Going Virtual for Open Enrollment

The coronavirus pandemic has forced organizations across the country to get creative with events that traditionally have been held face-to-face—going virtual for everything from employee reviews and all-staff meetings to fitness challenges and trivia lunches. Open enrollment is no exception.

Going Virtual for Open Enrollment

On the International Foundation Benefits Together page, Reneé Moody, CEBS, PHR, a benefits manager in San Antonio Texas, shared that since her organization was unable to meet with employees in person for open enrollment, they hosted online open enrollment sessions through webinars, which included vendor presentations and videos. They are also scheduling one-on-one virtual sessions for employees who have questions.

COVID-19 Return to Workplace Strategies Virtual Conference

Employees who have no access to technology and cannot enroll online will receive their open enrollment information and forms in the mail. Moody’s company is taking extra steps to reach out to employees by phone to remind them about making their open enrollment changes or waiving their options, if applicable.

Presenters representing organizations of all shapes and sizes shared more about conducting successful open enrollments during a recent International Foundation virtual conference, Case Studies in Annual Open Enrollment.

Anne P. Sperling, CSA, LPRT, President and CEO of Vanguard Resources, Inc. in Santa Fe, New Mexico, kicked off the virtual conference with her tips on pivoting the traditional open enrollment meeting to a virtual meeting that would encourage employees to take action. Below are a couple key takeaways and tips from Sperling. (But you’ll want to view the entire presentation for more details!)

  1. Keep in mind that employees at home may not have a printer, scanner or other appropriate equipment to get documents back to their employer electronically.
  2. Think about what your population is going to be worried about, and use that to frame your presentation. Messages should cover COVID-19 and how it’s affecting your benefit package, especially any impacts of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
  3. Remind employees to use your employee benefits web page as a resource.
  4. Keep it simple—The average level of comprehension on benefits is low, so keep your presentation simple and free of jargon that employees might gloss over.
  5. Pictures help! Use images throughout the presentation to make it interesting and engaging, tapping into different employee learning styles.
  6. Talk about what worked well over the past year, as well as what didn’t work well, to frame the conversation about any plan design changes—Employees will feel more like their concerns are being heard and addressed.

Sperling also used a virtual open enrollment presentation from a real organization as a case study. If you missed the virtual conference, or would like to revisit it, you can tune in to the recorded version by registering here.

Has your organization undergone a virtual open enrollment yet? Share your tips below!

Related Reading: 5 Tips to Keep Working-From-Home Employees Connected During the Coronavirus Pandemic]

Learn More About How COVID-19 Is Changing Employee Benefits

Visit the International Foundation Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources page to find resources for plan sponsors, including the new survey report Employee Benefits in a COVID-19 World and these upcoming free member webcasts:

Employee Benefits in a COVID-19 World Survey Report

Anne Patterson
Communications Associate at the International Foundation

The latest from Word on Benefits:

Anne Patterson

Social Marketing and Communications Strategist at the International Foundation

Favorite Foundation Product: The innovative member survey efforts and results from the research team.

Benefits-Telated Topics That Interest Her Most: Health care, nontraditional wellness initiatives, employee benefit communication.

Personal Insight: It’s all about balance with Anne. She loves to run and enjoys a good culinary adventure. She’ll jump at the chance to travel or to spend fun times with family and friends, but she’ll also take time to catch her breath with an occasional Netflix binge or diving into a classic novel.

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