By - September 30, 2020

How the Experts Roll Out New Benefit Programs

experts roll out benefits programs

HR teams are always searching for the next new benefit to help their employees. And after looking at their healthcare trend, talking with their broker/consultant, listening to their workforce’s needs, and evaluating different vendors, they implement the new program. It can seem hit or miss as to why some benefit programs quickly gain momentum while others remain unnoticed. Of course, choosing a benefit that employees can relate to and quickly see the advantages of is the first step. But how do the experts successfully announce new programs that result in high engagement and participation?

8 strategies to successfully roll out benefits programs

The following are strategies the experts use to help ensure a new benefit program gains traction.

1. Position your program as an extension of the employee’s healthcare plan

Any new benefit you offer is about adding more value and care for an employee and their family. When announcing a new benefits program, position it as an extension of their existing plan. Explain how this benefit would be helpful to them if they were diagnosed with a new condition.

While leading with the cost savings is important, it’s also critical to point out the improvements an employee will see to their care under the program. It is one thing to talk about cost savings and incentives for using the company’s diabetes management program, but even more impactful to announce improved outcomes and lower readmission rates.

2. Use medical claims to target your communications

The most effective communications are personalized and transparent. Using a third party, like Tango Health, to analyze your claims data to find exactly who would benefit the most from a program will allow direct engagement with those employees. Ensure it is made clear that you, the employer, do not have access to their data. Explain the third party is recommending the employee engage with a new program to improve their health and wellness.

There might be privacy concerns around HIPAA data, but asking permission first eliminates concerns, since the employees are consenting to the analysis and appreciate the recommendation.

3. Develop a communication plan for employees to learn and engage

The classic communication route goes something like this: announce a new program in your benefits newsletter, provide a link on the intranet to the vendor, and then leave it up to the employee to figure out the rest.

The better path, powered by Tango’s Benefits Assist technology, guides employees through these steps:

  • Receive a personalized email to engage in a program
  • Opt-in on a secure website to use their medical and pharmaceutical claims
  • Review a list of recommended programs they are prequalified for or take a quiz to qualify
  • Engage with a Benefits Coach or the HR team through chat, phone, or email as needed.

4. Communicate to employees early and often

Timelines for vendor rollouts are always tight and employers typically announce programs once they are open for signups. We’ve found early notices several weeks prior to enrollment opening can help generate excitement and imprint the program’s name into the consciousness of employees. Continue to announce, using some of our other tips for ideas on what to say, during the weeks leading to sign up.

One way to boost excitement is to focus on the health outcomes and the incentives first. For example, for a new diabetes management vendor, highlight that the $650 program is at no cost (to the employee) and 94% of patients have successfully reduced or eliminated their insulin use.

You may have a lot of details to cover, but people don’t like to read walls of text. Use simple language, bullet points, and graphics to communicate the key information. Include links to the details as needed to better garner and keep your reader’s attention.

5. Develop and leverage Health & Wellness Ambassadors

If your programs are not new to the company, look for “benefit ambassadors” that have used the benefits to help increase engagement. Employees will be more likely to look into something new if a peer spoke to them about the program or was the face of a rollout video, rather than generic vendor content. For an excellent example, Grand Valley State University hosts videos with their Benefit Ambassadors talking about their experience with various programs. 

6. Find reasons to connect outside of open enrollment

While you have the attention of most employees during Open Enrollment, your new program can get easily lost in the mix. Instead, find alternative times during the year to roll out or highlight your program – there are plenty of excuses to do so!

  • May: Mental Health Month – reminding employees of EAP programs and telemedicine options for therapy
  • June: Men’s Health – alerting about free preventive screenings, especially if you offer onsite clinics
  • October: National Breast Cancer Awareness Month – sponsoring a “wear pink” day to announce your cancer care providers can capture positive attention
  • November: American Diabetes Awareness Month – highlighting your new Diabetes Management program

7. Reward employees for getting involved

Some employees will engage because they want to be good corporate citizens, or they are inspired to get involved with a new benefits offering. However, others may need some prodding. Providing a one-time deposit into employees’ paychecks or entering them into a raffle for the latest technology, are easy ways to draw more traffic to view and consider your programs.

8. Inspire a grassroots campaign

We hear it all the time. “We have no idea exactly how we got high engagement with that vendor. It must have been a “grassroots campaign.” The definition of grassroot campaigns is to target your message to a niche group of employees with the goal of creating momentum that can spread the word of your program among themselves and others like them. The keys are to make the campaign interactive, something that either inspires humor or compassion, and delivers on your promise.

For example, hold a Senior Leadership Movember, where managers who can grow mustaches do so (while others could use glue-on mustaches) and post their progress to draw attention to your cancer care program. Or, a “biggest loser competition” where teams combine their weight and track their momentum as they engage with your weight management program.

Successfully launch a new benefit program

If you’ve had experience with new benefit programs not receiving the engagement you expected, it might be time to try something new. Develop a proper plan including some of the above strategies and leverage the expertise and technology of a partner to garner the attention and adoption you expect.

Tango Health has over ten years of experience helping our customers roll out new programs from Health Savings Accounts, to medical plans (e.g. High Deductible Health Plans and Accountable Care Organizations), and voluntary benefits such as short term disability and chronic disease management. Learn more about our Benefits Engagement program.

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