August 17, 2021

Lessons learned virtual open enrollment


The COVID-19 pandemic presented many learning opportunities for companies. One of those was how to handle an open enrollment season while workers were still remote.

Successful execution of open enrollment was critical for employers last year as benefits were vital.

There were four major lessons learned, and these will apply for this year’s renewal season as well.

Employees want holistic benefits

Employee benefits work best when designed to provide holistic employee support, but many times aren’t approached in this way.

The pandemic hurt employees’ mental, physical and financial well-being, and employers should craft plans that support these areas.

Employers wanting to improve their plan designs should look into:

  • Telecommuting
  • Compensation
  • Mental health resources
  • Caregiving benefits
  • Developmental opportunities

It would also be productive to gauge employee preferences through a survey. This gives you a chance to see employees’ likes, dislikes and the improvements they’d like to see.

Open enrollment should begin sooner

The sooner you plan for renewal season, the better. It begins with reviewing your benefits offerings and allowing ample time to develop and execute a successful open enrollment.

This also allows you to showcase your benefits to employees as soon as possible and can be used as engagement and retaining strategies.

Don’t worry about communicating too soon about enrollment. Repetitive messaging and reminders increase the odds of an employee seeing enrollment information and understanding the upcoming benefit changes and how they work.

Virtual open enrollment is effective

A survey conducted by WEX showed that 67 percent of employers delivered open enrollment education differently in 2020. Those tactics included live webinars, virtual fairs and online chats to help address employee questions.

Of those employers that had virtual engagement to their open enrollment, 85 percent said they will continue to do so in the future.

That tells us virtual open enrollment works, and the employees enjoyed it, too. This is also another opportunity to survey what employees liked and didn’t like about a virtual open enrollment session.

Open enrollment should be more personalized, interactive

Employees want to know their employers care, and open enrollment isn’t just checking the box on a year-long to-do list. The personalized touch during open enrollment is one way to show that. It can start by employers and/or benefits providers being readily available with any questions employees have.

Try also using gamification in a virtual open enrollment. Gamification has become a popular and trendy tool that can help people guide themselves through their benefits.

How do your benefits stack up?

Knowing where to improve your benefits plan can also start by comparing to other Indiana employers, and those in your industry.

Apex Benefits offers a Custom Benchmarking Report that will give you data for both. The report can show how your plan stacks up and can be used to get an edge over your competition when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent.

Custom Report