virtual enrollment in a hybrid work environmentWith remote positions growing in popularity, many businesses must find creative ways to streamline open enrollment for a hybrid work environment. At the same time, they must consider flexible alternatives for employee benefits education that encourages engagement. How can employers effectively prepare their workforce for virtual events and open enrollment? Here, we’ll discuss the most effective options for communication during each stage of the process, offer resources for employers and address the associated benefits. 

Pre-Enrollment Opportunities

  • Virtual Enrollment Fairs – For large to mid-size companies, virtual enrollment fairs provide employees the opportunity to learn about their benefit options in the early stages of enrollment season, so they have time to weigh what’s out there and ask questions. Virtual fairs typically follow a pre-set agenda with time slots designated for specific talking points or topics. Employees can register to attend the webinar or individual sessions through a secure link issued by the benefits administrator or meeting host. Featured topics may include a general overview of annual benefit packages, changes from the year prior, comparisons of high and low deductible plans, retirement options, testimonials or a deep dive into each insurance policy. Employers can use feedback from the webinar to gauge their team’s understanding and prepare talking points for the official open enrollment period. Oftentimes employees need to discuss or compare benefit options with family members, and these events allow them to obtain necessary details from providers before the enrollment period begins. For more information, check out the BCH Benefit Insights Guide to Virtual Open Enrollment Fairs
  • Webinar Overview with Q&A – Depending on the size of your business, you can offer webinar opportunities for the entire company, or geared toward individual teams. In these scenarios, hybrid or remote employees have the chance to ask questions, learn about benefit options and troubleshoot issues before the enrollment date. A kick-off webinar is an ideal time to locate available resources and explain the process in detail. Additionally, webinars can help your team iron out any issues in advance, decreasing the likelihood of overloading your systems (or team members) with last-minute requests. 
  • Benefits Website or Landing Page – Companies with more than one department might consider building a custom enrollment page with documents, guidelines, important dates, frequently asked questions and next steps. If you decide to build a one-page website or create a temporary landing page, make sure to include the URL on all documents and communications regarding enrollment. In doing so, you’re supplying your workforce with access to relevant resources and equipping them with tools to be self-sufficient when it comes to enrolling. Additionally, your HR manager or department will be able to direct general questions to the site and have time to answer more in-depth inquiries from employees in a one-on-one discussion. This site should include contact information for technical support and HR personnel to assist during open enrollment.

Flexible Enrollment

  • Hybrid Communication – No matter how many times you communicate due dates to your team, there will always be individuals who miss pre-enrollment discussions or forget to check their email. This is especially challenging with remote or hybrid employees who may not acknowledge they’ve seen the correspondence. The best solution is to approach the situation on multiple fronts. To prevent remote employees from missing important dates, make sure to schedule reminder emails and alerts for enrollment events. If you have a designated webpage, it’s a good idea to add some sort of notification banner or pop-up to direct benefits inquiries to that page. Closer to the enrollment period, these notifications should call attention to the upcoming due date.  
  • Live Chat and Scheduling Services – During the open enrollment period, your team will likely have time-sensitive questions. To ensure remote employees have a positive enrollment experience, consider setting up a live chat feature or scheduling system for serious inquiries.   
  • One-on-One Meetings – Whether your employees are remote, hybrid or in-office, it’s a good idea to offer one-on-one meetings. This can provide a more personal experience for work-from-home employees, giving them the option to meet face-to-face so they feel more comfortable asking personal questions. Depending on the size of your team, you can schedule a window for virtual office hours via video chat or phone call. 
  • Virtual Enrollment – Providing your workforce with a virtual enrollment option is the most effective strategy for a hybrid or remote workforce. For some companies, this might be the only viable solution. In general, it’s important to get feedback from your team during the enrollment process. Employers should assess the positive aspects, areas that might benefit from improvement and alternative options each year.  

Employers want all team members to feel comfortable asking questions, and to know they fully understand the available options so they can make an educated decision — especially considering the impact these elections have on healthcare and future finances. Keep in mind every employee’s situation is different, just like their benefits package. Some might prefer to speak directly to a benefits advisor while others choose to attend virtual enrollment sessions. Providing a variety of options helps businesses accommodate the unique needs of today’s hybrid workforce. At the end of the day, optimizing this experience shows employees the company prioritizes their physical health and mental well-being, which helps establish trust and encourages them to put that value back into the business.

Changing your open enrollment process may seem overwhelming but implementing hybrid solutions can improve the experience and make enrolling easier in the future. For additional resources and insights to help make this season run smoothly, check out our Open Enrollment Tips blog. If you’re interested in speaking to a benefits advisor, please feel free to contact us and a BCH expert will be happy to help you.