How ALEX Helped Rhode Island Communicate Change to Their Union Employees and Created a More Appreciative Workforce

Mark Rader Benefits Communication, Case Study

The administration at the State of Rhode Island had a problem: their employees were paying a lot of money for insurance they didn’t use—or even need. In 2017, to curb that problem, they decided to change the insurance plans they were offering.

Because 75% of the state’s workforce were union members, the HR team had to convince the unions of the value of a high deductible plan and ensure that the union employees would have access to comprehensive benefits education that could walk them through the changes.

The HR team needed a tool that could connect with every type of state employee, from university professors to night-shift hospital workers, and could provide helpful explanations and personalized recommendations. So the HR team brought on ALEX—a full year before the biggest plan changes would take place.

Says Paula Cofone, Deputy Personnel Administrator: “The union was concerned about quality of coverage, but also education and transparency, which made ALEX an ideal partner. By offering ALEX in advance we were able to say, ‘look at what we’re already doing: we’re already starting our marketing, communications, and education.’”

When 2018 arrived, the HR team launched a new get-the-word-out strategy: a printed benefits guide, a new website, and printed collateral (posters, standees, etc.) provided by Jellyvision—all of which directed employees to ALEX, which had already been available for an entire year.

The result:

  • The number of employees that talked to ALEX tripled
  • Enrollment in the HDHP tripled
  • 74% of polled employees said ALEX gave them a better understanding of their benefits

“Our employees—and especially our union population— generally didn’t take the time to do the research and understand what choices are best for them,” says Mike Sligar, Operations Management Administrator. “They just kind of went along with the flow. Now ALEX is telling them in an entertaining way, hey, maybe there’s another choice for you. And they’re paying attention.”

Beyond offering great education, Paula and Mike think that ALEX has changed the perception of the HR team for the better.

“Having ALEX on our website and on our side shows that our priorities have shifted,” Mike explains. “We will always be a processing office—we’ll never get away from that. But now we’re also a helpful customer service office…and that’s exactly what we wanted.”