Now more than ever, employers are looking to better support their employees’ health and well-being. At the same time, budgets are tight and extra spending is at the bottom of the list for CFOs. According to WellSteps, the total cost of a wellness program ranges from $12-$100 per employee per month. Basic programs supported by mobile apps/websites that have challenges, educational components, HRAs and incentive management range from $3-$8 per employee per month. While a vast range, you have to consider that wellness means something different to every employer – and that can also impact this figure. None of these equate to small numbers!
How do you support your employees the best way you can if you have no budget?
As a business leader, you have employees that need your support and you want to be there when they need you. One quick win that doesn’t cost you any more money is to start “bragging” about the resources that already exist. Likely there’s a wealth of resources baked into your health plan, especially if you’re fully insured. Let’s talk about what some of those might be.
Mental health support
It’s likely you have a free employee assistance program (EAP) through your life and disability carrier. EAPs can offer a broad range of services to help employees with personal challenges such as mental health, financial problems, child and elder care, and more.
It’s time to start putting your EAP to work. Remind employees regularly of how to contact them and what all they can help with. And, you can even inquire about any on-site education the partnership provides. If they can’t come on-site (which may not be possible during a pandemic), they may have virtual education sessions that would be helpful to managers so they are prepared to support their teams.
Reminding managers and employees that coverage exists may nudge them closer to tapping into support. This can also help eliminate any fear or stigma that could be associated with asking for information related to mental health.
Telehealth and telemedicine
Do you know your options here? Your medical plan likely provides access to telemedicine, so you have an opportunity to spotlight the resources that are available.
If you can, explore the option of waiving copays if it can be built into the plan. Mandates are in place, so be sure your employees are up to speed on what’s free at this point. There are resources within the plans by most insurers be it Live Health Online, Teledoc, Virtual Visits or others.
Other health plan perks
Many fully insured plans have “built in” perks, and your employees just need to be reminded they exist. If you’re self-funded, you have made a decision to either exclude or include these perks at an additional cost.
Dive into your employer portal, and you’ll find more resources than you ever imagined. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the carrier or your benefits advisor for tips on how to make the most of the portal resources.
Inside the portal, you may find monthly health observance materials, reminders about preventive care coverage, as well as other “free” programs for employees – health risk assessment, tobacco-free programs, and activity-based challenges throughout the year.
I’ve seen this be successful when employers pick a topic each month to showcase to their employees. At First Person, we’ve done this by sharing slides at an all-team meeting, managers promoting in team meetings, posting fliers for those still in the office, and even mailing postcards home so spouses are involved.
There are many vendors and solutions you can tap into for a cost. If you aren’t ready, these options should get you more bang for your health plan buck.
So, what’s next?
After you’ve identified resources, next up is deciding how to shine a light on them and helping your employees know how to access them when they need them.
Open Enrollment is often focused on plan changes and cost conversations. If you try to build in a discussion on these resources, it may get lost, forgotten or watered down in value.
Instead, consider a multi-media year-long internal communication strategy. One that engages not only your employees, but also their spouses. Here are a few thoughts on how to get started:
Postcards – Sometimes a good old-fashioned note to your employees’ homes can help with engagement and awareness. It can be read over quickly and hung on the fridge or in a favorite spot for “to-do lists” as a constant reminder and help their spouses to be in-the-know.
Virtual meetings – As I mentioned earlier, many employers I work with have monthly employee meetings, even if they’re on Zoom. This is the next best thing to meeting in person to spotlight a specific program or resource. By creating just a couple of slides every other month, you can easily highlight six programs throughout the year! If you have a more dedicated amount of time to focus, bring in a guest speaker from your advisory partner to do a deep dive presentation.
Learning management system – If you use a learning management system, it too could be a great way for your employees to access the information. At First Person, we use Lessonly to educate our people on programs, processes and more.
Digital experiences – At First Person, we’re piloting digital benefits experiences to help clients meet their employees where they are. Your employees don’t always engage with communications during normal business hours or from their workplace. So, a digital experience allows your employees to access the information when it’s convenient and where ever they happen to be. Your employees have the most up-to-date information, and you can update in real-time without having to print materials that may quickly become outdated.
For more internal communications ideas, be sure to check out these other blogs:
- The Key to Understanding Individual Communication Preferences
- Five Reasons Your Open Enrollment Should Go Digital
- Employee Benefits Communication: A Key to Positive Business Outcomes
If you’re a human resources or people leader, don’t lose hope when you hear, “there is no budget.” Perception is reality and by leveraging the resources you have, you can create the perception of investment! And, let’s be honest – offering your medical, dental and life and disability benefits is not inexpensive. Tout your resources. Shine the light on what you have. Your people will appreciate knowing and being able to take advantage!