Employers continue to look to offset increasing health care costs through high deductible health plans, while simultaneously offering quality support programs for employees to help them make the best health care decisions. Many employers have invested considerable time and resources into offering employee decision support tools and value-added programs such as telemedicine, second opinion or informed decision-making services.
Unfortunately, employee uptake of these tools and services is often in the single digits. What are some recommendations to effectively communicate the value of these programs and increase participation?
- Keep talking – 2015 open enrollment is in the books and many employers have used it to introduce new initiatives and tools. These new programs tend to get lost in the benefits information overload of open enrollment while people are making other more pressing decisions.
Employers should develop an ongoing, year-round communication strategy to make sure people are aware of these programs, what’s in it for them and how they are accessed and used. Timing is everything -- most employees need constant reminders about what’s available so programs are accessed when the need arises.
- Change it up – Most employers still rely on the old-fashioned channel of written communication. However, it’s been proven that the most effective communication strategies employ an array of media to grab and engage employees. This may include in-person meetings (which provide for two-way communication), videos, webinars, infographics, workplace displays and digital media.
- Sell it – Take a page from a consumer marketer’s playbook and assign resources and efforts to developing a campaign that is geared to the employee’s point of view. Use multiple channels that may include things you may have not considered such as social media and texting and develop creative concepts that are surprising and memorable.
Thinking beyond open enrollment and developing thoughtful and engaging year-round communication campaigns using multiple channels will make investment in these programs worthwhile for both the employer and employee.