One of the most overlooked aspects of any company’s health benefits plan is the impact communication with employees about the plan has on engagement. To reap the benefits of improved workforce health and wellbeing, you need your employees to be enrolled and engaged with their health benefits. Achieving this essentially comes down to a couple of primary factors. One factor is how easy (or difficult) the process is for employees to learn about their options and make decisions about their health benefits. The other factor is the way your company communicates to employees about their health benefits. This is why you should measure employee communication and engagement.
Our employee communication service is among the many services we offer at LHD to help your company achieve a high-performing health benefits plan. Having worked with hundreds of client businesses over the past several decades, we’ve developed deep expertise in what works when it comes to employee communication about the company health plan. Better communication about health benefits results in higher employee engagement, and higher employee engagement with the health benefits plan means a better return on your investment into workforce wellbeing. We suggest you measure employee communication and engagement because you can’t manage what you don’t measure. If you want to strategically manage your communication and engagement for better results, you must measure it.
There are many different ways to improve communications to employees about their health benefits plan. One lesson to learn is that more isn’t always better. In fact, too much communication causes many employees to tune out when yet another memo from the human resources team is making the rounds. It’s less about the quantity of communication than it is about the quality of communication. For example, do your employees fully understand the value the health benefits plan delivers? Here are some ways we help companies effectively communicate about this topic:
● Test Message: Your HR folks who know the health plan inside and out may have difficulty explaining it in a simple, straightforward way that employees will understand. You can discover how to improve the receptiveness to your communications by first testing a message with a handful of employees.
● Cover Cost: Be transparent in all the ways your company is trying to keep the employee cost of the health plan as reasonable as possible. They will appreciate knowing about your efforts. By the same token, make sure employees also understand what they can do to drive down costs of their health plan, such as going with generic drugs, keeping care in-network, avoiding emergency room visits for care that their PCP could provide, engaging in preventative care, and so on.
● Diverse Forms: Yes, we live in the digital age of the twenty-first century, but that doesn’t mean you should ditch print communication or face-to-face meetings. Your employees are inundated with digital communications, which means a well-placed print communication or face-to-face meeting can be surprisingly effective in cutting through the digital noise and getting the attention of employees. Also, be sure to leverage video communications as this form does tend to hit home in a way other methods don’t.
● Get Help: You don’t have to go it alone or recreate the wheel here. Partner with a benefits advisory, like LHD, who has expertise in effective communication. You can also rely on communications from the health insurance company itself. They’ve already invested a large amount of resources to effectively explain and communicate their plans, which can then be leveraged into your own effective communication strategy. After all, since 2012, health insurance carriers and group plans have been required to provide an easy-to-understand summary about health plan benefits and coverage, so it makes sense to draw on that.
● Peer Testimonials: Tell the stories of results achieved with testimonials from employees. This can have a
big impact on other employees who see these success stories.
● Data-Driven: Don’t be afraid to use data to communicate the value of the health benefits plan. Just be sure
to present it in a way that makes sense, such as using visuals, like charts and infographics.
The above is just a sampling of the techniques and methods LHD leverages in helping your company craft and deliver the most effective communication possible to drive employee engagement in the right direction.
We’ve mentioned how you must measure something if you’re going to manage it. Most companies, however, do not measure communication about their health benefits plan. Look at it this way: Research has shown that while around 80% of employers believe their benefits plan increases both employee productivity and loyalty, only 46% bother to document their communication strategy. This is a missed opportunity. Only by documentation and measurement of your benefits communication strategy can you hope to manage it for better results.
Strategic communication should be directly related to what matters to employees and what will help your company achieve its health plan goals. This should involve tapping into data sources to help choose and formulate communications. For example, a deep dive into your company’s population health data may show a significant portion of overall health plan spending is related to diabetic employees. How can those expensive
diabetes-related claims be reduced?
The answer is through targeted, effective communication, not only to diabetic employees about programs to better manage this chronic condition, but also to pre-diabetic employees for preventative measures, such as participating in wellness programs and health coach programs. Most businesses will need help in creating this kind of data-driven communications strategy at this level of segmentation and detail. LHD can make it happen for your company.
When you work with LHD, a big part of our initial collaboration with you is identifying what you’re your health benefits plan strategy should be and aligning it with business goals to get everything heading in the same data-driven direction. Once the strategy and goals are clear, we can then focus on the following:
● Understanding your audience.
● Knowing what you’re asking your audience to do.
● Choosing the best ways to deliver your message.
● Measuring your progress.
● Building an iterative process.
Each of these strategic aspects are critical to the overall success of communications to achieve the ultimate aim of increasing employee engagement with the health benefits plan.
One missing piece of this puzzle at many businesses is understanding the importance each communication has within the larger strategy. Every communication should have at least one associated metric for measurement purposes. Some ideas here include the following:
● Reach: Are messages reaching the intended audience? Things to look at here may include web traffic, email
open rates, and click-through rates, meeting attendance, etc.
● Utilization: This is where you take a look at enrollment rates in the health plan and wellness programs, as
well as participation in preventive care.
● Outcomes: Robust population health data is where you look to find out if you’re achieving the goal of
improving workforce health and wellbeing.
The more specific you get in creating metrics around employee communications about your health benefits plan that tie directly to strategic business goals the better. With LHD as your partner and our employee communication service, you’ll be better positioned to move the needle in the right direction.
Ready to work with a benefits partner who always has your best interests in mind on the path to creating and maintaining a high-performing health plan? LHD is ready to help. We’ve been applying our deep expertise and passion for data-driven solutions for a growing number of clients for more than two decades. We look forward to hearing from you through the Contact page of our website, by telephone at 371.751.7049, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.