07 March 2016

What We Have Here Is a Failure to Communicate

Let’s face it…the language of health care is not our native language, or at least that of employees. So many terms, so little time to decipher each and every one, but that’s exactly the kind of help employees need in order to navigate the lingo.

Coinsurance, out-of-pocket maximum, deductible, oh my!

Important information? You bet! Easily understood? Not by a long shot. For HR professionals, the language of health care is second nature. For employees, it might as well be Greek. And trying to make sense of it all can be overwhelming and frustrating, which leads to a low opinion of valuable benefits.

So what are you to do?

Write it the way you’d say it… in plain English. (Or, in the dialect most common to your audience.)

The more complex the information, the more important it is that you speak clearly in plain language. Ask yourself these two questions to avoid falling into the jargon trap:

  1. Does the average person know the terminology being used?
  2. Is this how I would explain it in a normal conversation?

If you answer no to either, or both, questions, rewrite until you get it right.

Remember, whenever you grapple with writing a particularly complex section, sit down and explain the concept to someone outside the HR department. Play with the wording until it makes perfect sense to your volunteer, and then write down what you said.

Happy writing!