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It’s 2021, and whatever we considered “normal” went out the window a long time ago. With open enrollment season on the horizon, now is the time for HR teams to start thinking about how to adapt. Much of the workforce will likely still be remote this fall, which means your tried-and-true employee engagement strategies might not work this year. Say goodbye to the office-wide benefits presentations and stacks of paper handouts—it’s time for a completely virtual open enrollment.

Coming up with a whole new approach may feel daunting—you had open enrollment down pat! But don’t worry. Engaging and educating employees on your benefits offerings can be just as effective with a virtual strategy. Let’s take a look at six basic tools you can use to reach your employees virtually this year. 

1. Email campaigns

If you’re like most HR pros, you’re likely already sending open enrollment emails to employees. Hopefully that means you won’t have to reinvent the wheel this year—just a few tweaks will help you communicate with employees virtually. Not sure where to start? Download this set of open enrollment email templates, fill in the blanks, and hit send!

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2. Open enrollment cheat sheet

Email campaigns are a great place to start, but a long, text-only email might make your employees’ eyes glaze over. Create a more visually appealing one-page PDF to promote your most important benefits resources and provide employees with a cheat sheet while they’re enrolling.

What should your cheat sheet include? We got you started with an open enrollment overview template. Highlight what’s changed since last year, offer helpful tips, and show employees where to enroll all in one place.

3. Benefits guide

An annual benefits guide might be a mainstay for you. It might usually take the form of a printed packet handout, but this year, think of it as a digital asset first. Instead of printing and shipping a physical version to every employee, save or reallocate that budget to other, more pressing matters. It’s also important to remember that with so many recent changes, last year’s guide will probably need some work before you can send it out again.

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4. Online open enrollment software

You can’t do this all alone. You can’t be everywhere at once, and you can’t sit down with each employee every time they have a benefits question. Even large HR teams can’t answer those midnight queries like “Does my healthcare plan cover this trip to urgent care?” Nope, no way!

Enter: open enrollment software. Your back up, your pinch hitter, your safety net that ensures no question goes unanswered, no matter how small. Tools like ALEX can help you eliminate benefits confusion, drive smarter decision-making, and reduce healthcare costs—for your employees and your company.


Create a QR code for your benefits engagement tool!

Your employees have been using QR codes over the last year at restaurants, vendors and shops — and you should too! Using a QR code on printed materials is an easy way for your employees to access ALEX on the go during open enrollment, and get the benefits information they need when they need it.

Services like QR Code Monkey, QR Code Generator or Flowcode help you create a QR code that links to your company’s open enrollment software in a matter of minutes. You’ll also be able to brand and track your links, so you know how often they’re being used. Or, if you’re using Google Chrome, you can click the URL bar and a small, square icon will appear to the far right. Click it and a QR code will be generated, ready for you to download!

Your employees can simply scan the QR code with their phone’s camera — and boom! You’ve got folks engaging with your benefits engagement tool in a new, faster way. 

5. Virtual office hours

Working from home doesn’t mean you can’t invite employees to swing by your virtual “desk” to get some one-on-one benefits guidance and advice. Virtual office hours are a great substitute for the real-life interactions you’d usually have during open enrollment, and all you need to make it happen is your usual video conferencing platform. 

Working from home doesn’t mean you can’t invite employees to swing by your virtual “desk” to get some one-on-one benefits guidance and advice.

6. Benefits webinar or video conference

Chances are, you usually kick off open enrollment season with an all-company benefits presentation or town hall. A good replacement? A town-hall style benefits webinar or video conference that runs through enrollment basics. Don’t forget to record the session so that employees can review it later, and make sure there’s time at the end for a Q&A.

Believe it or not, there are more ideas where these came from! Download our Ultimate Open Enrollment Communication Playbook for bonus tips and tools to have your best open enrollment yet.

And of course, if you’re looking for an easy—and scalable way—to make sure your virtual open enrollment is a success, ALEX is here to help. For ten years now—well before this pandemic was even a rumor—ALEX has been helping HR teams engage employees completely online, reducing workload and streamlining finance and benefits counseling.

Meet a whole new way to HSA (and watch the savings roll in).

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