As many families are working their way through adventures in home schooling (aka crisis schooling), I can’t help but think back to the teachers I had going through the Andover (MA) Public School system. Some were good, while others were not. Then there were the teachers that absolutely stood out. I was reminded of one of them as my 11-year-old son worked through his math assignments, banging his head against the kitchen table while working through a word problem.


William Drummond taught math for 40 years. He passed away 6 months ago. Suffice it to say  he was different. Think of a combination of Patch Adams and Mr. Holland. I don’t think anyone came out of his class proficient in advanced calculus, but he certainly left an impression. At the end of the semester you were sure to have a nickname, fun memories, and a new perspective on math.


His famous line was “The math is easy; the English is hard.”


Beyond high school math, consider that line in the context of business, especially employee benefits.


The easiest thing to solve in your employee benefits is the cost of your programs. But, as in a textbook word problem, the math is easy, the English is hard.


The cost of any plan, whether it be group medical, dental, disability, or life insurance, can always be lowered. There are a hundred levers to pull to lower premiums. The challenge is communicating to employees the intricacies of what’s been done to achieve the reduction. No one wants to hear “that’s not covered” and when there is an angry employee, often the business owner or key executive doesn’t make the savings worth it.


Expectations must meet reality.


As we are staring down at a likely recession, no doubt there are insurance companies and self-insured employers are designing plans and strategies to reduce costs. Consider how these changes will be communicated to those who will be impacted in order to minimize disruption. Communication is key.


The tendency of insurance agents is to get knee-deep into the weeds with jargon and technical aspects of the plan(s). Much like those who write word problems for math textbooks are trying to impress administrators and teachers at a school system, agents are trying to impress you, the business owner or decision maker, with their intellectual prowess.


However, let’s not forget who employee benefits are for; the employees.


Likely, most of those enrolling in the plan do not have insurance backgrounds. So, when confronted with the minutia, many get lost and tune out. Worse, if they have a need and it goes unmet by the program, it results in dissatisfaction and frustration. “I’ve paid all that premium, and nothing was covered!” can be like nails down a chalkboard to any HR leader.


What good is saving money on an employee benefit program if it doesn’t provide the “benefit” intended when it’s needed?


Communicating the programs is as important as fitting the desired benefit into a specific budget. The English has to be made to be as easy as the math.


Our toolbox of communication solutions includes:


  1. Creation of an automated annual communication (ACP) plan
  2. On-call benefits advocates and care coordinators
  3. Virtual, on demand benefit overviews
  4. Print Summaries
  5. Phone app-based resources



For those who have been paralyzed at the thought of making a change due to concerns on how to roll it out to employees, especially if they are remote, rest easy in the knowledge that there are avenues to effectively manage any change. Once you sift through the BS of the “English” surrounding the problem, the math becomes very easy.


Contact us for a no cost review of your communication strategy and recommendations on how it can be improved.