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3 Tips to Encourage Health Literacy

3 Tips to Encourage Health Literacy
Posted on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 by Rae Shanahan
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books.jpgHR/benefits pros are behind the 8 ball. 

books

Most U.S. employees spend 15 minutes or less selecting their benefits, many would rather have a root canal than go through Annual Enrollment, and a fair amount also say navigating benefits is worse than losing their cell phone. All of those statistics are real.

And then, when you consider that unless an emergency or major milestone occurs, most employees don’t spend time with their benefits until the next enrollment period – HR/benefits pros are behind the 8 ball.

The key to changing the game – and running the table, so to speak – with employee engagement is creating better benefits understanding. That’s why honoring Health Literacy Month in October is perfectly timed: Promoting the importance of understandable health information, just in time for Annual Enrollment. Here are three ways to do just that:

Broaden the definition of health

Most of us likely think “health literacy” refers to being informed about your physical health. While that is an important part of it, health encompasses many other aspects of life, too.

For example, financial health is top of mind for many employees, with 37 percent saying they spend three or more hours at work each week thinking about their finances. And though employers are increasingly offering financial benefits as a means to recruit and retain top talent, a lot of employees don’t understand how to choose and use these offerings. Mental wellness is another aspect of health that matters to employees, though many may not be aware of resources available to them through their employer.

Incorporating the whole health spectrum and relevant benefits available to employees into your health literacy initiatives can go a long way in driving a better enrollment and year-round benefits experience.

Acknowledge generational differences

With the retirement age on the rise, Millennials surpassing Baby Boomers and Gen Xers as the largest group in the workforce, and Gen Z on the verge of starting careers, we’re seeing greater than ever generational diversity among today’s employee population.

While there are certainly some similarities among the generations, they tend to have different priorities and preferences when it comes to benefits, especially since employees’ needs are driven heavily by life stage – physically, financially, and with their families. It’s important to be aware of these differences and customize health literacy initiatives to meet each generation’s unique needs.  

Identify and uplift internal health literacy advocates

Though HR plays an important role in promoting health literacy, there’s no reason we have to do it alone! Employees tend to be influenced by their peers, which makes your employees the ideal advocates to help drive health literacy in the workplace.

Consider starting an employee task force dedicated to planning health literacy initiatives and encouraging their colleagues to participate. Getting employee input also ensures initiatives will resonate with your workforce and truly have a lasting impact.

Download our recent webinar for more great ideas on how to promote health literacy at your organization.

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