10/22/2012 03:27 pm ET Updated Dec 22, 2012

What Does Annual Enrollment and National Work and Family Month Have In Common?

As October melts into November, many organizations begin to gear up for their annual enrollment period and in many organizations, to put on an employee benefits fair. This once a year spotlight is to inform employees on what's new and what's changing in their employee benefits plans and engage them in a dialogue with vendors and HR personnel on what these programs are all about. Over the years, employees have come to expect a deluge of communication with information on all the programs that employers will be offering in the employee benefit area. Employees and their significant others will make decisions based on the material presented and in a communication piece that puts all the information in one place at one time.

October also happens to be the month that U.S. organizations celebrate National Work and Family month (NWFM), a month dedicated to recognition of the importance of employer-sponsored work-life programs in attracting, motivating and retaining top talent. It is a time when organizations can highlight their work-life programs and celebrate with their employees.

So what does annual enrollment and NWFM have in common and why should organizations pay attention to this? What they have in common is that they happen at the same time every year for a vast majority of employers. What they could also have in common is one strategic campaign to communicate their employee benefit plans and at the same time celebrate NWFM by highlighting all the initiatives that enable employees to work and live at their most optimal levels.

WorldatWork categorizes seven areas of work-life effectiveness; Workplace Flexibility; Paid and Unpaid Time Off; Health and Wellness; Caring for Dependents; Financial Support; Community Involvement and Work-Life Culture Change Initiatives. What I have found in my conversations with organizations is that many of them already have a lot of these programs and initiatives but they may not all be administered under one umbrella within HR. This is a disadvantage from a communication standpoint, especially if the point of engaging employees is helping them understand all the programs that are offered to them and how they can assist with work-life issues.

So as I see it, here we have a perfect opportunity to look at these 7 categories, take an inventory of what is already being offered and/or what is going to be offered in the new plan year and take advantage of showcasing ALL these programs that your organization offers. Brand them and communicate them under a work-life banner that the organization supports. Highlighting the connection to National Work and Family month and connecting it to the annual enrollment period will further brand the unique blend of rewards that your organization offers.