Despite much of the world normalizing post-pandemic, employers continue to explore unprecedented workplace structures that include in-office, remote, and hybrid arrangements. With many businesses implementing new technologies to accommodate these arrangements, offering virtual open enrollment, in combination with traditional in-person enrollment, has become a top priority.
The Growth of Virtual Open Enrollment
An American Opportunity Survey recently revealed that 58% of U.S. job holders, or the equivalent of 92 million people, have the option of working remotely at least part-time. With more employees working out of the office than ever before, the need for virtual open enrollment has skyrocketed.
While digital tools, mobile apps, and communication platforms have been around for many years, it was not until 2020 that they became a necessity. This year, many employers are using their experience with these tools to help bridge the gap between in-person and virtual open enrollment.
Reaching In-Person and Remote Workers
Providing the same comprehensive information to both in-person and virtual workers can prove to be complex. Without a solid communication strategy in place, employers may have difficulty providing employees with educational benefits materials, open enrollment dates, and contact information that they can use to speak with someone who can address their questions or concerns.
In-person open enrollment allows workers to ask questions in real time and receive prompt feedback. This can be especially beneficial for workers who have unique benefits needs, such as those with large families, nearing retirement, or who have chronic medical conditions.
The virtual open enrollment experience is unique as employees may not have easy access to real people who can quickly answer questions. Instead, they must rely on digital materials to obtain essential information and support. However, for employers, virtual open enrollment offers key advantages, such as reduced logistical challenges and costs.
Facilitating a Smooth Open Enrollment Process
While traditional in-person open enrollment allows employees to elect or change their benefit options in person through their employer, virtual enrollment is conducted entirely online. The virtual enrollment process can vary from company to company, but the concept remains the same. Remote employees are provided educational materials and can select benefits via an online portal.
Facilitating a successful open enrollment process that bridges the gap between in-person and virtual requires companies to follow several best practices:
- Use technology to reduce the burden on HR. Open enrollment can put a significant strain on a company’s HR team. Replacing time-consuming and tedious tasks with automated technology enables HR to focus on core activities.
- Survey employees’ communication preferences. Workers respond to information in different ways, with some preferring paper documents and others, texts or emails. Conduct a survey to determine which communication methods to utilize.
- Be concise in all communications. Open enrollment involves many components that can confuse and overwhelm employees. Keep communications with workers short and concise, and use language that is easy to understand.
- Establish a baseline to determine the level of success. Companies can use data from the previous year to determine where changes can be made and to measure success from one year to the next.
- Host virtual informational sessions. Employees who are unable to come into the office can benefit from information provided in virtual sessions held at regular intervals in the weeks leading up to open enrollment.
- Leverage online open enrollment software. Even the largest HR teams cannot attend to everyone’s needs at once. Online open enrollment software allows employees to gain access to the tools and resources they need around the clock.
- Distribute information through multiple channels. Today, employers can send valuable information to employees in many different ways, such as texts, emails, mobile apps, digitalized guidebooks, and more.
- Offer individual support to employees. Some workers may not feel comfortable asking questions during company-wide virtual sessions. Offer the option to provide support to employees who have intricate or personal questions.
- Encourage company leaders to participate. Employees, both in-person and remote, may feel more connected with an organization when company leaders choose to participate in presentations, webinars, and other educational materials.
- Host virtual benefits fairs. A popular way for companies to inform employees about their benefits options is to host a virtual benefits fair. This is an event in which representatives from various benefits vendors discuss their offerings.
- Create a comprehensive email campaign. Email remains one of the best ways to reach a large volume of people quickly. Communicate with employees virtually by creating a detailed email campaign leading up to open enrollment.
- Send out post-open enrollment surveys. After the open enrollment period, consider sending out post-enrollment surveys to collect feedback from workers about their experience.
Get the HR Open Enrollment Solutions Your Company Needs
Navigating the open enrollment process while bridging the gap between in-person and virtual can be a tricky endeavor. Trust the experienced benefits consultants at eBen to make the process easier and more efficient. Discover how we can help you today.