Paper enrollment and submission forms were already on their last legs in the years leading up to the COVID pandemic. But the pandemic finished them off. With companies locked down and so many people working from home, paper forms were no longer practical. Technology replaced them; there was no other choice.
In the two years since, we have learned several important lessons about applying technology to enrollment and submission. At the top of the list is how much it increases engagement. Modern workers take a more active interest in their benefits when access is technology-based. It makes perfect sense when you consider how pervasive technology is in the modern world.
The Amazon Experience
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) refers to how workers interact with technology as the 'Amazon experience'. They say this experience easily makes the leap from retail purchases to benefits administration.
Most people are very comfortable visiting Amazon, searching for what they need, and engaging with a few clicks or taps to make a purchase. The process is simple enough that it only takes one or two purchases to become comfortable with Amazon. It turns out the same principal applies to benefits enrollment and submissions.
A technology platform laid out in a simple and intuitive way is an open door to employee engagement. Workers already familiar with technology in every other area of their lives find it easy to log on to a benefits account. There they can browse their options, read the descriptions, and make their choices. A few clicks or taps and they are done. It is a lot easier for them than filling out paper forms. It's a lot more convenient, too.
Engagement After the Fact
One of the interesting aspects about paper enrollment and submission forms is that they separate workers from the experience of actually using their benefit. Enrollment becomes a separate entity unto itself. But when technology is introduced, employees get a whole new experience.
They use the same account to make their enrollment choices, submit their forms, make changes to their plans, and so on. All the information is found in the same digital space as the tools they need to maximize the use of their benefits. Once employees start using a digital platform, they begin engaging as well.
Engaged employees are more interested employees. They are happier and more satisfied with their benefits because they are no longer dealing with the unknown. They have direct access and control by logging on to their accounts.
You Become a Better Broker
Managing enrollment and submissions via technology is great for your clients and their workers. But you benefit, too. Going the technology route makes you a better broker. You are more engaged because all your tools are in the same place. You become more efficient because you are not chasing down paper documents just to get enrollment done.
Maximizing technology for your business improves everything from production to accuracy and can even help increase your lines of coverage and retention of your groups because employees are more engaged. You spend less time doing mundane tasks and more time helping your clients. Open enrollment suddenly becomes easier with streamlined technology tools.
Most of what the COVID pandemic brought to bear was negative. But some positives did come out of it, including sunsetting paper enrollment and submission forms. The task before our industry now is to complete the transformation to technology platforms so we can begin developing tools to make them better. As a broker, it’s critical to embrace enrollment technology for the survival and growth of your own business. Be sure you’re working with a general agency that can provide you with a secure digital suite of technology-based solutions that transform the entire enrollment process.