The ongoing pandemic has brought on numerous challenges and changes for businesses, forcing them to adopt digital-first approaches and remote work. As many companies continue to work from home, an important period of the year will be impacted: open enrollment.
In a typical year, a human resources team can organize lunch-and-learns, pass out brochures, and set up office hours with employees who have questions or concerns. While these in-person interactions may not be possible this year, you can still conduct a smooth and successful open enrollment virtually. Get started with the tips below!
Use multiple communication channels
Without in-person conversations and seminars, communication becomes even more vital during open enrollment. Using multiple mediums can get your message across and help employees do more in-depth learning. Videos are quick to watch and can help the team quickly learn about their benefits. Providing the content in writing — whether it’s an email, guidebook, checklist, or FAQ page — lets employees refer back to the materials or get more in-depth information.
Hold a virtual meeting
You can replace your typical in-office seminar or lunch-and-learn with a virtual information session through Zoom, Google Meet, or another preferred video conferencing program. Encourage employees to grab a cup of coffee or enjoy lunch as they learn about their benefits. Record the meeting for those who are busy with a project or meeting so they can watch on their own schedule. You can also send out the presentation slides afterward so your team can refer back to the presentation and dive deeper into the benefits details if necessary.
Above all, employees will generally want to know a few basic details:
- How much benefits will cost them
- What the benefits cover
- Who the benefits cover
- What, if anything, is changing about benefits
Make information easy to digest
Keep benefits explanations short and simple to understand, and avoid using jargon that employees may not know. You can collaborate with your broker to create easily digestible resources. Your chosen carrier(s) may also have premade marketing materials you can distribute to provide the benefits highlights and show employees how to use them (e.g., a Find a Dentist tool). Give real-life examples to provide necessary context for employees — for instance, what’s an ideal plan for an employee with a spouse and children? Be prepared to answer employee questions at the end of the seminar, and allow people to set up one-on-one time if they have questions about their specific situations.
Use technology to your advantage
A digital platform will make life easier for employees and HR. Your team can get details on their benefits, make elections, and waive coverage online from the comfort of their homes. This also allows them to take their time, sit down with their family to read through the options, and reach the best decision. Provide clear instructions for employees on how to navigate the platform, access resources, and elect or waive coverage.
From HR’s standpoint, this will streamline enrollment and ongoing administration, eliminate time-consuming paperwork, and cut down on errors by ensuring employees make selections and e-sign before submitting. If an employee does make an error, it’ll be simple to correct the specific problem instead of filing all-new paperwork.
Send frequent updates and reminders
Emails and IMs can get missed or forgotten, so follow up with your team regularly. There’s a lot of information to disseminate — from deadlines to plan details and instructions on enrolling — so start early and send frequent reminders and updates through multiple channels (e.g., email, text, instant message, etc.). This is especially critical if benefits are changing and employees need time to research and make their decisions. Even if you have a passive open enrollment where benefits will roll over if employees don’t take action, implore them to consider any life changes that may necessitate changing their plan.
Get managers involved to send reminders and drive employee engagement as well. You’ll inevitably have employees who wait until the last minute, so reach out to them individually the day before open enrollment ends to give them enough time to make elections.
In uncertain times, benefits are particularly valuable to your employees and their families. A well-planned virtual open enrollment will help them make the best choice for their situation and show that you care about their health even when they’re off the clock — giving you a valuable recruiting and retention tool.