As an internal communicator there are several key dates throughout the year that you must be prepared for. One of the most important is Open Enrolment. In recent years healthcare costs have risen and plan designs have become more complex. Open Enrollment communications have become more challenging and more sought after by employees. To effectively communicate your company benefits you must create a clear and consistent communications plan.
With that in mind here are a few best practices to consider when planning out your Open Enrollment Communications:
Start with a survey
The time to start gathering information for Open Enrollment is now. The best way to find out where your communication gaps are is to go to the source. Design a simple survey (through Google or survey providers like Survey Monkey). Determine the level of awareness, what employees need more information about, and what you are doing well. This information will give you a good foundation when you begin building your communications plan.
Reach out early and often
Going from no information for 11 months, then lots of information all at once when decisions must be made immediately can be overwhelming. Rather than overloading your employees with a massive information drop, spread your Open Enrollment communications out over the year. Create a 12-month communications plan that delivers small bits of information every month. A consistent flow of communications about your benefits will increase understanding and engagement.
Keep it simple
Keep your messaging simple. Your job is to break through all of the confusing technical details and answer employees’ most basic questions. What? When? Where? How? Provide clear information, dates, checklists, and decision support tools that are easy to follow. Once your employees have an understanding of the process, they will find it much easier to come to a final decision.
Don’t sugarcoat the news
Your employees are intelligent. Be open and honest with them. Communicate any challenging news such as increased health plan premiums or rising deductibles. Messaging that is meant to conceal this information will be seen as a negative and will impact employee morale. On the same note, highlight the value of your benefits plan. Promote wellness and have your employees share their stories of personal wellness with their colleagues.
Being prepared for Open Enrollment will make the entire process easier. Get out in front of the issue and have a plan that simplifies the information with a clear and consistent message.
Our office is located in downtown Roswell and typically by 2 p.m. on a Friday afternoon the streets are already beginning to fill with people getting an early start to their weekend. If you’re like me, once Friday afternoon arrives and the out-of-office auto-reply emails from clients start hitting your inbox, your mind begins to wander.
No matter what business you’re in, it’s likely that your employees begin thinking about weekend plans early on a beautiful summer Friday afternoon. Many companies now offer the inexpensive but morale boosting benefit of flexible summer work scheduling often known as “Summer Hours.”
A recent survey by CEB revealed that 42 percent of companies now officially sanction starting the weekend early, up 21 percent in 2015.
Offering a Summer Hours policy is an economical perk that builds engagement and can improve company culture. Typically summer hours schedules run from Memorial Day to Labor Day. This is also the most common time of the year for employees to take a vacation. So how can your company introduce a summer hour work schedule? It’s important to recognize that one plan will not work for every company. Tailor your specific program to what will work best for your company and employees.
Here are a few idea and suggestions for implementing a summer hours program at your company:
Longer weekdays for time off on Friday. Employees work extra hours Monday through Thursday in exchange for a half day or the whole day off on Friday. Employees still work 40 hours total. This method allows each employee to decide the schedule that fits their needs. Employees can choose to opt in or out of the program depending on what works best for them.
Every other Friday off. Stagger days so that half of the office is off on one Friday and the other half is off the next Friday. This is a useful program for companies that see a dip in their workload during the summer, especially on Fridays.
Holiday half days. Many companies embrace a summer holiday half day policy. This gives their employees a half day off the day before Memorial Day weekend, July 4th, and Labor Day weekend. In many cases, there’s not much work going on during this period anyway and employees have more time to spend with friends and family.
Friday half days. Is there anything better than receiving an email informing you that you can take a half on Friday? Not every company will have the flexibility to introduce a full summer hours schedule. If you can’t implement one of these programs but would still like to reward your employee choose a Friday where business is slow and give your employees the afternoon off.
When looking for a job what considerations do you take into account? Compensation is a key factor. For some, a position with the right work/life balance is most important. One thing that you need to take into account when choosing a company is their work place culture. In my personal experience I’ve had jobs that I’ve enjoyed and others where I’ve dreaded coming to work each day. When I look back at why I enjoyed some jobs and disliked others it usually came down to their work place culture.
Recently the Atlanta Journal Constitution released their list of “Best Places to Work in Atlanta 2015.” Over 1,400 companies were nominated by their employees. The results were determined based on employee surveys. A number of common themes emerge among the companies that scored near the top. These companies invested in their employees not only in the form of compensation and benefits but also in their well-being. Employees at these companies felt respected, empowered, motivated, and appreciated by their employers.
“This makes perfect sense from a most basic human standpoint. People want to feel like they are a valuable part of something good,” said Jim Minnick, CEO and co-founder of the financial services firm eVestment. “It would be more surprising if the opposite were true.”
Tom Beaty, CEO and founder of the management consultant Insight Sourcing Group stated, “Everyone wants to be appreciated and feel like they matter. The loyalty of my team members is humbling and creates an obligation for me to ensure that they have a great experience, are able to continue to grow and learn.”
Some companies are so focused on performance and the bottom line that they forget to invest in their people. Employees at top scoring companies said they believe in their company because their leaders believe in them.
When you invest in your employees, they will see the benefits to their well-being, and your company will in turn see the benefits to its culture and performance.
Need to work on employee engagement in your business? Contact us and let’s get started.
Corporate wellness programs can be great for employees and businesses. They can help prevent chronic disease, combat rising healthcare costs, lower absentee rates and generally increase productivity by making employees happier and healthier.
If you’re looking for a way to keep healthy lifestyles visible all year, hitch your wagon to the star of national health observances. Here’s a little information that might help you get started.
First, health observances are nationally recognized days, weeks, or months focused on prevention that raise awareness of health issues. Health observances offer the perfect opportunity to stage company events to educate employees about how to reduce their risk and improve their health and in the process, while showing them you care and getting them engaged with the company and their co-workers. These events will have the most impact if you follow them up with structured, long-term activities.
A great example would be to hold an employee heart-health fair on National Wear Red Day in February and involve employees in company programs like walking and healthy cooking clubs. The National Heart Association has already created name recognition for the observance, so it should be easy to get people involved, especially if you offer a few perks, like free gym visits or time off to participate in employee fitness events. Other national organizations like the American Cancer Society and the American Diabetes Association offer ideas, support and information for companies looking to integrate health observances into their wellness programs.
To find observances that might work for your company, check out the “official” health observances calendar at healthfinder.gov, a publication of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The new calendar is usually published after the first full week in November for the following year.
Here’s a smattering of some of the most popular, most publicized health observances:
National Nutrition Month in March
National Women’s Health Week in May
Men’s Health Week in June
Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October
Great American Smoke-Out in November
When your employees know that you care about them, they are make a commitment to your business. Need help with communications plans and toolkits to get your employees mobilized to participate? Let us know. We can help!