Planning for Open Enrollment in a Socially Distant World


The COVID-19 pandemic has many businesses operating differently – workforces are now positioned remotely whenever possible and some employers are doing more with less either to comply or out of necessity.  “Bricks and mortar” facilities are limiting their accessibility to supporting essential functions.  Kids are home – a lot, and for a lot of reasons – and people are testing positive.  The forward view gives the impression this “new” will be “normal” for the long haul, or at least into and through the Fall 2020 period when many employers will run their annual open enrollment process. 

New Normal, Meet Open Enrollment

This year, we suspect the home base is where your people will be accessible most often.  Many experts agree.  The pandemic forced over 30% of the workforce into a work-from-home arrangement virtually overnight.  Three months later, the traditional office-centric model feels like it may be a thing of the past.  According to a recent survey, 74 percent of organizations now plan to move a subset of their employee base to remote work permanently.

These new and emerging realities should factor into how you plan for and execute your open enrollment communications strategy.  Digital, virtual, traditional – all three stand to matter more than ever when it comes to employee engagement. 

Here are 5 practical ways you can “new normalize” your open enrollment this year:

  1. Mail a quality package to the home base.  That’s right – what’s old is new again!  It could be as simple as a well-designed open enrollment postcard highlighting the most need-to-know information like open enrollment dates and webinar schedules. QR codes can be used to direct employees to the enrollment platform or educational content.

  2. Conduct a live benefits webinar instead of your usual in-person presentation. Better yet, provide a recorded presentation for those who cannot attend the live session or who want to review the information.

  3. Give your communications a “face lift”. You can do this by creating a “what’s new” video. This targeted visual is a great way to focus attention upon what will be new and different for the upcoming year. You can also bring your communications to life with animations and interactive content.

  4. Keep employees in the loop with targeted email and text messaging campaigns promoting benefit education and urging enrollment.

  5. Whenever necessary, opt for producing user-friendly fillable forms over those requiring hand completion. Sounds simple, but forms design and production is an art and science unto itself.

Whatever You Do, Do It With Purpose

Think about how your people like to receive information, and then surround them with it in a clear and consistently identifiable fashion.  More importantly this year, consider how you are connecting with your people since the pandemic hit.  What else are you now doing that deserves to be factored into your 2021 open enrollment communications mix?  We are true believers in executing a multi-faceted strategy that is timed to win and hits people in multiple ways. 

If you have a purpose and both invest and stay invested in it, you can make a big impact while staying six feet (or more) apart. 

Baker Tilly Vantagen offers innovative and comprehensive open enrollment resources to facilitate your organization’s transition to a virtual open enrollment strategy including:

To learn more about how Baker Tilly Vantagen help your organization implement a virtual open enrollment strategy this year, contact us at