Open Enrollment and COVID-19: Personalization and Flexibility are Critical

considering open enrollment during COVID-19


As the Open Enrollment period approaches for companies with a January 1st renewal, employers are faced with a new challenge: how to engage their workforce with benefits offering that meets their needs during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. To add to that challenge, most people are not able to see what the long-term effects of the pandemic are for them personally yet.

With that being said, personalization and flexibility will be critical when preparing a 2021 benefits offering. Having flexible options that can be personalized will help ensure you meet all your employees’ needs -- which can be difficult in a time where everyone’s situations are drastically different and changing by the day.

The importance of personalization

It has become more clear in recent years that employees are looking for a choice of benefits that go beyond the basics. A 2019 MetLife survey reported that 73% of employees feel that having personalized benefits would increase their loyalty to their employer, while 83% said they would be willing to take a pay cut if it meant having more personalized benefit choices.

Priorities extend far beyond just salary, especially since COVID-19 has played a factor. People want to know they can care for their families, maintain financial health, and prepare for retirement. Benefits that can be personalized for specific goals can facilitate that for employees.

The importance of flexibility

Now more than ever, employees need to know their benefits will meet their needs not only today but in the future as well. As 2020 has taught so many people, you never know what the future will bring. It’s important to offer benefits that can meet a variety of different needs. For example, an HSA or FSA gives employees a way to all set aside pre-tax dollars for expenses, but use them flexibly in the way they see the best fit.

Adding personalization and flexibility into your benefits offerings

Given how the situation has unfolded over since the beginning of the year, it’s definitely a good idea for employers to take a good hard look at their offerings and make changes. After all, there may be some benefits that are obsolete given all the changes in the past year; for example, a company that has made the decision to work remotely permanently would no longer need to offer commuter benefits. This can free up room to offer benefits that are flexible and allow for personalization.

Here are key benefits that provide the opportunity for personalization and flexibility that employers will want to consider offering if they haven’t done so already:

  • HSA or FSA: Give people the ability to set aside funds for whatever expenses come their way, whether planned or unplanned.
  • Caregiver assistance: Whether caring for children, aging parents, or a dependent adult, ease the burden of being a caregiver with assistance arranging and funding care.
  • Financial wellness benefits: The economic impacts of the 2020 pandemic left many people in a dire financial state, and many others are now realizing they may not be able to make ends meet in the case of job loss in their family. Promoting investments, retirement saving options and financial literacy will be an important part of easing employee stress regardless of their current financial situation.
  • Flexible work schedules: Some families have multiple adults working from home and multiple children learning from home, so it may be difficult for them to stick to a traditional work schedule.

While all Open Enrollments can be a hectic time for both brokers and employers, this year brings additional challenges that neither have faced before. When it comes to navigating unprecedented situations, it’s important to keep lines of communication open and turn to trusted advisors. The team at Clarity Benefit Solutions is always here to answer questions and assist brokers and employers with the tools they need to conquer this challenging Open Enrollment period. Download our whitepaper focusing on personalized benefits or contact us to learn more.