HR Technology

A CHRO's Perspective on #BrokerMinds: Part 1

By Sheryl Simmons, Chief Human Resources Officer

As a CHRO, it’s evident that the shift towards healthcare consumerism has led to a major reshaping of employee health and benefits – and brokers are more valuable than ever. Being on the employer-side of things, I’ve always really valued the role of brokers, but sometimes approach things differently. So I teamed up with our marketing team to commission a third-party study of benefits brokers, consultants and advisors to help all of us step into the mind of today’s brokers to learn about technology adoption preferences. The data uncovered three distinct broker personalities based on their technological mindset – Analog Consultants, Receptive Next Gen Brokers and Automation Leaders.

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Chances are you’ve done all the hard work to ensure you have the right broker for your organization and value all they have to offer. In this three-part blog series, I’ll be diving into the data and sharing my perspective on how HR professionals can get the most out of their broker relationship – no matter what type of broker you have. First up, Analog Consultants.

Step into the mind of Analog Consultants.
Analog Consultants tend to take more of a traditional approach to consulting when compared to the other two broker personalities. They have a wealth of experience and pride themselves on the service they provide to their clients. This service-minded approach is likely the reason they tend to have such long-standing relationships with their clients.

While they may be more traditional, they do have an interest in exploring new benefits technology on behalf of their clients – 25 percent stating an interest in learning more about online enrollment tools and 20 percent expressing the same interest in benefits administration tools.

A significant reason for this interest is their concern about staying relevant to their robust book of clients. In fact, 45 percent of Analog Consultants agreed that one of their concerns was staying relevant to the changing needs of technology.

Yet over a third of these consultants aren’t considering Ben Admin tools – meaning some of these same consultants are not adapting to the current industry trends and could be missing key solutions to solve their clients’ needs. The key to all Analog Consultants—no matter where they fall within this data—is identifying their tendencies and communicating your organizations’ needs to them clearly. 

Getting the most out of your relationship.
In my experience, HR professionals who work with an Analog Consultant have a long-vested relationship and rely heavily on them for their legal and compliance knowledge. In fact, 69 percent of Analog Consultants view remaining compliant as one of their clients’ top priorities. However, 69 percent of them also view maximizing benefits offerings as one of their clients’ top challenges.

If this rings true for your organization, then it’s essential to continue engaging in these discussions to ensure your strategy aligns. For instance, if maximizing benefit offerings is a true challenge for your organization, then be sure you are leveraging your broker’s service-minded attitude for assistance. Invite them into the office to host meetings with employees to discuss the benefit offerings available to them and provide the consultation they need. This will help your employees to have the same level of comfort with the benefits your broker is advising as you do.

However, if compliance and benefit offerings are not a top concern for your company, then perhaps it’s time to initiate discussions with your broker to ensure your strategy and goals are aligned. For instance, if HR technology like Ben Admin solutions is of interest to you, be sure you communicate that with your broker. While blue-chip service is a great asset for any broker to have, ensuring you have access to the technology you need to ease administrative burdens and ultimately lower employee health and benefit costs is essential. After all, your broker only knows what is communicated with them.

Take a deeper look into your broker’s mind.
Get the full data on Analog Consultants and other broker personalities by downloading the “2018 Broker Tech Trend Report.”

Stay tuned. Next I’ll be sharing my perspective on the minds of the Receptive Next Gen Brokers.

Where's Maestro?

By Rob Butler, Founder

May we first send our thoughts, support and best wishes to the city of Las Vegas for the recent horrific tragedy. Sure seems like our blog takes second precedence in the sheer scope of things.

Speaking of second precedence, you might find yourself feeling like something is missing this year. Yep. You won’t see our glowing yellow booth.
You won’t see the sessions recorded by our digital doodle artists.
And unfortunately, we won’t be hosting our rooftop party, like we had last year.

While last year’s conference was nothing short of incredible, this year, although HR tech is important to us, another precedence has emerged. Clients, clients and more clients.

People got bit by the Maestro bug last year and since then we have been busy onboarding and taking care of business (Bachman-Turner Overdrive for all those in my generation). We’ve also been partnering with key channel partners as well like Aflac, Allstate and Pear Benefits, while adding over 100+ new employer clients including some really cool ones like HDR. We’re investing time and resources to combat their administrative headaches and support HR by customizing new HR suites that fit their unique needs.

We have promised both our employer clients and our channel partners a “we’ve got your back” service experience and we meant it. Never wanting to be thought of as just a vendor who simply “sucks less,” we hire people who have a passion to make employee health and benefits people-friendly again. We’ve beefed up our customer service and operations with 48% net new hires year-to-date. They act as an extension of our clients’ HR teams, providing full transparency every step of the way.

And, it’s not just the people answering the phones who display this passion for service. Last month, our tech team persevered through natural disasters and worked diligently to release the latest version of maestroEDGE™ and (me)BILLING ADMIN™ for our clients on time, despite our Orlando office being affected by Hurricane Irma.

So yeah, we support and love HR Tech, but our clients come first. You won’t be seeing the big, yellow booth this year, but you can still visit us at our (scaled down) booth #2452 at HR Tech or check out what we’re up to at wheresmaestro.com.

Hello, Ben Admin 2.0

By Nancy Reardon, Chief Product Officer

Benefit administration, private exchange, enrollment, online shopping – no matter what you call it, employers are looking for stronger solutions to help their businesses adapt to new marketplace realities. The largest component of this new reality is the changing needs of their workforce.  

Effectively managing and engaging your workforce will help drive your business forward and ultimately improve the bottom line. For HR professionals to achieve this success, a new approach to managing benefits, which attracts and retains employees, is now a necessity.

Hello, Ben Admin 2.0.
Over 25 percent of benefit decision makers expressed that they thought benefit administration systems were only “partly” integrated. Well, things have changed. Benefits administration and private exchanges have converged to create Ben Admin 2.0. After all, technology and service go hand-in-hand, and you shouldn’t have to settle for less than the best of both. Ben Admin 2.0 delivers a personalized employee experience and a powerful backend—coupled with an upgraded service experience to ensure you and your employees receive the level of support you deserve and expect.   

Benefits are important to employees, yet 80 percent of companies report low benefits knowledge amongst their employees. The fact is, employees need a simple way to understand and effectively manage their benefits. Ben Admin 2.0 is designed to offer a hyper-personalized, comfortable experience, marrying both tech and service, that takes the “scary” out of the process and empowers employees to manage their benefits with confidence.

Of course, this technology not only needs to look “pretty,” but it also needs to deliver functionality that provides you with the peace of mind knowing that your benefits program is running true to your company’s vision and strategy. The good news is that Ben Admin 2.0 is a modern and simple way to administer your employee benefits without unnecessary features that overcomplicate and are impossible to navigate.

For instance, (me)BENEFITS ADMIN 2.0™ was designed to make managing tasks (i.e., processing changes in marital and dependent status) more intuitive. Now, life events and other changes like these can be made automatically and accurately. It also recognizes that each employee’s benefits knowledge and personal preferences are different. (me)BENEFITS ADMIN 2.0 provides decision entry points to meet your employees where they are by providing “doors” to help them navigate to the best plans. Employees choose their preferred path to finding their best plans through the use of such tools as Shop by Doc™, mSCORE™ and the “show me all plans” options.

It’s so much more than an upgrade in technology.
No doubt, there has long been a need for an update in HR technology. In fact, a recent Maestro Health™ study found that 27 percent of HR professionals want to say a final “goodbye” to systems that don’t talk to other systems and 16 percent are ready to get rid of their never-ending paperwork and lack of automated processes. But it takes the right partners to fill the gap when it comes to service, too. With Ben Admin 2.0, the concept of tech or service has been thrown out. It’s all about tech AND service. In fact, tech-meets-service is the norm for Ben Admin 2.0.

Ben Admin 2.0 providers don’t consider themselves to be just a “vendor.” They approach Ben Admin as a partnership and consider themselves an extension of your benefits team. This tech-meets-service approach includes dedicated account managers and client service teams that are available year-round, not just during implementation.

You no longer need to simply settle for a technology vendor. Instead, you can now choose a partner that effectively demonstrates both tech and service. A partner who collaborates with you in managing your employee benefits program.

Why this upgrade matters to HR.
Your world is changing—with constant legislative changes, rising costs, the growing popularity of High Deductible Health Plans and increasing expectations of your workforce—you need benefit administration technology and a partner who recognizes and embraces these changes. Doing so will effectively position your benefits program and your business for success.

As the role of HR professionals continue to evolve from transactional to strategic, you need a solution that enables you to leverage your most important asset—your talent. Ben Admin 2.0 brings all the tools you need together for you and your employees at one destination for managing their overall health and financial well-being.

The new era of Ben Admin has arrived, and it’s ushering in a new approach for HR technology to solve long-standing HR hassles. If you have questions, you’re not alone. Join me on June 6, where I’ll be answering questions alongside Carrie Marquardt, Benefits and HR Solution Practice Leader, Maestro Health. 

Goodbye, Complicated Ben Admin

By Sheryl Simmons, Chief Human Resources Officer

Sheryl Simmons discusses ben admin

Benefits Administration has had a reputation for far too long of being complex and confusing – not just for employees, but for HR professionals too. How did that become acceptable as the status quo? Employers have been manually processing eligibility changes. They’ve struggled with Benefits Administration (aka Ben Admin) platforms that promise to make their lives easier but, in reality, are navigational mazes. In this day and age of technology, HR deserves better. If you’re still doing it old school, it’s time to say goodbye.

Later, mountains of paperwork.
Last year, Maestro Health™ conducted a study asking HR professionals where they spend most of their time. The number one response – processing administrative paperwork. If you’re an HR professional, you’re well aware that an abundance of time is not a luxury we have. Yet, we continue to trudge through manual processes that lead to headaches, along with creating a frustrating experience for employees.

We know employees are also ready to ditch these paper-based methods. HR pros know that handing over a stack of forms to new hires for completion on day one is not an ideal start to onboarding. “Welcome to this fantastic new career opportunity. Please fill out this pile of paperwork, and make sure your writing is legible so you don’t have to fill them out twice.” How’s that for a warm, fuzzy welcome? In fact, 69 percent of employees will likely remain with a company if they experience what they consider a great onboarding process. That stat alone is enough for savvy HR pros to say a final goodbye to paper processes.

See you never, complicated Ben Admin systems.
I often compare signing a new Benefits Administration vendor to being setup on a bad blind date. Your hopes are built up by the recommendations of others and the promise of a great experience, only to get a dose of reality when your date shows up and they’re nothing like what you expected. Check, please!

The myriad of features that sounded so great when they sold you a high-tech experience turns out to be difficult to navigate and not customized to your HR needs as promised. Employees are frustrated with the cumbersome enrollment experience. Your boss is questioning your judgment for buying the system. And you’re left wondering why you didn’t just stick with mountains of paperwork. If this is hitting too close to home, don’t worry – you’re not alone. In that same Maestro Health study I mentioned earlier, we asked HR professionals to name their biggest headache. The top answer – disparate systems.

Ben admin solutions

With the constant legislative changes and ever-evolving landscape of healthcare in general, we shouldn’t have to deal with systems that can’t keep up nor make things more complicated than they need to be. HR tech vendors shouldn’t be pulling the bait-and-switch on us. A few weeks ago, I told a vendor, “Could you just not suck?” True story. HR professionals need business partners – not vendors. We need HR tech solutions that are willing to partner with us to simplify the already complex world of benefits, specifically ben admin, not sell us even more complicated systems. 

Goodbye, Ben Admin as you know it.
I think it’s safe to say that the traditional methods of benefits administration just aren’t cutting it anymore. At one time they were appropriate –  but so were floppy disks and cassette tapes. But times, they are a changing. So enough already. It’s time for Ben Admin vendors to stop acting only as a “vendor” and deliver on their promised partnership to ease the burden on HR professionals and creating a consumer-like experience for employees. Skip the bad blind date. The next generation of Ben Admin is coming this spring and it’s not just a vendor – it’s your new business partner. Be among the first to see it when it arrives.