Honesty Is Best Policy With Health-Care Benefit Changes

Compiled By Deborah Austin Benefits enrollment season is looming -- a crucial time to get employees' attention about double-digit health-care cost increases and their impact on next year's benefits -- says outsourcing/consulting firm Hewitt Associates, Lincolnshire, Ill. Employers must "not only clearly explain to employees and retirees what the changes are, but also what the impact will be and why they are being implemented," says Wendy Rhodes, Hewitt outsourcing communication practice leader. Hewitt offers the following communication strategy tips:

  • Develop success measures and build strategy to achieve them.
  • Rise above the clutter. Acknowledge that employees won't read employment materials and find creative ways to reach them.
  • Develop key messages and stick to them.
  • Don't sugarcoat. Be honest and direct.
  • Communicate early and often. Employees need time to "soak in" the information.
  • Set expectations for the future; it's unlikely 2003's changes will be the last.
  • Communicate on an ongoing basis, not just at enrollment time.
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