Virtual Open Enrollments Are Better

Despite the madness of the last 14 months, there have been some good things that have come from the pandemic.  One of those good things is we’ve all learned to work differently, and in some cases, we’ve learned to work better.

Last February, if you asked me if I thought employee benefits open enrollments could be done effectively without in-person employee meetings, I’d have said, “No way.”  Well 14 months later, I can say with certainty that virtual employee open enrollment meetings can actually be better than doing it the old way.

Think about it.  When you have open enrollment meetings in person, it looks like this:

  • You travel to each of your company’s locations.
  • Your employees stop working to attend the meeting if they happen to be present that day.
  • Any employees who are away from the office miss the meeting and miss the details of new plans and reinforcement of the value of the existing ones.
  • Someone from your company needs to try to replicate this employee education and enrollment for every new hire during the upcoming plan year.
  • If you don’t have an online enrollment system, you wheel or carry in reams of paper to pass out to employees, then you chase them down to get enrollment forms back in to you.

Contrast this with the virtual open enrollment:

  • You schedule 1 virtual meeting.  Those employees who can attend join the meeting in a conference room with a video feed, sit at their desks and watch on their own terminals if they have them, or watch the video on their phones.
  • If anyone misses the session, it’s recorded, and you can email the link to them.
  • If you would prefer that employees continue working rather than attend the education session, you can send them the link to the recording, and they can watch it at home or listen on their way to work.
  • The recorded education session becomes an efficient way to handle employee benefits orientation for new hires.  Just send them the link!  Now you have a consistent benefits presentation for the entire plan year.
  • If you have an online enrollment system, you can save a bunch of trees and your back, and just have employees enroll electronically.

Here are a couple of objections I’ve heard:

Our guys are not computer savvy.  They won’t understand how to click on the link to watch the video.

If that’s the case, then you’ve probably had employees gather in a conference room, shop floor, or warehouse to see the presentation in the past.  You can do the same thing.  Gather them together, but instead of having a live person up front, project the presentation on a screen.

With the link to the recording, you can then play that same video an unlimited number of times for different shifts or new hires.

Finally, most people have a smart phone, and most are able to watch a video on their phone.

I need my employees to be able to ask questions.  They can’t do this with a recording.

True.  However, we typically get several questions during the recorded meeting, and we always provide contact information for our office and the insurance company representatives.  Employees who didn’t think of a question during the live session or weren’t able to attend can call or email with questions.  This can actually be better because some employees’ questions are personal and not suitable to shout out in a group setting.

As you can see, I’m a convert.  I’m not saying we won’t ever do in-person open enrollment meetings again.  I’m just trying to illustrate why virtual open enrollment meetings can be better than the old way.

If you’d like to talk about employee education, communication strategies, or other topics related to employee benefits, we’d love to hear from you!  Give us a call at (866) 724-0008 or click the link below.

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