When working with LHD as your trusted benefits advisory partner, client discovery and planning is a critical, strategic process. As a business, you need your health benefits plan to be as effective as possible to reap all the benefits that can come with a high-performing health plan. Effective employee communications that drive employee engagement higher is an essential aspect of our service. Being intentional, strategic, and data-driven are all paramount. Our initial client discovery and planning process plays a key role in laying a strong foundation for communication success.
The Discovery Document and Strategy Formulation
LHD will create a discovery document to identify data points that matter and conduct gap analysis reports to create effective employee communications. Using the contents of the discovery document, we then help you define goals, create a strategy, and gather resources from you along with outside vendors to craft an employee communications strategy sure to drive employee engagement with your health benefits plan higher.
When you think about it, this approach is a no-brainer. Yet, most companies overlook it and miss all kinds of opportunities to get a higher return on their substantial investment into employee health and wellbeing. After all, it’s now widely accepted that a healthier workforce leads to less absenteeism, higher productivity, less turnover, better morale, and increased loyalty. If you want to reap those benefits at your business, then an effective, strategic employee communications plan to drive higher engagement is necessary. This would be a heavy lift for any HR team to accomplish on their own, but LHD has the expertise to make it happen.
Setting Clear Health Plan Goals
You already know you must communicate with employees about the health benefits plan, but if you only do it because you have to, then you risk missing out on the benefits of being strategic about it. It has to be more than just conveying information about the plan to employees. The key is to effectively communicate what your health benefit plan goals are, which should also be aligned with overall HR goals.
One approach is to ask yourself, when communicating with employees about the health benefits plan, what you want them to learn, know, and do. If you want them to take specific actions that will move them toward the objectives of your health benefits plan, then you must tailor communications for your employee and with purpose. Those goals should also be measurable – remember, if you can’t effectively manage your goals, you can’t measure it either. In our collaboration with you, we will always lean into creating metrics to measure employee communication and engagement.
Knowing Your Audience and What You Want Them to Do
Building an effective discovery document and plan process requires knowing the audience you’re trying to reach. After all, research has shown that over half of employees want benefits plan options that reflect their personal circumstances.
While it would be impractical to tailor every employee’s communication individually, it is possible to build several different “personas” that give insight into what they want, what motivates them, and the most effective ways to reach them. Identifying 4–6 of these personas can go a long way toward making the most of employee communications related to the company health benefits plan. Included in each persona will be various characteristics such as age, relationship status, income, tenure, role at the company, etc. From there, you build out a persona story about their health goals to inform your communications strategy.
Another key aspect that must be included with each employee communication is what action you want them to take or what behavior you want them to change based on the message delivered. Make such actions clear and easy to do.
What’s the Best Way to Deliver Employee Communications?
While the message content is critical, so is the way in which it is delivered. Covering your bases means using a diversity of channel options for message delivery. This can be based on the employee personas you’ve developed, including how they like to receive health plan communications and what company culture dictates.
Even so, multiple channels will hit the most significant number of employees. The optimal mix of print, email, videos, in-person meetings, and so on will differ for each company based on workplace culture and demographic factors, so some experimentation is typically needed to get it right.
Communications Strategy as an Iterative Process
An employee communications strategy for a high-performing health plan isn’t a static creation. It’s better to think of it as an ongoing living process where you are constantly measuring progress and adjusting as needed to stay on the path to achieving your strategic goals and objectives. However, your company’s communications strategy does not exist in a vacuum. It must be closely aligned to and informed by your overall health plan strategy and design. See the bigger picture of health plan strategy and design with LHD and the five-step iterative process that gets results. Above all, never underestimate the impact effective communication can have on achieving your health plan strategy and goals.
Additional Elements in an Effective Communications Strategy
Beginning with the discovery and planning document, we continue building out a strategic communications plan, paying attention to the following elements:
● Branding: When you think of employee communications from a marketing perspective, then it becomes obvious that branding is important. At a minimum, all communications should consistently align with the company brand so there’s never a doubt about the source of the message. Branding done well is more than just the look and feel of something, it should build trust and reinforce reputation. In some cases, it can be worth developing a unique “benefits brand” in your company. LHD can help you determine if that’s the right path for you.
● Website: It’s a good idea to have a single benefits website where employees go to engage with the health benefits plan as well as other benefits. Best practices here are that it is available outside the company firewall without a password, has an easy-to-remember URL, reflects the company brand, be informative, easy to use, and mobile-friendly. When done well, this can become a primary channel for employee communications and updates related to the health benefits plan. Pay attention to site analytics and make improvements based on them.
● Feedback: It’s hard to create effective employee communications if you don’t understand how employees feel about the health benefits plan. Gathering employee feedback is an essential process to gain insight into their needs, goals, motivations, barriers to engagement, etc. Feedback methods may include surveys, focus groups, one-on-one interviews, observation, or simulations.
● Simplicity: HR professionals steeped in the details of health plans aren’t always good at explaining the value of the health benefits plan to employees. Simplicity is the key here, especially when you realize how research shows only 12% of adults are “health literate.” In other words, nearly nine out of ten people don’t have the skills to understand and act on health and healthcare information. Clear and simple communication is imperative.
● Engagement: If the only time you communicate with employees about the health benefits plan is around the annual open enrollment period, you’ll never reap the full benefits of a high-performing health plan. Communication must be multi-channel and year-round to drive higher employee engagement. This requires a detailed communications plan covering the entire year.
We’ve only scratched the surface here of what the discovery document and planning process leads to when you work with LHD to create an effective employee communication and engagement strategy worthy of a high-performing health plan. Explore the LHD website to learn more about all the different services at your disposal when you partner with us. We’re always ready to help, so feel free to get in touch any time through the Contact page of our website, by telephone at 371.751.7049, or by email at email@example.com.