Reshaping voluntary benefits enrollment and engagement

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The COVID-19 pandemic has created great uncertainty, including voluntary benefits enrollment. Getting back to ‘normal’ will take a sound strategy and partner.

Where are we now?

COVID-19 has forced many employers to rethink the way their workforce operates. For traditional office employers, they’ve had to convert to a largely remote workforce. While those in the manufacturing industry have had to reconfigure hours, staff size and production set up to aid in worker safety and business continuity.

Due to this shift, many employers are overwhelmed. They need to support more remote staff than ever, while also navigating layoffs or furloughs.1 According to PwC’s COVID-19 CFO Pulse Survey, 44 percent of executive respondents anticipate staffing changes in the form of furloughs due to low or slow demand over the next month. An additional 16 percent expect layoffs.2

Further, employers need to have plans in place to ensure office settings are safe for employees to return. This challenge alone will make getting facetime with employers a new hurdle for some brokers.

What’s also complicating things, is whether employers will reduce employee benefits offered to recoup losses from this pandemic. They could take actions like reducing 401(k) match contributions, offering only high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) or eliminating benefits beyond medical, dental and vision.   

Enrollments should be starting now for many employers, but can’t due to past dependencies on paper and in-person support. Now more than ever, brokers and employers need self-service or call-center support solutions. Enrollment firms and brokers are looking for technology to support interactions.

Top 3 challenges for voluntary benefits enrollment

In the wake of COVID-19 there are three top challenges that brokers, and their partners will encounter in this ‘new normal’.

  1. Limited Access and engagement – These are probably the biggest challenges brokers and enrollment firms will face this year and for the foreseeable future. Before COVID-19, getting facetime with certain groups could be difficult, but now there are things that need to be considered in addition to time, alone.

    • More employees will be working remotely Employers may realize operational efficiencies associated with work from home capabilities, and it could be used as a retention/recruitment benefit.1
    • It will be more difficult to get into facilities – Employee safety will be paramount in this ‘new normal’ meaning visitor access will be more restrictive than in the past. 3
    • Essential employees won’t have time to get away from production – Due to reductions in revenue and staff, efficient productivity will be top of mind. This will lead employers to rethink how they set up enrollment education.

  2. Lack of viable online/digital solutions – Another challenge that some brokers will need to overcome is managing paper enrollment and marketing. Given the reduction in employee access and ability to distribute paper materials, the need to be digitally enabled has never been more critical.

  3. Incomplete & Inaccurate data – Today, when enrollment data is passed to the carrier, it needs to be in a very specific file type and format, or it can’t be processed. Even still, errors can cause file processing to be delayed by weeks if not months. Post COVID – employers will be starting enrollments later than they have in the past – they won’t have time to work with partners who can’t get it right, quickly.

Wellfleet Workplace solutions

At Wellfleet, we believe in building strong relationships and that starts with transparency and simple processes. That’s why we focus on delivering customizable, digitally-forward benefit solutions through a suite of workplace products. To be able to deliver value for our partners now and into the future, we have the capability to overcome those key challenges.  

  1. Innovative Access & engagement – We take a consultative approach to supporting employee education and engagement, both pre and post enrollment. This includes a variety of customizable digital marketing communications like microsites, email, video, social media and more.

    • We understand how important it is to report on program effectiveness. That’s why we provide an assessment of the enrollment performance, that includes program optimization recommendations. We also offer ongoing communications for employees that reinforce the value of our benefits. This includes wellness and “how-to-file a claim” reminder communications.

  2. Enhanced digital capabilities – We understand the pain points associated with disparate and legacy systems. Thankfully, we don’t have them. Our cloud-based software system can support lifecycles from quoting and census, to policy and claims management. We have system-agnostic capabilities – meaning we can work with whatever technology platform our clients need us to build our products on. And we’ve made our products nimble to be built on any platform. Plus, we’re currently building relationships with human resource technology platforms that align with our strategy. This includes enrollment platforms, benefits administration, HRIS, HCM, payroll companies and more.

  3. Accurate data – If accurate data is not delivered quickly, client timelines and deductions are impacted.That’s why we’re building a dataset-handling solution that will minimize set up, error reporting and data delivery timelines – going from weeks and months, to days. Further, we do not have a proprietary file format. So, we’re able to ingest what the technology platform provides to issue coverage. This saves employers time and takes the pressure off HR, so they can focus on employee retention and development.

Getting back to normal

From realigning work schedules to identifying plans for building safety for employees, there is no clear path for how or when the workforce will get back to ‘normal’.  However, it’s clear that brokers need better voluntary benefits enrollment solutions from their partners. Our products and platform are designed to be flexible to complement employer benefit strategies.

Find out how Wellfleet Workplace can elevate your benefits experience.

1 COVID-19: Workforce considerations. PwC. 2020.

2 PwC’s COVID-19 CFO Pulse Survey. PwC. 2020

3  COVID-19: Top 10 focus areas for workplace re-entry checklist. Jones Lang LaSalle IP, Inc. 2020.

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