Oct 5, 2022
Welcome to the benefits fair of the future
Employers are embracing creative new approaches to benefit fairs this fall, amid hybrid work environments that prioritize flexibility.
“Overall, it’s a mix for this upcoming open enrollment season,” said Brendan Farrell, an account manager with Hilb Group, a middle market independent insurance broker offering expertise in property and casualty, employee benefits and retirement services.
The annual open enrollment period kicks off in the fall for most employers, with employees given a few weeks to evaluate and choose the health insurance plans that work best for themselves and their families.
“Some employers are sticking with virtual benefit fairs, and some are doing a combination of in-person and virtual events,” Farrell said. “It all depends on the employer’s size, industry and number of locations as well as their leadership and company culture, and whether most of their employees are working on site, remotely or hybrid.
A range of approaches can offer a variety of benefits, Farrell notes.
“Virtual meetings provide greater flexibility and convenience and can be recorded for reference by employees,“ he said.
This year, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is offering a menu of options, including in-person events, as well as live webinars, pre-recorded presentations, websites with tools to help employees pick a plan or estimate their costs, and a hotline they can call to ask questions.
Blue Cross Senior Director of Account Service MaryJo Coady noted that Blue Cross received positive feedback on its virtual open enrollment offerings last year.
“Employers told us these events, such as live webinars, were most effective in educating their employees about their benefits,” she said. “We offer a customized recommendation for each employer, and our health plan’s account and member service team is available to answer employees’ benefit questions, as well.”
“It’s been rewarding to help employers move from the annual on-site health fair and group talk to a virtual event that offers a superior experience and greater flexibility to employees,” agreed Blue Cross account service director Michael Ludlow. “It’s a very collaborative process,” he added. “We find solutions that will work best for each group and their employees, leveraging our experience and internal resources.”
For many, open enrollment season is more important than ever this year, with heightened interest in enhanced mental health, primary care, vision, dental and other benefits.
“Last year, most employers didn’t make many changes to their employee benefits,” Farrell said. “This year, they are taking a harder look at the benefits they offer and are more open to making adjustments.”
And amid a changing work environment, including a competitive labor market and a shift to remote work for many, employers are eager to meet their employees’ new needs.
Flexibility is key. We work closely with health plans to adjust to employers’ needs as they evolve.
said Brendan Farrell, an account manager with Hilb Group New England.