Thank you for reading the July 2020 edition of Loud and Clear — a communications newsletter from Tipton Health. This inaugural edition features advice on how to make open enrollment communications simpler, insights on how to communicate with employees in the new normal, and tips from the experts at Tipton Health Communications.
- A Note from Dan Tipton
- COVID-19 Communication Lessons Learned at NewYork–Presbyterian
- Strategies for Communicating in the “New Normal”
- Make Open Enrollment Easy-to-Understand for Your Employees
- Six Tactics to Calm and Engage Employees During Uncertainty
- Keys to Success
- Tipton Awards Spotlight
A Note from Dan Tipton
Welcome to the inaugural edition of Tipton Health’s quarterly communications newsletter, Loud and Clear. We are excited to share expert perspectives and strategies from our communication strategists, consultants and clients. Use the best practices in each issue to engage and educate your internal and external stakeholders.
We are launching the newsletter now, because effective and clear communications are more important than ever. Your employees and stakeholders need to know what is happening within the organization.
We hope you enjoy this first edition of the newsletter. Like all good communications, two-way feedback is integral. Feel free to send a note with ideas and topics you would like to see covered in future editions of the newsletter.
COVID-19 Communication Lessons Learned at NewYork–Presbyterian
Within the span of two weeks, hospitals in New York City went from normal operations to patients flooding their ICUs—with COVID-19 setting up camp for the next three months. New York City was soon reporting the highest number of confirmed cases, leaving nursing leaders to wonder how they could respond efficiently and keep up with rising numbers of patients. They turned to their emergency response plans, which included communication best practices during a disaster.
Courtney Vose, VP and CNO of NewYork–Presbyterian/Columbia/Allen, shares how making communications a part of the emergency planning process helped to keep nurses and internal stakeholders informed and engaged during the unprecedented uphill battle against COVID-19.
Listen and Respond
The key during any situation is to listen to your teams. How? Always be rounding. Leadership rounding at the unit and department level will help them better understand what teams throughout the organization are experiencing, what they may need and how they can respond to those needs in a timely manner.
During the first wave of the pandemic, hospitals and health systems everywhere better understood the importance of communicating with every level of the organization. Successful communication plans are key to navigating a pandemic. Knowing what to say, when to say it and who to say it to are key to ensuring your messages are heard and understood. NewYork–Presbyterian found success communicating with its staff by:
• Holding daily virtual briefings for all, including frontline staff
• Ensuring leaders are visible on all shifts, not just first and second
• Holding daily online meetings with team leaders to ensure there is two-way communications and questions are answered right away
In a profession dedicated to helping others, it can be difficult to pause and acknowledge all the good being accomplished. Encourage your leaders to give recognition to their teams and to initiate self-recognition. Your staff needs to know their hard work is appreciated, and when they do, they’ll find it a little easier to handle the burdens they face throughout the day.
Strategies for Communicating in the “New Normal”
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused anxiety around the unknown for many employees across the country. To ease this anxiety, leaders need to serve as a voice of reason and stability, guiding their teams into the “new normal.”
Phil Ellingsworth Jr., strategic communications manager at Tipton, and Erin DiGirolamo, senior manager of internal communications and digital workforce strategy at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), share three straightforward ways to make sure your communications are strong, relevant and effective.
Communication is a Two-Way Street
Consistently sending out messages is a step in the right direction. But to communicate effectively, you need to listen to the feedback you receive and address it in your next directive.
Continually encourage your staff to share their questions, concerns and suggestions. Emphasize how it is important for them to speak up and provide open, honest input during COVID-19 and beyond.
Make it easy for staff to give feedback. Offer multiple channels to submit comments. These channels can be anything from town halls to departmental rounding.
Acknowledge the feedback you receive. Let your staff know you’re listening to them and considering their ideas. Follow up with action and information to ensure your internal audiences know their leaders hear them, empower them and care about them.
One Size Does Not Fit All
Change up how you’re talking with your employees through different channels. Your staff might miss one singular email about a new masking policy or other important organizational change. But if you accompany that email with a post on your organization’s intranet, and leaders cover the topic while rounding, there’s a much better chance your internal stakeholders will get the message.
It’s also important to remember that we all learn in different ways, so use all your communication channels to put out multiple versions of the same message. This way, all staff can receive the information in the way that makes the most sense to them. Here are examples of channels you can use:
• Employee information center
• Messages from leadership
• Virtual and in-person departmental rounding
• Town halls
• Intranet posting
• Digital signage
An Open Book is Easier to Read
In times like these, your best bet is to be transparent, timely and brief. It’s okay if you don’t know the answer to every question that comes up. Just be honest about what you do know, what you don’t know, what factors leadership is considering when making their decisions and what staff can do to help in that process.
It can be uncomfortable at times not knowing the answers. But by being honest and open, you’re showing staff you care about them and their needs— and you’ll address those needs in your decision-making process. This will build trust, maintain morale and engagement, and lower the stress and anxiety of your staff.
Make Open Enrollment Easy-to-Understand for Your Employees
Open enrollment can be a tricky time for your employees. Understandably, they may have a hard time fully grasping the complicated details of their benefits. To make the process seamless for you and your employees, we offer these three tips for avoiding confusion and ensuring clear communications.
Generating Interest in Benefits
Even if your organization makes a serious investment in benefits, if your employees don’t understand the value of their benefits and don’t know how to take advantage of them, your efforts may be in vain. A solid strategy for making benefits more appealing to your employees is making them interesting, making them connect with your employees. How?
Strive to make communications between you and your employees as open and clear as possible. A great way to do this is by developing a cohesive, themed open enrollment campaign that’s aimed at generating interest and understanding. Continue to use the theme to brand benefits communications throughout the year when providing updates to your employees.
Reduce Confusing Benefits Language
You may find that your employees don’t understand half of what is being laid out for them because of the jargon. How many people know the difference between a copay and co-insurance, or between an HSA, HRA and FSA?
The best way to minimize confusion is to provide information clearly and accurately, minimize jargon, explain the “why” whenever possible, evaluate change from employees’ point of view and provide decision tools.
Keep Home Decision-Makers in Mind
There’s a good chance your employees are not making their open enrollment decisions alone. Spouses and home decision-makers also need access to information so they can play an active role. It’s important to remember when you lay out the benefits and resources available for your employees, you’re not only informing them, but their families as well.
Create more content for spouses, home decision-makers and new recruits. Provide interesting content (for example, a benefits overview video) that home decision-makers can access so they understand their options.
Open enrollment doesn’t have to be difficult to navigate. With these three strategies, you and your employees can embark on a successful open enrollment journey.
We’re Here to Help Make Open Enrollment Communications Simple and Easy
For more information on how Tipton can take the stress out of open enrollment communications, call 302-454-7901 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Six Tactics to Calm and Engage Employees During Uncertainty
Leaders lead during times of uncertainty—and we’re now facing uncertainty like never before. The COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered many businesses, abruptly halted projects, made a shambles of business development and marketing plans, and plunged people all over the world into profound anxiety over their overall well-being.
It is important for department directors and managers be consistent in all they say and do, proactive in their communications and compassionate in addressing team members’ needs. The following are six tactics you can use to keep employees engaged and informed during uncertain times.
Communicate Consistently, Openly, Honestly and Frequently
It’s important to establish a cadence—keep communication with your team as constant and routine as you can. If you haven’t already, set up weekly check-ins or meetings via video chats or phone calls. This will keep you up-to-date not only on any projects team members are working on, but also on their potential struggles adjusting to the current events. Be transparent and open with your employees. By building an honest rapport and trust between you and your team, you’re building a solid foundation for a strong work ethic and willingness to work through tough times.
Be as Present as Possible
Be available to your employees in any way you can—keep your chats open on whatever platform you and your teams use, but also be available to video-chat or hop on a phone call, even if it’s just for a short one-on-one. You can even substitute an email for a phone call. Your employees will appreciate the extra level of support or just knowing you’re there.
Don’t Overpromise—Say Only What You Know
In times like these, organizations want to assure employees that everything will be OK and there’s no need to worry. While this may be true for some companies, don’t promise a sense of security that won’t hold up. Make sure everyone knows what you know—things are changing, and that might mean changes for them in the near future.
Give Your Team Members Multiple Opportunities to Ask Questions
While you may not have all of the answers at the moment, everyone is going to have a lot of questions and concerns. You want staff members to bring feedback and questions to you as soon as possible – and that means you need to respond quickly and honestly. Depending on the size of your team and organization, you can create a Google Forms that your employees can access to submit questions to you. Make it a goal to answer everyone’s questions by the end of each week. You can also have an open channel of communication where employees can always reach you with questions—email, chat room, phone call and video conferencing If the same question comes up repeatedly or is particularly relevant to the situation, feel free to put your answer out to your entire team or company through a memo or video.
Ask About Their Families
It’s important to be there for your employees in a professional capacity during a crisis, but don’t forget that you can reach out to them personally as well. Ask how their families are doing, if they need anything and if there’s any way you can help. Sometimes just offering support is enough, and it reinforces that you care.
Be Understanding, Approachable and Personable
Being understanding can go a long way. These are difficult times for every family and every person in different ways, and we’re all continually making adjustments to our daily lives. Recognizing that people are having a hard time, and that they might need to take time for themselves sometimes to help them cope, is another meaningful way to support your team.
As a leader, you need to show your employees that you support them and that you’re staying strong in these uncertain times. It is your job is to be there for them by showing compassion and encouraging open, honest communications.
Keys to Success
Best Practice Recommendations from Tipton Health Communications
Know Your Audience to Maximize Content Engagement on Social Media
Knowing and understanding the audiences that use your different social media platforms is important for several reasons.
Using data provided within the reporting tools of the different sites, you can:
• Determine what channels fit their age demographic best
• How often new content should be posted
• When you should post
To maximize your views, consider when your audience would be most likely to be online. If you are targeting corporate executives on LinkedIn, they will be on the site first thing in the morning or before dinner. If you are targeting shift workers, you need to adjust when you post new content, so it fits when they may be online.
By posting while they are online your posts will be one of the first on their feed.
Tipton Awards Spotlight
When you turn to Tipton for support with a project, you are in the hands of experts committed to delivering high-quality, thoughtful and strategic results. This is a summary of the awards the Tipton team has earned so far in 2020.