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Elevate 2022: Supporting your harder to reach employees

Johnny Chang, Director of Global Benefits at Rivian, joins Modern Health at Elevate 2022 to discuss navigating workplace benefit, implementation and engagement.

Elevate is Modern Health’s annual mental health event that brings together thousands of HR and Benefits professionals and shares insights from mental healthcare thought leaders, experts, and advocates. This Q&A is excerpted from a conversation between Austin Edy, senior manager of client success at Modern Health, and Johnny Chang, Director of Global Benefits at Rivian during our 2022 Elevate. You can watch the full session on-demand

Modern Health: Rivian is a company with a very diverse employee population who are in front of computers, programming the robots who really put together these vehicles, and employees who are working with the robots on the manufacturing floor to assemble the vehicles. I'd really like to hear from you about what unique challenges, in terms of benefit engagement, you see across your workforce today.

Johnny Chang: We have grown exponentially since the start of 2020. That was the start of a timeframe when people didn't know the word “pandemic” and then suddenly they all had to go into lockdown and learn the hard way what it really means. Around that time we were at 700 or so people, and now two and a half years later, we're growing beyond 12,000 people. So this exponential growth has really challenged us in needing to think differently about the workforce we have. 

MH: What do you think has been the most effective communication tool for those harder to reach populations–those folks going into the manufacturing centers and delivering vehicles? What are the different creative or unique methods that you've deployed so far?

JC: Communications need to meet people where they’re at. And with such a diverse range of folks, with different potential attention spans and different ways of getting information, you have to create channels and avenues for that. We decided to launch an external benefit site. We wanted to do so because we know a lot of our folks aren't gonna be sitting at their desk and sometimes their spouses may be the ones making decisions. More specific to the plant, we leverage our team there to create more onsite, real-time, office hours with folks that can answer questions. We also create QR codes if there's anything we wanna promote, people can use their phone, pull up what we want 'em to pull up and, in real time, communicate to them.

MH: How do you see leadership's role in marketing benefits internally helping to drive cultural change and benefits engagement?

JC: I think that is probably the most critical thing of any company or benefits programs that wants to get off the ground is making sure you have leadership buy-in and alignment with what you're trying to accomplish. And you have to take a step back and think about the philosophy, the strategies tied to it, whether or not it meets the foundational setup that you're trying to achieve, and paint that picture with leadership to ensure you get not only the buy-in, but  spreading word-of-mouth through the leadership organization as well. You want to cascade that buy-in so it can be executed. So having that leadership dialogue, I would say, early and often and as frequently as you can to get visibility is super key in anything on the benefits side you wanna accomplish.

MH: Do you have any thoughts on, or how do you think about solving equitable benefits access?

JC: I think about equitable benefits a lot, actually, and I think it really is key and important in what we do. The important aspect of ensuring you're creating and forming that equitability, in my opinion, is you have to step back and think strategically and long term before you roll something out. So for us, thinking about all the different populations we have, we can get a wide range of asks and folks that are very vocal about certain things they may want, but we have to think through whether or not that is really the right scalable approach. Does it reach everyone the same way? I think there's an element here that's also tied to social determinants of health. We know those that may have better and easier access to healthcare related products and or even internet access tend to drive better outcomes. So we wanna be very cognizant of the strategy we take and what we deliver and bring forth to our employee population. It has to be able to meet them where they're at, whether that is someone working on the platform or someone like me that's sitting in front of a computer every day.

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