Helping employees navigate benefits during quarantine
Open enrollment doesn’t stop for quarantine. But how can employers ensure their workforce understands their benefits when everyone is working from home?
Most employers are following isolation mandates; 46% of employers gave workers the option to work remotely, and 39% required employees to work from their homes, according to a survey conducted by information services company, Arizent. But not all employers were prepared for their workforce to go entirely remote; survey respondents said it was challenging to communicate with employees because “email and phone calls just aren’t the same [as in person].” As a result, 47% of companies are investing in technology to accommodate remote work.
This technology can also help employers with open enrollment, especially when it comes to an effective communications strategy, says Shelby George, CEO of Perspective Partners — a benefits advisory platform based in Upstate New York.
“Decisions about benefits are more important now than ever because of everything that’s going on,” she says. “Remote work is posing some challenges, one of those is how to communicate effectively with employees about their benefits.”
Since health officials and the government speculate shelter in place orders could last throughout May, George decided to make her platform more accessible by eliminating all fees until Aug. 31.
George spoke in a recent interview about how Perspective Partners can help employees choose benefits.
What challenges will employers/brokers face during this upcoming open enrollment?
With so many people working remotely, it’s going to be challenging for brokers and employers to have those important meetings they’d normally have in-person. They’re going to need an effective way to communicate with each other, and eventually the workforce.
And with the epidemic impacting businesses, employers are going to want to ensure they’re choosing the best plans for their workers that are also budget-friendly. Employers will also want to ensure their benefits don’t impact employees’ ability to set money aside for emergencies — especially with all the uncertainty COVID-19 brings.
How can Perspective Partners help with open enrollment communication?
We make it really easy for people to understand what benefits they should elect. We’re not a benefits enrollment system, but we provide employees with personalized recommendations that give them the coverage they need, while being able to save for the future.
We’re able to upload the details of the plans employers are planning to offer onto our platform. We incorporate those details with census data and individual salaries to come up with options that are specific to each individual employee — what they can afford and which ones will help them set money aside for the future or unexpected life events. This gives individuals a personalized assessment of how their dollars will be spent on benefits.
For health plans, it takes all that information into account and how much you usually spend out-of-pocket on healthcare. We present a list of options and how they’ll affect their individual scenario. The same goes for retirement; we show them how much they could be saving, and which programs are best suited to their situation.
Why should employers look to technology to help answer benefit questions?
Programs like ours offer a more efficient way to provide individual consultation on benefit plans. Employees can talk to HR about their benefits, but there’s only so much they can do for each individual employee. Tools like ours give employees a fuller picture of how their salary will be used to cover these benefits — that’s especially helpful to lower income employees and those with dependents. It’s essential to make the right decisions now, more than ever, because we don’t know how long this epidemic is going to last.