20 Jan INCREASING EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT: SWITCHING YOUR FOCUS
Have you ever been overwhelmed by all the TBU (true but useless) data provided in your Health Insurance Annual Report? It reminds me of looking at a photograph of a car accident – lots to see that went wrong, vehicles damaged, people hurt; but it is already done. To add insult to injury, the Annual Report is often received months after the end of the year and a whole new set of wrecks have occurred. There has got to be a better way!
In this series, we are going to examine how to get your employees to follow you as you plan and execute a new path to lower healthcare costs, higher quality care, with fewer hassles.
In previous blogs we discussed the three keys to success in changing behavior for yourself or your employees. The paradigm is laid out in the book Switch by Dan and Chip Heath, and they use the example of trying to change the direction of an elephant walking down a path.
- First the rider (representing our reason) must know the destination, the steps to get there, the reason to go there, and have a sense that the journey is possible.
- Second, the elephant (our emotions or the inertia of our life based upon habits, beliefs and experience) needs to be inspired and has to have the journey broken down into achievable, small steps, and, where necessary, the employees will need to cultivate an “I can do this” mindset.
- Third, understanding the path of least resistance based on the terrain, well-formed habits, and following the pack.
Let’s go back to the somewhat depressing and very sobering annual report on health benefit spends we spoke of earlier. What do we see?
- We see Sarah, a 50 year old diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer,
- John, a 48 year old who had a heart attack at work,
- Kristen, a 23 year old diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer,
- Bill, a 37 year old having low back surgery,
- Randy, who had a serious car accident when he fell asleep driving one evening, and
- Twins born at 26 weeks who spent six weeks in the hospital,
- And the many employees with neck, back, hip, knee, chest, pelvic, and other pain going to emergency rooms and doctors trying to figure out what is causing their pain, while spending millions of dollars.
With the exception of the twins, these medical problems built up over time – five to fifteen years – and didn’t have to happen. What could have been done to avoid these tragedies? Basic prevention, wellness, and treatment recommendations – in today’s vernacular the evidence based “Gaps in Care” would have to be closed. Sarah and Kristen would have their screening for cancer done earlier, John would have his blood pressure and cholesterol treated, Randy would have treated his sleep apnea, and Bill would have maintained his weight and focus more on fitness. All reasonable and very possible goals.
How do we motivate the rider, change the path, and turn the elephant to a new direction? Every trip starts with a clear destination. Focusing on what we can do to stop the tragedies and reduce the cost by closing Gaps in Care is one example. In the next blog we will show how a company focused on this and how it saved employee lives and hundreds of thousands of dollars.