In today’s increasingly complex and expensive healthcare environment, it’s critical to educate and engage your employees about health and wellness. From wellness incentive plans to open enrollment communications, Milliman’s team of experienced consultants can help you communicate health and wellness topics to your employees.
Open enrollment is often the one time of year when employees’ attention is focused on benefits. Are you making the most of the opportunity?
As employers ask employees to take on more responsibility for the cost of healthcare, managing benefits requires more active participation from employees. Employees must understand not only why healthcare costs what it does, but also how to use their health benefits wisely – and what they can do to help control costs while receiving quality care.
Delivering a message
For many employers, open enrollment means change for employees. Any change can be stressful, and most employees have little knowledge of how benefits work. It’s important to keep the message simple and clear so employees can determine what these changes mean for them.
Open enrollment is your opportunity to:
- Announce benefit or cost changes
- Introduce new plan options
- Increase business literacy, tying benefits into the broader employment picture
- Empower employees by giving them the appropriate information and resources
- Educate employees about online tools and resources
- Provide decision-making tools
- Meet annual notice requirements
Strategies we use to approach healthcare
Based on our experience in healthcare communication and proven practices, we consider several communication elements when developing an open enrollment strategy.
Deliver information in manageable portions
Education is the foundation to improve employee understanding of what’s happening and motivate them to take action. A way to start could be a series of newsletters or videos leading up to open enrollment, providing employees with bite-sized content.
Build knowledgeable resources and advocates
If there are significant changes, it may be helpful to train a core team of human resources staff to serve as business partners, coaches, and change agents. They could be responsible for holding brown bag lunches, answering questions, demonstrating new tools, and providing resource materials. To assist them in this role, we recommend conducting meetings and/or providing written information to educate them about the changes and the rationale behind them.
Use the right media
People have a variety of learning styles, so using multiple media can be an effective way to get your messages across. Going paperless is appealing from an administrative standpoint, but it may not always be the best way to reach your audience. The key is choosing the right media for the situation. For example, complex information or difficult messages are best delivered face-to-face; video, mobile, and interactive content can engage your employees and break through the noise; and print materials provide information that may otherwise not be available to family members.
Promote helpful decision tools
However employees enroll, we can help with a variety of online communications. Depending on the demographics and culture, we may recommend mobile text reminders, video comparisons of benefits, an infographic that visually explains the enrollment process, or more promotion of useful online tools.
In addition, a packet with key information that employees need to enroll – all in one place – is an effective way to get them to take action. It’s tempting to take advantage of the mailing and include everything you’d like employees to know, but that can quickly become overwhelming. We can help streamline a packet that’s become thicker over the years while being sensitive to the costs and hassle of multiple employee mailings.
Reinforce your messages
Reminders at the beginning of the new plan year are helpful, especially for new processes or changes that might be surprising. Often a few months pass between open enrollment and when changes become effective. If employees have forgotten that a service isn’t covered anymore or that they’ll be paying more for their prescriptions, it can be an unpleasant experience.
Be sensitive to your audiences
Getting the attention of your employees has never been more challenging. As technology continues to change and adapt, some of your employees expect communications to keep up, but others want print or even face-to-face communication. Offering different modes of communication allows your employees to choose how and when they receive your message, increasing its ability to cut through the noise.