Open enrollment is right around the corner, and this year, it may be a little different than normal. In 2020, HR professionals saw their workforces turned upside down by COVID-19. This year, as we emerge from the pandemic, we’re seeing its long-term impact. This year’s open enrollment won’t be the same – and next year’s might not be, either.

The ARPA’s Impact on Benefits

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was signed into law in March, and it contains several provisions that impact employer benefits. One of the most significant changes is the introduction of COBRA subsidies that provide COBRA at no cost to assistance eligible individuals.

These subsidies end in September, before open enrollment typically begins. However, benefit administrators will likely be busy dealing with the subsides and other ARPA provisions during the lead-up to open enrollment, making this an especially hectic year.

Hybrid Workforces Are Here to Stay

Many workers were forced to work from home during the pandemic – and they’re fine with that. According to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index, more than 70% of workers want flexible remote work options to continue after the pandemic, but 65% of workers also want more in-person time with their coworkers. This is causing 66% of business decision makers to consider changes that would support a hybrid work environment. As the report states, “The data is clear: extreme flexibility and hybrid work will define the post-pandemic workplace.”

The hybrid work trend will have a major impact on employee benefits and enrollment. First, the benefits that employees desire may shift as things like office perks and transportation benefits become less appealing. Second, open enrollment will be complicated by the fact that some workers will be in the office and others will be working from home. HR professionals will need to find ways to reach everyone.

The Talent War Heats Up

This year’s open enrollment won’t just be more complicated. It will also be more important.

The pandemic has made both employers and employees reassess benefit offerings, with an emphasis on telemedicine, mental health and cost-control. Now, if employees aren’t satisfied, it may be the last straw that convinces them to look for a better job.

It’s being called the Great Resignation. According to CNBC, 95% of workers say they’re considering changing jobs, and 92% are willing to switch to a new industry. If employers can’t give their workers a very good reason to stay, they might see tremendous turnover in the months ahead.

The stakes are high. During this year’s open enrollment, employers need to offer an attractive benefits package, and they need to help employees understand their benefits options. They also need to offer that benefits package to COBRA participants.

Fortunately, your Travisoft platform makes the COBRA part of the challenge easy. If you’re not using the Travisoft COBRA administration platform yet, schedule a demo today.