Open Enrollment – yours might be on the horizon. If you’re like many, you’ve been considering just how it will all get done. And while 70% of companies already had some sort of digital transition plan in place, the current pandemic has brought a new urgency and necessity to finalizing that plan. As telecommuting and working virtual have gone from perk to commonplace, technology has become essential, accepted and, in so many cases, a source of unexpected benefits.
As we head into the seventh month of our new not-so-normal and you’re wondering about what your future looks like, we are as well. COVID has revealed much on how and where we work best. As we’re thinking about work and healthcare Open Enrollment, here are five key reasons you should make that final push for Digital Open Enrollment right now.
Preparation for Virtual Futures
If there is anything that COVID-19 has taught us, it’s that many of us were underprepared for an event as significant as this. With travel bans, state mandates and school closures, many of us were scrambling to put in place the appropriate technology to keep our organizations running smoothly. The future is unknown and will likely contain a certain amount of flux. At present, a vaccine is not yet available and, for many, Open Enrollment is right around the corner. Knock on wood, an event of this scale will not be a regular occurrence, but there’s a strong chance something will disrupt the normal flow of business. There may be no choice but to go digital. On some level, at every point possible, we all should be prepared.
A pandemic isn’t the only reason to move to online benefits enrollment. We know that, on average, individuals spend 30 minutes or less reviewing their benefits. That means it’s important to be concise and showcase your benefits offerings in one place while allowing your employees to enroll at that same location. If employees have to sift through brochures or reams of paper, tote that information home to share with family or spouse, then fill out a paper enrollment form and turn it in to their HR, they may be less inclined to sign up for benefits.
There’s a drop-off factor with paper. It’s another thing we have to manage, sort and offer our attention to. And a reality of today is that some of us are checking our screens up to 150 times a day. That may sound alarming, but it’s simply a fact that we all rely on our phones and other devices for information. For a giant swath of our employee population, paper is seen as an antiquated nuisance.
Engage Millennials and Gen Z
Okay, we may have tipped our hand that we were thinking about the younger generation with that last stat. It merely underlines our firm belief – having an online enrollment platform will set your organization up for success with younger employees. “Millennials are first-generation digital natives,” notes Gallup. Millennials are also the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, a labor force which will soon also welcome over 60 million Gen Z individuals. Whoa!
Over half of Millennials shop for healthcare services online, so why not offer an online benefits enrollment software that puts all the information they need to make their decisions and elect their benefits in that same space? Both Millennials and Gen Z value a work-life balance, so creating efficiencies through adequate technology in the workplace is critical – and that includes how they elect their benefits. If a generation is engaging in Open Enrollment for the first time, you will be one step ahead if you’re speaking in their native tongue.
Online Enrollment streamlines the process, saving the time of your employees and Human Resources team. Using an online benefits enrollment software (hello to our friends at Employee Navigator) can cut the time it takes HR to communicate employees’ elections to benefit administrators by removing that middle step – the information is entered once and shared with HR and BA alike. Employees will also spend less time sifting through a huge stack of papers and looking for information to help them make their benefits decisions (hat tip to ALEX).
A broad-based online HR software can also help with other essential tasks that can be time/labor intensive, onboarding new hires and setting up payroll, for example. Leveraging digital tech for communications, be it email, voice digital or even SMS/Text, can also drive up participation while driving down internal administrative costs. Going digital can be the thing that finally allows you to take a breath, step back and consider the strategic planning, wellness initiatives and other HR initiatives you’ve simply not had time for.
From an employer standpoint, if your benefits plans are well thought out and the choices easily understood, you can develop a healthier, more engaged, and higher performance employee population. Access to the proper information can encourage employees to pick the plan that is right for them versus a “follow the herd” mentality. It can increase the insured pool and help spread the risk. And that access to information can lead to more employees electing the lower-cost plan and fewer surprises throughout the year.
In the digital and connected space, employees – especially digital natives – are also more likely to make educated decisions when it comes to where they go for health services. The keys are that the information is readily available, on the natural and most accessible platform(s) and personally relevant in its presentation. We have seen a dramatic rise in telehealth services during COVID. This money-saving trend, which has shown signs of being a win-win-win situation rather than a hardship, could persist if the digital platform is there to facilitate this patient and doctor behavior change.
Still hesitant about going digital? There’s so much to consider! We know. But, now is a great time to try something new. Just a baby step in a new direction with part of your employee population perhaps. It can save you time and money – and meet the needs of your employees in surprising new ways.