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Employee Wellbeing Program Success Begins With Open Enrollment

Open enrollment season is a busy time for many of us in the employee benefits field. An open enrollment during a pandemic brings about even more challenges and stress during this busy time.

It may feel natural to let your wellbeing program drop down on the priority list, but your employee wellbeing is more important than ever! Employees are more stressed than ever before. The best advice we have for helping to make open enrollment season easier is to begin planning and communicating early, especially when communicating the importance of your employee’s total wellbeing during this uncertain time.

If you plan to offer an employee wellbeing program in 2021 or plan to communicate the wellbeing resources available to employees, we recommend spending the weeks prior to open enrollment preparing.

Here’s a list of 10 major items to consider as you plan your wellbeing program.

  1. Decide Whether to Tie Incentives for Your Wellbeing Program to the Medical Plan

    Determine criteria for 2020, incentive amount and plan communications (including appropriate compliance notices and EEOC regulatory updates). If you are considering an incentive for the first time remember to be compassionate and empathic with your communications. Incentives are intended to encourage positive action and behavior change. A punitive message can cause an unintended morale issue when employee stress is at an all-time high.

  2. Verify the Program’s Compliance with all Federal and State Regulations

    Wellbeing programs are regulated by various federal agencies and regulations, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), and the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) in addition to other various laws and regulations. For further guidance, you can access the Wellness Compliance Checklist and Compliance Chart here.

  3. Maximize Your Carrier Offerings Including Mental and Financial Wellbeing

    Highlighting your existing resources through your benefit carriers is an easy and budget-friendly way to connect your employees to wellbeing resources. Employees are more mentally taxed and stressed than ever. Check with your carriers to identify mental health, family, and financial health resources. Examples include; EAP, virtual mental health counseling, mental health apps, 401K education, financial literacy, and financial counseling.

  4. Plan a New Challenge or Revitalize a Popular Challenge from the Past

    Statistics show the highest employee participation rates are in the months of January and July. Use that momentum to start fresh in the New Year.

    With much of the workforce working remotely and the need to minimize large gatherings, it will be important to consider digital tools as a program component. Digital challenge platforms can act as an engagement tool. Also, consider webinars or on-demand sessions in place of in-person events.

  5. Plan All Activities and Events with Wellbeing Vendors

    Traditional onsite events such as biometric screenings, flu shot clinics and blood drives may have different protocols and scheduling needs considering the pandemic. Check with your vendors to learn about their added safety precautions and consider new innovative ways to achieve your health awareness education efforts. If an onsite biometric screening event isn’t a good fit for your organization in 2021, consider a campaign to encourage getting your annual preventive exam.

  6. Check in with Your Wellbeing Champions/Wellbeing Committee

    Assess committee membership, then judge whether it’s necessary to recruit additional members or phase out members who were inactive. Consider calling a meeting to focus your committee’s strategic direction to address the effects of the pandemic on your employee population.

  7. Survey Employees

    Solicit employee feedback as close to the end of the program year as possible to adjust your wellbeing benefits program to reflect your employees' current priorities. This is a great opportunity to convey the importance of your employees’ total health and wellbeing to your organization. Include specific questions regarding health and wellbeing needs and interest.

  8. Evaluate the Program

    You can use the survey results to evaluate and refine specific parts of your program, like budgeting, setting goals and objectives, and creating an annual calendar. Successfully communicating results to the company leadership will grant you more support. Use claims data and carrier health assessment aggregate reports and/or biometric screening aggregate reports to target population needs.

  9. Encourage Healthy Behaviors in and Around Your Workplace

    Employees may have stress or anxiety about returning to the workplace. Communicating your health and safety plan will help ease employees’ fears. If you have a carrier wellness fund some carriers are approving COVID-related cleaning and safety expenses. Click here for steps from the CDC to create a safe and healthy workplace for your employees. The CDC also offers free printable posters to encourage everyday preventive actions.

  10. Review Company Policies That Affect Overall Workplace Wellbeing

    You might want to consider adding workplace wellbeing policies that could improve the culture of health at your organization. It will be vital to promote mental health awareness and support within your organization in light of the pandemic. Click here for our mental health toolkit including our stigma-free workplace blueprint in partnership with AWWS Training and Consulting.

    Encouraging healthy eating, flex-time or a tobacco-free policy could also improve the culture of health at your organization. Consider implementing in 2020 or 2021, if not already in place.

Your wellbeing program will play an important role in connecting your employees with much-needed resources to improve their overall wellbeing. Taking care of your people is taking care of your business.

Connect with your OneDigital Health and Wellbeing Consultant for support with your workplace wellbeing initiatives and strategy.