Three Key Messages for HR Managers in the New Year

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It’s officially the first full work week of the new year. The week when honoring our New Year’s Resolutions meets its first real test.

For me the biggest test is not hitting the snooze button three times in a row when the clock strikes 5:45! Tack on 30 minutes to that wake-up call and it gets easier and easier to “run out of time” to squeeze in that morning workout.

But change is in the air, and it’s the perfect time to capitalize on that energy to make big changes in your life and the lives of your employees. We spend so much time planning and rolling out our communications strategies each Fall during Open Enrollment that we are often spent by the time January finally rolls around.

So take a deep breath, get your second wind and remind your employees of the benefits and wellness programs they signed up for two or three months ago.

Focus on these three messages this January to help your employees successfully navigate the changes in the air:

Provider Contact Information – nobody knows who to call or where to go to make sure their doctors are still in their network this time of year. Draft an email or post a flyer (or both) listing all of the benefits plans you’re providing this year. Be sure to include the names of the providers, their phone numbers, email addresses and web sites.

Wellness Programs – everyone is trying to lose weight or stop smoking this time of year. You know how much your employees’ wellness impacts their performance and how it benefits the company’s bottom line when it comes to dollars spent on healthcare coverage. Make sure employees understand how to use these programs by posting flyers, inviting the program providers to host lunch and learn activities, and providing managers with tools and training to help boost employee participation in these programs.

Pre-Tax Savings Programs – although we avoided that annoying “fiscal cliff,” Americans are facing increased Social Security Taxes which will noticeably decrease their take-home pay. Taking full advantage of pre-tax savings opportunities such as investing in retirement plans or contributing to HSAs and FSAs is a smart way to help employees counteract some of the negative impact on their paychecks. Few things fuel more workplace dissatisfaction than a dip in take-home pay. Employers who rally to help their employees counteract measures beyond their control (i.e. acts of Congress) will be better positioned to weather the storm this year.

The bottom line is that consistent communications are crucial in shaping the success of your workforce. Be a proactive listener, anticipate your employees’ needs, and reach out to them with timely information on the benefits and programs intended to support them throughout the year.