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Open Enrollment Planning for Post-Pandemic Workplaces Gets Underway

Consider options for remote and onsite workers

A businessman standing on a ladder with the words 2020 and 2021 on it.

The 2023 benefits open enrollment period, which most U.S. companies will hold sometime between late November and early December, presents fresh demands as employers continue to adjust to a mix of onsite and remote workers.

Virtual, In-Person or Hybrid?

"Depending on what is best for your organization, you can choose an open enrollment that is in-person, hybrid or completely remote," wrote said Charity Guerrero, principal and employee benefits specialist at Newfront, an insurance and financial services firm in San Francisco.

"After a couple of years of pandemic-required separation, employees may jump at the opportunity to connect with your organization's leaders and co-workers," Guerrero said. "At the same time, for our ever-increasing remote workforce, some employees may find that in-person all-staff meetings are next to impossible," so a blend of in-person and online formats may be appropriate.

Questions to ask, she noted, include:

  • Are you able to have all-staff meetings, or do you need employees to meet in smaller groups to avoid disruptions in production?
  • Are there some employees who will be best served by meeting in-person, while others will need to go through open enrollment virtually?

Some organizations may decide to take a fully remote approach. "This option should still include carefully planned written communications, brochures and reminders," Guerrero said. "Live virtual meetings can be productive if managed well," but also have a pre-recorded presentation that can be viewed on-demand, for employees can view when they have time.

"Think about your employees, your group size, and your benefit offerings," she advised. "Keep in mind, especially, any changes you might need to communicate."

SHRM Resource Hub Page
Open Enrollment

Create a Schedule

Deena Harvanek, U.S. communications solutions leader at HR consultancy Mercer, and James Bernstein, U.S. health and benefits midmarket leader at Mercer, suggest the following open enrollment planning schedule:

June to September

Make a plan and develop a strategy.

  • Set goals and measures for outreach, use of digital resources and enrollment.
  • Conduct employee listening sessions.
  • Determine your media plan, develop key messages and identify all audiences, making content personal, simple and direct.

September to October

Get the word out.

  • Distribute a pre-enrollment flier (printed and online).
  • Hold a virtual benefits fair.
  • Distribute an enrollment packet (printed and online).

November to December

Ready, set, go.

  • Launch enrollment through a benefits portal, for a period of about three weeks.
  • "Take this opportunity to rethink your approach to open enrollment," Harvanek said.

Related SHRM Articles:

Fine-Tune Benefits Before Open Enrollment, SHRM Online, July 2022

Visit SHRM's resource page for Open Enrollment.


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