Bullish on Business
Monday, July 8, 2013
Engaging Employers: "No One-Size-Fits-All Strategies"

Employers matter. Employers have great—if to date, under-utilized—market leverage in buying health care. They often can influence other stakeholder groups, even exercising a leadership role. If fully engaged, they can push hospitals and health plans in their communities to improve care for their employees at a manageable cost. “There are no one-size-fits-all strategies,” says Anne F. Weiss, MPP, team director and senior program officer for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Employers, in partnership with other stakeholders, can and must play a critical role in driving health care transformation. Clearly, they have a huge stake in the outcome.” 

The brief, Lessons Learned: Engaging Employers in Health Care, talks about challenges in motivating employers, the importance of building coalitions, and seeing employees as partners in the process of improving health care.

AF4Q Alliances Engage Employers

Most of the Aligning Forces for Quality Alliances are eager to involve local employers in their work, both as purchasers that have a huge stake in an improved health care and payment system and as channels for communicating with employees and their families. Some Alliances also regard the engagement and ongoing support of employers as one of the keys to their long-term sustainability. But cultivating and maintaining relationships with employers has been an ongoing challenge.

The first two phases in employer engagement—“courtship”—involve preparing for and establishing a relationship. The next two phases—“marriage”—revolve around developing and maintaining the relationship with employers. So where to start? Working through trusted and well-connected business leaders, surveying employers about their needs, hosting an open house event, or reaching out through benefit management companies are all good first steps. After a relationship is established, communities should focus on creating mutual benefits by offering something of value. Bringing together employers to serve in an advisory capacity gives them a seat at the table in decision-making. Offering health information for employees is another tactic. Although working with employers may seem daunting, taking small steps over time to build relationships can offer a major payoff for sustainability. 

The brief, Tactics for Engaging Employers in Community Alliances, offers quick access to promising tactics based on what AF4Q Alliances are doing to attract and retain employer partners.

Maine's Work to Engage Employers

Click the above image to see Ted Rooney, the AF4Q Project Director from Maine, discuss how his Alliance has worked with local employers to improve care.

Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) signature effort to lift the overall quality of health care in targeted communities, reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health care and provide models for national reform. Alliance teams represent the people who get care, give care, and pay for care.
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