How to Present Benefits Orientation to Employees That Doesn’t Put Them to Sleep

Submitted by: PGi Blogger

Open enrollment for healthcare benefits, an annual occurrence for almost any organization of all sizes and industries, is a busy time for Human Resource departments. It’s a period when employers set aside time to educate employees on group benefits that are available. The primary goal is to ensure employees have all the information they need to make informed decisions on which healthcare and related benefits are the right fit for their families and budget.

This process can often be complex and confusing, and effective communication is vital to ensure its success. Many of today’s global companies face the challenge of finding the best way to communicate this information to associates who may be located all over the world.

PGi found a multi-faceted solution to this challenge by creating a unique and interactive experience using iMeet and GlobalMeet. Karrie Andes, PGi’s Sr. Benefits Manager, wanted to create a virtual health benefits fair to further engage associates and make it more convenient to participate.

The challenge
Karrie was responsible for ensuring that PGi associates fully understood the various plans and all the information presented. There was a great deal of new and important information to share—including a new high deductible consumerism plan, a new wellness program and various free benefits that weren’t previously offered as a result of the Affordable Care Act of 2010.

Engaging associates can be difficult enough, but Karrie’s challenge exponentially increased by needing to reach associates who were located in 36 different states, 25 percent of whom worked from home. Karrie needed to customize her communications plan according to her workforce. Not to mention, Karrie only had two months to plan when most companies typically have six months or more to communicate consumer-driven health plans.

Karrie’s communications plan
Knowing she couldn’t bombard PGi associates with daily messages without being ignored, Karrie selected specific dates to send out reminders and notices. She also sent postcards to the homes of employees to vary the communication media.

Karrie knew she had to make open enrollment more fun and interactive to better engage employees. As a result, she implemented various quizzes throughout the process. Answers were scattered throughout PGi’s intranet site and winners were offered gift cards and other prizes.

Instead of simply listing benefit information in a traditional boring handbook, Karrie created a new handbook with bright colors, simpler language and incorporated the PGi Guy as the benefits mascot. Also included was a glossary page that defined key terms frequently used in consumer-driven plans.

The virtual fair
Creating a virtual experience eliminated the need for travel and made it convenient for all associates to participate—including those who work from home. Karrie created iMeet rooms where vendors were present to answer employee questions. Links for each vendor room were sent out to the workforce with a schedule. Employees could easily click and visit with various benefit vendors at their leisure.

Using iMeet’s “file folder” feature, vendors were able to store documents or videos so attendees could easily gather information. Those who missed the event were able to download communications at a later time.

Additionally, Karrie hosted 22 webinars during a two week period to help make sure everyone fully understood what PGi was offering—including a few late night sessions so spouses could join, too. She also incorporated PGi’s GlobalMeet web conferencing tool, using its screen share option to access and navigate benefit websites, which helped employees better understand what type of plan they needed. During the last day of open enrollment, HR had an iMeet room for several hours to assist with last minute enrollment questions.

Follow-ups
Even though open enrollment is over, Karrie continues to follow up with employees who enrolled in the high deductible plan every quarter. Through GlobalMeet, she holds a virtual roundtable where employees can discuss any comments or questions they may have. She takes notes and sends them to all enrollees.

Advice from Karrie
Karrie noticed that sometimes associates were shy and didn’t seem to want to ask questions. As a result, she began approaching meetings with more of a personal approach. She used her family in examples and humor in her presentations. It helped employees feel more comfortable and the sessions became fun and interactive.

“I never would have been able to complete such a significant feat without the virtual tools PGi has to offer,” says Karrie. This virtual fair proves that HR can use iMeet for much more than just global recruiting.

Every year, we all must participate in open enrollment and reeducate ourselves on the benefits our company offers. If the workforce is evolving, wouldn’t it be nice if our various processes evolved too? It could help keep employees more engaged—and awake.

Would you like to read more tips on how you can improve productivity and collaboration in your human resources department? Visit PGi’s Learning Space where you can explore more articles specifically discussing the many trends impacting HR.