Three Tips on How to Communicate with Employees about Healthcare

Love it or hate it employee healthcare is now an integral part of every business. As deadlines and postponements of the new Affordable Care Act loom large employees are looking to their employers for answers. Is your company ready to communicate with employees about this complicated issue?

A recent national survey from business-to-small business marketing agency Cargo finds that “the rising cost of employee benefits is the number one challenge this year for small business owners.” This issue has forced many organizations to rethink the way they handle employee communications: what information should be shared, how that information is framed, and in what way it is given to employees.

Employee communication doesn’t mean sticking your head out of your office door and yelling down the hall to update everyone. Yes, you’re communicating with them but probably not in the best way. Or, leaving it to Human Resources since they handle hiring, benefits, and “that stuff” anyway … but should they have the responsibility of relating important communication as well?

Here are a few tips to be better at communicating company positions and policy to employees.

First, to be successful at internal communications your company needs to have a strategy in place. This plan should identify the information that needs to be shared, support the company’s objectives and policies, and provide a way for employees to give feedback. Some organizations make the mistake of releasing information to their employees but don’t give them any avenue to respond. Such tactics can backfire when instead of employees addressing concerns to the company they are posting on social media … where issues can become much more complicated in a hurry.

Second, make sure your employee communications plan works together with your overall public relations efforts to ensure that both internal and external communications are consistent and clear to audiences inside and outside your organization.

Third, be proactive. Being proactive rather than reactive allows the organization to start the conversation and frame it within company policy rather than just replying to concerns and questions that will arise from employees. And, it helps avoid speculation and rumors that can quickly destroy employee morale.

Finally, don’t hesitate to bring in a public relations consultant to help. It will probably save you a lot of time and energy in the long run and set your company’s employee communications heading in the right direction.