Supporting Employee Mental Health (And Your Own) During Open Enrollment - woman standing in front of white wall reading on tablet at work

Supporting Employee Mental Health (And Your Own) During Open Enrollment

Amelia Wilcox
October 29, 2022
October 29, 2022

Being an adult is not at all what we thought it would be. 

Nothing screams adulting like applying for benefits during open enrollment season. It’s just one of those things we have to do. It’s part of being a responsible adult, but it can be overwhelming to get started.

Put holiday stress on top of it, and you’ve got a pretty thoroughly stressed-out team.

It’s a lot of decisions at once, and employees are often left feeling stressed. And so are you.

We put together a three-pronged approach to help you and your team during open enrollment season.

Step 1: Take A Caring Approach to Open Enrollment

Do what you do best as an HR leader and put yourself in your employees’ shoes.

Here are some of the common stressors people have been facing lately:

  • Inflation
  • Politics and upcoming elections
  • Personal finance
  • Poor mental health
  • End-of-year deadlines

At the end of a long workday (plus holiday prep and other personal matters), would you really want to be choosing or changing the benefits you’ve elected into?

The solution? Empathy + simplification + “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM) = higher engagement.

You’ve already made progress on the empathy part. Read on to learn how to integrate these three principles into your open enrollment communications.

Step 2: Prep Internal Marketing for Open Enrollment


While it’s likely too late in the open enrollment season to change processes around employee benefits, there are still things you can do to make the whole thing simpler for employees to understand.

For instance, do you have a handbook outlining all the benefits available to employees? Do you link employees to every place they will need to self-elect into benefits? Do you explain every benefit employees can access in a simple bulleted list?

Employees will likely either spend a ton of time looking into their benefits or very little time just to get it out of the way. 

Use your in-depth knowledge of all things benefits to make it simple for your team. It’s okay to put the dots close together. In fact, it will help employees filter through the noise and potentially reduce their stress.

It can also be helpful to let employees know all that they need readily available to apply (like their ID), the deadline to apply, and the expected amount of time to enroll or change benefits. Make sure to include the best person to contact with questions as well.

Plus, the more notice you can give employees, the better. And the more mediums you can communicate this information (email, video call, etc.), the more people you will reengage. 


What’s in it for me? Explain the benefits. Why should they elect into these benefits?

Benefits are opportunities. They can be smart financial moves. They can help support families and futures.

Here are some examples:

  • Mental health benefits. 75% of people that talk to a therapist feel better. It is 100% confidential to talk to a counselor through a mental health program.
  • Healthcare benefits. Protect yourself and your family from unexpected medical emergencies and spend less on medical bills.

Nina Candido, seasoned HR leader and Nivati contributor, highlights that: “Worksheets to help employees select the best options for their unique situation are a great tool (choosing between High Deductible vs. standard deductible plans, understanding out-of-pocket maximum, choosing HMO, PPO, POS options, understanding plan limitations, how to look up your providers to determine if they are in network, etc.).”

Additionally, open enrollment is a great time to gather feedback on the employee experience with these benefits. Ask what you can do better and what employees need so you can be prepared for next year.

Step 3: Prioritize Self-Care

Taking advantage of your employee benefits is a form of self-care. 

Open enrollment is a great time to reemphasize and recommunicate the importance of self-care and mental health. Give employees permission to step away during the workday to address their benefits or take extra time with their family and friends during the holidays.

Along with your open enrollment email, share this PDF of mental health hotlines.

Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself

You’ve got a lot going on, too. What would happen if you extended yourself the same grace that you extend to your team?

Schedule times for self-care, and use that time to take care of yourself during the workday.

This can look like stepping away to take a walk. Taking a proper lunch break. Or (gasp) logging off early on a workday.

Remember: you can’t take care of others if you’re not taking care of yourself.

For post-open enrollment season tips for HR leaders, check out this article.

Stop stacking benefits. Start being well. Set a Nivati demo


By participating in/reading the service/website/blog/email series on this website, you acknowledge that this is a personal website/blog and is for informational purposes and should not be seen as mental health care advice. You should consult with a licensed professional before you rely on this website/blog’s information. All things written on this website should not be seen as therapy treatment and should not take the place of therapy or any other health care or mental health advice. Always seek the advice of a mental health care professional or physician. The content on this blog is not meant to and does not substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Amelia Wilcox
Amelia Wilcox
Amelia Wilcox is the Founder and CEO of Nivati, a leader in corporate massage and employee mental health support since 2010. Her high-growth B2B company provides employee stress management tools that arm businesses with actionable data and positive employee experiences to improve wellbeing, boost morale, and increase engagement. Amelia has exponentially grown her company from a solo living-room service business to an international technology brand.