A: To address these challenges, HR and benefits professionals are wise
to focus their efforts around technology
solutions and communication tools to solve
For many benefits professionals, an M&A
project may present itself only once or twice
during an entire career. However, these
events are routine in our world. That’s why,
for many companies, preparedness entails
having an experienced technology partner
walk alongside them—one that helps
alleviate the stress placed on HR teams
and understands the nuances of benefits
harmonization across stakeholders.
Additionally, despite the generational
differences in the workplace, benefits
leaders will have to prepare for an
unexpected similarity between the
four generations: their lack of benefits
knowledge. In a recent UnitedHealthcare
study, only 7 percent of respondents
could successfully define four basic health-insurance terms: plan premium, deductible,
co-insurance and out-of-pocket maximum.
This lack of basic insurance knowledge is
even more concerning when you consider
the complexity of decisions employees
are asked to make. For many, these are
decisions they’ve never had to address
before. Considerations like:
What are the risks and benefits of
enrolling in a high-deductible health plan?
If I enroll in an HDHP, should I also open a
How would opening an HSA impact the
income available for a 401(k) contribution?
If I have a 401(k) and HSA, how do I best
optimize the investments across those two
Employees must be equipped to weigh
the coverage, costs and risks associated
with various health plans. Employers must
progress from providing basic education to
offering fully integrated decision support and
Q: What areas of employee benefits are specially ripe for innovation?
A: The benefits-enrollment process will continue to innovate to keep pace
with the increasing technology expectations
of employees. Employees expect the same
ease-of-use and personalization as their last
best web experience, typically Amazon or
When making benefits decisions,
cumbersome processes or paper enrollments
will quickly create a negative experience for
the employee—regardless of generation.
A flexible, highly configurable benefits-administration platform and an experienced
client-delivery team to bring programs to life
can turn benefits harmonization or annual
enrollment into a positive experience for
benefits professionals and employees alike.
Equally important in the technology
equation are the tools within the benefits-administration platform. While video libraries,
glossaries and enrollment guides have a place
in the process, employees also need access
to the kind of tools that deliver the greatest
value, such as detailed plan comparison and
integrated, intelligent decision support.
Although many decision-support tools use
business rules to compare the employees to
other participants like them in age, gender
and location, few solutions combine those
demographics with individualized input like
physician preference, risk tolerance and
financial ability. This leads to a more well-rounded ranking of available plans, providing
employees with multiple rated options.
HR professionals who can find the right
mix of benefits-technology solutions and
tools for employee support will be properly
positioned to promote innovation, leading
to a workforce engaged in their benefits—
and by extension, contribute to employee-engagement outcomes.
Q: What are the biggest challenges facing HR leaders today?
A: There are two unique challenges facing HR leaders today—integration
of a merger or acquisition, and uniting four
distinct generations in the workplace. These
challenges are important in all areas of HR,
and especially so in benefits administration.
In 2017, over 50,000 M&A deals were
announced globally. With each merger or
acquisition, benefits professionals must
develop a plan to marry new and existing
employees under a common benefits
package—a difficult task, considering
most M&A scenarios have three things
in common: 1) HR resource limitations,
2) multiple platforms and technologies
for managing benefits and 3) little
experience harmonizing different benefits
Meanwhile, another challenge emerges
when considering how to communicate with
a multi-generational workforce representing
distinctly different groups. Having to
craft a benefits solution that is flexible
enough to support baby boomers, Gen X,
millennials and Gen Z employees requires
a strong understanding of the needs and
communication styles of each group.
Q: Where do you expect to see HR and benefits leaders focusing their
Q&A on Benefits
attention in the coming months as they
attempt to address those challenges?
CEO & Chairman