As communications consultants, we regularly face questions from clients about how do you best reach employees and help them understand the complex issues of healthcare and employee benefits. Compounding this long standing challenge, the past five years have seen dramatic shifts of employer responsibility for education, especially given the ACA requirements and penalties.
You could look at this simple question to better understand where to start this endeavor:
What do you call this symbol?
Is it a “pound sign” or is it a “hashtag”? For those of us over 40, the likely answer is that it is a “pound sign,” conjuring up the image of push button phones and calling cards at payphone banks. For those who view this as a “hashtag” – congratulations on being young enough notto remember rotary dialed telephones or televisions that required you to get up to change the channel!
This new media era has so much more information available at an individual’s request, it begs to ask whether employers need to worry about generational communication or not?
The answer is a resounding yes – we DO need to be cognizant of the generational differences in how we communicate to employees.
Two recent studies by Employee Benefit Research Institute, “Employee Tenure Trends, 1983 – 2014” and “Views on Employment-Based Health Benefits: Findings from the 2014 Health and Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey,” spoke to a number of very interesting data points. But one I found most compelling addressed the question of employee comfort level when using objective rating systems to choose health insurance:
The Impact of the ACA on Employee Comfort Using Objective Rating Systems to Choose Health Insurance
Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute and Greenwald & Associates, Inc. 2011 – 2012 Health Confidence Surveys, and 2013 Health and Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey.
When over half of all employees say they are only “somewhat comfortable” at best with an objective tool, do you think they will feel good about the choices they make using it?
Sure, tools can be built using the best algorithms and formulas available from the most current data. But how do you build a tool to answer some of the questions highlighted below?
- I am pregnant and want to know about my health plan’s ability to offer alternative birthing options like a doula?
- I have a traditional PPO plan today and am considering an HSA plan – how does the FSA plan differ and how do I transition from one pre-tax savings plan to another? I don’t want to lose any money.
- How do the recent changes of healthcare reform affect me? What about this subsidy I have been hearing about? I don’t make that much money, so I want to know if this is a better option for my family.
- What do you think I should choose?
You know what – even if you had a tool that could answer every one of these questions, would you trust the answer?
How about when you call into book an airline ticket and the phone system tells you to just go online and do it. Sure, some are totally comfortable doing this, but clearly some will want to talk to someone and confirm that the transaction actually happened.
There is NO replacing the need for people to have conversations. The key is making sure that the guidance must come from someone with subject matter expertise in order to be effective.
The Univers Benefit Counselor Development Model focuses on that very expertise, with the enrollment industry’s first and foremost professional benefit counselor certification program, case specific training and testing, quarterly online professional development and ongoing QA measures.
This is one area where all enrollment firms are not alike. But is the area in which Univers is best in class.
Dani McCauley is the Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Univers Workplace Solutions.