Five Steps to a Successful Long Term Health and Welfare Strategy

Susan Muris, Consultant

I believe Human Resource Departments that set long term Health and Welfare strategies are more successful at achieving important objectives like cost containment and employee engagement.   When long term strategies are identified, HR teams understand what the goals of the department are, and what the plan is to get there.   And as Yogi Berra cleverly said once, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up somewhere else.” 

As a Benefit Consultant, here is what I have seen in my experience as the most important steps to a successful strategy.   

Step 1:  Get on the same page

When creating a long term strategy, it is important to ensure that you are following the path of the company strategy, especially because as we all know, Human Resource objectives affect all facets of a company. What better way to do that than have input from all stakeholders?  Set a planning meeting and get key decision makers involved. The most successful long term strategies start with stakeholder interviews so the objectives for all parties can be identified and considered, from the CEO and CFO to the VP of HR and Benefits Manager.   Developing a strategy that syncs up with the company’s goals will ensure HR gets the supportneeded to develop and implement the strategy successfully.     

Step 2:  Assess the Current State

How can you know where you are going if you don’t know where you currently are? Identify current state deficiencies relative to end state deficiencies and quantify what those deficiencies are.  What parts of the current state of Health and Welfare align with your desired end state and can you use them as a foundation in which to build upon?  Also identify what areas don’t align with your goals and be prepared to change them.

Step 3:  What Is Missing?

In order to know what you need, you have to identify what you don’t have.  A gap analysis is crucial to moving forward in the right direction.  Maybe you need benchmarking to make an educated decision on your strategy, or perhaps an employee survey or committee will help you understand how to marry your stakeholder objectives with your employee’s needs.  Gather all data that will make you feel confident about your path.  An educated decision is the best decision. 

Step 4:  Be realistic

Set goals and strategies that are realistic so you can be successful.  Set measurements of success that are attainable.  If you want to increase participation in your wellness program, setting a goal of 80% participation when you are currently 20% may be a pipe dream.  Start at 30% and build from there.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with exceeding your goals but not attaining them could potentially cause frustration.  Additionally, set a realistic timeline that allows for the unexpected.  We all know the saying about ‘the best laid plans’ so make sure when you frame your timeline, you are considering that there will be unexpected roadblocks as you navigate your path. 

Step 5: Articulate, Articulate, and Articulate Again

Create a strategy document and review it.  Then review it again.  Be sure you and your stakeholders are comfortable with it.  Articulate your timeline, review it and review it again.  Continue to articulate it at team meetings, gatherings and on regular days.  One of my clients has a full strategy matrix on their wall in the HR department that outlines what needs to be done and when.  It’s a great reminder for HR (and their benefits broker) of where they are and where they are going.  The more you articulate, the better your odds of success are!

In closing, setting a long term strategy defined can be an involved process, but is absolutely worth the time and effort and the business impact is immeasurable.  The Health and Welfare staff at Craford Benefit Consultants can help you roadmap a path to a defined long term strategy. Call us today or simply send us an email for a free consultation. We look forward to speaking with you soon.


About the author:

Susan is a Consultant with Craford Benefit Consultants in the Charlotte, NC office. She has 14 years of experience in the industry with both carriers and consulting firms. Susan’s primary responsibility is to drive long term health and welfare strategy for her clients while ensuring seamless coordination of all plan components. Additionally, her duties include vendor management, renewal marketing and negotiations, compliance, building strong wellness initiatives, and communication strategies. Susan has strong experience with complex multi-site employers under both fully insured and self-insured contracts and brings creative and collaborative solutions and strategies to her client partners.

Prior to joining Craford in 2007, Susan held an account management role with Cigna Healthcare for 2 years. She also brings experience as an Account Manager for a broker firm as well as a Sales Assistant for UnitedHealthcare. Susan is a graduate of the University of Tennessee Knoxville with a degree in International Business and Spanish.

Susan believes in the importance of providing a high level of service and enjoys building solid, long-term relationships with her client and vendor partners.