The Fall 2020 Open Enrollment Period: Employers Move Benefit Fairs Online

For many, fall open enrollment season will be here before you know it! Ahead of this year’s fall open enrollment period, where employees will select their benefits for 2021, employers and HR professionals are looking at a very different environment due to COVID-19. Many companies have extended their work-from-home orders while some have left returning to the office optional. In fact, Tech Republic cites research from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) that says “17% of the HR leaders in some 2,284 US companies reported that their organizations will move to permanent work-from-home policies in the future for their employees.”

With this new and evolving work environment, employers and employee benefits professionals are looking at taking open enrollment fairs online for safety and to limit in-person contact. According to SHRM, the popularity of online benefit enrollment systems, such as RKSolution, have grown in recent years. Now, the combination of this technology along with live – or recorded, presentations, serving as “benefits fairs” are proving to be effective in communicating available offerings.

To assist employees in selecting and enrolling in the appropriate benefits using this virtual format, you need to give employees and their family members the ability to learn about benefits offerings and the opportunity to connect and ask any questions that they might have, before they elect. Here are some tips for supporting a virtual benefits fair:

  • Make sure that your digital house is in order. This includes making sure that your online benefit enrollment system is updated and accessible, and that you have provided clear instructions for employees when they go to logon and enroll. Make sure you have lined-up support for this process, too.
  • Do some research. Take a look at what your employees were concerned with, had issues with or questions about last year. Provide these answers ahead of time so employees are more knowledgeable about their options heading into open enrollment.
  • Create resources for your employees so that they are able to learn about and fully understand their options. This should be a collaborative process with your employee benefits partners. Resource materials can range from digital and print materials to more robust video tutorials.
  • Make the experience as personal as possible. Include your company’s leadership in virtual benefits fair presentations or webinars to show their commitment to employees’ health and wellbeing.

Presenting these annual enrollment options virtually provides employers with a good alternative to the traditional format. Often times, a twist on how a message is delivered is all that it takes to catch somebody’s attention. Using an online platform to provide employees with the benefits information they need while accommodating work from home and social distancing protocols can still provide that “personal touch” with just a little bit of planning.

If you have any questions about this topic, please contact the Rose & Kiernan, Inc. Employee Benefits Management Group (EBMG) here or by calling (800) 242-4433.

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