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For most of the corporate world, annual enrollment is now staring you down.


The countdown is on. You’ve scrambled to keep up with the daily changes to your population—possibly layoffs or furloughs—and six months of constant change and constant surprises. Take a deep breath. We’re all going to get through this together.

Poised now in mid-COVID, you might be focusing your energies on how to communicate plan changes or an active enrollment window and have probably even taken some benefits package cost-containment measures moving into enrollment this year.

Hopefully, you’ve learned about virtual benefits fairs, and the role those can play in today’s employee climate. Certainly, reaching your population on their smart phones and in their living rooms through a comprehensive online tool is a great strategy to deploy this year. In past years, many companies relied on the vendors, the tchotchkes and the in-person conversations to drive employee engagement in annual enrollment. Short of mailing out 589 vendor flashlights and delivering 22 grab bags to home offices, you might need to find some alternatives to the benefits fair.

Boost Your Signal

Much like many of us have done in order to work from home – maybe you’ve invested in stronger Wi-Fi or looked at a new cell provider in order to make sure you can reach others. Annual enrollment is going to need some signal-boosting too. More communications across various channels will help you get the word out.

Short online surveys can get your employees ready to engage. (pro tip: You can do a lot of short-burst education with a well-worded survey question. i.e. “Did you know you can save up to $500 per year by electing an FSA?”) Often, your enrollment platform will have the capability to help you create and capture the answers from surveys. Offering an incentive to complete the survey can also increase your traffic…and your data.

Online Q & A sessions with your engagement team are effective in gauging confusion or interest in benefits changes. Bonus points if you can do several sessions at varying times of the day or evening to capture shift workers and remote employees.

Trivia or other contests can be a great way to get employees excited about upcoming enrollment periods. Prizes could include those vendor tchotchkes, gift cards or a “free” day off. Create a benefits quiz and capture the results in a live “water cooler break” or offer it in your online benefits portal or virtual benefits fair. Be sure to announce winners in a fun fashion too, by featuring them in post-enrollment communications.

Listen and Pivot

The most important thing, of course, is to listen. Our recent 2020 study of Empathy in the Workplace found that 76% of employees believe that being part of an empathetic workplace increases their productivity. Long study short, listening and providing opportunities for meaningful feedback create a more empathetic workplace, help you retain quality talent and can impact your bottom line for the better.

During our recent annual enrollment here at Businessolver, our engagement team offered several opportunities to “lounge and learn” at benefits Q&A sessions held virtually on our internal video conferencing technology.

Between the questions asked there and incoming emails and feedback, the team was able to refine the benefits messaging during the enrollment window to help clear up confusion. Deploying communications through our enrollment portal and updating our portal home page were key to helping employees understand several major changes to our program with a newly remote workforce.

Having the right technology and team in place and being able to activate various channels and tools can help you boost your signal and keep the dialogue open as you push, pull and maybe drag your groups over the annual enrollment finish line.

For more highlights of our own challenges and solutions in the 2020 pandemic enrollment, check out our case study.

Virtual Benefits fair case study

View all Posts by Rae Shanahan