Baby boomers, Generation Xers and millennials make up the majority of workers in today’s workforce, but we’re about to see the entry of Generation Z, those born after 1997. At the same time, there are still Traditionalists in the workplace, folks born before 1946.
That’s an incredible five generations, sometimes all in the same workplace, working side by side.
As anyone in the human-resources business will attest, the starkest difference between these populations isn’t just in their ages; it’s in their communication style and, more specifically, the types of communication approaches they prefer.
That can be a challenge year-round but it’s especially pronounced when it’s time to enroll or re-enroll your workforce in your company’s health plan. Enrollment, of course, is always a fraught undertaking and it doesn’t help that the vast majority of Americans don’t understand basic terms such as deductible, copay, coinsurance and out-of-pocket maximum.
HR departments have been using social media, emails and other technology tools for years now and, while all of that has helped, they’ve done so inconsistently and without uniformity. In short, there’s plenty of room for improvement – at open enrollment and other times of the year.
So, what more can HR teams do? Here are three strategies that can help them cut through the noise and turn their company’s employees into intelligent, engaged consumers of their own health.
1. Tapping into “moments that matter” with health care advice content that employees can access at will.
We’re talking about the transformational events in life such as marriage, pregnancy, childbirth and divorce.
For example, an employee becomes pregnant but doesn’t want to announce it at work or tell HR just yet.
The solution? A communications platform where your employee can do much more than simply plug in her Social Security number and birthdate. Instead, the more comprehensive portals can get her questions answered about benefits, scheduling time off, adding her newborn to insurance and so forth.
That same portal can also allow your employees to do something as simple as changing a home address much more easily. Historically, that process has often required employees to use separate applications maintained by departments like finance and HR.
That approach, as any Gen Zer can tell you, is so early 2000s.
2. Building ongoing campaigns.
We know that people are perpetually distracted, overloaded with information and skeptical of anyone who wastes their time delivering even more information.
An enrollment seminar is typically a single-day event, a single email is easily ignored. But a campaign is ongoing, and does a little bit at a time, all the time.
For example, your first open enrollment email of the season might share an infographic comparing the plan options and runs scenarios of what employees would pay for three procedures on each plan.
Later, another email could plug telemedicine in a video and discuss when to use it.
Down the line, another video could spotlight an employee who saved money by using your programs.
Sounds like marketing, right? That’s the point. HR needs to think more about visibility, attention spans and interesting subject lines – just like the marketing team down the hall.
3. Context, context, context.
What do we mean by that? Simple: Say it’s travel season. That’s a good time to send employees a reminder about what they should do if they get sick while out of town and can’t find an in-network health provider. Or perhaps winter is on the horizon. Well, then, how about reminding employees about the beginning of flu season and sharing a list of clinics with the lowest price for a flu shot?
There are opportunities to pick up on the news cycle, too. With the measles outbreak of late, HR can help educate people about vaccinations and how their health benefits can pay for them.
How much of a difference will any of the above make? That’s hard to say. But as health care benefits become more complicated and costs continue to rise, getting creative will be critical to boosting low employee engagement. Either way, regardless of which generation they represent, employees nowadays expect their HR interactions to be quick and uncomplicated and perhaps even a bit entertaining.
Tyler Perry is an Insurance Advisor in CCIG’s Employee Benefits division. He can be reached at 720-330-7934 or Tyler.Perry@thinkccig.com.
CCIG is a Denver-area insurance brokerage with insurance and employee benefits clients nationwide. We do more than make sure you have the right policy. We also help you lower your long-term cost of insurance with our risk and claims management expertise and a commitment to service excellence.