Mobile Apps Can Help Companies Save Money, Boost Productivity & Increase Employee Engagement

Posted on May 7, 2015 | 0 comments

  How many times have you tried to quickly find an in-network doctor, only to discover you had to first log on to your employee portal to access your benefits information? When you need your benefits information fast, but you are miles away from your office or can’t remember your log in to the benefits portal, you feel powerless and frustrated. The same frustration arises for your employees every time they hit a roadblock when they need to access their benefit plan information for themselves or their family members. Requiring your employees to rely solely on outdated, cumbersome systems for their benefits information not only chips away at productivity and employee morale, it costs your organization money. Employees don’t want to waste their time—or yours—searching for the details of their benefits coverage when a decision needs to be made in the moment. However, the reality is that employees are often forced to make hasty decisions on unexpected medical appointments, prescription decisions, or urgent care. When access to benefits information is limited to antiquated methods, such as workplace portals, home computers, or print brochures, employees feel disenfranchised and helpless navigating the complexities of leveraging their benefits effectively. The result is often delaying treatment or making costly decisions, such as using out-of-network providers or accepting uncovered services. What your employees really want is an easy-to-use system that they can access anytime, anywhere. Most people already use smart phone technology to access information. Taking advantage of the convenience and versatility of mobile communications is the smartest choice for companies who want to reach their employees beyond the firewall. That’s why we created Mobile Benefits Connection™. This easy-to-use, low-cost solution empowers your employees to make smarter in-the-moment decisions any time they need to use their company benefits. Mobile Benefits Connection is a web-based app designed to function as a simple portal that allows employees instant access to all the important phone numbers, addresses, and websites associated with their benefits providers. CLICK HERE to see Mobile Benefits Connection in action, and to learn more about how this simple solution is helping employees make smarter benefits decisions year-round that save your company money, boost productivity, and foster deeper engagement.   Share...

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5 Reasons Mobile Communications Are Smarter Than Ever

Posted on Oct 21, 2014 | 0 comments

Internal communications isn’t special. Yep, sorry. You’re not special. You are subject to the same challenges and obstacles of any other marketer vying for the attention of your employees. So, what does that mean for you? It means that your internal communications strategy must embrace the same technology and outlets that every other advertiser is using to reach your employees. The strategies and tactics of yesterday no longer apply. The days of the beautifully bound New Hire kit living on a shelf in your employee’s cubicle are behind us. The kits have been replaced with a grab bag of web links, intranet tabs, and emailed PDF’s. If your communications are living behind a firewall, only available on your company Intranet, or getting tossed into the recycle bin with all the other junk mail it may be time to go mobile. Here are five reasons a mobile platform belongs in your employee communications strategy…   Timing is everything. If you’re a good employer, your people get to go home at some point every day, right? So what happens when an employee is off site—whether that’s at home, the doctor’s office, traveling for work, or just working in the field away from a computer? Do they just get a backlog of “important” updates when they come into the office? Or are you able to reach them beyond the office walls with the tools and information they need to make the work and life decisions that impact your business? Thanks to the conveniences of modern technology we have become a culture of instant gratification. The ability to take swift action on important initiatives is a key driver in participation and the ultimate achievement of your targeted outcomes. With a mobile platform as part of your strategy you empower employees to make decisions in the moment as the needs arise so they don’t have to remember to take action later. Credibility is critical. Consistent communication between management and employees is the key to building credible and trustworthy relationships. When you leverage the simplicity and convenience of mobile tools it becomes easier to communicate with employees. When it’s easier to communicate, it happens more often. When you communicate more often the relationship improves. Your employees aren’t the only ones depending on you.  You may never see or even know some of the most influential people behind your Company. They’re behind the scenes, off-site, and they may have never stepped foot in your offices. They’re the spouses, children and families of your employees—and you can’t reach them via all-employee memo or the company Intranet. You HAVE TO go beyond the walls to reach some of the most influential people in your employees’ lives. Mobile platforms make it convenient for your employees and their families to leverage the benefits and opportunities that keep your people safe, healthy and loyal to your Company. It opens a direct line between you and the support system that keeps your people on track beyond the walls of work. Smart phones are the fastest growing platform.  The data demonstrating the furious rise in smart phone usage is undeniable: 91% of all people on earth have a mobile phone¹ 56% of people own a smart phone¹ 50% of mobile phone users, use mobile as their primary Internet source¹ 66% of emails are now opened on a smart phone or tablet² If you’re not on your employees’ smart phones, chances are you’re not being heard by 50% of your audience! Engagement. It’s the holy grail of HR goals. Engaged employees are the drivers of our businesses. They make our lives easier by showing up,...

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Get Centered, Get More Done

Posted on Jan 6, 2014 | 3 comments

As a creative agency dedicated to making peoples’ work lives better we strive to make work work for us. Sometimes that means we work off-site, or on the patio overlooking the creek at the back of the office. Usually it just means you’ll find us running around with no shoes on, hopped up on Starbucks, and jamming out to Miley while we work. In an effort to keep things fresh last week we installed a mindfulness browser plug-in from the Plum Village monastery. Every hour it chimes to remind us to breathe in and breathe out three times. It took us a while to stop giggling when we’d stop mid-conversation to breath, but we quickly came to love this minor adjustment in our workdays. Yesterday, the chime went off during a client call and rather than ignore it, I explained to our client what he was hearing and asked if he’d like to take advantage of the reminder to stop and take three deep breaths in and out. Much to my delight, he did! So there I sat in my sock feet meditating with a senior human resources manager halfway across the country. The meeting reconvened with laughter and gratitude. We wrapped up the remainder of our call having covered all of our agenda items with fifteen minutes to spare! Who’s to say that the chimes were responsible for getting us off of our call earlier? I don’t know that they can take full credit. It’s certainly not the first time a client call took less time than we had planned. But I can say that the rest of the call was effortless. We both found ourselves agreeably divvying up our tasks and responsibilities and eager to move on to the next agenda item. This week I’m meeting with all of our team members to talk about their intentions for 2014. This is NOT a performance review. This is NOT a goal-setting session. It is NOT a “check-in” or a “touch-base.” It’s a sacred time that we’ve set aside just to envision what each member of our team wants in the year ahead. It’s our way of taking a deep breath and getting in touch with what makes work work for us. What will you do to get in touch with what makes work work for you? If mindfulness is at the top of your list (or if you just want to giggle at how silly it makes you feel to close your eyes and focus on breathing every hour), you can download the Plum Village Mindfulness Bell here. Share...

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UPS Did (and You Can Too)! How to Dump Your Spouses on Someone Else…

Posted on Aug 21, 2013 | 0 comments

I was pumping gas and reading the news on my phone this morning when I almost dropped my phone – “UPS Drops 15,000 Spouses from Insurance.” My mind was reeling at the news. The first article I read sensationally left out the word “spouses” to make it even more salacious—as if 15,000 employees were losing individual benefits. However, as I read through various other news sources, the picture got a LOT clearer. So let’s back up and regroup now that the initial fit of hysteria is settling. Yes. UPS IS planning to eliminate coverage for 15,000 spouses. But only those spouses who are eligible for coverage through their own employers. No one is getting left completely in the lurches or sent packing without healthcare coverage! That’s just media hype and sensationalist journalism. Many large employers already tack on an increase in fees for employees whose spouses are covered by their plan instead of one provided by their spouse’s own employer. UPS has taken a difficult stance to help cover increasing costs for providing healthcare to their employees. With a significant part-time workforce the company will be faced with an increase in costs to either provide coverage to those employees or pay the fees for failing to do so—all new provisions that go into effect with the ACA in 2014. It’s a controversial decision, but UPS is not alone in this trend. This year 4% of large employers surveyed by consultants Towers Watson excluded spouses if they had similar coverage where they work. Another 8% planned such a change for 2014, according to the survey. (source USA Today) It’s never easy to tell your employees that benefits costs are rising, or worse yet—that benefits are going away. Proper timing, planning, and communications are key to helping employees weather these storms. Reportedly, a memo was issued to the 15,000 employees who will be impacted by this decision. We don’t know what other forms of communication were distributed, but here’s what we would advise: Create a comprehensive communications plan to help guide employees and their spouses through this transition. Know HOW you’re going to deliver those details—email, meetings, online, print, or a combination of all of these. Issue an Employee Memo to those affected by the change (good move UPS). Explain why the company is making this decision. Don’t JUST blame external factors like the ACA. Map out a clear support strategy that employees can follow. When will they get more details? How? Where?  Issue a Managers Memo with best practices, talking points, and a schedule of upcoming opportunities for managers and employees to learn more about the pending changes. Set up an Employee Hotline/Inbox dedicated exclusively to this topic. 15,000 people are bound to have tons of questions. The sooner you answer them, the sooner they can get back to work. Schedule employee town halls/webinars – sharing information about the pending changes in a group forum allows employees an opportunity to voice their concerns directly to managers. It also allows them a chance to see who else is affected by these changes and lean on one another for additional support. Mail a postcard home – yes, it’s a little odd to still receive snail mail from your employer – but that’s precisely why it still works. And since spouses bear the brunt of this bad news, we have to advise that at least ONE mail piece be sent directly to the homes of your employees with a link to online resources or a hotline they can call about the pending changes. The cost of a communications campaign like the one above far outweighs...

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Why We Care SO Much About Employee Happiness

Posted on Aug 19, 2013 | 1 comment

This year, we started a practice at Lab Monkey Communications that had our team scratching their heads a bit at first. We kick off our weekly production meetings by going around the room and sharing “what’s new and good.” On Tuesday mornings, we share everything from getting engaged, to the discovery of keyboard shortcuts that have revolutionized our lives. Whatever’s new and good just comes up and gets us laughing before we dive into the hiccups, problems and pitfalls we need to resolve during the week ahead. Some days it’s like shock therapy for us when we stop and force ourselves to dream up something new and good about our day. Which is precisely why it’s a mandatory part of our team meeting. We spend countless hours troubleshooting and looking at the challenges in our work lives, but precious few are spent appreciating the good. This weekend while holed up and hiding out from Atlanta’s unusually dreary summer weather, I discovered a TEDx Talk by Shawn Achor all about zeroing in on happiness. We know that happy employees are more productive at work. But we struggle with just HOW to make people happy. External factors only account for a shocking 10% of what contributes to our happiness. In this TEDx Talk, Shawn Achor races through some mind-blowing insights that could transform your workforce. He also shares some interesting best practices that could re-wire your employees’ brains and help them reconnect with happiness. Lab Monkeys be warned—we’ll be discussing this at our next meeting! Are you ready for a 21-Day Happiness Challenge? Take twelve minutes to watch this. I guarantee you’ll feel happier when you’re finished. Share...

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The 4 Fundamental Principles of Fabulous FAQ’s

Posted on Jun 25, 2013 | 0 comments

  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...

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