It’s open enrollment season again, and if your benefits are changing considerably, it could cause an engagement dip! A Towers Watson benefits study found – perhaps not surprisingly – that employee health and retirement plans are strongly correlated with engagement and retention. In fact, a Luntz Global paper on American health insurance plans estimated that 78 percent of employees claim employer-provided health insurance impacts their choice to stay at their current job.

It goes without saying that healthcare in America is imperfect, and its associated costs can easily skyrocket if not watched closely. Employers must perform a balancing act, typically switching providers annually, to secure the best rates for their employees.  On top of that they must be wary of other companies offering flashier benefits to lure their top performers away.

Paying attention to employee engagement during open enrollment therefore is quite important, and all part of the balancing act of providing a meaningful employee experience. Here are some tips to help you keep engagement up while shuffling the deck:

  1. Get everyone involved – Ensure that plenty of training sessions and information are available to all employees, remote, global, or otherwise. Notify employees about upcoming benefit changes early so they have time to process and adjust.
  2. Step up recognition – Check your daily formal and informal recognition efforts and kick them up a notch if you need to. Changing benefits so often can be chaotic, so be as kind as possible and nurture your positive feedback loops.
  3. Talk openly about it – Commiserate, listen, and be present for employees who have personal concerns about the changes. Being open and honest at times like these can build trust, loyalty, and mutual compassion.

The constant push and pull of changing benefits can have a chilling effect if left unchecked. Be sure to give a hoot during open enrollment and keep lines of communication open. A strong culture of respect and appreciation is healthier for morale, and can put flashy competitor benefits in the rear-view.