Um, I Don't Get It?!
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The ultimate employee benefit challenge is the uphill battle of helping the layperson understand the complexities of their health benefits. Think about it. How often are you willing to purchase something of sizable expense that you have little-to-no knowledge or understanding about? When it comes to healthcare, however, this has become common practice for many. We’ve gotten to a place where we’re blindly buying what’s offered and not truly understanding how to effectively use what we’re spending so much of our paycheck on. Turns out, it’s less about buyers not having great communication and information available to them, and more about just not understanding it. Ugh, so now what?
The CDC defines health literacy as: “the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.” I’ve said it before. It’s not what you say, but rather how you’re saying it. You’re in a unique position to make great impact on health literacy as your employees want – and trust – the health and financial information they receive from you.
I recently read a white paper called 5 Ways to Engage Employees in Health Education & Build Health Literacy that I think lends itself very nicely to this post. While it drove home many points, what I think is most important to share right now is the idea behind engaging employees in a way that bridges the gap between information and understanding that information. You’re their trusted source. It’s a big job, no doubt, so here are some tips to take your benefit communications to the next level:
Simplicity is key. Create meaningful communications that are geared towards a middle school level. Don’t think of it as being condescending – all levels of employees will appreciate it. I promise. In an effort to create maximum impact with your communications, be thoughtful about your target audience, how you’re going to create awareness and engagement and what the intended action item is.
More is more. Storytelling can be a great way to help employees with important background info and facts. Understanding the why behind the decisions you make with their healthcare can help them gain perspective. Don’t be shy to do this.
12 months, not 1 month. Communicating once or twice a year makes your topic(s) feel unimportant. Keep employees engaged year-round by communicating as regularly as possible about benefit plan specifics, wellness initiative updates, company updates, etc.
Promote online support. There’s a remarkable amount of online support out there to capitalize on. You’re not in this fight alone. Steer employees towards cost transparency tools either through your carrier or otherwise. Don’t assume your employees know about these online gems.
Health literacy is everyone’s problem. Change won’t happen without everyone being actively involved and equally informed about their healthcare. You’re not in this alone. We’re here to help along the way. For more information and guidance, please contact our Assurance Employee Benefits Communication & Education Team!
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