In This Moment: Looking Ahead to 2021 Benefits Annual Enrollment

By Oonagh Power
Head of Editorial Services & Senior Communication Consultant

Raise your hand if you’re done with 2020! Yep, thought so.

Although we’ve all been navigating these tumultuous times in different ways, we do have at least one shared experience: 2020 has forced everyone out of their comfort zone.

In many aspects of our professional and personal lives, “business as usual” no longer applies. We’ve had to rethink how to best reach our employees and where we spend our time and focus. Planning for annual benefits enrollment is no exception; it’s another communication campaign we need to reassess.

Even though 2021 plan design changes may not be finalized until later in the summer, we are encouraging our clients to start discussions now about what and how to communicate. Communication is critical; now is the time to:

Start planning. Fall benefits enrollment will likely look different, as some employees return to the office and others continue to work from home. Now is the time to think about how to:
•  Ensure your annual benefits enrollment guide is mobile-friendly and easily accessible to employees and their families
•  Incorporate video, infographics, graphs, and other visual elements to simplify complicated or technical concepts
•  Consider a postcard or news magazine mailing to homes, highlighting changes and how to enroll
•  Transform your annual health fair into a virtual event

Give a snapshot. Many companies have made changes to their benefits offerings in response to the COVID-19 health care crisis. Most changes have been communicated piecemeal, as they were rolled out quickly to employees. An infographic provides an at-a-glance reminder about these recent enhancements and changes to benefits plans, including medical, prescription drugs, mental health, spending accounts, life insurance, time off, and child care support, as well as changes to 401(k) loan provisions. Sending it out now provides an introduction to benefits enrollment season.

Make it easy. We’re all exhausted by the global pandemic. The endless communication coming at us about COVID-19 doesn’t leave much brain space for understanding the important benefit decisions that need to be made this fall. We have also seen cultural shifts in how we communicate – inside and outside the workplace. Consider simplifying your enrollment guide to focus on the essential. The details can be moved to an evergreen benefits guide or a series of easy-to-read fact sheets.

We’ve been making annual benefits enrollment season easier for employees in both good and bad times for more than 20 years. Contact us if you need a hand this enrollment season.