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Here at Aflac, we’re in the benefits business—but if you’re a small business owner, chances are your expertise is something else entirely, like... building a house or making sure all the kids in your community get their flu shots this fall... But employee benefits? Maybe not so much. That’s why we’re here to help you have a terrific Benefits Enrollment this year!

Whether you’re running Benefits Enrollment for the first time or gearing up for a renewal year, you want to be sure that your employees have all the right information to make good benefits decisions.

Your investment — and theirs — in your company’s insurance program is very valuable. Why? Because, simply put, happier and healthier employees are more productive at work1. Ready for a more productive 2018?

The magic starts with your Benefits Enrollment meeting. Having a good meeting is crucial to a successful benefits enrollment at your company. It gets everyone on the same page and ensures that your employees get all their questions answered.

Here are the top three reasons that these meetings go awry — and practical steps to skip these common pitfalls. Read on and host a Benefits Enrollment meeting that’s a success for both you and your employees!

Problem 1: Our real work stops for a mandatory meeting.

There’s no getting around it: Benefits Enrollment meetings generally have to be scheduled during work hours. If you’re a small business (with three to 99 employees), this may mean grinding your office to a halt for an hour to explain benefits — but it’s worth it because a well-run Benefits Enrollment meeting today keeps your employees more productive all year long!

Solution: Be a schedule maverick.

Get lunch! Turn your Benefits Enrollment meeting into a lunch-hour event — you can even hit your benefits advisor up for a meal. You’ll often find that advisors are willing to provide one.

Got second (or third) shifts? Host a late-night or early-morning meeting that begins just as the shift ends. Benefits Advisors are actually quite used to these types of situations and will do their best to accommodate you. Note: This approach will require employees to stay for an extra hour, so make sure you clearly communicate this schedule change in advance.

Be flexible. Whenever possible, try to host several meetings at a range of times to allow all of your employees a chance to make the meeting. Open the meetings up as conference calls so an employee can call in from home or while on the road.

Problem 2: Employees with specific personal concerns are stealing the show.

Hosting a successful Benefits Enrollment meeting means walking a fine line between providing information broad enough to apply to most employees and drilling down into details. There will almost always be an employee — or several — with very specific and complex personal concerns. Sometimes these employees overtake the meeting with questions that apply only to their situations, leaving everyone else tuned out or frustrated.

Who do you need? Work with your advisor to invite the right subject-matter experts to your meeting. Depending on the benefits your company offers — as well as your own fluency in the subject — you might include representatives from any of the following providers: major medical insurance, dental insurance, voluntary insurance, or 401k.

Reassure and redirect. Having experts on hand not only reassures your employees, but allows you to keep your meeting on track. Here’s how it works: Greg asks if his accident plan will pay for pain-medication prescriptions. Instead of spending 10 minutes on this complex (and very personal) concern, you can reassure him by simply saying, "Greg, that’s an excellent question — and we’ve got an answer! You should meet with our Aflac Benefits Advisor, Jennifer, after this meeting and she can help answer that."

Ask the Duck! Let’s face it: Employees won’t always ask all of their questions during the Benefits Enrollment meeting. Maybe they didn’t really have a question at the time, they didn’t think of it until after-hours or they felt self-conscious about asking, well, a person. That’s why we’ve created DuckChat℠—a 24/7 benefits chat-line on Facebook Messenger—to help answer your employees’ burning enrollment questions in an easy-to-understand (and fun!) way whether you’re an Aflac customer or not. There, they can talk to the Aflac Duck—and get answers straight from the Duck’s beak.

Problem 3: Something got lost in translation.

Your team is made up of a lot of unique individuals. They communicate in their own ways and all learn differently. Some may be very proficient in the language of insurance and others may be new to it. Some may speak English as a second language — or another language entirely. These human factors can make the task of conveying complex benefits information tough.

Solution: Communicate clearly, concisely and often.

Make a clear communications plan as part of your meeting preparations. Use email, in-office signage and your company intranet (if you have one) to make employees aware of the Benefits Enrollment process — including the initial meeting — and why they should care.

Translate as necessary. If you have any employees for whom English is a second language, have a translator on hand to help answer questions and distribute translated materials. Even people who speak English well in their own work may need some extra help understanding the technical language of benefits. So talk to your team and ask them what they need — then talk to your advisor, who may be able provide or recommend a translation service.

Remind them why benefits are so important. You worked hard to provide benefits for your employees — you care about your team and the work that you do together. Let them know that! Taking the time to find the right benefits will help your employees meet all kinds of life-changing events next year: from weddings to pregnancies, to a beach vacation that includes a run-in with a jellyfish and an unexpected visit to urgent care.

Communicate after. Your advisor will provide the right material for the meeting itself, so you won’t have to worry about that. But ask if you can have digital copies of any pertinent information to send employees after the meeting — especially slideshows, which usually contain great explanations.

Happy enrolling!