How ALEX is Helping USI’s Client Prepare for a Virtual Open Enrollment in 2020

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Brookline Bancorp is a financial institution with over 800 benefit-eligible employees. And during last year’s open enrollment season, they were faced with a challenge. In partnership with USI, their goal was to effectively communicate the replacement of their HRA and FSA with an HSA on all three of their plans, in addition to driving enrollment into a new accident insurance offering. However, they didn’t have the time or resources to properly educate employees on the value of the new HSA or voluntary benefits—and within the confines of a typical benefits presentation meeting, they weren’t able to answer personal questions from employees. 

To help employees better understand the new benefits available to them and make personalized decisions about which benefits to choose, Brookline Bancorp introduced ALEX.  How did it work out? 67% of Brookline’s workforce talked to ALEX, at whatever time and location was convenient—and USI met their goal of 10% enrollment in the accident plan.

So this year, with a need to continue engaging employees remotely thanks to COVID-19, Brookline Bancorp and USI are feeling confident about their ability to build on 2019’s success. We caught up with Ed Oteiza and Lisa Cassidy-Rodriguez from Brookline Bancorp to find out how they’re taking open enrollment virtual, with ALEX’s help.

We’re still figuring out our approach to open enrollment this year—but we know ALEX will make it way easier


“We haven’t decided exactly how open enrollment will work this year, but right now our main offices in Boston are only at 25% capacity, with the majority of our employees still working remotely. And we do usually travel to our different locations for open enrollment meetings, so we won’t be doing that this year. It will be so nice for people to have ALEX again so that they can have those one-on-one conversations, and go through all of their plans without us being physically there with them.” 


“Exactly, we’ll just be able to pick up where we left off last year. We’ve already introduced ALEX as the face of our open enrollment tools, and our employees know he’ll explain everything they need to know—and anything that’s changed this year.

COVID aside, this is a great transition for the future. I’d always talked about wanting to use more online communication in the past. It’s more effective. So we’ll use this opportunity to expand upon that and continue moving to a more online-based format for benefits presentations.”

The feedback we got on ALEX like nothing we’d ever seen


“We’re a pretty traditional organization, and I honestly didn’t think that our employees would appreciate ALEX all that much. I was surprised at how much they loved it—it was refreshing to see how much they loved the cartoon aspect and how it tells the story of our benefits in a humorous and different way. 

Usually, I don’t get any feedback on our [open enrollment] communication materials. Employees usually think it’s long-winded or hard to read, and it’s just too much for them to digest. So a lot of people were interested to see what ALEX was. We got a lot of great feedback, and I think ALEX helped us push our new accident insurance product, which we were offering for the very first time. People were able to go in and listen to ALEX explain what the product was, how much it was going to cost, and lots of employees agreed and opted to enroll.”

ALEX saves our team a ton of legwork


“Even at our open enrollment presentations, we usually don’t take personal questions from employees, because we don’t want to answer them in front of 100 people. So the fact that ALEX lets you go through each step and put in your own information is very useful, because we can’t possibly do that in an open enrollment session unless someone comes up to us after the meeting and asks.”


“Right. I think it’s really saved us from a lot of repetitive phone calls, with people asking for individual explanations of things we’ve already covered earlier in open enrollment meetings. We just don’t have the manpower to have one-on-one interactions with all 800 of our employees. It’s just not possible to help everyone in a very short period of time. 

So we need to rely on technology to help us. ALEX helped us get the message out to the masses quickly. And that freed us up to talk with folks that had very specific questions that couldn’t be answered by our mass outreach efforts.”

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