It’s hard to count on anything work-related being “normal” these days, but one thing you probably can count on in the coming months is your annual benefits enrollment. And if we’ve learned anything during the pandemic, it’s the importance of protecting our physical, emotional and financial health — exactly what your workplace benefits help you do.
But that doesn’t mean your enrollment will be the same as last year. A recent Unum survey of more than 4,000 U.S. employers showed nearly twice as many plan to offer individual videoconferencing or co-browsing with a benefits counselor as enrollment options. And many will offer personal, real-time support through telephone enrollments.
Before a virtual benefits enrollment hits your calendar, be sure you’re prepared to get the most out of it. Here are 5 tips to consider:
1. Plan to invest time in the process.
A recent Colonial Life survey of 1,200 U.S. workersshows 41% spend less than 30 minutes, and another 32% spend just 30 to 60 minutes learning about and selecting their benefits each year. We get it — between health plan options, voluntary benefits such as disability and critical illness coverage, and 401(k) plan deductions, it can be overwhelming.
“But when you consider the impact these decisions could have on you and your family for years to come, it’s worth taking enough time to think about your needs and understand your options,” advises Heather M. Lozynski, assistant vice president of customer support and technology solutions at Colonial Life.
2. Learn as much as you can in advance.
Some employers may mail benefits materials to your home. Others will use an array of digital communications, including e-postcards, custom websites and videos, and mobile apps. Read and watch this information beforehand so you understand what’s available — and know what questions to ask in your enrollment session (hint: that’s what it’s for).
3. Know what your enrollment options are.
Your employer may offer individual videoconferencing sessions to meet with a benefits counselor, or online co-browsing where the counselor can walk you through the enrollment and any applications you need to complete. Or you may have access to phone support for questions and advice.
“If you have multiple options, think about which you’re most comfortable with,” Lozynski says. “If a scheduling tool is available, use it to grab the most convenient time for you to focus on these important decisions.”
4. Make sure your tech is up to speed.
Check what kind of computer or phone access you’ll need for your enrollment. If you’re enrolling at home, do you have high-speed internet, enough bandwidth and an updated browser? If not, can you enroll at the office? Technology should make your experience simple and easy, not hold it up.
5. Get your family involved.
“One great advantage of a virtual enrollment at home is the opportunity to bring your spouse or partner into the conversation,” Lozynski points out. “Many benefits offer options to cover them and other dependents, so it helps for them to hear and ask questions first-hand.”
A virtual benefits enrollment offers individual support to help you understand your unique needs and the options available to meet them. With right preparation, it’s a valuable tool to make the choices that will best protect you and your family. And it’s one less thing to feel uncertain about — whatever the future brings.