Tailoring Open Enrollments to Engage an Hourly Workforce

May 24, 2019 - minute read

open enrollment, employee benefits, hourly workforceAnnual open enrollments are stressful for employees, managers, and HR alike. And when you’re enrolling an hourly workforce, the challenges are even greater.     

While more than 90% of workers place great value on employee benefits, they spend an average of just 18 minutes choosing benefit plans, according to a new report.  

The hurdles are even higher when you’re trying to engage an hourly workforce. Limited access to PCs, partial computer literacy, and a hazy understanding of insurance can all contribute to uninformed decision-making by employees choosing a benefit plan.  

For example, how many workers in the building services and manufacturing industries spend their workday at a desk, where they can explore a benefits portal or enrollment kit in detail?

And while in-person enrollment meetings can help overcome such obstacles, it’s not always possible when you manage a distributed workforce, such as in the construction industry.

The good news is, savvy employers are finding creative ways to tailor open enrollment periods to the hourly workforce. Small changes can make a big difference. And, chances are, any improvements you make will make open enrollment a better experience for everyone. 

Think Like a Retailer

According to HR and benefits experts, the more you can simplify your employee benefits message, the better. Consider breaking plan descriptions down into bite-size chunks, complete with links or other supplementary materials that let employees drill down for more detail as needed.  

Think like a retailer. In one Aflac benefits survey, 44% of employees wished open enrollment was like shopping on Amazon.com, where navigating and comparing products is easy. Create comparison charts of plan offerings, so employees can view choices at a glance when determining their best fit.

Another retail-inspired idea: offer “recommendations for you,” based on personalized assessment quizzes that gauge workers’ healthcare usage and lifestyle. Workers who use social media will feel right at home taking a few engaging quizzes.   

In short, insurance is complicated. The more consumable you can make it, the more likely employees will be to choose plans that work best for them. 

Use Multiple Communication Channels

Approaching employees from several angles—in print, online, or through social media—can help immerse workers more fully in your campaign. Carefully-timed postcards, paycheck stuffers and posters can all drive employees to your enrollment portal. 

Can’t do live enrollment meetings with your hourly, distributed workforce? Videos and videoconferencing can be very effective, while adding a fresh dimension to your open enrollment process.

Finally, incorporate mobile technology. Your Millennial and Gen Z workers might be most comfortable enrolling by mobile app. Plus, text messages make great enrollment reminders—and 98% of texts are opened within three minutes of receipt. Efficiency is key to success. 

Liven and Lighten Things Up

Can open enrollments be…fun? That may be pushing it, but a little levity can go a long way toward engaging an hourly workforce. Consider adopting a lighthearted theme, such as “Rock Enroll,” complete with pop rock candy giveaways.

Use memes, riddles, and promotional items to highlight plan offerings and reminders. If you can get your Marketing department involved, so much the better.

Many employees wait until the last minute to complete enrollment. One way to combat this is to hold a contest, offering prizes to those who sign up first, or entering your Early Birds’ names into a drawing. 

Bring Spouses into the Circle  

Sometimes, an employee’s spouse or partner is the key to a thoughtful enrollment. While many employers have moved away from mailing enrollment kits to workers’ homes, some type of mailing (a series of postcards?) can make enrollment a family affair. 

Or host a benefits fair where families can attend, encouraging spouses to sit in on presentations and ask questions. It’s a great way to remind workers just how valuable their employee benefits are.   

Offer Live Enrollment Support

In the Aflac survey, half of workers said they’d like to consult with an expert when choosing benefits, either in person or over the phone. For workers who aren’t particularly insurance or PC savvy, this can make all the difference.

Beyond the traditional help line, consider setting up a help desk, where employees can sit down with a benefits pro and sign up on the spot. It will not only smooth your open enrollment process, but show your hourly workers that they are valued.  

Where Your HCM Platform Fits In

If you manage an hourly workforce, your HCM platform needs to not only facilitate online enrollment, but accommodate their needs specifically. For starters, it should be mobile friendly, so workers can enroll from any device. It should easily host comparison charts and other visual aids as well.   

Furthermore, a powerful benefits portal will not only allow HR to track user activity, but send automatic reminders to those who have yet to enroll. It should transfer data seamlessly to both your payroll software and insurance carriers, lightening the workload.

EPAY’s HCM solution does all of these things—and our entire platform is designed for employers managing an hourly workforce. From our employee benefits module and self-service portal to our unique workforce management tools and technology, we’re all about your hourly workforce. Take two minutes and see for yourself

Filed Under: Human Capital Management Employee Benefits