In our first article in this series, we talked about building your total rewards strategy. Now, let's dig into some questions to gut-check whether it is working:

  • Are your employees consistently maximizing the benefits available to them?
  • Are your employees and broader community recognizing your organization's investments in employee benefits?
  • Is your total rewards program fostering a great workplace culture?

If your answer to any of these questions is no, poor communication is likely to blame. Investing in a total rewards program is only the first step. To maximize its effectiveness, you need to account for when, where and how these benefits are communicated to staff. When you fail to do so, employees lack both knowledge and appreciation of the benefits available to them.

This is a missed opportunity — and a common one.

Just 26% of healthcare organizations have a comprehensive employee communication strategy.1 Why?

Communication is often pegged as a soft discipline, or a nice to have. But in reality, it's the foundation of your total rewards strategy. An effective communication strategy is key to reaping the benefits of total rewards. We'll restate it because it is that important: your employees can't fully appreciate or engage with the total rewards you offer them if they don't know the benefits exist.

Health systems will spend $15-18K on benefits per employee. But often they spend less than a cup of coffee on communicating those benefits.
Rob Brinkerhoff, national managing director, Healthcare practice, Gallagher

Here's what an effective communication strategy looks like in practice

  1. Proactive. Leadership anticipates employee needs and confirms them through multiple feedback channels: surveys, focus groups, rounding.
  2. Bidirectional. Employees are heard and seen by their leaders. Surveys are a great starting point. Even better: face time. Leaders prioritize focus groups or rounding to share their goals and vision for the organization, and employees share their thoughts on their personal work experiences.
  3. Continual. Leaders have an operational calendar built around workforce communications (e.g., benefits and engagement surveys, performance management cycles, board meetings).
  4. Multimodal. Total rewards benefits are promoted through all internal channels: email campaigns, message boards, physical signage, manager communications, leadership updates, internal communications apps and so on.

If your current total rewards communication is limited to hiring and open enrollment periods, it will take time (and effort) to flesh out a comprehensive strategy. But it will be worth it.

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What results can you expect?

  • Employees maximize use of their benefits package. Employees are aware of the full range of their benefits and — critically — know how to use them. Dollars aren't invested in underused benefits.
  • Your organization gets credit for investing in employees' total wellbeing. Internally, your organization builds good will with existing employees, contributing to higher morale and sense of value among staff. Externally, your organization builds a reputation as a great place to work, making it easier to attract new talent. Engaged employees create brand champions, which helps to increase brand awareness.
  • Leadership builds a culture of trust and transparency. Employees believe their feedback is welcomed and feel confident that you are listening to and prioritizing their needs.

Want a quick way to find out how much you need to improve your communication strategy around total rewards? As you meet with employees this week, ask them this simple set of questions:

  • Which of our employee benefits do you most appreciate? Why?
  • How can we best support your growth at our organization?
  • What's standing in the way of your ability to do your job well?

Then use that feedback to inform where you need to put in additional effort or focus. This may be a humbling exercise, but it will get you moving in the right direction.

The Health Management Academy

The Health Management Academy (The Academy) powers our community to drive health forward. Our community is made up of healthcare's most influential change makers including executives from the top 150 U.S. health systems and the most innovative industry partners. We power our members by building our community and fostering connections through executive peer learning. We support professional growth through talent and development. We accelerate understanding by delivering timely and actionable data and insights on key challenges. And we catalyze transformation by building alliances in areas where the power of the collective is greater than the power of one. More information is available at www.hmacademy.com.




The Academy extends its appreciation to Gallagher for their sponsorship of this article.


Sources

1"2022 Benefits Strategy & Benchmarking Survey," Gallagher, 2022.