The fact that they are working differently shouldn’t prevent clients from making smart decisions
by Eric ReisenwitzMr. Reisenwitz is senior vice president and interim president of Group Protection at Lincoln Financial Group. He is responsible for the growth and profitability of the business, and directs the division’s product development, underwriting, distribution, claims, service, strategy and marketing efforts. is it www.lfg.com
Open enrollment season is upon us. This year, annual enrollment will likely look very different as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many workforces are still operating remotely and those that have returned to the workplace are following strict social distancing protocols. That makes it difficult for companies to hold in-person benefits fairs as they have in years past, but employers must still provide their employees with the information they need to make informed decisions.
We know employers can adjust and adapt to our new virtual reality. With so much uncertainty, employees are more focused than ever on employer benefit offerings and how these protections can safeguard their health and financial future. Employers should ensure employees have the right benefits to feel protected and showcase the efforts they have made to protect their employees’ financial future — this can help lead to a healthier, productive and engaged workforce.
Empathize and Empower
The fact that we’re working differently should not get in the way of providing employees with the necessary information to make smart benefits decisions. In this uncertain time, conversations about benefits are needed more than ever. Each employee is facing their own unique challenges, whether it be homeschooling young children, caring for a family member, unexpected illness or a range of personal situations that can lead to increased stress and anxiety. Employers need to show they understand these fears, let employees know they are not alone in benefits decisions and communicate how the solutions offered can safeguard their families’ financial health and well-being.
The ongoing pandemic creates a greater need for education about benefit protections. In fact, 55% of adults surveyed said they would like to learn more about how each of the benefits they’re offered relates to COVID-19. And education is needed: 45 percent of U.S. adults aren’t sure if short-term disability would cover someone who becomes sick with COVID-19, while 14 percent believe COVID-19 treatment would not be covered at all. Then there are the inevitable questions about what benefits are available to furloughed employees or those working reduced hours due to the pandemic.
With changing regulations and a constant flow of news and statistics, employees are turning to their employers more and more for this vital information. In a recent study, 34 percent of employees report they have reached out to their employers for benefits information, and 24% of employees report that they more often look to their employers for benefits information now, as compared to the time before COVID-19. Offering comprehensive education on workplace benefits could provide employees with peace of mind when it comes to unforeseen health issues and give them the confidence to take full ownership of their coverage.
Virtual Enrollment, Real Benefits
These five tips can help employers maximize a virtual open enrollment and create positive outcomes for employees.
Host a virtual benefits fair all employees can attend
Open enrollment can be a confusing time in the best circumstances. Yet in today’s remote working environment, providing guidance and resources is critical to successful execution. Millennials are the largest generation in the workforce today, and the vast majority (89%), say that understanding a benefit and how it works is an important factor in deciding which benefits to choose at work.
Empower employees to take ownership of their coverage by setting up an engaging and informative virtual benefits fair. A virtual benefits fair can help employees learn all their benefit options, explain products and connect employees directly with benefit counselors to answer questions. This results in more informed employees who benefit from the entire scope of their compensation package rather than just their yearly salary.
Present the Benefits — Live Or On Demand
Having on-demand resources gives employees the time they need to fully review and confidently select benefits coverage. Digital enrollment guides that look and act like a printed booklet can be hosted online all year long, giving employees time to educate themselves and prepare for open enrollment. Employers can also give employees access to digital flyers to showcase added services that come with certain products and how employees can get the most value from their benefits.
There are a variety of virtual documents and tools available, including pre-enrollment materials, and insurance carriers can work with employers to create a campaign tailored to best reach employees.
Give Them The Numbers
Providing cost clarity and transparency can help employees take ownership of their coverage and confidently choose the solutions that are best for them. For millennials, one of the most important factors in choosing benefits (88%), is knowing the cost of the benefit, followed by the ability to pay for the benefits through automatic deductions (81%). Employers can partner with their carriers to offer the tools employees need to make these selections, including digital calculators that help estimate life insurance and disability coverage needs.
Talk It Through
Even the most well-informed employees can have questions about benefits. During this uncertain time, nearly four in 10 consumers surveyed are concerned about making the right choices during open enrollment. Dedicated enrollment teams can help make your enrollment a success, ensuring employees understand the details of their coverage and feel confident in their benefits choices. During open enrollment, employees can chat with benefit counselors ready to help through every step of the process. Your carrier can work with you to offer virtual group meeting support and live Q&A sessions with a benefits counselor.
Enroll Online, And Make It Mobile
Make the enrollment process as easy as possible with a self-service platform that can be accessed from any device, anywhere. A website where they can access information about each benefit is the top way that Generation Z, the newest generation to enter the workforce, says they want their employer to educate them about the benefits offered.
Through an online administration platform, employees can review their current benefits and choose to elect or waive benefits, with instant cost analysis per paycheck, if applicable. As they choose benefits, employees can review helpful information, including benefit summaries and educational videos.
Creating an online and mobile enrollment experience also allows for family participation. Because employees can access documents and any accompanying information from the comfort of home, they can include the people in their lives who will likely be affected by the benefits in the decision-making process.
Even though it’s virtual, employers can still conduct a successful open enrollment by following these tips and providing employees with the necessary education to help them understand the importance and value of each benefit. Ensuring employees have the right protections in place can provide peace of mind in these uncertain times and help safeguard their financial future.