Open enrollment for 2021 is fast approaching, and the unique environment of 2020 has already added to a growing list of strategic challenges for employers.
A slight shift in perspective, however, and you may find that the pandemic has helped set the stage to positively influence employee health and performance like never before by placing an extra emphasis on mental wellness.
Mental Health Support: A Leading Employee Need for 2021
While the COVID-19 pandemic has been a traumatic world event, it has also been a catalyst for progress. Many social issues previously ignored or unseen have been elevated to prominence. Among those issues is mental wellness — and many employers have taken note.
According to a Mercer survey, 28% of companies listed mental health support as one of the most common additions to their 2021 open enrollment offerings. Of those companies with these employee health and wellness offerings (EAPs or targeted vendor mental health solutions), over 66% saw an increase in use in 2020.
Demand for employee mental wellness support is growing, but much of the population is still hesitant or unaware of what is available to them. Additionally, one size does not fit all, and any solution must account for the cognitive biases and barriers of the population served. Access and usage have historically been lower among minorities for a number of reasons, many of which have been starkly highlighted by the disparate impacts of the pandemic and social unrest.
Effective communication of your mental wellness messaging during 2021 open enrollment is critical to overcoming the shared and individual barriers to care your employees are facing. Integrating behavioral science into your approach can help you do so, as in these mental wellness open enrollment strategies.
4 Tips for an Open Enrollment Mental Wellness Strategy
Empathy is a powerful tool to help you engage each employee as an individual, truly recognizing their personal journey to wellness.
- Present mental wellness support information in more accessible ways. It is important to focus on the message, but equally important to think about the channels through which that message is communicated. Consider other methods of engagement that go beyond brochures and HR department emails that ask employees to actively engage. Try placing information in areas employees congregate. If your company possesses the capabilities, use digital signage. In a work-from-home environment platforms like chat or a blog-feed offer plenty of opportunities to encourage employee-led mental wellness content.
- Use social proof to reduce the stigma around mental wellness. Consider the structure of your organization and involve trusted leaders with a letter or other message acknowledging the importance of mental health. This combines two powerful cognitive biases of social proof and messenger effect.
- Help employees understand there are multiple pathways to mental wellness. You may provide a wide range of options; however, some people may not recognize the need for targeted options like therapy. Try a “tiered” approach to mental wellness support —begin with life services like nutritional advice, fitness, or stress reduction that can transition into additional resources. Those are all pathways to improved mental wellness.
- Communicate to employees that you care about them as a whole person. Acknowledging and communicating the importance of mental wellness from a position of empathy is critical. Frame mental wellness in a way that has a direct correlation to their quality of life, something more tangible than a monetary incentive.
Behavior Change Opportunity: Mental Health Salience and Open Enrollment
Outside of a large claim, employer-provided coverage and what that entails is most salient for employees during open enrollment. These strategies can maximize impact to drive interest in employer-provided mental wellness support during this critical window.
Mental well-being is important throughout the year, however, sustainable behavior change can be more complicated. If you’re interested in taking your organization’s mental wellness initiative further for scalable behavior change that can both empower and improve the health of your workforce (which directly impacts productivity), Lirio can help.
Lirio’s behavior change programs help you engage employees at the individual level so you can truly understand their concerns and needs. We use a combination of behavioral science and machine learning to create optimized messaging that moves people along their best path to mental wellness. Behavior Change AI has generated great results for our partners and has been shown to surpass the effectiveness of standard approaches.
Learn More In A Webinar
To learn more about the important role employers play in employee mental wellness and for some additional tips check out our recent webinar, “Employee Mental Well-Being: Where Are We and What’s Next?,” featuring guest speaker Arielle Trczcinski of Forrester Research.
Trczcinski shares interesting data on the connections between employee wellness and the pandemic and highlights some ways employers can enhance communications to drive more awareness to employee mental health programs.
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