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What’s Your Benefits Story?

We don’t use our healthcare benefits every day, but when a situation occurs that triggers a doctor’s visit, a trip to the emergency room or another medical need, the value of our health insurance becomes real.

I was recently reminded of this while talking with a paramedic working in the ER who also works full-time for a local EMS. He shared that he works in the hospital for the healthcare benefits, which are so much better than his other employer’s benefits. It’s worth him juggling a hectic schedule, spending time away from family and friends, and sacrificing free time and other activities. Imagine the decision-making that went into taking a second job to access quality benefits. 

The paramedic told a story that resonates with many employees because health and wellness benefits are a priority for them and their families. In fact, a good benefits package is preferred to a higher salary, according to a report by the Alliance to Fight for Healthcare that released in May 2021. 

The benefits you offer matter. They attract good people to your organization—and keep them there. Benefits improve morale and show employees that they are valued. In the same study, 83% of respondents with employer benefits were satisfied with their health insurance, and 86% considered the quality excellent or good. This shows the critical role employers play in providing health insurance. The question is how can we better engage and educate employees on their benefits as we enter the open enrollment season?

Tell the story. 

Storytelling can bring a benefits package to life, humanizing what can feel like an overwhelming packet of data. Stories bring words off of paper and into reality. They allow you to teach employees how to use benefits when they really need them.

Sharing the personal side of health benefits emphasizes how insurance is a value proposition and differentiator. It can help employees understand the plan’s value, potential changes to the plan, policies and procedures.

Remember that despite a year of uncertainty, the employee marketplace is evolving and shifting. Employees and prospective employees are sharing their thoughts by quitting their jobs and driving the Great Resignation, which began in April 2021. This further underlines the need for employers to use storytelling to promote their benefits, values and culture. 

Now is an ideal time to shift the way we approach open enrollment communications. Through storytelling, we can share relatable experiences that help gain buy-in and a common vision.

So, where do you start?

When you think about your health insurance and benefits story, consider what you want to share about the organization's values and what employee behaviors you hope to change. What activities do you hope to drive? What do you want to teach, and what lessons do you want your people to take with them? Then, create a story that is relevant and easy to follow. 

For example, you might want to emphasize the importance of creating a healthcare partnership with a primary care physician, dentist or other specialists so when employees need care, they can turn to someone they trust and who knows them. Or a focus might be on increasing utilization of wellness benefits by encouraging employees to use gym membership discounts or tap into smoking cessation programs. To do so, share an inspiring story from an employee that made big changes that resulted in some real health gains.

Showcasing your team members’ successes to tell your benefits story is one strategy for engaging employees because they’re hearing from a peer. 

Stories that keep you interested, prompt you to try something new, are memorable or provide direction to manage a tough situation have a few things in common. First, great stories inform and share what we know. Second, they engage and communicate in a way that captures attention. Finally, great stories inspire us. 

As you consider how to share your benefits story with employees during this year’s open enrollment, think about your own experiences and ask your team members to share theirs. By leveling with employees through storytelling, you can convey meaningful messages that engage employees.  
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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