Human Resources and Benefits

Open Enrollment: The Power of Early Preparation

prepare for open enrollment

The labor landscape was undoubtedly a roller coaster in the first half of 2023, and employers are still along for the ride. During the past year, the market experienced a record number of employee quits, a jump in talent shortages, and increased workplace demands from workers—many of whom had the upper hand in employment negotiations.

The job market remains highly competitive as employers work to attract and retain today’s top talent. With the 2024 open enrollment season around the corner, employers have an opportunity to develop attractive benefits offerings and proactively communicate with employees to win them over. Early preparation can help show employees they are valued, convince top performers seeking job changes to stay in their current positions, and attract new talent.

This article outlines how you as an employer can thoughtfully kick off open enrollment efforts, including offering competitive benefits to meet workforce needs, crafting employee messaging, and effectively communicating benefits offerings.

Tailoring Benefits Offerings

Employee benefits offerings can serve as powerful attraction and retention tools. However, that’s only true if workers see value in these offerings. That’s why it is important to tailor your benefits options to include perks your employees care about ahead of open enrollment.

Debates around remote, hybrid, and in-person work continue between employers and workers, and some workers are willing to make employment decisions based on retaining flexibility in when and where they do their jobs. Additionally, many organizations have a renewed focus on employees as people and have been prioritizing employee well-being. More than ever, workers want to feel like they belong in the workplace and feel recognized, appreciated, and safe—and employers are poised to deliver on those needs.

Various surveys and reports have found some of the top benefits employees want include:

  • Greater compensation
  • Remote or hybrid work environments
  • Flexible or hybrid scheduling (e.g., four-day workweeks)
  • Paid leave policies
  • Mental health resources
  • Family-building and reproductive health benefits
  • Caregiving benefits
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Financial wellness resources

Keep in mind, benefits offerings are one of the top reasons employees join companies and stay at their jobs. That’s why it’s critical to seriously consider speaking with employees about which perks provide the most value for their unique circumstances. Adding or tweaking a few benefits options could be the difference between retaining or losing top performers. Also, gaining employee feedback ahead of open enrollment shows a meaningful interest in their concerns. With a good pulse on workers’ needs, this intel can also impact employee attraction efforts.

Key Messaging During Open Enrollment

After solidifying insurance benefits options, plan your messaging and communication strategies. For 2024, key messaging might focus on new or updated benefits offerings, as well as these offerings serving as incentives for employees to stay in their current positions.

Putting benefits front and center can compel employees to weigh the advantages of searching for new jobs against guaranteed perks. Detail your offerings so employees understand everything they could potentially lose by changing jobs. Touching on these details is particularly important, considering one out of three workers don’t understand the benefits they elected during open enrollment, according to Voya Financial. This means some employees may be job hunting for perks they already have access to.

Benefits communications should account for employees’ desires to feel safe and secure by demonstrating how workplace offerings can protect them. As employees’ needs vary, outlining different insurance benefits offerings can help them understand which benefits they need and will likely use. Employees’ appreciation for benefits may improve when they can choose benefits plans tailored to their specific needs. The more appreciative employees are, the less likely they are to seek other job opportunities.

Communicating Employee Benefits

Ultimately, employers must spread the word about open enrollment and their benefits offerings. Countless surveys show employees want more help understanding their options. This means an open enrollment communication plan needs to start early, provide ample educational resources, and have multiple channels.

An effective open enrollment communication strategy may include the following components:

  • Group meetings to discuss available benefits
  • One-on-one meetings to answer questions
  • Multi-channel communication methods (e.g., videos, printouts, guides, presentations, emails, and comprehensive guides)
  • Periodic enrollment reminders, including enrollment dates and workplace-specific instructions
  • Messaging that directs employees to designated points of contact for questions (e.g., HR)

Leveraging technology will allow you to communicate more frequently and effectively with your employees. With more employees working remotely, virtual enrollment may be the most feasible option for many employers, saving time and resources.

Early open enrollment communication gives employees more time to understand their benefits. Although year-round communication is ideal, employers can amp it up for open enrollment. The recent Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey revealed that although many Americans are satisfied with the open enrollment process, they are not looking closely at their health plan options when making selections. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of adults spent less than one hour deciding on their health plan during open enrollment. A better understanding of offerings may help employees make more active choices in their health plans during the open enrollment season and beyond by helping them understand the perks of staying with the organization.


Employers will have ample time to tailor their benefits offerings and thoughtfully showcase all employee perks by starting open enrollment efforts early. This can help employers educate their current workforce, boost retention efforts, and win more talent in the ever-challenging labor market.

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