Tina Freedman, Director of Marketing, Triton Benefits
We are halfway through 2020, which means open enrollment for group medical benefits will be here before you know it. Now is the time to start thinking about 2021 employee benefits open enrollment. Researching it now can improve the options offered and even save you money.
Given the pandemic, it is understandable that health care concerns are heightened and employees will likely pay closer attention to what their group health benefits plans are offering. Our advice is to prepare early, bring in your group health broker professionals, and integrate digital tools that are delivered virtually and online. Additionally, provide multiple platform and media sources to ensure all employees are equipped with useful educational tools.
With this year’s open enrollment, not all employees will respond to a virtual enrollment the same. Here is a shortlist of suggestions to make your open-enrollment successful in a virtual environment:
- Pre-enrollment – provide a short, virtual walk-through of your company’s benefits offering. Create a PowerPoint, use an online application such as LogMeIn or Zoom to walk through the presentation with your voice-over. Simple and effective since you only need to record it once (maybe twice) and you can use it over and over again for that plan year. Or just present it live and add a Q & A section. Remember to record it, then post it to your intranet.
- Reach out to your IT and Payroll teams to make sure that employees have all the correct programs and tools they need to be ready for open enrollment. A few weeks prior to launch of pre-enrollment materials, address any potential challenges employees may face with the current HRIS systems and Payroll system. This will allow you time to review any potential changes that can be made or address any technical glitches.
- HR and C-Suite, work with your managers. Most employees feel more comfortable with conveying their concerns and questions to front-line managers. Empower your team with a dedicated website or landing page as well as copies of all benefits collateral so they can reference these resources and directly communicate with their team.
- Bring in your benefits broker. They are your professionals who can clearly convey the details of your plan(s). With health care benefits the details provide employees with financial and direction toward health care options. This year in particular there will be COVID-19 questions around testing, privacy, and cost. Let your benefits specialist address and clarify these concerns for you.
- Set up several “broker-assisted” online chats (encourage employees, partners, and family members) to discuss questions around benefits options. Depending on the size of your organization you may need several “chats” and small virtual in-house meetings.
- Create a frequency asked questions (FAQ) document around your benefits offerings. Add this FAQ to your dedicated website or landing page (see #2). This will make it easier to reference and share it with personnel.
- Consider a Telemedicine program and add it to your policy or use the carrier plan. Have your broker walk your team through a live, virtual demonstration using the app. Also, have a follow-up email ready to help them sign up with their new account. This way when a medical issue arises, they are ready to login-in and set an appointment. Otherwise, you will be scrambling during a health crisis.
- Per SHRM, have a Benefits Virtual fair. During the scheduled time for the online fair, employees can check out various different times webinars, download resources for them to print, and can request to privately speak to a benefits account manager with questions. A virtual fair can be a creative, fun, and more personalized experience for the employees. Throughout the day(s) of the fair, you can create incentives for employees, to encourage them to attend. Such as a free company water bottle, mug, t-shirt, etc.
- Print. Despite the move toward online and digital formats, some people still like to hold a piece of paper to review and compare their benefits. This is especially important if you have multiple generations in your company. Email or hand out pre-enrolment information so they can be reviewed with family, partners, and spouses.
- Encourage employees to login to enrollment portals in advance. If they are having trouble with the enrolments technology and websites, they can resolve that issue before they go in and choose their benefits. Many times, employees end up focusing on figuring out the technology/websites rather than concentrating on choosing the best plans for themselves and their families.