So you’ve decided to launch a virtual benefits fair this open enrollment season. Excellent strategy.
As we covered in a recent article, virtual benefits fairs offer many advantages over in-person events. A virtual benefits fair can provide on-demand, centralized access to everything your employees need to understand and choose benefit options without the high-pressure sales pitches and need to show up at a specific place and time.
While all in-person benefits fairs are fairly similar, virtual benefits fairs can take many forms depending on the technology used and are limited only by the creativity of the organizers.
Nevertheless, virtual benefits fairs are relatively new on the HR scene. (Many organizations began experimenting with the virtual format during the COVID-19 pandemic when in-person gatherings were unsafe.)
Employees may not know how to access and navigate a virtual benefits fair — or even know the virtual fair exists. Human resources professionals may not yet know how to drive engagement with a virtual platform.
Whether this is your first virtual benefits fair or your fifth, the following four tips will help you roll out an experience that reduces your department’s stress, delights your employees, and achieves your organization’s objectives.
1. Choose the Right Format and Platform
Virtual platforms let you try new ways to engage employees that are not feasible in the real world. For example, you might try offering interactive benefits quizzes or “rolling” expert panels.
But, just because the online format makes almost anything possible, it doesn’t mean anything goes when planning a virtual benefits fair. Keep in mind that the goal isn’t to wow your employees with the most flashy features but to help them make informed benefits decisions quickly and efficiently.
Some companies have experimented with replicating a physical conference space online, complete with virtual booths to browse and a show floor to explore. This approach can be impressive, but it also can come off as a little hokey and awkward to navigate.
A more effective approach may be to think about your virtual benefits fair as a virtual benefits showcase, a one-stop online resource center for choosing benefits, discovering new options, and learning about the enrollment process. Your benefits showcase can include:
- Links to guides and documents from benefit vendors. (Your employees will never lose track of important PDFs and brochures again.)
- An accessible schedule of enrollment deadlines.
- Short explainer videos demystifying confusing concepts (such as the meaning of HDHP and HSA).
- Access to pre-recorded and live webinars and an option to schedule a meeting with an HR rep.
If all this sounds like a lot to set up, the good news is you don’t have to start from scratch. Unlike some of the “blank slate” solutions in the marketplace, Flimp’s Virtual Benefits Showcase supports many of these options out of the box and can be customized and ready to launch in just a few hours.
2. Promote Your Virtual Benefits Fair With a Strong Communications Campaign
In-person benefits fairs are hard to miss — provided you happen to be in the workplace when the fair is being held. Virtual benefits fairs, on the other hand, are perhaps a bit easier to overlook. But with the right communications strategy, your virtual benefits fair can be just as top-of-mind and urgent as an in-person event.
Considering the state of the typical employee’s inbox these days, a single text-based email announcement probably won’t get your message across. More compelling and memorable communications tools include:
- Visually-oriented interactive digital postcards
- A series of short, focused email messages
- Text messaging
3. Pair Your Virtual Benefits Fair With a Decision-Support Tool
For employees, the most aggravating part of open enrollment season is researching and choosing benefits. According to one survey, 67% of employees say reading about benefits is “complicated, intimidating, or stressful.” More than half said they were dissatisfied with their employers’ benefits-enrollment process.
By centralizing benefits information, enrollment deadlines, and vendor documents and making them available 24/7, a virtual benefits fair can go a long way toward alleviating many of the frustrations employees have with open enrollment. A decision-support tool can go the rest of the way.
The best decision support tools are easy-to-use apps that make accurate estimates and plan recommendations while requiring very little of your employees’ valuable time.
PLANselect from Flimp, for example, asks only a few non-intrusive questions and algorithmically generates reliable results in less than five minutes by tapping into the power of over 200 million data points in our claimant database.
4. Keep Your Virtual Benefits Fair Running Year-Round
Unlike an in-person benefits fair, a virtual benefits fair never has to end. Even when the open enrollment period is over, your virtual benefits showcase can continue to serve as a resource for employees to find answers to their questions about their benefits and for you to remind your employees to use their benefits.
A virtual benefits showcase can also be a great recruitment tool where you can advertise your most attractive benefits to prospective employees.
(Keep your employees coming back to your virtual benefits showcase with a year-round communications campaign.)
Go Virtual This Open Enrollment Season
A virtual benefits fair is the ideal solution for the new hybrid and remote working world. Virtual benefits fairs offer all the advantages of in-person events (minus the swag) while letting employees participate at their own pace and from anywhere in the world.
Interested in hosting a virtual benefits fair during the upcoming open enrollment period? It’s not too late. Get started here.