Benefits

To Do: Help Open Enrollment Get Noticed with Video

Did you end last year’s open enrollment with a list of things you wanted to improve? If you did, you may have made the same promise to yourself that many of your colleagues around the country did: that you would get started earlier so you’d have the time to address some of those items.

With open enrollment season bearing down fast, today may be the day.

One prominent item on HR’s list of open enrollment enhancements is often the use of video communication. If it’s on your list, read on. In fact, if video isn’t on your list (or even your radar), read on anyway. You may find reasons to add it before we’re through.

We spoke with Wayne Wall, CEO of Flimp Communications, specialists in employee engagement through video. The challenge for HR teams, he believes, is not just telling employees what they need to do, but engaging them so they take action. And that’s exactly where video can be effective.

Flaws in Traditional Communication

Traditional open enrollment communication involves meetings and presentations, followed up with paper materials. There are several flaws with this method, Wall says, including:

  • The time, energy and money involved in meeting with employee populations that aren’t centrally located;
  • Lack of the ability to track employee understanding of their options;
  • Failure to involve spouses and partners who contribute to the decision-making;
  • Inability to reach people who aren’t digitally or physically connected.

Wall says that engaging employees is the key to helping them make the best possible decisions at open enrollment and other times. “Whether it’s benefits, compensation, or wellness programs—really, for any planned communications—organizations need to get employees engaged so they can make smart decisions about what’s best for them.

“When employees are simply asking other employees what they think is the best medical plan, they aren’t necessarily going to be making the right choice for themselves. The problem is that they’re uninformed, so they make a bad choice. It’s only later they learn they’re spending more out-of-pocket than they should be.”

Return on Investment, Educational Value Lacking

As the benefit of wellness programs to employees (and to controlling health care costs) has become more apparent, so has the need to help employees engage with them. “The company wants to engage employees in being healthy,” Wall says. “If employees don’t engage with the program, the investment the company is making isn’t going to have the return they’re looking for.

“Traditionally, employees get a guide that companies put a ton of money into, but they don’t read it. Then there are the presentations, in-person or webinars, which have been a staple in benefits communications for many years. Oftentimes, employees don’t participate, especially if the meetings are optional.

“If it’s an in-person meeting, they may come but they’re on their smart phone. Then they can’t translate the information to their spouse or partner who, in many cases, may be the decision-maker in the family.”

More and more, people are demanding that information be presented on demand, and in easy-to-digest sizes. That’s where video communication shines, Wall says. “People want to—and are used to—learning and understanding information in bite-sized pieces. Video enables you to get much more information communicated in a shorter period of time, and in an easier way than written copy.”

Even complex information is easier to communicate when the spoken or written information is accompanied by graphics that simplify the complicated message. Wall continues, “There are a variety of styles, including animated motion graphics, which make it easy to tell the story and explain complicated subjects to folks who may not have much background in or understanding of a particular topic. They want to get through it in the most expedient way possible, and video lends itself to a more rich, dynamic medium than other communication methods.”

In-Person Versus Video: No Contest

Compared to in-person meetings, video has been shown to be much more effective at educating employees. “With video, people have access to information on demand. Millennials, in particular, are more used to accessing information as they want to, in a way they want to, at a time they want to. Video, web or digitally-based content enables that, whereas an in-person meeting doesn’t,” Wall says.

Money is also a consideration; there is a cost attached to presenting information and creating accompanying materials. “If you have a lot of employees and you’re doing meetings for them, it can be very expensive,” Wall says. “The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the average hourly cost of an employee is $26. If you have 1,000 employees required to sit through a 1-hour presentation during working hours, it’s a soft cost of $26,000.”

Add to that the number of HR hours that go into the presentations, perhaps including travel expenses to reach various worksites. “You can create video content these days for substantially less money than that,” Wall says. “So look at this in terms of not only practicality—the way people want to get the information—but from a pure cost standpoint. You may be saving money just by forgoing these meetings.”

Video Increases Understanding

When you present information to employees, you want to know they “get it” and then take the appropriate action. Wall’s company has evidence that video accomplishes that goal. “When you’re doing a benefits enrollment, the action you want them to take is to enroll. So using video and summary text, we lead them to links to their HR portal, a hosted benefits guide, a presentation, or other benefit plan summaries such as PDFs.

“Most importantly, we drive people to their enrollment platform or portal. In this way we’re getting more employees to take that action during a limited open enrollment period. We want them to take the action up front, instead of waiting until open enrollment has almost expired or, worse, missing the deadline and then calling HR.”

The proof comes from a campaign of 200 digital postcards, one of Flimp’s most popular communication techniques. In aggregate, 875,873 emails were sent to employees between January 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017. Of those, Flimp achieved 665,664 postcard views, an average 76% engagement rate. There were 978,114 clicks, for a 147% response rate and 926,649 videos were viewed, for a video-view rate of 139%. On average, viewers watched 3 minutes, 20 seconds of video out of 2 minutes, 31 seconds of average video duration, suggesting repeat viewing of some sections of the videos.

“The 139% response rate is a percentage of how many actions were taken by those employees who opened and viewed and engaged with the content in the digital postcard,” Wall says. “It was 1.39 actions per person.”

Can your meetings and materials make a similar claim? If not, or if you don’t know, consider making video a central focus of your open enrollment. It can simplify the process and improve results for you and for your employees. Now, before open enrollment is in full swing, is the time to find out.