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A PICTURE TELLS A THOUSAND WORDS
The data is clear. A well defined and comprehensive communications strategy, as well as good engagement from employers and employees, are vital to achieving good enrollment results.
2020 changed the way we communicate at the workplace and lessons learned were that just because we are living in a virtual world, this doesn’t mean enrollments need to be passive.
A strong benefits communication strategy is the key for ensuring two objectives. First, your employees will value you, their employer, when they understand both why the benefits are important to them (you should be getting the credit). Secondly, it will yield high participation results (50% is our goal…or more) as no employer wants a voluntary benefit plan in place with 20% or less employees participating.
As well, a great benefit communication plan lives for the life of the account, working with new hires and taking that burden off of HR. Bottom line, it makes no sense to implement/replace voluntary benefits without a strong benefits communication strategy.
ELITE-VB HAWAII’S ENROLLMENT VIDEO
At Elite-VB, we believe that any investment in a voluntary benefit program has to include a way to educate, inspire and invite your employees to learn more about the products offered with a foundation that’s built on emotion. When employees can see the value of participating in a program, it helps to lower stress and provide “peace of mind” that they can provide for themselves and their Ohana.
Without this important element present (EMOTION), enrollments call fall flat. There’s no reason for this result when policies are so affordable, benefits so appealing and easy to purchase with click of a button. We can customize the video for your organization, adding open enrollment dates, your logo, add and delete products…all at no cost to your organization.
In fourth quarter of 2019 (obviously pre-pandemic), our agency had over 100 accounts that had Open Enrollment. These businesses were all over Alaska, and some in Washington State. Although our offices were in Anchorage, with this engaging six-minute video, we were able to conduct VIRTUAL enrollment meetings anywhere…at any time. Participation was as high as in-person group meetings so we know this video works and there are various ways to utilize it:
As mentioned earlier, the video can be customized for employers with a message at the beginning and end that is specific to your organization’s open enrollment dates, the “next steps” to enroll and more.
Our proven method of conducting employee meetings VITUALLY have been a huge success. We start with the video, then go into the specific offering by your organization (via PowerPoint – twelve slides) with a “call to action” regarding enrollment processes and timeline, where to sign up for one-on-one’s etc. Highly effective when used with packets with staff (yes…paper packets) and/or electronic materials distributed prior.
We still believe in face-to-face group meetings (with or without the primary benefit broker) and hopefully we can conduct those in the future while following safety guidelines. We can conduct an effective and compelling group meeting with or without the video, review the benefit offering with staff (ideally with individual packets for staff with sample rates and brochures) with instructions on enrollment to follow.
The video (either in it’s entirety or broken into small videos per product) has also been effective at the beginning of the enrollment screen when utilizing enrollment platforms such as Ease, Navigator or Selerex. When 100% enrollment actions are required by staff, it’s an effective way to know that employees will view the video and the nice part is they can view the enrollment screens via phone, at night, on weekends, share with one’s spouse…it’s very, very effective and convenient.
The video has been very successful when sent via text alerts. The viewing of the video PRIOR to the enrollment will bring the emotion and excitement to staff regarding the new benefits that your organization is making available to them and their families.
- The video is ideal for new hires as HR can share the video in any of the ways listed above during their new hire orientation. No longer is it HR’s job to “sell” the “need” for the voluntary benefits. The video takes that off their shoulders in a highly effective and consistent way to view as they learn about the new voluntary benefits provided to them by their employer.
INCREASED INTEREST IN VOLUNTARY DUE TO COVID
A Survey in early 2021 found that for the current enrollment season, nearly 7 in 10 employees (71%) plan to spend more time reviewing their voluntary benefits as a result of COVID-19 than they did last year and more than half (53%) plan to make changes to their benefits coverages. This makes the focus on benefits communication that much more important in 2021.
From a recruiting standpoint, The Society for Human Resource Managers (SHRM) found in a 2018 survey that 29% of employees felt that their benefits or the lack of them were sufficient reason to look for work elsewhere. A significant 92% said that benefits were critical to job satisfaction.
With hiring talent in Hawaii being a constant challenge, Elite-VB’s goal is to understand your organization and use “tools in our toolbox” to custom design…or rather…architect a plan for success for:
- ENROLLMENT and
- POST-ENROLLMENT (including new hires)
In addition, we have to make sure we are looking at enrollment as a holistic process, not just an event where employees sign up for coverage.
Enrollment must encompass communications to educate employees on the benefits offered, articulating the needs they solve and how the benefits can be solutions for the employee. Most of these communications need to take place before the actual enrollment occurs. We will need to send multiple communications and use multiple mediums of communication (e.g., paper, digital). We also need to continue to find alternative methods to “talk” to employees as if we were with them one-on-one; in other words, we personalize the employee’s experience.
Our goal is always a minimum of 50% of employees choosing one or more benefits in the voluntary portfolio menu selected. With Elite-VB, we know how to produce great results, taking the burden off of HR to communicate the voluntary benefits, which Elite-VB sees as OUR job. HR has way too many tasks already and our job is to make you shine!
We believe that communication should be delivered in multiple formats. Send emails and text messages to remind employees about benefit enrollment periods and deadlines. Give them written documentation to read over and refer to as well. Educating employees with live and online presentations, as well as social media posts, are also effective formats in the modern age.
Effective programs work best when benefits communication is “employee friendly”. Employees need to be shown how their benefits work together, and they need guidance on how to make decisions that are best for them and their families. Elite-VB’s communication materials will always be top-notch, attractive and easy to understand. Well-produced materials help employees feel comfortable that they are working with a professional, high-quality company.
Enrollment technology should provide the flexibility and automation that employees need and the control that HR managers require, and be capable of coordinating enrollment in multiple locations.
These practices have been shown to produce great results when instituted in the workplace. Benefits communication work hand-in-hand with enrollment strategy utilizing technology as a tool. Learn more about technology solutions.
BENEFITS COMMUNICATION TOOLS
Our agency has found that a mixture of “old style” methods combined with new tools will be an important combination to yield an effective, customized voluntary benefits communication strategy in 2021 and beyond.
- Enrollment Video (can be customized) shared via:
- Group or Zoom meetings
- Text Blasts
- Group Meetings
- Onsite one-on-one meetings
- Packets for ALL staff with customized Rate Sheets (an Elite-VB exclusive)
- E-mail blasts that are customized for each client for open enrollment and new hires (utilizing “EZ Texting”) with links to an online enrollment portal –
- Posters / Flyers / Pop-Up Banners on site
- Traditional and interactive materials
The only way an employee benefits communication strategy is going to be successful is if there’s full buy-in and support from the upper management team. Bringing all managers up to speed on voluntary benefits policies and have them be involved in the benefits communication strategy has proven to be successful in the past (especially with larger organizations). Getting the executive team to talk about voluntary benefits and how much value they bring to the workplace is critical to success.
As well, a great benefits communication strategy comes from a strong partnership. The most successful benefits providers work with companies using a consultative approach to develop a business strategy around their benefits plans. Employers should view Elite-VB as part of their HR team, as opposed to just another provider of a commoditized product as the ability for us to collaborate and work as a team is crucial.
ENDING WITH THE “WHY”
One critical piece of pandemic disruption that employers can’t overlook is their employees’ financial situation. For many employees, COVID-19 certainly drew attention to their fragile financial condition. In September of 2020, 84% of Americans reported that the COVID-19 outbreak was causing stress on their personal finances. And 39% say they will feel “very/somewhat worried” about their financial situation 12 months from now.
As a result of the impact the pandemic is having on their finances, 50% of people feel it is more important now that employers offer financial wellness benefits. Voluntary benefits are a great way to provide your employees a way to help your employees help themselves with zero cost to your company.
In 2021, as employees continue to look for ways to stretch their paycheck and recover from the financial hardship of the pandemic, voluntary benefits will get more attention. At Elite-VB, we make sure that your employees needs and concerns are the foundation for the plan that we design to ensure a successful enrollment for YOUR organization.