Pension & Benefits News Tailor open enrollment toward hybrid workforce, expert says
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Thursday, August 5, 2021

Tailor open enrollment toward hybrid workforce, expert says

By Pension and Benefits Editorial Staff

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our lives in many ways, and this is especially apparent in the evolving workforce, with some workers at the office, some working full-time from home, and some workers doing a little bit of both. Flexible work is here to stay, and employee benefits communications must be tailored to meet the needs of this new hybrid workforce, according to Scott Van Horn, CEO of Tango Health, speaking at a recent SHRM webinar.

“I know we all thought last year was a tough one, especially executing open enrollment in the middle of a pandemic,” said Van Horn. “Well, as you’re finding out, this year is just as tough, because while the country seems to be making progress on reopening, what we call the future of work is a totally changed landscape and very different from what any of us have dealt with before.”

He noted that employees are ready to move beyond the pandemic, and therefore, companies should start sending benefits communications periodically over the next few months to prepare workers for the open enrollment process. “Taking all the lessons that we learned from the from the pandemic, you can produce benefit communications using a very thoughtful approach that addresses new employee expectations,” he said.

Hybrid open enrollment. While an easy, and generally effective, way to handle open enrollment is to put together a webinar and run it like you would have done in person, there are ways to utilize new technologies to create a special experience and “really raise the bar”, Van Horn said. For example, companies could hold a benefits fair that would partly be in-person, perhaps outdoors, in combination with providing short webinars for people to experience virtually, including live break out sessions with human resources or specific vendors.

“When you're creating open enrollment session for your hybrid workers, create one with a mix of general sessions and then specific vendor or benefit program sessions that employees can pick and choose which to attend,” he advised. “A lot of traditional, impersonal open enrollment meetings try to tackle the entire benefits ecosystem in a 60-minute session. If you provide employees the choice to pick and choose which one to attend, the satisfaction in the attendance will really exceed your expectations.”

SOURCE: SHRM webinar, Preparing for This Year’s Open Enrollment and Critical Benefits Communications, July 21, 2021.

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