Writing an Effective FAQs Document for Open Enrollment

To help employees understand complex benefits, write simplified communications.

Writing an Effective FAQs Document for Open Enrollment

(And why you shouldn’t let your insurance providers write your open enrollment communications.)

Survey results show that 49 percent of participants do not understand their benefits materials. Unfortunately, if employees don’t understand the value of your benefits—and appreciate the packages your organization offers—you put your investment at risk.

One way to increase employee understanding is to create an effective FAQs document for Open Enrollment. An FAQs document should be simple and easy to read, yet still create real value for employees.

Key Questions to Address in Your Open Enrollment FAQs

Here are three key topics to address in your FAQs document.

  1. What has changed? Unless you are a startup, most of your employees are already enrolled, and the most important thing they want to know is a summary of the differences in plans and benefits. If your packages have changed since last year, document and summarize any key differences in your FAQs. You may also want to highlight any new benefit options that were created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to SHRM, common changes to 2021 benefits plans include: expanding telehealth programs, enhancing mental health support, and increasing cost-sharing.
  2. What is Open Enrollment? Since the labor force grows by 8.5 million each year, this will be the first time some of your employees participate in Open Enrollment. Start with the basics and define the what, why, and when. Vanderbilt University writes, “Open Enrollment is your annual opportunity to update or choose the benefit options that best meet your needs.” You might also answer why employees can’t change plans anytime they want. Round out this answer by providing a list of benefits, such as health, dental, and vision, and explain acronyms like FSAs and HSAs. You might also consider having separate FAQs—one for newcomers and one for currently enrolled employees.
  3. Who is covered? Other frequently asked questions often revolve around dependents. Questions like, “May I enroll my spouse, domestic partner, or children?” and “Can I add or remove my eligible dependents anytime, like when I get married or have a baby, or only during Open Enrollment?” Provide high-level answers in the FAQs document and then link to more specific information. This keeps the FAQ doc quick and easy to digest.

Identifying Other Questions to Include in Your Open Enrollment FAQs

Conduct a simple survey or poll. Before Open Enrollment starts, you can gauge interest and understanding by leveraging simple surveys and polls to ask your employees questions about benefits utilization and determine areas of interest or confusion. 

Measure results. You can use email data not only to understand employee interests, but also to measure audience participation and create more intelligent follow-ups. No one likes reminder emails when they have already completed the task. For example, if a significant number of employees viewed your ‘Covid-19 Testing coverage’ article versus your dental coverage changes, you know which benefit to highlight in your Open Enrollment FAQs.

Better Employee Understanding of Benefits Increases Satisfaction

Although fifty percent of employees struggle to understand their benefits, they’re actually instrumental in determining whether or not an employee stays with an organization. Take time to create an FAQs document for Open Enrollment, answering the most common questions from the employee perspective. People truly want to understand their benefits and you can simplify the process for them. Write the way you talk, or consider recording a quick video explaining more complex topics such as which plan is better for young singles, or newly married, or those closer to retirement. By simplifying complex insurance jargon into easy-to-understand resources, your employees will appreciate, and utilize, your benefits programs.

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