5 Tips for Creating Helpful Open Enrollment FAQ Documents

 5 Tips for Creating Helpful Open Enrollment Faq DocumentsDid you know that 49 percent of employees do not understand their benefits materials? 

Unfortunately, when employees don’t understand their benefits options, they find it difficult to appreciate and take advantage of your organization’s packages, putting your investment at risk. 

Conversely, when employees better understand their benefits options—and know which packages best apply to their situation, you can improve enrollment rates, reduce HR’s workload (cheers to far fewer repetitive questions!), and enhance employee satisfaction. Well-informed employees feel valued and supported! 

How can you create a more helpful FAQ document to simplify and clarify open enrollment communications? Here are five key steps to creating an employee-friendly FAQ document.   

1. Identify the most common employee questions.

Search and sort your email and chat history to identify past employee questions and concerns. Consider conducting a brief poll or survey to gain more clarity on issues or answers to specific questions. When you dig into this data, you will likely notice groups of questions employees ask repeatedly. Then, you can work with HR and benefits vendors to synthesize the information and produce clear and concise answers. 

2. Next, organize questions by type and topic.

After you collect your list of employee questions, group them into categories. Often, a table of types and topics works well. This structure makes it easier for employees to navigate your FAQ document. Some common categories include: 

  • Benefit types like health insurance, retirement plans, and life insurance; 
  • Employee life stages like new hires, young or single professionals, employees with families, or near-retirement employees; 
  • Common topics like costs and premiums, key benefit differentiators, or eligibility criteria; 
  • Changes like new benefits you’re introducing, changes in existing benefits, and what remains unchanged; 
  • Common life event scenarios like turning 26, moving to a new state, or getting married or divorced. 

Another common topic to address, particularly for new employees or those new to the workforce, is “What is Open Enrollment?” You don’t need to provide this information to everyone—most existing employees will find it irrelevant—however, for employees who are just starting, it’s helpful to provide them with the basics and define the what, why, and when.  

You might share this information during the pre-enrollment period, targeting the unenrolled and folks new to the workforce. Explain how open enrollment is their annual opportunity to update or choose the benefit options that best meet their needs. Emphasize why employees can’t change plans anytime they want. Then, explain how the process will work and what their responsibilities are.

3. Include real-life scenarios.

Beyond well-organized FAQs, consider illustrating the information with relatable examples. For example, let’s say you’re describing your health plan options, including a high deductible health plan (HDHP). Rather than simply defining an HDHP, you may frame it with a scenario like this: 


Taylor, a healthy, single 30-year-old who doesn’t go to the doctor very often, chooses an HDHP with a $2,000 deductible and lower monthly premiums. She saves $600 annually on the monthly premium cost and gains access to the Health Savings Account (HSA). Taylor contributes $200 a month to this account. Unfortunately, when she incurs a $1,500 bill for an ankle injury, she pays this bill out of her HSA savings since she has not yet reached her $2,000 deductible and has to pay for those medical services out of pocket. 

4. Use simple, straightforward language and define terms.

To the extent possible, avoid jargon and technical terms. Insurance plans are known for using terms and acronyms that many people do not understand. Ensure all of this terminology is defined, ideally inline on first use, and accessible via a link in the document or an online glossary. 

5. Be comprehensive yet concise.

This recommendation may sound like an oxymoron, but the goal is to provide high-level answers in the FAQ document and link to more specific information. The FAQ document should be easy to read and digest, like a high-level summary of key facts. Include just enough information in the FAQ document, then provide drill-down links to additional, more detailed information. When using provider-provided documents for support, consider creating a “How to read this document” overview to orient readers, including call-outs that explain what readers are looking at. 

Better employee understanding of benefits increases satisfaction.

Although nearly fifty percent of employees struggle to understand their benefits, employee understanding, participation, and value perception can determine whether or not they stay with an organization.  

People genuinely want to understand and leverage their benefits to the extent possible but may be quickly overwhelmed with confusing options. You can simplify the process for employees by writing in a conversational tone or recording a quick video to explain complex topics, such as which benefits plan is best for young singles, newly married couples, or those nearing retirement (you might even recruit employees to be interviewed for your videos). 

Employees will better appreciate and utilize your benefits programs when you break down complex insurance and benefits jargon into easy-to-understand content, articles, and resources. 

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