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An Employer's Checklist for Virtually Communicating Employee Benefits Benefits season is different this year than in the past. Follow these dos and don'ts for communicating to employees, whether they're in the office or working remote.

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This year, benefits season is going to look quite different for a lot of companies. Prior to the onset of Covid-19 and the major shift to remote work, employers were able to hold in-person benefits fairs or seminars to highlight what is available to their employees. With many employees still working remotely, businesses will have to get creative with how they will communicate benefits plans and offerings.

Over the last several months, video conferencing services have been the go-to tool for communicating with employees who are working from home (WFH). Considering 78 percent of corporate businesses utilize video conferencing tools to facilitate team and company-wide meetings, here are some dos and don'ts for conducting a highly-detailed, virtual benefits meeting with your entire staff.

DO: Make sure your technology works!

It sounds intuitive, but it's the first and most important step. Without functional technology, your virtual benefits and enrolment event will flop.

To mitigate the risk of a technological failure, setting up a practice run and a back-up is highly recommended.

DO: Leverage your resources.

Today, there exists a wealth of resources tailored to automating and simplifying benefits administration tasks. If your company has partnered with a tech company for access to a benefits administration platform or employee benefits portal, now is the time to utilize their tech expertise to efficiently coordinate the content that your business needs to have available for your remote event.

Laura Bongiorno, Vice President of Specialty Market Sales at The Hartford, advises HR managers to communicate with both internal marketing teams and these external tech companies to strategize messaging surrounding the event, too.

"The resources available are plentiful in this "new normal,'" Bongiorno explains. "HR managers need to work with their marketing teams and carrier partners to identify multiple channels to promote this virtual meeting attendance. Texts, emails, and even messages through the employees' benefits portals are incredibly helpful. In all, it needs to be a multiple-pronged strategy."

By leveraging the different channels and modes of messaging, you can not only increase the visibility of the event but also increase the opportunity for strong attendance.

DO: Offer more than one session and/ or on-demand viewing.

With the shift to WFH, some employees have had to take on more responsibilities than just their nine-to-five job. Some of your employees may have to double as caretakers, teachers, parents, or emotional support partners during their workday.

To be sensitive to their adjusting schedules, responsibilities, and availability, it is important that you offer more than one virtual benefits meeting so that they don't miss out on any vital information. "If you should opt for live sessions, make sure that these sessions are recorded so that employees may access them after the fact," Bongiorno suggests.

Should your employees have to step out during the meeting to take care of something at home, recorded sessions can allow them on-demand access to the benefits and enrolment content that they need.

DON'T: Use text-heavy visuals.

Employee benefits are often difficult to understand upon first interaction, so it's important to keep things simple, Bongiorno says. Presentations with slides that are bogged down with text can contribute to information overload.

To avoid overwhelming employees, Bongiorno suggests using story-driven scenarios and visuals. "Story-driven enrolment content offers context," she says. "It's about real people and real experiences, and it really illustrates scenarios in which benefits are actually needed."

DON'T: Wait too long to plan.

In general, the sooner that you start to strategize and plan the event, the better. Some companies may be implementing new offerings or focusing on retaining re-enrolment numbers, so it's important to start the planning and messaging surrounding the event well before these enrolment periods begin.

In addition, companies need to plan how they will deliver the event. "Are they going to do enhanced webinars, a virtual benefits fair, or a company-wide call," Bongiorno adds. "Depending on what they choose, each one will have its own unique timeline. Companies need to keep these timelines in mind so that they can properly plan and advertise the event."

Click here to access more insights for business leaders from The Hartford and how they can assist with your company's employee benefits plan.

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