There seems to be a little bit of quiet time in the Health Care Debate hullaballoo right now. The President, the Congress and the Media are trying to get a break in before Labor Day, just like the rest of us. Before the din picks up again, I’d like to say something out loud to all of us in HR.
When it comes to getting the message out about health care – coverage, costs, relationships with providers, healthy practices, you name it – each one of us has done a better job in our career than any of the parties involved in the national debate right now.
Here are a couple of examples of what I mean:
• We recognize that healthcare benefits are an emotional issue. When we plan communications about benefit changes, we take employees’ worries into account. Our plan addresses their concerns early, candidly and in detail.
• We know that employees who are afraid can’t listen. In fact, they are likely to misunderstand what we’re trying to say.
• We make sure that we answer the persistent question, “what’s in it for me?” And if the answer is a fairly cheerless one, we know that we’ve got to give employees a really good reason why.
• We realize that employees need to agree with the reason why. Maybe not at first, but soon. It’s our job to make a good case for it.
• We know healthcare coverage is confusing. We change the elaborate legalese and complicated details into clear, basic descriptions and examples that people can rely on when they panic because they have become ill.
• We build a sound case for benefit changes -- one that can validly be linked to the greater good of the organization to which we all belong.
Why don’t they?
If we rely on this body of knowledge to create effective healthcare communications, why aren’t the politicians and Media tapping into it? Why has the national debate over the last few weeks resembled the Tower of Babel?
I could go on, but I’m telling you what you already know. We’d be out of a job if our communications led to the recent “Town Hall debates” about Health Care.
Margaret O’Hanlon is founder and principal of re:Think Consulting. She has decades of experience teaming up with clients to ensure great Human Resource ideas deliver valuable business results. Margaret brings deep expertise in total rewards communication to the dialogue at the Café; before founding re:Think Consulting, she was a Principal in Total Rewards Communications with Towers Perrin. Margaret earned her M.S. and Ed.S. in Instructional Technology at Indiana University. Creative writing is one of her outside passions.