STRATEGIES TO RAISE EMPLOYEES' AWARENESS AND ENCOURAGE PARTICIPATION
As employers embark on the task of establishing a diabetes management program, they should be aware that employees may be resistant to becoming involved in a program because of privacy concerns. Some employees may think that they don’t need any help in managing their diabetes, or they may be upset about being diagnosed with this condition. Other people may seem uninterested because they don’t want to admit — even to themselves — that they have a problem. Whatever the reason for employees’ apathy, it is imperative to get their buy-in. Otherwise, they won’t participate, and without their participation, the program will falter.
STRATEGIES TO PROMOTE AWARENESS
- Invite a diabetes educator to come to your workplace. A brown bag lunch at the workplace focusing on diabetes is an appropriate, low-key way to begin your awareness campaign. The educator can discuss such topics as nutrition and the importance of exercise. What has been popular at such sessions is a discussion of recipes for people with diabetes. Some companies have even offered cooking classes, which have been very well received.
- Meet with local businesses and physicians to get their buy-in. It is a good idea to involve the community in a new diabetes management program. If physicians are made aware of the program before it begins, they will be more likely to see it as an additional way to reinforce compliance, not as a threat to his or her own relationship with a patient. Other businesses may be willing to contribute to the program by helping to organize health fairs or other events associated with the program.
- Advertise the program in internal publications. Let employees know about the program in employee newsletters and other internal publications and in e-mails to all employees. Consider including a regular column about the program as a reminder about it and to keep employees informed of any modifications to the program.
- Send out targeted mailings to alert people about the program. Work with your vendor (health plan, pharmacy benefits manager, or disease management company) to send out friendly, low-key mailings informing prospective participants about the program. Make sure the information supporting the program conforms to the culture of your company. For example, if your workforce is made up of engineers, make sure the mailings are suitable for that audience.
STRATEGIES TO PROMOTE PARTICIPATION
- Stress that you value confidentiality. Make sure the workforce understands that any information exchanged between the employee and those managing the program is 100 percent confidential. Remind employees that their involvement in the program is completely voluntary and will in no way affect their opportunities with the company or their health care benefits.
- Send out appropriate mailings to the targeted audience. Work with your vendor to develop separate, appropriate information for subgroup within your targeted population. For example, active employees may receive a slightly different mailing from retirees, and those who are newly diagnosed may receive a different mailing from those who have been managing diabetes for a while. The more focused the mailing, the better participation rate you will have.
- Provide financial incentives for participating in the program. Some companies find it useful to cover testing supplies and equipment as an incentive for enrolling in a diabetes management program. Other companies, such as Kellogg’s Company, offer a dollar amount that covers supplies and educational materials.
- Encourage group activity and support. For example, sponsor lectures, brown bag lunches, or social events for people participating in the program. For many employees, feeling as though they are members of a group from which they can get support can make a major difference in their feelings about both the program and their condition.
- Take advantage of national campaigns as a way to encourage participation. For example, November is Diabetes Awareness month, so that may be a good time to run an article about diabetes in your in-house newsletter or sponsor a brown bag lunch on diabetes. Also, other organizations, such as the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) and the ADA, run campaigns on diabetes. Look for information on NDEP’s Web site (www.diabetesatwork.org) and use it as appropriate.