4 Ways the Pandemic Has Changed Benefits Employee Engagement

May 12, 2020

Social distancing has been crucial in mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s also challenged us. How do we do our part by staying apart from one another, yet still remain engaged with each other? The physical conference room (at least temporarily) has been replaced by the virtual meeting. 

The same digital transition is taking place for your employees and their employee benefits, with many of our participants leaning more on technology and automation than ever before. And some of these changes could be lasting, as you and your employees might actually prefer them to more traditional benefits engagement methods. Here are four ways we’re seeing employees change the way they interact with their employee benefits.

App/online account use

Over 80 percent of Americans own smartphones. And this technology has given rise to participant access to their employee benefits anytime and anywhere. That’s why it’s important to offer a Health Savings Account (HSA), Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and other popular plans from an administrator that offers innovative, easy-to-use technology. All of this takes on more importance during the pandemic, since more people are looking for ways to file claims and request funds easily from their homes. 

We’ve long been an industry leader in user-friendly technology. Over 90 percent of our consumers have used our online accounts and/or mobile apps, which is nearly double the median rate for competitors using similar technology. The Benefits Mobile App by Discovery Benefits lets participants easily file claims, upload documentation, view HSA investment details and more. And the COBRA Mobile App by Discovery Benefits was one of the first in the market to let members make their initial election and submit premium payments. 

Direct deposit

With so many people in states that have shelter-in-place orders, they’re looking for ways to transact with one another digitally. By setting up direct deposit, your participants can receive fast reimbursement of their claims. And, by having funds deposited directly into their bank account, they’ll reduce the need to make any trips to the bank.

Our participants can easily sign up for direct deposit within their online accounts. After logging in, under “Accounts,” they can click “Banking/Cards” in order to add a bank account that can be synced to their employee benefits plans.


Telehealth (or telemedicine, as it is sometimes called) was already an emerging trend. And it’s gained even more attention in recent months, with legislation drafted to help Americans save when using it. All of this is also intended to provide relief to hospitals and clinics that might be experiencing an increase in patients due to the pandemic. Over three-quarters of hospitals use telehealth to connect with patients, and that number was steadily increasing even before the pandemic.

The CARES Act temporarily allows High-Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) with an HSA to cover any telehealth or remote-care expenses, even if the participant hasn’t reached his/her deductible. This could lead to more participants becoming comfortable with telehealth and using it more frequently, even when the pandemic is behind us.

Virtual OE fairs

Open enrollment is a critical time on the benefits calendar, as your employees learn more about the benefits available to them. You may be looking for ways to provide this important educational opportunity, while also not hosting a mass gathering of your employees in one physical location. That’s why many employers are turning to virtual open enrollment fairs rather than in-person ones. 

Your third-party administrator should be able to support you if you do decide to hold a virtual open enrollment fair for your employees. We have:

  • Experience participating and supporting virtual open enrollment fairs.

  • Custom post-login messages, banners and help articles to alert and educate your employees.

  • A blog and Benefits Buzz podcast, each of which has a new series of content every year on open enrollment. Check out our 2019 open enrollment blog series or listen to our Season 1 episode on HSA open enrollment below. 

Would you like to learn more about the employee benefits available through Discovery Benefits, a WEX company? Complete the form below to get your free Ultimate Guide to Benefits.

The information in this blog post is for educational purposes only. It is not legal or tax advice. For legal or tax advice, you should consult your own counsel.

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