Picwell Blog

Building an Effective Communication Strategy for a Virtual Open Enrollment: A Timeline

Aug 11, 2021 9:03:00 AM / by Picwell

This year’s open enrollment is fast approaching, and with ‘return to work’ plans largely up in the air, you will more than likely be running it virtually. While it might sound daunting, it’s important to remember that there are many benefits to running a virtual open enrollment. For example, it helps you reach employees no matter where they are, and no matter what schedules they work. However, strong communication will be key to ensure success. In this blog, we’ll show you how to build an effective communication strategy for a virtual open enrollment - and we’re even providing a timeline to help you stay on track. 

Step 1: Start Early

This can’t be stressed enough: you need to start advertising open enrollment well in advance of the event. We recommend that you announce benefits season about three weeks before employees can enroll. That way, they’ll be aware early, have plenty of time to plan for it, and ultimately select their benefits.

Step 2: Connect Often

Communication about open enrollment can’t take the form of a single email. Your employees are busy working and living their lives, so they need regular reminders to log on and complete the process. They also need to know the details about their benefits options so they can make informed choices.

After your initial announcement, you should remind your workforce to enroll at least two more times - once one week before the event starts and once halfway through the enrollment period. If you’re switching from a passive enrollment (where elections carry over from year to year) to an active enrollment (where workers must select their benefits annually), you may want to send reminders more often. Your goal is to ensure that no employee misses their opportunity to enroll.

Between reminders to log on to your company’s enrollment portal, share facts about each of the benefits offered. While you should definitely place a strong focus on health insurance, don’t forget to talk about the other perks your organization offers. Your employees need to know about and understand everything available to them. That way, they can get the most out of working for your organization, feel engaged with your firm, and live their best lives.

Step 3: Communicate Widely

Some of your employees will read every single email you send, while others will instantly hit delete or hardly ever look at their inbox. That means you need to communicate with team members in different ways to connect with them where they are. Plan to share benefits information and open enrollment reminders in other places, like the company intranet or during company meetings. You can also invite employees to a webinar or send them text messages.

Pro Tip: Be sure to send at least one postcard, letter, or flyer to each employee’s home address - just in case they miss your emails or other digital communication.

Communication Tips

Here are a few more tips to ensure your benefits-related communication is effective:

  • Create written, audio, and video content to appeal to different learning styles.
  • Deliver information in easy-to-digest bites to ensure understanding and retention.
  • Include real-life examples so team members can relate.
  • Sprinkle in some humor and eye-catching graphics to keep your employees’ attention.

Remember: Engagement is the name of the game. The more eyes and ears you can get on your communication, the more successful your open enrollment season will be.

Your Virtual Open Enrollment Benefits Communication Timeline

Let’s recap the communication timeline you should follow for best results:

  • Three weeks before open enrollment: Announce the upcoming enrollment period.
  • One week before open enrollment: Send a reminder for employees to get ready to enroll.
  • Halfway through the enrollment period: Send an additional reminder to enroll by the deadline.
  • After the initial announcement and throughout the event: Share information about each benefit available.

Remember: You should continue the benefits conversation after open enrollment ends to onboard new team members and process employee life events too.

Picwell Makes Benefits Communication Easy

It can be challenging to find the time to compose an engaging email or the right words to get your point across. Luckily, Picwell has you covered. When you work with us, we provide you with email templates you can use to communicate benefits-related information - not only during open enrollment but also throughout the year - quickly and effectively.

Picwell also offers an intuitive, easy-to-use benefits decision support tool, which helps each employee select the best benefits for their unique preferences and situation. When your workforce enrolls in the right benefits, they’ll be more satisfied and engaged with your organization, and they’ll save money. Plus, your company will save money, too!

Want to know how? Contact us for a free demo today!

In order to have a successful virtual open enrollment, your communication strategy needs to be rock solid. By implementing the timeline and tips from this article, you will be on the right path to keeping employees informed and maximizing benefits engagement. 

Here’s to your best open enrollment season yet!


Topics: Open Enrollment, Benefits Decision Support, HR Tech, employee benefits, employeebenefits, virtual open enrollment, benefits communications


Written by Picwell