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A Behind the Scenes Resource

We can learn a tremendous amount from each other when we engage, listen, and problem-solve as members.

Health Action Council members are a valuable, important resource for ideas and best practices—a ready resource, if only we connect, engage, share, and listen. That’s exactly the environment we are creating. We recently gathered members to discuss trending healthcare strategies, employee engagement, communications, and more.

This initiative comes on top of a recent survey we conducted to find out how members’ industry peers influence benefits design decisions. More than 70% say they moderately influence their choices, and another 5.6% said they highly influence health benefits decisions. Together, that means more than 75% of the time, we’re looking to industry peers for their ideas. So, learning from them is very beneficial.

Consistently, we hear that members want to learn from members. They want a safe space to talk, discuss challenges, problem-solve and relate. Members want to discover from other employers what’s working and what’s not.

These forums have been energizing and full of learnings. Imagine a space with peers from businesses of all types and sizes: different perspectives and cultures, different employee populations, different benefits plans, and different wellness philosophies and programs. We’re all different. But the issues we’re dealing with are the same.

Here’s a fly-on-the-wall perspective.

How do we understand what health benefits and wellness initiatives employees value? Beyond surveys, are there additional ways to learn what is important to employees and how they want to receive communications? For instance, a member shared that most employees at one of their locations use a flip phone. This would rule out using text messaging and email when sharing information about benefits or open enrollment. These employees had to use a computer to access the information, which was not how they traditionally spend time. This scenario emphasized the importance of really knowing your people. Also, it inspired other members to consider whether their communications were reaching the household decision-maker in the right way at the right time.

This led to another common thread uncovered during conversations centered on regional and demographic differences in an employee population and how those impact technology adoption, chronic disease, likelihood of utilizing the E.R. vs. primary care, and health-related habits. Again, it goes back to really knowing your people. How do we make sure the solutions we offer get to our employees?

Related discussions focused on bringing employees’ voices into the decision-making process through surveys and roundtables—much like the conversations we have been hosting with members. What do you know about your employees? Members reported how some employees are desperately struggling to manage the cost of groceries, gasoline, student loans, housing and basic costs of living. The cost of eating out is so great, they are not going out on weekends. They are not driving across town like they might have in the past because fueling up is so expensive. They’re cutting out the extras. It compromises health and whether a person accesses care. What can we do to support our people given their circumstances?

We can start by asking them what matters.

Trust us, they’re already talking to each other. It’s time for us to lean in as we consider benefits design, communications, and wellness initiatives. According to Degreed, employees are 147% more likely to connect with peers who have similar skills. Employees turn to each other to learn, which is important for employers to recognize as we learn from each other and gather insight from our teams.

Mental health and delivering supports on-site in the workplace and off-site in the community was an important discussion. According to a Harvard Business Review study, 92% of new and upcoming graduates say it’s important that they feel comfortable talking about mental health at work. Sixty-one percent would leave a current role for better mental health benefits, and 54% would turn down a job offer if it didn’t come with work-life balance. This ties into members sharing paid-time off and flex-time policies that offer employees the “permission” to make important doctors’ appointments and to see mental health professionals during the workday, if necessary.

From wellness programs that work to modernizing Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and maximizing vendor value, our members unlocked a wealth of information to take back to their businesses. I overheard one member struggling with a vendor reporting system accept a generous offer from a peer. “I’ll call you tomorrow and help you,” she said.

Those three words—I’ll help you—are exactly what we all need right now. And as we move into holiday celebrations, gift-giving, time with family and friends, and some time off from the everyday schedule, we wish you—of all things—some peace and a “pause button” to reflect, regroup, and rest as we head into the New Year.

About Health Action Council 
Health Action Council is a not-for-profit 501(c)(6) organization representing mid-and large-size employers that enhance human and economic health through thought leadership, innovative services, and collaboration. It provides value to its members by facilitating projects that improve the quality and moderate the cost of healthcare purchased by its members for their employees, dependents, and retirees. Health Action Council also collaborates with key stakeholders – health plans, physicians, hospitals, and the pharmaceutical industry – to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare in the community.

Patty Starr bio image

About the author

Patty Starr

Patty Starr is president and CEO of Health Action Council and is responsible for driving the strategic direction of the organization--build stronger, healthier communities where business can thrive. 

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