Digitizing open enrollment to reach every employee when it counts

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Child care giant Bright Horizons swapped snail mail for targeted digital communications, and reaped the benefits.
Digitizing open enrollment

Open Enrollment Period can be a challenging time for HR professionals. Teams face the mammoth task of ensuring every employee has the information they need to make important decisions about their health insurance—before that brief window of time slams shut.

For Bright Horizons, one of the world’s largest child care providers with a 25,000-strong global workforce—the majority of employees based in the United States—there’s an added hurdle.

“At any given time, 10,000 to 14,000 of our employees are teachers in the classroom who have no access to technology during the day, because they are supervising children,” Bright Horizons Internal Communications Manager Jen Whalen shared at a recent Firstup customer roundtable.

“Our biggest challenge was reaching them.”

Snail mail headaches

Bright Horizons was delivering benefits communications to their deskless workers via print media; a glossy brochure mailed to their homes. But there are major downsides to snail mail.

“It did not guarantee the content would get in the hands of the people who needed it,” Whalen said. “Also, it was astronomically expensive.”

It goes without saying that not having a way to track if an employee has received their benefits packet has implications for key company health indicators, including hiring and retention, employee satisfaction and engagement, compliance management, and company culture. 

“So when we were thinking about ways we could automate, streamline, and digitize,” Whalen explained, “our benefits process was by far our biggest opportunity.”

Digital transformation

Recognizing the enormous cost and time-saving potential of digitizing their annual open enrollment process, Bright Horizons harnessed the capabilities of Bright Now, their Firstup platform, to reach every employee with “a robust multi-channel digital strategy,” Whalen said. 

They utilized their intelligent communication platform’s capabilities, including targeted campaigns, polls, weekly app and intranet content, and, crucially, set automated reminders for employees to complete their enrollment as the deadline approached.

“We can set and forget those reminders, enabling us to move onto other things,” Whalen said. “So it gives us more freedom to do other projects and generally frees up a lot of that burden.” 

It makes cents

Bright Horizons saw significant cost savings by digitizing its open enrollment process.

“We are talking almost $100,000 a year on open enrollment costs that we were able to save. So this was a great way for us to not only prove the effectiveness of the technology, but reinvest the savings into the technology.”

– Jen Whalen

Through the Bright Now platform, Bright Horizons has been able to transform its open enrollment process from 100% print to 95% digital, ensuring employees receive the information they need during open enrollment and empowering them to take ownership of the process.

“We still send an open enrollment reminder postcard to every employee’s home – there’s something really nice about having something tangible in your hands. But going 95% digital has allowed us to be much more agile. Because we aren’t dependent on the project timeline of a third party [the print brochure vendor] we have more lead time and planning time.”

“We can utilize the resources we have as a team and get the biggest bang for our buck, so I think moving everything digital was the right choice.”

Want to learn more about digitizing onboarding and enrollment processes? Download our guide, The ultimate onboarding checklist for the comms-driven HR leader.

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Erin Van Der Meer

Erin Van Der Meer

Erin Van Der Meer is the Content Marketing Storyteller at Firstup, dedicated to telling customer stories that spark inspiration, action, and positive change. Prior to joining Firstup, Erin spent more than 10 years as a multi-platform journalist, writing for publications including The New York Times and The Daily Beast.

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