Handholding Employees During Open Enrollment? 5 Tips to Break the Grip
by Michelle Higgins
Is it open enrollment season at work? Before pulling your hair out, take a deep breath and check out these five tips to help you survive.
1. Going from paper to electronic ... oh, the insanity!
Some employees become concerned (i.e., “freak out”) when things change — especially if there’s technology involved. They might just need some reframing to build up their courage. One approach you could consider using is “if/then.” For example, “Do you use a smartphone? If so, then you have the ability to select your benefits online.” Adding an encouraging, “You can do it! I have full confidence in you,” may also help.
2. Get the frontline managers on board.
This is where the rubber meets the road. Engage managers to engage employees in the open enrollment process. Don’t let managers get the best of you with an “I don’t have time for this” speech. They do. You do. And ultimately the employees need them to.
3. Avoid the “Can you just do it for me?” drama.
Umm .... that’s big “N-O” (in a nicer way of course). Kindly remind them that while you’re not able to “do it for them,” you’d be happy to sit with them and walk them through the process.
4. Put a positive spin on it.
Dig deep for your biggest pep talk and craft the speech in language that’s easy for employees to understand and gels with your work culture, such as: “In only 20 minutes, you can save 20 percent on your health insurance for 2020!” If that’s too cheery for your bunch, then tone it down. Sometimes, just hearing the words “health care” makes people cringe. So, aim to be positive, and hopefully those around you will follow your lead.
5. Don’t feel like “You ain’t nothing but a hound dog.”
Is hounding a soft skill you wish you didn’t have? Elvis sang it best, but you don’t have to be an open enrollment “hound dog.” Hounding employees isn’t your job if you’ve covered all your bases. Communicate, communicate, communicate ... but know that, inevitably, you’ll have someone come knocking on your door claiming ignorance saying they “didn’t know” they had to actually DO something, or they “didn’t see” the dozens of emails you sent (sigh). While putting on your most empathetic voice say, “Oh, I’m sorry to hear you lack the organizational skills to click a few buttons.” (OK ... maybe that’s too sarcastic.) Listen politely and calmly, and then reassure them that as soon as they get married, have a baby, get divorced, or quit and get rehired (maybe) you’ll be happy to assist (also perhaps a bit too sarcastic).