For HR professionals, the start of December marks the mid-way point of Annual Enrollment.
In progress for about two to three weeks now, AE is the busiest time of year for HR departments as well as a crucial time for all employees, who are choosing their benefits for the upcoming year. As leaders, we want to make sure our employees complete AE with all the tools they need, whether they’re enrolling in benefits packages or managing that process for your organization.
What can you do to ensure that your employees sign up for the benefits they need, and that your HR team is supported during this busy time? Here are three tips to help finish this AE season strong:
- Change the narrative. With only a couple weeks left, you need to make sure that all of your employees engage with your benefits enrollment platform. But for many people, benefits are confusing, and the enrollment process can be challenging. In fact, nearly half (49 percent) of employees last year said that making decisions about health insurance was stressful, and 38 percent of employees under age 29 said they had “no benefits knowledge.” To reach employees who haven’t enrolled already, change the way you talk to your staff about AE. If your communications have been through email and your company intranet, consider a more direct approach with a desk drop. Conversely, if your AE reminders have consisted only of printouts on a lunchroom bulletin board, send a company-wide text message or try utilizing social media to send updates and reminders directly to where employees spend a lot of their online time. These are particularly helpful with younger employees who are more likely to engage with digital communications.
You can make outreach fun as well! Consider holding “HR Office Hours” and include treats and even a trivia game to encourage employees to attend. It can be challenging for employees to set aside time to enroll in their benefits package, and it’s important that they choose benefits options in a thoughtful, informed way. Planning an informal event with perks and a calendar reminder can help your employees make it a priority. An added bonus? At these events your HR teams are on hand to answer any questions and assist in the sign-up process.
- Give credit where credit is due. Your HR teams has been working at an intense pace these past few weeks, and they still have farther to go before AE is finally wrapped up. Take some time to recognize your HR pros for their hard work—whether it be with a catered lunch, a monetary reward such as gift cards, or company-wide recognition. In fact, a simple email or intranet announcement recognizing your HR teams can go a long way towards maintaining high morale. Nearly 90 percent of employees who received recognition from their leadership indicated higher levels of trust in those leaders. Letting your HR pros know just how much you and the entire company appreciate their efforts to help fellow employees with benefits enrollment can provide a much-needed boost to finish out AE with energy and positivity.
- Lead with empathy. As I mentioned, AE can be stressful for employees who are unsure about their benefits, as well as for the HR staff helping them to navigate their choices. So don’t just look at the numbers — of employees yet to enroll, or overtime hours for HR teams — but rather practice empathetic behaviors with all your employees. Acknowledge that benefits can be confusing, and make sure to communicate to your employees that HR and leadership are available to help them and answer any questions they may have. If your HR team brings up challenges or roadblocks that are causing hiccups in the enrollment process, listen and ask what they need and how they feel — essentially, walk the proverbial mile in their shoes to experience AE as they do. With 9 in 10 employees saying they’re more likely to stay with an empathetic employer, this is a perfect moment to show your employees that empathy truly matters in your workplace, particularly when the going gets tough in stressful or busy times.
We know you're in the home stretch, check out our guide below to get more tips on how to have a drama free AE.