As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact businesses across the United States, companies are looking to their 2021 benefit plans to help meet employee needs during a time of crisis and recovery.
But open enrollment for benefits looks a lot different going into next year. From the top trending benefits to the way open enrollment is conducted, just about every aspect of open enrollment has shifted.
Brokers still need to act as a trusted advisor and provide information and insights to clients, but now they also need to stay agile to all the changes they’re facing. Here are the five biggest changes to open enrollment that are affecting brokers, and how they are impacting open enrollment:
- Employees’ priorities and interests are changing their approach to benefits
The pandemic has changed many people’s priorities and that is reflected in their benefits interest. For example, a MetLife survey found that 25% of employees expressed greater interest in life insurance while 40% are more interested in flexible spending accounts and financial planning tools.
Benefits are no longer being approached as “perks,” but as a safety net to protect against life’s unpredictable twists and turns. Brokers should expect that benefits designed to offset medical and economic impacts will be prioritized heavily, especially among essential employees. Be prepared to answer a lot of questions about these types of benefits and offer guidance, like the difference between HSAs and FSAs or different life insurance policies.
- Financial wellness is a higher priority than ever before
Job losses, industry shut downs, and economic downturns have made financial security a top concern for many people. The MetLife survey referenced before also revealed that 81% of employees reported feeling financial stress since the pandemic, compared to 52% reporting financial stress before it.
Since 70% of those same respondents cited improving financial health as a major goal for this upcoming year, brokers will want to advise their clients on different ways to provide financial support to their employees. Benefits like disability, critical illness, and hospital indemnity insurance are often not included in benefit plans but can protect employees’ incomes in case of an emergency.
- Employees are looking for customizable and personalized benefits
The pandemic has affected everyone’s lives a little differently. Parents are juggling increased childcare responsibilities with schools being (at least partially) virtual. People with family members employed by closed industries are suffering financial hardships. Every household has been impacted differently and needs a different type of support from their benefits.
Brokers can assist by helping clients craft plans that have customizable and personalized options. Through frequent and thorough communication, employees can access plan options that meet their unique needs.
- Meetings will likely continue to be virtual for the foreseeable future
Face to face meetings have always been an important part of preparing for open enrollment. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been safe for in-person meetings to take place for the past several months, and it doesn’t seem like that will change any time soon.
With the proper tools, brokers can continue to have effective meetings in preparation for open enrollment. Video conferencing makes it easier to communicate thoroughly, read body language, and give the personal attention needed for productive planning sessions. Use what you can to recreate an in-person meeting as closely as possible until it’s safe to meet in person again.
- Technology has become more important than ever
“Virtual” and “digital” are two of the most common phrases we’ve heard throughout 2020. Although it may sound cliche, technology can really help brokers achieve positive results for this year’s open enrollment. The right technology tools can help you manage compliance resources, open enrollment support, renewal support, marketing materials, and more.
This is a challenging time for brokers as they try to provide the best possible guidance to clients amidst these major changes. Leaning on trusted partners and the right technology tools will make all the difference this year, and for the foreseeable future. Clarity for Brokers provides all the tools and support you need to drive powerful outcomes and rise above the challenges this year has faced you with.