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This Year’s Open Enrollment Can Springboard Your HR Tech Wishlist Forward

More than ever, consumers are focused on health care, as we all now realize the impact a single virus can have on our lives and our community.  Employees continue to be confused about health care coverage, with only about a third of the workforce feeling confident that they understand their benefit options. With open enrollment on the horizon, and many in the workforce working from home, this year comes with a set of original challenges.  Educating your employees on benefits, and helping them make the best choices for their families has continued to be a focus, however this year, organizations are forced to reflect on the best ways to communicate, educate and enroll remotely. 

"The virtual workforce has been thrown for a loop with no in-person [information] sessions," said Anna Phalen, vice president for sales and account management at Jellyvision, a benefits enrollment technology firm based in Chicago. Employers are having to leverage technology heavily, some regretting that they left HR Tech on the back burner in 2019.  Regardless, organizations that dig deep in their tool bag, may find that they have access to tools that can come to the rescue.  Inquiring with your current HR Tech, or even IT communication providers may reveal functionality you already have access to, or can easily turn on.  Additionally, leveraging your marketing department on tricks of the trade on communication and readership can bring additional expertise to the table.  They are likely to have suggestions on executing a multi-channel benefits communication strategy.  A multilayer approach, in which the same message is conveyed in various formats to accommodate all preferences: e-mails, webinars, postcards, fliers, videos, social media, mobile apps, web meetings and workshops, and text messages, delivered year-round, is highly recommended.  Just the ability to text employees sounds like a simple request, however it packs a punch with communication.

Many “payroll solutions” AKA HCM solutions have the ability to assist during these times. Inquire about the tools within your HRIS or your benefits enrollment solution used to communicate to employees.  You may learn that you have access to tools for mass communication, tools to survey employees quickly and easily, tools to allow employees to connect on a Facebook-like social board, Artificial Intelligence (AI), video libraries and more.  There are also stand-alone solutions you can implement quickly.  As HR and benefit professionals, we know the challenge of Open Enrollment starts with communication and education, and in 2020 never has that been so meaningful….and complicated.  Like it or not, we are all faced with accepting that we may never see the “old normal” return.  In light of that, 2020 Open Enrollment season is the perfect time to analyze and document lessons learned in this year’s journey, and start recording your requirements for the technology tools you hope to evaluate in the near future.

Here are a few tips on benefits communications that can make a difference:

  • Use living-room language, i.e. “use” vs. utilize, or “start” vs. “initiate” or “commence”
  • Make sure your delivery is free of benefits or health care Jargon, or define any terms that are not common