Change is the one true constant in this world. Every year, the benefits enrollment landscape changes, but this year companies the world over have experienced sweeping organizational changes that have realigned their entire business model affecting the ability to enroll policyholders.
We’ve arrived at COVID-19’s one-year anniversary, and while there’s light at the end of the tunnel in the form of aggressive vaccine development, the way that we live and work has fundamentally changed. According to SHRM, 12% of US-based employees expect to take cost-saving measures that will impact their yearly benefits, 3% expect to make radical cuts, and another 48% are keeping close tabs on the situation. Altogether, 63% of the benefit-eligible workforce is concerned about this year’s organizational changes and their effect on benefits enrollment.
What can benefit enrollment specialists and employee benefits agents expect from open enrollment windows going forward? What challenges will appear and what resources are there to calm employee fears?
New and Evolving Challenges to Enroll Policyholders
Every year’s enrollment period brings its own set of unique changes and challenges. Whether those changes are expected, such as a new plan carrier, plan options, or fringe benefits, or they are radical, sweeping changes to your organization as a whole, no two enrollment periods are alike.
Last year’s biggest challenge came in the form of virtual enrollment. COVID-19 forced many companies to completely re-evaluate how they do business. This resulted in a work-from-home scenario for much of the professional workforce. Gone were face-to-face informational meetings with HR. There were alternatives, but even the most expertly-delivered Zoom presentation pales in comparison to one-on-one interaction.
This change in the format of benefits presentations will likely carry over into this year. Format isn’t the only new challenge this year. A cavalcade of emergency legislation stands to impact enrollment, and it is HR’s task to sort through it all. For example, unemployment benefits, furloughs, and other issues with paid employee leave are time-consuming for your HR staff to work with, yet they have a tangible effect on your employees.
It’s also worth mentioning that frontline workers require different considerations than office roles able to work from home. You must make accommodations in order to reach them all while observing safety guidelines. Unfortunately, Zoom meetings don’t always do the job.
Empowering Employees to Meet Those Challenges
While video conferencing, and other remote solutions, have been a lifeline this past year, we’ve also seen the limitations of the format. Modern-day challenges require a more robust and adaptable range of options.
For many HR departments, the answer is an app such as Benefits Zone which is designed to meet potential employees on their terms, and provide answers and resources in a time-frame that makes sense to frontline workers. Using a virtual employee engagement platform makes the role of brokers, agents, and the HR reps they partner with easier. Employee benefit agents can interact with potential plan enrollees with a much higher level of agility using an app or virtual platform.
For your employees, an engagement platform provides a 24/7 forum where they can find answers to key questions and access benefit information and resources through the convenience of their mobile device. It also allows for 1-on-1 case management via quick and easy text messaging.
For the employee benefit agent, using an app gives easy, ongoing access to potential enrollees to boost engagement. You have the advantage of meeting employees on their terms, when they’re ready to discuss enrollment options. Apps like Benefit Zone allow you to keep track of real-time metrics, helping you better economize your efforts.
Adapt and Overcome
Change isn’t easy; it never is. With vaccines on the horizon, we will eventually get control over COVID-19, but change persists nonetheless. Employing a virtual employee engagement platform is a key tool in your change management repertoire. Indeed, it is one that will help you to meet each future change as it arrives to enroll policyholders. Contact us to learn more.