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Four Tips for Managing Open Enrollment During a Pandemic

young woman having video conference remotely

Background: Open Enrollment

While many offices remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, open enrollment will look different for employees who are working remotely. With open enrollment just around the corner, you’ll need to be prepared on how to facilitate a smooth and comprehensive plan for your clients. 

Four Tips for Managing Open Enrollment During a Pandemic

With the following tips in mind, you’ll be able to help your clients navigate open enrollment with their employees from a distance.

    1. Understand Why This is Important: Your clients may not be thinking about open enrollment yet, but it’s important to be proactive and anticipate your clients’ needs ahead of time. The pandemic has presented hurdles for the industry when it comes to conducting business needs while following social distancing guidelines and working remotely. Virtual brokerages, PEOs, and online payroll companies are already equipped to handle and take advantage of this unprecedented situation, so seeing virtual open enrollment as an opportunity to help your clients and planning for it right now will put you a step ahead. 
    2. Establish Confidence with your Clients: Give your clients peace of mind by proactively communicating your open enrollment plan before they even approach you. Have your client schedule time for an employee meeting—not more than a week in advance—as well as send calendar invites to help encourage participation. Let your clients know that this will not only help with immediate open enrollment needs, but also future new hires.
    3. Outline Virtual Conferencing Practices: Establishing best practices for video conferencing will help empower your team to communicate effectively during Open Enrollment. Presenting in a well-lit area in front of a blank background or wall, sitting up straight, and keeping the camera at eye-level will help mimic the experience that an employee would have in a face-to-face setting.
      Other tips that may seem obvious are still worth mentioning: dress appropriately, test your audio to make sure everything is working properly, and center yourself in the middle of the frame. When presenting the information to your clients, you’ll want to make sure that any pertinent information is available to the employees, including links to carrier messaging and collateral. Offer community support by hosting office hours for your clients and their employees to ask questions.
    4. Clearly Plan and Define Team Responsibilities: Since the pandemic has altered what open enrollment might look like for your clients, it’s important to start with your end goal in mind and prepare your team members accordingly. On our recent open enrollment webinar, half of attendees indicated that most of their teams did have documentation outlining which members of their teams are responsible for all of the open enrollment tasks, and the other half did not.
      Creating a decisive mission statement and defining team responsibilities will help provide your clients with a clear and consistent roadmap for navigating Open Enrollment virtually. For example, account managers and brokers can use Zoom to record a video explaining available benefits and plan documents, upload the video to YouTube and list it as a private link, and share the video in BerniePortal with a message to employees. 
Bernard Health's Mission Statement on Open Enrollment:

“As many of our clients adjust their workplace environments to be mindful of social distancing, the Bernard Benefits Team is committed to providing every group accustomed to on-site Open Enrollment Meetings, with a pre-recorded presentation loaded in BerniePortal.”

COVID-19 Return to Work Readiness Checklist

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