Open enrollment and remote employees
It's no secret that remote employees can sometimes feel "off the grid" or isolated from other team members. From team outings, birthday lunches, donuts on Friday, or simply just meetings, there's a lot of things remote employees can't participate in - and open enrollment shouldn't share that same sentiment.
Last week we discussed how to engage employees during open enrollment - but as the number of remote positions continues to grow (nearly 20% of the workforce, to be exact), it's important to consider ways to engage off-site employees, as well.
So, how do you ensure that remote employees are prepared to make the best benefit decisions during open enrollment? We have a few suggestions to add to your open enrollment strategy, along with tips from our very own remote employees, Regional Marketing Manager, Melissa Wood and Manager of Client Services, Brittany Grygierczyk.
Consider video messaging
Did you know? According to research, today’s tech savvy employees are 75 percent more likely to watch a video than read emails, web articles or other written materials. While documents or PowerPoint presentations can be an effective way to get information across, visually stimulating content is more likely to be digested and retained. Plus, videos are able to demonstrate tone and emotion, giving off a personal touch that is extremely important to employees without a physical presence.
Consider creating a multi-part video campaign for remote employees that reviews basic healthcare concepts, new benefits offerings and why it's important to take action. Don't forget to start talking about OE early!
"Knowing that there are new offerings and plan changes before open enrollment is key," continues Wood. "This way my questions can be answered by HR prior to Open Enrollment which is such a busy time!"
Get some face time
Technology has come a long way - making it easier than ever to communicate any time, anywhere, and on any device. Get the most out of technology by scheduling one-on-ones with remote employees via video chat. it's not unusual for remote employees to feel "off-the-map" compared to their in-office counterparts, and establishing a face-to-face connection can help them feel supported as a benefits-eligible employee.
There's a plethora of apps to choose from (like Skype, FaceTime, Google hangouts, Zoom, etc), but we've had much success with Microsoft Teams.
Send them a text
Text messaging is the preferred method of quick communication. We see it all the time - texts from stores or brands with promotional content, or even from our doctor's office with an appointment reminder. Why not use this method to engage remote employees during open enrollment?
"As an organization focusing to be relationship driven, communication is always key," explains Brittany Grygierczyk, Manager of Client Services at benefitexpress. "We are constantly trying to find new and creative ways to use our internal tools to maintain constant communication that feels engaging, collaborative, and empowering."
The best part - research shows that text messages have a 98 percent open rate, meaning your message is almost guaranteed to be received.
Utilize your support center
No matter what your open enrollment and remote employees strategy consists of, there will always be employees who require one-on-one assistance. While the HR team may be able to field some of these requests, your benefits administration partner is better equipped to handle a high-volume of inquiries.
"Having a quality support team to educate me during Open Enrollment is huge," says Wood. "Since I can't pop into our HR Manager's office or call if the time difference is not working hours for HR, alternative options help."
Our Customer Care Center is trained on the deep nuances of each client's business and benefits offerings to provide the best support possible.
Be strategic and consistent
Strong communication is always crucial, but it's especially important for those not in the office. HR and benefits teams should communicate about benefits offerings year-round, not just during open enrollment season.
"Remote employees do not want to feel like they are on an island - especially when it comes to Open Enrollment and benefit offerings," Wood explained. "Health benefits are essential to our everyday lives and consistent, year-round communication helps me understand my options and keeps me engaged."
As mentioned above, timed emails, text messages and videos provide chunks of information to keep employees on track.
Once Open Enrollment season comes to a close, complete a post-enrollment survey to determine which forms of communication worked and which didn't, or what feedback employees have for years ahead. Want even more HR and benefits tips? Subscribe to our blog!