CalNonprofits Insurance Services

10 Tips for an Unusual Annual Benefits Enrollment Season in 2020-2021

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This is an unusual year for the 2020-2021 annual benefits enrollment season. Your staff might feel uneasy about the future due to the COVID-19 pandemic and many are coping with feelings of isolation. In addition, 77% of employers plan to adopt virtual enrollment meetings in 2020-2021, which may be new to your employees. We encourage benefits administrators to pay close attention to these 10 tips with a focus on communication methods with care and compassion, planning ahead for virtual benefits meetings, and preparing for more questions from employees than in past years. This will ensure you have a smooth renewal and open enrollment. 

Communicate Care and Compassion During Open Enrollment 

Employees may need more assistance to make their benefits decisions this year. Placing an emphasis on your communication strategy with employees leading up to, during, and after open enrollment will make a big difference. Communicate care and compassion during open enrollment with these four tips.

TIP 1: Keeping your goals in mind, frame your open enrollment messaging to help your employees feel safe or secure – emotions are close to the surface for most people. 

TIP 2: Consider how you to help your employees understand vital details often overlooked related to the benefit offerings. Use easy to understand materials and consider multiple delivery methods.  

TIP 3: Deliver benefits information in smaller amounts over a longer period to prepare your staff in advance of the virtual benefits meeting.

TIP 4: Repeat key information and vary the delivery to employees. For example, you could communicate important information about open enrollment by email and you can communicate the same information in a virtual staff meeting prior to open enrollment. Be consistent with your messaging when repeating important information. 

Virtual Annual Benefits Meetings

Virtual annual benefits meetings require different strategies and learning new platforms for both benefits administrators and employees.   Set goals, meet with key decision makers, and start the process well in advance. Anticipate technical questions along with benefits related questions from your staff. Tips 5 to 7 will further help you with planning for your virtual annual benefits meeting.

TIP 5:  Plan in advance. We recommend starting at least 3-4 months prior to the renewal.

TIP 6:  Spend adequate time getting to know your virtual platform prior to  beginning  open enrollment so you are prepared for  technical  questions. If you will offer online self-service enrollment, set your employee profiles up in advance and offer them tutorials on the platform so that you do not get inundated with questions. Make sure they know who they can contact if they need help for both technical and benefits support. Create an easy to follow “cheat sheet”.  

TIP 7: Consider holding separate virtual enrollment meetings for each type of benefit. This way, meetings are shorter, and participants can more easily digest the information.   

Prepare for More Questions  During  Your Annual Benefits Enrollment 

According to Employee Benefit News there has been a 30% increase in benefits-related inquiries. Prepare for more questions during your annual benefits enrollment. Employees may want to know their benefits coverage for COVID-19 related illness and may switch plans and/or add dependents. Employees may need more support than ever.  Tips 8 to 10 to will assist you to prepare for more questions.

TIP 8: Use any support services offered through your broker and through your carrier and make sure your benefits team is staffed.  

TIP 9: Hold multiple mini Q&A virtual meetings to address questions so that you do not get repeat questions by individuals. Your employees will retain information better if meetings are short and held regularly over time.  Consider creating a Wiki or FAQ page to address questions and keep in a place accessible by all.  

TIP 10: Review detailed benefits information prior to meetings. Include in the virtual meeting comparison charts of benefits so participants can evaluate benefits in a straightforward manner. This could help them feel more confident in their decision. 

We Provide Benefits Solutions to Nonprofits 

CalNonprofits Insurance Services provides benefits solutions to nonprofits,  Our approach is consultative and we can help you craft robust employee benefits plans and help you conduct virtual open enrollment meetings.  We provide live support with a dedicated team who is available by phone, email and web conference. In addition, we offer a complimentary online benefits enrollment platform. Contact us for more information or request a consultation.  


Annual Enrollment 2021: Benefits planning in an uncertain world, Part 2 (Webinar), Employee Benefit News

Framing Your Messages for Improved Business Communication  

About the Author

  • Founded in 1984 as a subsidiary of the California Association of Nonprofits (CalNonprofits), CalNonprofits Insurance Services was established during a time of diminishing insurance options for nonprofits. One of the driving reasons for establishing the association was to use the collective influence of the sector to secure more stable and quality insurance. We have developed, and are known for, our wide spectrum of services reflecting expertise in both the insurance and nonprofit sectors, our superior customer service, and our development of exclusive insurance products, including a highly successful dental and vision trust. We insure more than 1,200 nonprofit organizations throughout California and we are the only California brokerage specializing in insurance for nonprofits. Our clients range from newly established nonprofits all the way to venerable organizations with multiple locations statewide.

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