With so many employees still working from home this enrollment season, it’s harder for companies to engage with workers about their benefits programs. Employers can no longer benefit from informal channels like word of mouth. Email isn’t ideal for communicating complex topics, and with 62% of a worker’s inbox being rated as unimportant, according to SaneBox, benefits messages can get lost in the noise.
You Can’t Impact The Past: ↑ Advocacy + ↑ Quality = ↓ Cost
Thursday, May 20, 2021, 2:00 PM ET / 11 AM PT
Unlike most things, healthcare services have an inverse relationship between cost and quality: the better the quality, the lower the cost. Unfortunately, the current health benefits market is completely opaque and lacking any meaningful, realistic transparency. Additionally, we have always been taught that easy = better when designing health benefits programs for employers and their employees. However, the cost and quality of healthcare can vary dramatically within the same city. Utilization Management for example, where your members access healthcare, is one of the single most important additions to your health plan design.
Meeting the needs of a dispersed workforce is a challenge, but here are some ways you can make sure everyone is on the same page.
- Get the C-suite on board. Executives set the example for their workers, and they’re starting to see the benefits of prioritizing health and wellness. A 2019 Mercer survey found 70% of large employers will focus on creating a culture of health in their workplaces over the next five years. In fact, it’s among their top priorities, after managing high-cost claims and specialty Rx costs.
- Gather feedback. Putting the information out there doesn’t mean people are taking it in. People learn and process information differently; one worker might want to see something written down while another absorbs more information listening to a presentation. Experience also affects how people learn. A 20-year veteran might only half listen to their benefits offering, and someone in their first job may be so confused by vesting that they miss everything about HSA contributions. Formalize a process to understand what workers have absorbed and what needs to be revisited.
- Identify ambassadors to help spread the word. When workers are wondering about their benefits, they sometimes turn to their friends in the office before asking an HR executive they may have only met once. The International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans found that communicating benefits by word-of-mouth had a 75% success rate. Supplementing their communication strategy with a guerilla marketing approach can help employers reach folks who might not come forward with questions.
Build relationships with workers. Communicating benefits throughout the year helps build a relationship between workers and the people who have the right answers about benefits. A year-round communication strategy has a 79% success rate, IFEBP found.