Open Enrollment in a Pandemic Affected World

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Seriously, is there anything this pandemic hasn’t affected? Everywhere you look, businesses are tussling with this new business environment, even as many restrictions are being lifted – for now. And some changes appear to be here to stay.

For example, many employees will continue to work remotely.  In fact, at some companies, up to 80% of employees work from home. As a result, digital transformation efforts are being stepped up. After all, such employees need technological support.

Because workforces are increasingly spread about, HR now must reimagine traditional programs such as open enrollment (OE) and rework their launch plans. With that n mind, here’s how to handle open enrollment in a pandemic-affected world.

What is Open Enrollment?


This is an annual period wherein employees can freely enroll in a health insurance plan that is otherwise subject to restrictions. Also, during this period, people can change their plan selections.

Usually, open enrollment is a big deal for organizations. Over the years, the event has become increasingly digital as technology has gained a foothold. Still, there are usually in-person events such as health fairs, open enrollment seminars, and even face-to-face meetings with HR.

All of that now must be virtual.

Reimagining a Virtual Open Enrollment Experience

Benefits Info

Face it, that long, text-dense information packet about employee benefit programs doesn’t work as well in a digital format. Think about other online content your people digest. It’s generally short, snappy, and bite-sized. Perhaps you need to re-jigger your OE info in a similar fashion. Use blurbs, pull-quotes, and easy-to-interpret graphics. You can keep your webinars or online presentations – just make them shorter,  more focused, and as interactive as possible.

Communications

For your open enrollment season to be a success, you’ve got to communicate.

Big time.

You don’t want to overwhelm your employees with emails. As it is, of the 5.4 million emails U.S. organizations generate annually, employees deem more than 40% unimportant.

Still, what’s most important is that information is presented across a variety of digital platforms, including Slack, intranet portals, SMS, and, yes, email. Consider using texts for reminders, even.

If you have a newsletter or other established company messaging, use that for your OE messages as well. And don’t completely forsake the “snail mail” approach. With so many employees working from home, this is a sensible method. This means family members can read the literature too.

Personalized Messaging

It used to be that an employer settled on OE messaging and sent that out to all employees. But such general, generic messaging is not exactly enticing. You should consider breaking down key demographics at your organization – age, location, education level, etc. – and craft messaging just for them, all while keeping the gist of what you want to say.

Adjust Measurements

In this tight labor market in which recruitment and retention are paramount, it’s never been more important for you to reach everyone about health benefits. So, as you communicate, you need to be able to gauge how you’re doing. That means putting in place appropriate measurement strategies to assess how your people are receiving your communications. This is particularly important now since, if something in the content needs to be changed, you can easily do that since everything’s digital.

So, yes, open enrollment in a pandemic-affected world is subject to transformation. But look at the disruption as an opportunity. After all, weren’t you digitizing HR anyway? Now, you can get it just right. And, if you need help with your transformation as well as your benefits strategy, we recommend the leading global health and benefits consultant Mercer for its breadth of experience and expertise.

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