April 6, 2016

By: Mike DiLorenzo, Chief of Outdoor Operations (COO)

The transformation of healthcare within the past 10 years has impacted the way organizations have unveiled healthcare changes. A well-thought approach for communicating adjustments – both small and large – to company-sponsored programs is crucial.

Imagine an organization’s dedication towards building a great brand and image among its staff, only to find out that the health premiums jumped 15 percent and the company is passing on a portion of that increase to its workers. All of that hard work in brand building could go down the drain without the right approach.

In the past, a nice letter from the president announcing the rate increases and then wait another year to analyze the rate change might have been sufficient. This is no longer the case.

Today, a comprehensive approach is required that involves communication, onsite meetings and access to company human resources professionals. Maintaining employee awareness and understanding of the benefits package is an ongoing process that involves both written and oral delivery.

To help employees achieve greater understanding and, thus, greater utilization of their benefits, keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Describe the plans using everyday language. Over-reliance on industry lingo (e.g., ACA, COB, EAP, EOB, etc.) may frustrate and confuse employees.
  2.  Use visuals and provide common health usage examples instead of providing only thick legal certificates and jargon-filled documents.
  3. Combine in-person meetings with technology, which can help reinforce company messages about the importance of benefits and its concern for employees’ well-being. Posting a video from the company president on the Intranet or emailing it to employees will help reach spouses who play a role in the decision-making process.
  4. Talk about the hard news. Inform employees of major changes in benefits or shifts in employee contributions, and provide the reason for the change, based on your company’s specific situation.
  5. Provide consumer tools. The amount of money consumers spend at the doctor’s office and hospitals is on the rise, due to advancement in medical technology, among other contributing factors. Help your employees understand how to properly select a plan that will provide the greatest coverage at the lowest cost for their individual healthcare needs.

Maintaining employee morale and company commitment can be easily tarnished if hard news is not communicated properly. Take the time to plan, then execute, and then begin planning again!