One of the most contentious and far-reaching issues of the past year or so has been health care. It seems like every week, there’s a new development in health care reform: a new legal challenge or ruling, a new legislative initiative, a new press conference. You’re probably feeling a little overwhelmed, confused and anxious about health care reform. We promise you, your in-house employees feel the same way, only more so.
It doesn’t help that there’s a lot of misinformation out there; a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that only 52% of Americans are aware that the new health care law is still in effect. Of the people surveyed, 26% were unsure about the status of the new law and 22% believed it had been repealed.
The best way for you to counteract the misinformation, confusion and anxiety among your employees is to communicate with them regularly about health care reform and its implications for your company. Here’s an outline for how to do that.
- Use your existing means of communicating with your employees. If you have regular “channels,” such as internal newsletters, a company blog or a benefits publication, add health care reform information to those channels. If not, consider developing a regular employee communications program, even if it’s just a monthly email.
- Begin by stating the current situation with health care reform, to establish a baseline of knowledge and awareness, then update your employees as new developments occur. Add your insight to these developments; don’t just pass along a link to a news site. When providing your insight, keep your language relatively objective. “I’m concerned this development will limit our options for providing coverage” is great; “another way to take our money from the idiots in Congress” is… not.
- Give employees the means to ask questions about health care reform, and encourage them to do so. You can have a dedicated email inbox, a physical suggestion box, a call for comments on an internal blog—or all of the above. Whatever you use, be sure to keep up with these questions; an inbox that nobody ever checks is pointless.
- Based on the questions your employees ask, you might want to hold a seminar about health care reform. You, a member of your HR team, an outside consultant or a combination of people can speak, and you can answer employee questions about health care in a public manner. This seminar should be part of an overall communications strategy about health care reform, though, not a substitute for such a strategy.
- In all your communications, encourage your employees to be active participants in their own benefits, including health care. The future of health care reform is uncertain, but employees can still get the most out of their benefits now, to the betterment of themselves and your company.
If you’re a little confused about health care reform information yourself, a couple of sites stand out for providing updates on health care reform with no clear bias on its implementation: Health Reform GPS from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Kaiser Health Reform Gateway from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Of course, how health care reform is going to affect the staffing industry is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. Fortunately, we’ve got a webinar coming up on that very topic! Click here for more information on “The Impact of Health Care Reform on the Staffing Industry.”
How have you been communicating with your in-house employees on health care reform? Let us know in the comments!