COVID-19 has disrupted all aspects of our lives. Employers have had to adjust to virtual environments, prepare for return to work, and manage increasing health care costs. With employees more concerned than ever about their health and financial well-being, open enrollment poses a unique opportunity for employers to engage with their employees. Typically, employees spend only 18 minutes enrolling in their benefits and 93% automatically default to last year’s election. But in a recent survey from Jellyvision, a benefit navigation platform, 66% of employees reported that they will be paying more attention to their benefits this year.
Organizations should take advantage of the added employee attention and execute a strong internal benefits communications plan to ensure employees elect the most impactful and cost-effective benefits for the upcoming year.
How will benefits change?
Given we are still facing so many unknowns, employers are facing tough decisions on how to allocate budgets and choose which health plans and benefits programs to offer. According to a Mercer Study, some of the most common changes include:
- Expanding virtual or telehealth programs
- Enhancing mental health support
- Increasing cost-sharing for plan expenses such as deductibles, premiums or co-payments
- Adding or expanding voluntary benefits
- Augmenting services for managing high-cost claims, including specialty pharmacy claims
Targeted Communications Strategy
Your benefit strategy is not one size fits all so your communications shouldn’t be either. Whichever virtual options you choose, make sure they’re targeted and involve multiple modes of communication so employees understand the benefits most relevant to them. For example, you may have employees who would rather seek information via email or others who would prefer a more interactive approach with a virtual platform. Other examples include:
- Virtual “office hours” for employees to drop in and ask questions
- Providing information or webinars on benefits for your LGBTQ+ employees
- Notifying your recent grad employees of a student loan repayment benefit
- Notifying parent-support groups of new childcare or FSA benefits
The New Virtual Environment
Even events that were defined by in-person, face-to-face interactions, have now fully pivoted to an online format. Open-enrollment fairs are no exception. To mimic an in-person event, some employers are using an external virtual platform that looks just like a benefit fair. Others are offering a catalogue of webinars and virtual discussions where you can learn about your benefit offerings. Partnering with vendors to ensure that employees are supported to enroll in plans, or elect additional benefits is important. At Progyny, members can access on-demand benefit overview webinars or speak anonymously to a Progyny Patient Care Advocate during virtual “office hours” to understand their fertility and family building coverage.
We partner with our clients to determine the best mode of communication for their employee population. Speak to your benefit providers and vendors about their education options and how they can be customized to your company and culture.
Your Employees and Beyond
With strong dedication to improving the lives of their employees, HR and benefits teams have faced the challenges of 2020 with strength and resiliency. Keep up the momentum and make sure you make the most of this year’s open enrollment to support your employees during these difficult times.