PacifiCare Employees Aim High to Embrace the Corporate Vision

By Kincaid, Tracey B. | Communication World, July-August 2005 | Go to article overview

PacifiCare Employees Aim High to Embrace the Corporate Vision


Kincaid, Tracey B., Communication World


Between 2000 and 2002, PacifiCare Health Systems, one of the leading consumer health organizations in the United States, transformed itself from a regionally focused company that offered only a few products to one that could provide a wide array of products and services to meet the health care needs of individuals, Medicare recipients, and the employees of small businesses and large corporations nationwide.

These efforts included a revamped corporate strategy, the introduction of 20 new commercial products, an aggressive corporate culture change, and the rollout of a brand and advertising program to broaden the Cypress, California-based company's name recognition beyond its traditional markets.

To succeed completely, however, one area needed particular attention: the company's employees. A companywide survey conducted at the end of 2000 (when the efforts were beginning) showed that employees were confused about PacifiCare's business strategy, dissatisfied with the amount of communication from senior management, and worried that the company was not making the changes necessary to compete effectively in the marketplace.

Although ongoing communication efforts helped to significantly improve employee satisfaction with the company and senior management by late 2002, employees still reported that they lacked a concise, easy-to-understand overview of how strategy, culture and brand fit together. They also lacked a compelling vision of how their personal efforts worked with PacifiCare's vision of becoming a leading national consumer health organization.

PacifiCare responded by producing the employee publication Aim High. The booklet succinctly wove the corporate strategy, culture and brand together, providing concrete examples of PacifiCare employees living the brand promise, "Caring is good. Doing something is better." As a main element of PacifiCare's campaign to reengage its employees, Aim High reflected the elements that led to the company's turnaround and ultimately became evident in subsequent employee surveys.

Goals and objectives

Aim High was developed with several objectives in mind:

* Help employees better understand how PacifiCare's corporate strategy connects to and interrelates with its culture and brand.

* Reinforce management commitment to educate and communicate with employees.

* Increase employees' commitment to PacifiCare both as an employer and as a supplier of services to consumers.

These goals continue to drive the implementation of PacifiCare's business strategy. It is not enough for employees to simply know or be aware of the corporate strategy; they also need to be emotionally involved and personally committed to achieving it.

Solution and implementation

Aim High was created as part of an expanded communication effort led by then-new CEO Howard Phanstiel that began in November 2002. Phanstiel asked the corporate communication department to help employees better understand how his three key initiatives-strategy, culture and brand-were linked together. …

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