For many employers, the benefits package they are able to offer employees is a key element of employee retention. Ordinarily, these benefits are highlighted, shared, and explained at an employee benefits fair during the period of open enrollment.
But, given current restrictions imposed in response to the coronavirus, many companies, and human resources departments, have been forced to get creative.
Because open enrollment only happens for a short period each year, an employee benefits fair is not the type of event that can be simply canceled or postponed. This makes a virtual benefits fair a workable option for both employers and employees!
If you have never hosted a virtual event before, you may feel in over your head. To help you properly display benefit options to your employees in a digital format, we’ve put together this guide to hosting virtual employee benefits fairs.
Benefits of a Virtual Employee Benefits Fair
Traditional benefits fairs have their share of challenges. The logistics can be a nightmare, especially when trying to coordinate a large workforce or coordinate events for thousands of employees spread all over the country.
When employees attend an in-person benefits fair, they may have a difficult time absorbing all the information that is being presented to them. Sure, employees can chat with reps about what’s on offer but there are lots of details to take in, consider, and understand in a short period of time. These events often rely on handouts and brief explanations. The reality is 48% of employees do not fully understand the perks and benefits available to them and only 40% say their employers help them to understand what is available to them.
Given that benefits are such an important factor in job satisfaction AND security in everyday life, employee benefits fairs need to do a better job of providing information to attendees.
Virtual benefits fairs can do this! Here are just a few reasons why you should consider transitioning your benefits fair to a virtual format:
- Can reach all employees: it doesn’t matter where employees are located, a virtual event can reach them. Many companies send HR managers all over the country to share benefits information with employees. Hosting a virtual benefits fair can eliminate this travel and the cost to travel.
- More cost-effective: not only are companies going to save on travel expenses, but a virtual format also eliminates potential venue costs and reduces printing costs as all packages and information will be available digitally instead of on paper.
- Empowers employees: with a virtual employee benefits fair, employees take ownership of their decisions. They can visit the virtual booths that most appeal to them, watch specific presentations, and download materials to refer back to them as often as necessary in the decision-making process. This format gives employees exactly what they need to make an informed decision.
- Increased convenience: a virtual fair is more convenient for everyone. For example, employees can assess the information from work or home, environments they are likely to be more comfortable in. Additionally, HR managers and representatives do not have to travel to make their presentations.
- Better access to representatives: Instead of playing phone tag after the event, or sending unanswered emails to insurance companies, employees can ask questions through the available chat features and get the answers they need in real-time.
- Helps employees feel valuable: by making these moves to more effectively communicate benefits to your employees, you are demonstrating to them that you care about their health and wellbeing. An employee that feels valued is an employee that will work hard and remain loyal to the company.
How to Host a Virtual Employee Benefits Fair
Now that you have a better understanding of why you should consider a virtual employee benefits fair, it’s time to learn the required steps for hosting one properly!
1. Choose a Virtual Events Platform
Essentially, a virtual events platform will do all the heavy lifting for you. Choosing a tool like Accelevents can help you verify attendance with registration capabilities, create virtual exhibit booths, enable live chat features, share downloadable content, stream live video presentations, and enable virtual meeting rooms for follow-up discussions.
Think about how you want your event to look and feel, then choose the platform that will help you carry out these goals. At the very least, look for a platform that can:
- Provide 24/7 customer support
- Support live text and video chat
- Enable customizable branding of the virtual event space
- Allow custom virtual exhibit booths
- Provide detailed attendee analytics
- Allow for different speaker sessions
- Provide virtual meeting spaces
2. Decide on Event Elements and Structure
Now that you have decided on a platform, you can get down to planning exactly how the event will take shape.
Depending on the type of experience you wish you offer, consider including elements like:
- 1:1 chat
- Booths for each benefit provider
- Live or prerecorded video streams
- Virtual auditorium
- Live webinars or walkthroughs
- Downloadable content
3. Schedule the Event
Scheduling your virtual benefits fair needs to be considered from two angles.
First, you need to consider how the event fits together. If you are planning to do live presentations or webinars, you will want to avoid scheduling them at the same to that as many people as possible can attend. If it is impossible to do this, consider making the presentations available via download so employees can watch on their own time. Another thing to consider with planning is whether or not the event will be a single day or broken down into smaller, digestible pieces over the course of a few days. Just remember that you do not want to drag out the event for too long as attendees are likely to lose interest.
Second, you need to think about when you will hold the event. Are going to hold it during open enrollment or before so employees have time to think about their options before having to choose? It is also important to avoid scheduling the benefits fair around any important company deadlines or holidays. Remember, you want to make this event accessible so avoid planning it during a time when employees are likely to be otherwise occupied.
4. Market the Event
Now that you have put together the event, it is time to market it to your employees.
Start by putting together a small information package so employees know what to expect from the benefits fair and they can begin to prepare any questions they may have.
Share the event details with your employees in as many ways as you can. Use all relevant event marketing strategies at your disposal to generate anticipation and excitement.
Be sure to:
- Send email invitations
- Post the event details on internal social networks like shared Slack channels
- Post flyers to shared workspaces like break rooms and employee lounges
- Posting the event on your social media channels can also serve as a reminder to employees
5. Evaluate the Event
Once the virtual benefits fair is complete, you will want to collect as much data as you can and evaluate the event. Remember, the only way to improve the event for the future is to learn what worked and what did not work.
Luckily a versatile event planning software like Accelevents will have analytics built into the platform. All you need to do is set this up!
Once you have the basics in place, you can host a virtual benefits fair every year, but you do not want to make the same mistakes. Learn from each experience so you can better provide your employees with what they both need and want.
- Which booths were visited the most?
- Which documents were downloaded the most?
- Which speaker sessions or webinars had the highest attendance? Did attendees stay for the full session?
- Did attendees use text chat or video chat?
- Were there lots of questions in the chat? What were the most frequently asked questions?
Answering these questions will not only inform your next benefits fair, but it will help you guide internal conversations and communications regarding benefits.
Without hardworking employees, your company would struggle. The benefits your employees receive are well-deserved perks and presenting clear information and options to them will boost morale and help them recognize their value to you. A virtual employee benefits fair can help you communicate benefits to your team in a way that is effective, convenient, and budget-friendly.
When you are ready to get started planning your event, reach out to Accelevents to learn more about how we can support you in this process.