At a Monday session at Benefits Forum & Expo, Lesley Leiserson, director of benefits at The Home Depot, offered this advice to attendees as a way to get employers and all their vendor partners on the same page before implementing any sort of large-scale benefits change.

The home improvement retailer, which has more than 300,000 associates across 2,200 stores, took on the awesome task of changing its health, dental and vision carrier all in the same year – and Leiserson lived to tell the tale, and pass along lessons learned.

One of them, she said, was “holding a vendor summit, so that we could lay out our goals and objectives to our partners so we all were marching to the same tune.”

As part of the summit, “we gave them a culture infusion,” she explained. “We took our vendors to one of our stores and let them be associates for a day, to get a reality check of what it’s like to work for our organization.”

The vendor partners quickly learned that effectively communicating to associates and influencing behavior change would be no walk in the park. “They saw that we only have Taco Bell and Burger King nearby, so it would be tough to counteract that convenience with wellness options,” Leiserson recalled. “They saw the employee bulletin board that’s full of posters that all look alike, so we’d have to come up with different ways to attract associates’ attention.”

Although a challenge, the vendors’ walk in associates’ shoes helped create better programs and outreach, she said. “We came up with these bright sticker posters that could go on breakroom floors or the wall near the time clock, so we could avoid the crowded bulletin board, and branded all of our wellness campaigns with ‘Live the Healthy Orange Life’ and kept repeating and repeating it. We figured we’d rather get sick of saying the same thing than have associates not understand their benefits.”

Stay tuned to a future issue of EBN for more on Home Depot’s benefits renovation project.

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