Rethinking Employee Engagement & Communication in a Post COVID19 Environment

By Andrew Godfried

Rethinking Employee Engagement & Communication in a Post COVID19 Environment

Rethinking Employee Engagement & Communication in a post COVID19 environment.

A recent Bain & Company article looking at the future of business in a post-COVID-19 world suggests that one outcome may be what the authors call “Agility that lasts.”

As the virus spread and lockdowns went into effect, thousands of businesses adopted new technology quickly and effectively to facilitate operating remotely.  Now, as the economy opens back up, with social distancing restrictions remaining, benefits and human resources professionals will need to rethink how they communicate and engage with their employees. This is particularly true as they approach their open enrollment period and want to ensure that the systems they put in place today will keep them agile in the face of future disruptions. 

“Self-service” will take on new meaning for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021. Employees will not only be making their own elections, the process of making those decisions  - understanding and process changes - may be less interactive than before.  Here are some considerations, cautions, and other ideas as you consider ways to close that gap and stay agile moving forward.

Use of Video or Avatar

Not every employee will be able to read, understand and make decisions based on written materials.  Learning and information processing styles vary by individual and many employees may simply have an easier time with a video explainer, rather than traditional written communications. 

Many employee benefits video technologies can coordinate with your HRIS system or employee communication portal. 

Some employers use a partner to provide an avatar to communicate with employees and provide decision support, rather than a video recording of HR personnel explaining things.  These avatars can be embedded within an employer’s internal employee communication website or portal, employee facing HRIS system, or static electronic communication materials. 

Mobile Friendly

Most employees have some type of smartphone which they use both for communication and also as their go-to personal computing device.  Why not push out your open enrollment content on a mobile friendly platform?

Furthermore, why not use a platform that is useful not only during open enrollment, but provides mobile friendly value year round.  All communications from HR to employees and vice versa could come through this smartphone app, including ongoing employee life change events, through the-year employee engagement initiatives, even deductible tracking for those enrolled. 

The White Label Solution?

In the course of exploring benefit administration technology options, many businesses find that they have access to a so-called white-labeled solution, provided by an existing vendor who is licensing the software. Often offered at a steep discount, if not entirely free, these white-label offerings tend to offer a “one size fits all” approach that looks attractive if you are seeking to invest minimal effort in finding a solution and are content to simply go with existing functionality and limited customization.  Be careful, however, as this approach, with its built in limitations, can actually create more work due to limited system interconnectivity and process and data mismatches that stymie smooth benefit administration.

Lastly, make sure the white labeled system you may be offered has strong security measures, and proper support for implementation and service.  Many times the reason these systems are low cost is because they have little or no support for implementation and updating. There is no value to a system that bogs down your HR team and creates more work at a time when automation is key. Cost is not always the best measure.

Where to go next

If you haven’t yet had internal discussions about the need to alter the ways you communicate and engage with your employees, it isn’t too late. A great starting point is to think about your past, business-as-usual approach, and consider how it has been and will be affected in a COVID and post-COVID world.  Engage your internal stakeholders and see what they think, too.  Connect with your trusted advisors who may be able to guide you in your transition to agility. And, of course, if your current advisors aren’t sure what options you have available to you, call us.  We are currently helping many companies just like yours make the move to lasting agility. 


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