Our work

context partnered with a benefits consulting firm to design, market-test and implement revised sick and vacation leave policies. We developed a communication strategy that ensured employees understood the need for policy change and supported the final policy design. A key part of our strategy was the facilitation of focus groups, where we tested preliminary policy designs and communication messages.

Results

Our focus groups revealed the success we'd achieve if we reduced employees' sense of this change as a “take-away.” Our focus group methodology allowed us to gather initial perceptions of the policy change based on rumor and conjecture alone, and then post-test the preliminary designs. Employee perception switched from a sense of the change as “confusing,” “unnecessary” or “unfair” to “fair” and “very good.” The focus groups solidified the policy design approach and developed in-house supporters for the change. The perceptions and fears about the change gathered in these sessions also served to shape our communication messages. The county implemented the two new policies with broad employee acceptance.