Congratulations on your decision to complete a dependent verification audit! This strategic audit will guarantee that every person on your company’s health plan is actually eligible to receive coverage, which will support compliance and cost-saving efforts for your organization.
However, deciding to complete an audit is one thing. Effectively and tactfully communicating this decision to your employees is another animal entirely. Just the word ‘audit’ can instill a negative tone across an organization.
Get ahead of the game with a comprehensive communication plan to clearly and concisely convey processes, requirements and timelines, and to reassure employees that this routine process is not a punishment but a common business best practice.
1.) Keep Employees In The Loop
Like most things in life, waiting until the last minute to communicate your audit to employees is a recipe for disaster. Prompt communication will allow plenty of time for your employees to ask questions and prepare the necessary documents to complete the audit. Put yourself in their shoes – how would you feel if your employer gave you one week to essentially prove that you and your family are eligible to receive benefits?
How early should you start informing your employee base? Ideally, as early as possible. But in general, we recommend communicating the audit at least 3-4 weeks prior to document submission.
Use Multiple Channels
Your workforce is likely comprised of multiple demographics. Incorporating multiple communication points into your plan will help make sure that you are reaching each employee population via the channels that they respond to best. Consider using both print and digital communication opportunities for the best results: posters, postcards, email announcements, social media (private group, company Slack, etc.), text message alerts, video, carrier pigeons – whatever it takes!
Use Layman’s Terms
Most employees are not going to know the ins and outs of HR acronyms. When crafting communications, use industry jargon sparingly and take the time to spell out and define technical terms when necessary.
Set The Appropriate Tone
As noted earlier, the word ‘audit’ has a fairly negative connotation. Put your best foot forward and encourage a positive mindset throughout your communications by carefully choosing your words. Avoid using words with a negative tone like ‘must’, ‘penalty’, and even ‘audit’ during communications. (Yes – we realize the name of the process is ‘dependent verification audit’ – but you can put your own positive spin on things. Or, simply refer to the process as ‘dependent verification’.)
2.) Define Eligibility & Expectations
Who is actually eligible to be on your current employee benefits plan? What happens if an employee does not submit documentation on time? Get ahead of employee questions by clearly and concisely outlining the audit requirements and expectations. The best route is often a digital or print FAQ sheet that can easily be shared and referenced.
3.) Communicate Requirements & Timelines
Employees will need adequate time to collect and submit the required documentation for the audit. We typically recommend a period of 3-4 weeks of communication and then a 4-8 week window for document submission. Your communications should include exact dates and deadlines for submission periods and a precise list of all of the documents required for each possible dependent scenario. Be sure to also include an easy to reference checklist of how to submit each document for consideration to avoid confusion during the process.
4.) Highlight Savings & Long-Term Impact
What is the long-term benefit of conducting an employee eligibility audit? Employees often assume the worse and might harbor some initial resentment about the thought of their family members being removed from health plan coverage. Mitigate this concern by highlighting the positive outcomes that will result from the audit and, ultimately, why your company is going through with the audit in the first place.
- Savings = Maintaining (or possibly decreasing) health plan costs
- Compliance = Meeting legal requirements, avoiding costly organizational fines
It is important to also make sure your employees know that eligible dependents are always welcome and that the audit exists to remove health plan participants that are actually not legally allowed to receive coverage.
5.) Make Completion Convenient
Sifting through old documents, making copies, and submitting them via the proper channels isn’t the most thrilling way to spend free time outside of the office. People do not like being inconvenienced, so partnering with a dependent audit solution that is simple and painless will provide a much better employee experience. Look for a partner that will completely own the process from start to finish and that will guide and support your HR team through the communication and submission process.
Additionally, offering a defined grace period, particularly for your initial audit, will provide a cushion for removed dependents to arrange alternative coverage. This will ease employees’ minds about the possibility of loved ones being left without any help.
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