Employee benefits open enrollment is going to look a lot different this year, for a variety of reasons. The disruption to daily life caused by the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with an uncertain economy will have employees thinking more carefully about their benefit choices this year.
In addition to the actual benefits employees choose to take advantage of, the process of learning about and enrolling in benefits will look different this year. While many companies in recent years have been transitioning to virtual enrollment, others are about to be thrown head-first into the deep end.
For benefits brokers, a successful open enrollment season starts with building a strong virtual enrollment strategy. Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Encourage your clients to check in with employees.
Before they start planning for a successful open enrollment, your clients may want to understand what common benefits concerns and questions employees have had in the past to cater information to their needs. For example, some of the main points people usually want to know include what the benefits program does, who qualifies for coverage, the value it provides, and how much money will come out of each paycheck. Bonus points for efficiency and convenience if you’re able to create an open enrollment FAQ page, which can be a powerful asset for clients and employees alike.
2. Establish a baseline for successful measurement
It’s important to understand what enrollment uptick looked like from the prior year, so your clients can create a goal post from which to measure this year’s success. Virtual open enrollment fairs also allow for secondary tracking metrics that clients can measure to ensure future open enrollment success with data points on areas like content views, types of content downloaded, average time in the virtual fair, and average time for one-on-one, personalized chats.
3. Create a comprehensive communications plan.
When it comes to launching a virtual open enrollment fair for employees, the seeds should be planted long before the week prior to open enrollment. Encourage your clients to review and update benefit plan materials at least eight to 12 weeks before they should be sent out and define a roadmap for how they should be delivered. Speaking to employees in multiple mediums (such as email, print, text, and social channels) conveys all pertinent information in a more digestible and visually appealing manner. And always try to keep material and communications as simple as possible.
4. Leverage communications from your existing benefits partners.
Your benefits partners have likely already created a variety of communications about their account benefit offerings. Make sure your clients are utilizing and making the most of those communications.
5. Provide real-life examples.
Your clients may want to share employee testimonials in their learning materials to allow for a more personalized reading and learning experience. If you’re unable to receive testimonials, creating hypothetical examples and incorporating as many financial milestones as possible (such as having kids, saving for retirement, paying down debts, etc.) creates a more applicable context for employees.
6. Make sure the virtual open enrollment instructions are clear.
Employees will need to know how and when to attend the online open enrollment fair, as well as easy-to-follow guidance that details how to navigate the platform and access resources. Sending a checklist of materials or documents employees will need to complete enrollment will allow them to enter the virtual open enrollment fair prepared. Preparation is key to ensuring that all employees have access and a successful experience.
7. Encourage leadership to participate.
When company leadership is featured in webinars, presentations, and other learning materials, it can help employees feel more connected to the organization even at a distance. This also shows that company leadership genuinely cares about engaging with their employees and supports their well-being.
8. Send out post-enrollment surveys.
Encouraging clients to distribute a post-enrollment survey to their employees will give them the opportunity to collect feedback surrounding the enrollment process. Then, your clients’ HR teams can learn how to improve employee’s enrollment experiences for next time.
Megan Taggart is senior manager of client and participant engagement at ConnectYourCare.