The 4 Fundamental Principles of Fabulous FAQ’s


"Um, yeah. Hello, HR. I have NO idea what the heck this FAQ thing is. Can you tell me how much my brand name prescription will cost next year?"

“Um, yeah. Hello, HR. I have NO idea what the heck this FAQ thing is. Can you tell me how much my brand name prescription will cost next year?”

Is it just us or does it seem like everyone has a few extra questions about their healthcare plans this year? We’re in the early stages of drafting open enrollment communications for our clients and we’re beginning to notice a few trends.

One, in particular, is taking the lead as the number one problem for 2013. It’s the epic saga you’re trying to call a FAQ Flyer.

And it’s not really doing anyone any favors.

We get that you’re anxious to provide some sort of answers to employees this year. We get that a lot is changing as you onboard more employees, move towards consumer driven health plans, and focus on leading employees to become their own best healthcare advocates. There’s a lot of ground to cover.

But we think you’ll get further by taking a step back, regrouping and committing to these basic communications principles as you prepare to lead your employees through some of the biggest changes our healthcare system has ever seen.

Keep this year’s FAQ’s from becoming useless information graveyards by following these 4 Fundamental Principles of Fabulous FAQ’s:

  • Divide and conquer – rather than having one FAQ document to address all things benefits related, we’ve seen better results by lumping your questions and answers together by topic. So if you have a question about your medical plan, head over to the Medical Plan FAQ’s. And if you have a question about your prescription plan? Start with the Prescription Plan FAQ’s. Naturally, there will be some overlap between documents. You wouldn’t want to ignore prescriptions under medical, but you may not need to go into as much detail there. 
  • Re-organize as you go – this is the biggest mistake we see. It’s tempting to dump every question you get from an employee into your FAQ’s. But it’s a huge mistake. We advise that you wait until you’ve heard the same question at least three times before you weave it into your FAQ’s. As the content expands, you must be mindful of where you’re adding new questions. They may flow more logically in the middle, near a question addressing similar concerns. Do not just tack every random question onto the end of your FAQs! No one will read through every question in a desperate attempt to glean a tiny nugget of wisdom from your 32-page FAQ’s. They will bail on you and they will ultimately bail on your next communications piece – no matter how beautiful, well-written, or high-priority it may be.
  • K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid) – It’s tempting to go into great detail in an effort to answer a question as fully as possible. But you need to bear in mind the purpose of a FAQ document — simple Q and A’s, that’s it. Inevitably, any question related to healthcare plans or benefits will entail a lengthy and complex answer. Whenever it’s possible, you should use links to other resources that more fully answer your employee’s question. This keeps your FAQ’s more succinct and helps employees scan the content quickly to discover the resources they need to resolve their issues and get back to work.
  • Format it!!! – We’re not saying that you need to have photos, charts and adorable little infographics to make your FAQ’s legible. But we are saying, use that little “B” in the toolbar (you know, the one that makes things “bold”)! Increase the point size of your “question” and group your questions under logical headlines. Don’t just throw 23 questions into a word document and think someone’s going to read it. With a few simple tweaks, you can make a drab word document into a very user-friendly guide that actually delivers information and helps employees solve many of their own problems—without making a call to HR!

Keep these basic principles in mind as you’re drafting communications to guide your employees through the complex changes headed their way this year. A little forethought up front always makes it easier in the end. Your employees will be able to grab the bits of information they need and get back to work without interrupting your day with the same old questions again and again.


[box] HRLifePreserverLogo_smallIf you’re drowning in a sea of to-do’s and need a hand to get you back on board with strategic employee communications, give us a call. Our “HR Lifeline” call is designed to help you target your biggest challenges and develop a plan for becoming a better communicator. When you schedule your call, we’ll send you our “HR Life Preserver Pack,” explaining how we help HR Managers like you stop drowning in the sea of overwhelm and start leading your organization with effective communications.[/box]