How to Conduct a Virtual Employee Benefits Enrollment
The novel coronavirus pandemic has forced companies to trade face-to-face methods for remote interaction. Here's how The Voluntary Benefits Shop conducts a "virtual" employee benefits enrollment.
Gathering employees together in the conference room for a group meeting may not be an option, but there are still opportunities for pre-enrollment education that is both effective and personal. A virtual enrollment includes live and recorded webinars, videos and interactive question and answer sessions.
Multiphase Employee Communication Campaign
During virtual enrollment it's important to have direct communication with employees in a variety of ways, so we create employee communication pieces that can be distributed by email and text. These can include messaging about enrollment, key dates and resources, but they all include a link to bring employees into a customized interactive web portal.
This portal acts as the hub for virtual enrollment. It's simply and intuitively laid out, so resources are easy to find. And it includes not just the usual items, like color brochures and informational product videos; it's also where employees go to schedule their appointment with a benefits counselor, or to view a recording of a webinar they may have missed.
It's important that benefits education resource be easy to understand, so we make sure to provide materials and services in English and Spanish when needed, with other languages available by request.
Individual Education by On-Demand Appointment
Personal attention is a key component of a quality benefits enrollment. Most people need and appreciate being able to talk to someone about their options, ask questions and get knowledgeable advice to help them make their decisions. Employees who schedule an individual appointment receive a phone call from a licensed benefits counselor at the time they choose.
The call lasts about 30 minutes and is focused on making sure the employee understands their options, has a forum to ask questions and feels comfortable with their decisions before they enroll or waive.
Virtual enrollment is facilitated by our call center, but is usually done in conjunction with an electronic enrollment platform. Sometimes this is behind the scenes and our counselors are just using it to accurately capture elections. Sometimes they're using a payroll or BenAdmin system that the client already has. Our team is well versed in many commonly used platforms and we often help build or facilitate setup of a platform for clients.
Once we can all move about freely again, will these virtual enrollment techniques still be important? The Voluntary Benefits Shop was already using them...
When employer and employees can't be together, it's even tougher for HR and other company stakeholders to know how the enrollment is progressing. We provide periodic reports, so they know which employees have scheduled and completed their appointments, as well as basic enrollment metrics like how many have enrolled.
Delivering Accurate Enrollment Data Files
This part isn't specific to virtual enrollment, but it's still important. Once employee education and enrollment is complete, all the election data has to be compiled, verified and delivered. The carriers have to get their enrollment files and the client has to have their deduction file, so they know how much should come out of employee pay for benefits. Our enrollment processing team has a three-step audit process to ensure all elections have been captured accurately, before enrollment data files are delivered to all applicable parties in their preferred format.
Virtual Enrollment After COVID-19
Once we can all move about freely again, will these virtual enrollment techniques still be important? The Voluntary Benefits Shop was already using them before our current situation, we've just had to rely more heavily on them lately. Virtual enrollment is how we normally reach those hard to get to employees -- the satellite office, the secure government site, the ones who were on vacation when we were on site. It's also standard practice when we do monthly new hire onboarding for clients.
It's very likely that post-COVID, companies in many industries will restrict access to their offices for safety reasons. We may never do another onsite enrollment at a nursing home. Others will choose to forgo face-to-face interactions for services when a virtual solution exists. So yes, I think virtual enrollment is a practice not only whose time has come, but one that's here to stay.
Download the one-pager for our Virtual Enrollment Service