefit name and description} as well!

All you need to do is follow these simple steps to complete the open enrollment process by {insert date}.

{insert steps}

Thank you, and never hesitate to reach out to {insert name and contact info} with any questions or concerns.

Best,

{sender signature}

P.S. For reference, here is our updated employee benefits guide with in-depth, comprehensive info on each benefit available to you {insert link}.”

Make sure to give plenty of notice so employees can be adequately prepared.

4. Hold a virtual benefits fair or webinar

You could keep it simple and hold a webinar or meeting to talk through the open enrollment period and what to expect. Prepare a list of common FAQs (you could even share that list of FAQs and their answers on your intranet or employee benefits guide).

Take it a step further by inviting your benefits providers to the event, providing employees direct support right from the source. Plus, they will answer a lot of questions for you!

Here are some virtual benefit fair platforms to check out:

Top 5 Considerations for Open Enrollment Season—women working on laptop in fall weather

5. Survey your team

Ah, yes. The employee survey.

Open enrollment season is an excellent time to revisit benefits with your employees while it is top of mind.

Track which benefits people are going after and which ones are less popular. You can also ask employees how the open enrollment season process went and how to improve it.

Once you survey your employees, you’ll have a better idea of which benefits they want!

Here are some of the most sought-after benefits today:

  • Financial coaching
  • Debt repayment options
  • Scholarships for higher education
  • Retirement funds
  • Employee recognition software
  • 4-day work weeks
  • Wellness and mental health benefits

Related: Top 4 Most Important Benefits for Millennials and Gen Z

Bonus: Adopt a platform for employee communications

This one’s a bonus. It’s not quick to implement, but it is an excellent long-term consideration.

There are HR employee communication tools that will allow you to centralize your team communication, scheduling, and more. Considering bringing this idea to your executive team and make internal communications with your people more manageable than ever.

Related: 5 Ways HR Leaders Can Get Executive Team Support

Consider Adding Wellness Benefits to Your Benefits Package

84% of companies with 200+ employees already offer wellness benefits. 86% of employees feel that their company culture should prioritize mental health.

Wellness benefits are huge.

If you’re interested in learning more about wellness benefits, this 41-page report will help. You could even send this resource to your executive team to help get their buy-in.

Download the State of Employee Wellbeing Report Blog Post CTA (900 x 400 px) (1)

Take a Deep Breath

The open enrollment period is one of the most stressful times of the year for human resources.

Now that you have a plan in place, it’s time to take a step back and breath.

Make sure to take care of yourself during this time—and always!

Amelia Wilcox

Amelia Wilcox is the Founder and CEO of Nivati, a leader in corporate massage and employee mental health support since 2010. Her high-growth B2B company provides employee stress management tools that arm businesses with actionable data and positive employee experiences to improve wellbeing, boost morale, and increase engagement.

Amelia has exponentially grown her company from a solo living-room service business to an international technology brand.

Awards
Recently listed as a Forty Under 40, Fast 50, Inc 5000 Twice awarded National Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year

Licenses, Certifications & Memberships
Licensed Massage Therapist since 2002
Member of American Massage Therapy Association
Served on Utah Worksite Wellness Council from 2012-2015

Education
Attended Utah College of Massage Therapy
Educated in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at the University of Utah

Publications
Massage Magazine (AMTA's publication)  

MENTAL HEALTH FOR THE WHOLE EMPLOYEE