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A Well-Designed Plan—Keep It Simple, Keep It Purposeful

If we’ve learned anything during the last two years, it’s that change happens—and successful organizations reflect, adapt, learn and grow as a result of change.

Reflecting on the February letter that shared how we are all start-ups in some way, the way that we “re-start” and reimagine how we do things should be intentional. 

Dieter Rams offers his Ten Principles of ‘Good Design'. This guidance can apply to any company, not just those involved in design. Really, we’re all in the business of design, and this includes creating benefits and wellness programs that are modern and address the needs of the employees. 

As you consider your employee population, their health and wellness requirements, and how you’re progressing forward in changing times, think about these principles and how they might help you thrive as an organization, attract and retain great talent, and deliver value to clients and communities.

Sure, this might sound lofty. But the principles spell out in a simple way what “good design” is in a less-is-more way. How might you implement some of these best practices into your strategic planning processes, benefits programs, recruiting initiatives, and company culture? Think about it. 

Good Design Is Innovative 
Proactive product development can be as simple as tweaking a process or making basic communications changes so you’re reaching your audience. Or, it can mean adding an option that meets the needs of employees. Innovation doesn’t have to be complex, but it is forward-thinking. As a Council, we serve as a platform for bringing employers together to share knowledge, ideas, and experiences so we can learn how to get better from each other. 

Good Design Is Long-Lasting 
When we look at the benefits and wellness ecosystem, there are core elements that build a structured program. A long-lasting benefits program has a strong foundation that we must review and edit constantly so it is relevant and serves the needs of our employees. To achieve good design, we need to be on a mission of continuous learning and improvement. 

Good Design Makes a Product Useful 
A product is purchased to be used. It must satisfy certain criteria—not just functionally, but from a psychological and aesthetic perspective. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product. In the case of benefits design, “usage” is the key—proper utilization that improves quality of life. That includes encouraging health screenings, preventive visits and services that maintain or improve employees’ risk factors and basing your program off data you gather that identifies the services your employee population needs. There’s a critical communication piece involved here, too. You can offer the perfect product, but if people don’t know about it or how it will help them, what good is it? 

Good Design Is Thorough Down to the Last Detail 
Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process shows respect toward the consumer. For benefits, this speaks to knowing your audience. Who will use the plan? What health issues are they battling? What wellness initiatives could you integrate into a program to prevent health risks or decline? When you know your audience, you can harness data to create employee personas that can direct benefit plan decisions. 

Good Design Makes a Product Understandable 
From communications to employee education, the way we explain health benefits and wellness offerings to our people will influence how they utilize a plan. And let’s face it, benefits and healthcare documents are like reading a foreign language. They’re full of technicalities and disclaimers—exclusions and fine print that, frankly, is glossed over. What’s the solution? Tell stories. When we take a storytelling approach and describe relatable scenarios, employees gain a real-life understanding of the product they’re getting and how to use it. 

Good Design Is as Little Design as Possible 
Less really is more. When we design intentionally and with a lean approach, products are not burdened with non-essentials. It’s back to purity, back to simplicity. Here’s an important question to ask: Have we over-engineered our benefits? Are we making it too complicated to utilize and understand? If we are really exercising the elements of good design and taking the time to reflect, an important question to ask is: How can we simplify this? 

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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