HR Technology Conference Recap

Posted by on October 17, 2014 | Be the First to Comment

What a whirlwind the last few weeks have been! Between the HR Technology Conference, being sick and the Royals’ winning playoff streak I have been consumed! I haven’t forgotten about the post I promised dishing all of the dirty details from the HR Technology conference, it has just taken a little longer to compile all of my thoughts.

In case you missed it, last week was the 17th Annual HR Technology Conference at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nev.  There were 300 exhibitors and almost 4,000 attendees. Those few days were crammed with so much information; I am not sure where to start! Before I dive into what I picked up from the different education sessions, I wanted to give some of my team members who were roaming the expo hall the stage to share their thoughts.

First, there was an overwhelming amount of Talent technology vendors. (Talent = Recruiting, Applicant Tracking, Onboarding, Learning, Performance and Succession. Forgot? Read more about Talent Management here.)  There seemed to be a lot of new Talent vendors that I haven’t heard of before, specifically in the Recruiting and Onboarding areas. Digital interviewing seemed to be a big trend with both live and on-demand versions available. Digital interviewing is prescreening job applicants through a video interview either live (similar to Skype or video conferencing) or pre-recorded footage of the applicant answering a list of questions (on-demand).

vegas

Another interesting trend we noticed was predictive analytics taking center stage. Using the video interviewing above, HireVue is offering a way to review 15 attributes in the video interview responses from job applicants to analyze the candidate and tie the interview responses to future job performance. Predictive analytics are taking digital interviewing a step further and could help lower costs and provide better and more consistent hiring.

German Talent Management vendor, Haufe, made its HR Technology Conference debut. Haufe is Europe’s largest talent vendor and is expanding its presence in the U.S. Haufe’s talent solution includes Recruiting, Onboarding, Compensation and Learning management. Haufe’s product is in 120 countries and in 60 languages. Their clients’ sizes range from two to 5,000 employees, with the average being around 1,000 – 1,500 employees.

We also noticed more wellness vendors than in past years. There was a wellness vendor that incorporated all aspects of overall employee wellness including financial and emotional, not just the standard physical. Welbe offers a free app to track the overall wellbeing of your organization by connecting with employees’ fitness trackers (fitbit, myfitnesspal, RunKeeper, Jawbone, etc.).

Vendor Infor announced that by the end of Q1 2015 they plan to release a multi-tenant SaaS version of their HR/Payroll module. Previously, Infor only offered an on-premise or single tenant based  hosted solutions. Although a little late to the party, all of Infor’s modules will now be available in a SaaS-based model.

Benefits Administration vendor Workterra announced their HCM which includes Recruiting, Onboarding and Wellness solutions that integrate with their benefits platform. Absence Management, PTO and Performance Management are on their roadmap.

ACA technology vendor Health e(fx) won the Top HR Product  of 2014 award presented by Human Resources Executive Magazine and the conference.

HR Tech Conf

The Benefits Administration point solutions were not in abundance, but we did have some great conversations with ADP, Benefitfocus, bswift, Businessolver, Empyrean, and Thompsons Online Benefits.

Ultimate Software’s Onboarding solution is geared towards helping employees get acclimated to their new organization, new team, and new surroundings.  The key themes center around personalization of the onboarding experience, a collaborative way to meet others virtually and exchange messages, view profiles on LinkedIn, introduce a new hire to a mentor, and provide easy access to learning opportunities important to their role. As expected, the Ultimate Onboarding solutions allows automated completion, review, and signing of electronic documents such as tax forms, eligibility forms, and policies. The look and feel of the Ultimate onboarding area is very clean and very intuitive.

We also learned that OneSource Virtual no longer has exclusive rights to resell Workday’s technology in the under 1,000 life space. OneSource Virtual will continue to support the clients they brought on, but after the first of the year, Workday will sell the technology in the under 1,000 market.  OneSource Virtual will continue to provide wrap around services to Workday in all market segments.

This was by no means an all-inclusive list, but just a few of the many things we found interesting. If you are interested in more or something more specific, let me know. Next week I will share some of the nuggets I picked up during my educational sessions. That is, if I can come down off of my “the Royals are going to the World Series!” high and write them out! Were you able to make it to this year’s conference? What did you think? Anything noteworthy not mentioned above? Please share!

Greetings from HR Tech

Posted by on October 8, 2014 | Be the First to Comment

Greetings from the  HR Tech Conference! It’s been a busy, knowledge-filled morning already! I can’t wait to share all of the golden nuggets I’ve picked up thus far!  We’ve got Project Managers scouring the Expo Hall floor and demo rooms and our booth is setup. (Booth #2541)  If you are here in Sin City, stop by and chat with JoAnne and Courtney. If you couldn’t make it out, let us know if there is anything you’d like us to look into for you; maybe it’s a particular vendor or maybe the newest trend in Talent Management – let us know as we’d be more than happy to seek out answers for you.

ISCEBS Symposium Recap: How Technology is Transforming Healthcare

Posted by on September 30, 2014 | Read the First Comment

Wow! What a few weeks! We’ve officially hit busy season around here! I am finally in the office and not jet setting across the country so I thought I would share a little bit of what I’ve been up to lately. A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of speaking at the annual ISCEBS Symposium in Arizona. If you missed it, you can check out a recap of some Twitter action here.  Below are some of the notes and highlights from the presentation I gave there about how technology is transforming healthcare.

iscebs

Some of the most powerful new technologies transforming health and medicine are readily accessible through the mobile devices we use daily. Learn about these emerging and game-changing trends and tools and how they are changing the face of healthcare by personalizing care and improving engagement and outcomes.

I doubt it comes as much surprise that technology is changing Healthcare and its delivery. But the scope and power of that change may surprise even the most avid gadget geek. To say “changing Healthcare” is too tepid. Technology is fundamentally redefining the Who, What, Where, and Why of Healthcare. The convergence of increasing costs, increasing regulation (ACA), and aging population have found a nexus where computing power, size, and storage are quickly decreasing in cost and increasing in effectiveness.

Let’s use that Who, What, Where and Why framework to quickly highlight the breadth of these changes. In these topics, you’re going to sense a theme: Technology is changing the connectedness of Healthcare: data to doctors, doctors to doctors, and doctors to their patients.cebs

Who –

Thanks to the vast amount of information available to us, a shift is happening in where Healthcare begins. We’ve all known someone who turned a sniffle or simple cough into the scariest of terminal diagnoses with just a little research on the internet. People are self-diagnosing, asking about the medications they see advertised on TV and with the advent of High-Deductibles, self-medicating where ever possible to avoid out-of-pocket costs. A Pew Internet Study showed 34% of respondents reporting that their self-management “influenced a treatment decision.”

What –

This is the most interesting aspect to me, probably because there’s a new acronym we all get to learn: IoT or Internet of Things. If the first wave of the internet was information (think universities) and the second wave of the internet was people (Facebook), the third wave will be things. This is a true interconnectedness that will hook up everything from appliances and home security to prescription injectors and pedometers. Connected devices are expanding at an exponential rate. The computing speeds have increased to a level where a person doesn’t need to notice any delay as a system computes. This arrival of “think speed” will start to turn the technology around us invisible as we become less aware of delays introduced by “buffering” or transmissions.

Another enabling technological change is our increasing connected devices – such as our smartphones and Fitbits – that travel with us throughout our lives. Miniaturization and simplification have increased technology’s welcomedness into our daily lives. Interfaces are simplistic enough our children and parents are instinctive users.

How many of you have a Fitbit or some other activity tracker on your body right now? Would you be surprised to know that according to IDC over 70% of consumers have never even used an activity tracker?

Efforts are also underway to create Health Exchanges – but these are different than the Private Exchanges connected to Healthcare Reform. Instead, these are clearinghouses of data where the medical community can upload, share, and manage the populations’ health. Just Wednesday, we saw the announcement of over nine million lives being connected in California in the biggest Exchange undertaking to date.

Where –

The location of healthcare delivery is also changing. My grandfather, a child of the depression, received his healthcare in the home, if at all. Country doctors brought medicine to families or, more often, they self-treated. My parents tended to go to a brick-and-mortar place to receive healthcare – whether that was a hospital, a clinic or a doctor’s office. These days however, the where of healthcare has changed. Telemedicine has removed direct patient interaction and shifted it to the web or phone so that the doctor or nurse doesn’t even have to be on the same continent as their patient. Home healthcare has re-arisen as patients strive to avoid costly stays at medical facilities and show better outcomes in their homes. Technology has also taken the monitoring of a patient’s status and automated the process so in-home or even, in-body medical devices can upload bio-data and warn of non-compliance to medications.

Why –

As we know, the why is often the most important aspect of any change. This theme of increasing connectedness is not technology for technology’s sake. Instead, the outcomes are expected to be 1) lower costs, 2) increased capacity of the system and 3) increased quality. Here’s a quick examples: lower costs come from a doctor being able to access all of a patient’s healthcare information from a Healthcare Exchange that includes physical therapists, emergency rooms, family doctors, etc. They can see tests that have been run and perhaps even activity and fitness data from the patient, which prevents them from ordering redundant tests or unnecessary duplications of treatments. Ordering fewer tests frees up MRI machines for others to use and the quality of the patient’s care increases with more information preventing medical errors.

To wrap up this overview of how Technology is transforming Healthcare, I want to touch back on the overall theme of connectedness that’s run through the simplistic “Who, What, Where and Why” framework I’ve used. Webs of data are connecting more tightly around each of us as citizens, individuals, and consumers of Healthcare. As the data about us and our activities flows from our devices to our doctors, it will inform better decisions. It will also increase our own awareness of our behaviors. Studies say that over 70% of healthcare claims can be attributed to behavioral choices like smoking, stress, slothful lifestyles, etc. As our data becomes connected and convicting perhaps we’ll see a change in personal responsibility to mirror the changes we’re seeing in healthcare delivery. As our doctors compare and share notes on our progress, perhaps we’ll find a more unified medical field around the best decisions for our increased health. Nonetheless, Healthcare is changing and technology is driving that change. I want you to be aware of the changes happening around you in Healthcare and how technology is dramatically changing the delivery of Healthcare through connectedness.

Were you able to attend the ISCEBS Symposium this year too? What did you think of it? What changes are you seeing in healthcare thanks to technology?

Seeing Things Differently

Posted by on September 24, 2014 | Be the First to Comment

As I mentioned a few posts ago, we are opening this space up to some guest contributors, other experts in our beloved HR Technology industry. Today I would like to present to you a post written by Rae Shanahan, EVP of Engagement & Excellence at Businessolver. Businessolver is a provider of benefits SaaS technology. Businessolver was founded by HR professionals in 1998 and is headquartered in West Des Moines, Iowa.

businessolver

When you think about some of the most brilliant minds of recent history you realize that they share one characteristic: the ability to see things differently. Breakthroughs like the Theory of Relativity wouldn’t be uncovered had Albert Einstein not looked at complex mathematical problems differently. Apple, Inc. would not be worth more than $600 billion had Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak not looked at personal computing differently. So how can we apply the ability to see things differently to the world of benefits?

To start, we have to challenge mainstream assertions and use data rather than emotion as a guide. Then look differently at common benefits-related challenges. Here’s what you may realize:

  1. People don’t like to shop for employee benefits, and especially not for health insurance.
  2. Too much choice – like the trend toward offering a plethora of health plan options to employees – causes buyer paralysis and confusion.
  3. Purchasing insurance is what academics call an irrational buying decision, which traditional benefits enrollment systems don’t acknowledge.
  4. Today’s multigenerational workforce — a rapidly increasing number of whom are highly mobile and thrive on social media — demands different approaches for different segments when it comes to benefits enrollment.

Consumer Shopping Behavior Does Not Apply to Insurance

Let’s paint a picture of the health insurance consumer landscape: As of 2009 more than 140 million Americans had control of their health insurance choices (a.k.a., consumers) which totaled $785 billion in premiums. That’s a lot of dough being spent at a consumer level. But according to research by McKinsey & Company, most of those consumers who actively “shopped” for health insurance were unable to revisit their current insurance status. In other words, they don’t know what they bought. Why? Research shows that an insurance purchase, especially health insurance, isn’t made with the same consumer rationale as products like electronics, cars or vacations. Approximately 86 percent of employees find the insurance purchase process confusing. According to MetLife’s 12th Annual US Employee Benefit Trends Survey, “…increased choice means employees need additional help navigating unfamiliar options.” Also, 38 percent of employees report they are not very confident that they made the right decisions during their last annual enrollment, and 42 percent do not believe they use them effectively.

The Paradox of Choice

Swathmore psychology professor Barry Schwartz made the term “paradox of choice” ubiquitous when he authored, “The Paradox of Choice” in 2004. At the core of Schwartz’s assertion is too much choice, whether it is something mundane or profoundly important, can have a negative impact on the decision-making process. Yet the central premise behind insurance exchanges is offering a wide variety of choice. If we pay attention to lessons from retirement, we should be careful. Consider this fact presented by social psychologist Sheena Iyengar in her TED Talk: When a retirement plan offered two fund options, participation was in the mid 70th percentile. And for the plans with 50 fund choices, participation rates drop to the 60th percentile.

more funds less saving

Source: TED Talk, Sheena Iyengar

Worse, those plans with more choices available also made consumers more likely to put all of their money in pure money market accounts. Her assertion is that choice overload reduces decision quality as well as satisfaction.

How Do We Fix Irrational Buying Behavior?

McKinsey & Company retail health consumer surveys show that the most important driver for health insurance satisfaction is peace of mind, with 32 percent of consumers responding. The responses, “provides me with the coverage I expected” and “offers a plan that meets my needs” followed at 18 and 14 percent, respectively. When peace of mind outweighs finding a plan that fits your needs or provides the coverage you expected, it’s clear that we’re dealing with an emotional element.

Addressing Dynamic Employee Demographics with Targeted Focus

It’s not unlikely that you have four distinctly different generations on your payroll. You also likely have influences of gender-based, socio-economic, racial, geographical, and psychological components – not to mention the technological gap – to contend with. Furthermore, Pew Research Center research shows a dramatic trend of increased social media use by every adult generation. Even the demographic aged 65 or older has 43 percent actively using social media. All of these factors highlight the engagement challenges and need for individually focused communication to ensure health insurance choices and utilization are maximized.

What should we do now? There’s no magic bullet for engagement, but awareness of the challenges is key to developing a plan that fits each specific employee group uniquely. If we know the potential roadblocks, it’s easier to navigate to the final destination.

I’d like to thank Businessolver for contributing this week’s post. There was some great data in there! I’m curious as to how the data stacks up against what you all are seeing personally or within your companies? Share with us by commenting below or tweeting at me (@HRTechKaiser)!

HR Tech as the Hero

Posted by on September 10, 2014 | Be the First to Comment

Yeah, I know that’s not a headline you’ve seen a whole bunch and you have good reason to be surprised. After all, our world isn’t the high-octane battlefield of cops and robbers. But if you’ve got a trained eye and you look closely enough, we have our own “ripped from the headlines” HR Tech stories to tell.

I need these stories, and not just for this blog. I grew up in a family of cousins where most of the men became policemen and most of the women became school teachers. Family get-togethers were filled with stories of blue line daring-do or comical classroom antics as each cousin tried to top the other in drama or hilarity. And then there was me – working in the corporate rat race. You know, unless you’re Scott Adams (one of my favs!), toiling away in cubicle-ville just doesn’t lend itself to good story telling. “So there I was sitting in my fabric-covered box…” isn’t a captivating lead-in, I must say.

But as I was reading the Sunday feature in my Kansas City Star on my 7:00 am flight to Phoenix (groan, grumble and gritting of teeth for sacrificing one more weekend to the vagaries of business travel), I found out the unlikely hero of the story to be our own bread and butter: HR Technology. (Yeah, I was a little surprised, too!)

underpaid kc

Travis Long/News & Observer

The story was the product of a year-long investigation by the McClatchy newspaper chain, exposing the fraud stemming from 2009 federal stimulus money that was paid to employers who then misclassified their workers as independent contractors to avoid paying taxes and higher wages. Doesn’t this sound like it has all the elements of an interesting story? Billions of taxpayer dollars potentially lost. Overwhelmed or negligent government departments and officials. Life-threatening, on-the-job injuries and workers’ compensation avoidance. Yep, it’s all there – and not just because I’m a big HR dork. This is Hollywood level intrigue – or at least a made-for-TV movie.

So the gist of the situation is this: The federal government’s 2009 stimulus pushed money into communities for the redevelopment of low-income areas as a way to get citizens back working again. In the KC metro, that was $4.5 million, which was handed to developers or general contractors. Some of those employers then intentionally misclassified their workers as independent contractors – not as employees – and pocketed the extra wages, fringe benefits or workers’ compensation those workers were due. Federal jobs pay higher wages (called prevailing wages) by law. Employers also reliably collect taxes from their employees’ wages (99% effective according to the IRS), while independent contractors have to self-declare their earnings on 1099 tax forms – of which the IRS only sees somewhere between 19-44%. That’s a lot of tax money lost due to fraud and greed – estimated at $8.5 Billion (with a B!) nationwide.

So at the end of the article – after stories of intrepid investigative journalism – our heroes finally arrive. There are some vigilant unions policing their industry for rule-breakers, and there are some government officials who are promising to do a better job at oversight, but, in addition, there is HR Technology! Read with me…

“But things could be improving soon locally. This summer, Kansas City began using a new computer software program that makes it easier for the city’s contract compliance office to compare the payrolls contractors submit with prevailing wage rates.”

“…the city’s Human Relations Department said the system also allows city staff to spend more time on job sites to ensure that contractors are classifying workers properly.”

HR Technology = Hero

Survey Suggests Affordable Care Act is Reducing Employment and Raising Prices

Posted by on September 4, 2014 | Be the First to Comment

I recently stumbled across a Wall Street Journal MarketWatch.com article discussing results from an employer-participant survey regarding the Affordable Care Act. I thought some of the findings were really interesting and completely relevant to all of us as HR Practitioners/Benefits Experts as well as in our more personal roles as Consumers/Employees/Taxpayers/Americans.

A survey conducted by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve suggests that the Affordable Care Act has initially reduced employment and increased prices.

market watch

Breaking it down:

15.2% of participants said the number of workers is lower due to the impact of ACA requirements.

- We’ve certainly heard employers asking about this possibility. However, there would seem to be some constraints on this change. After all, an employer has to ensure they have an adequate workforce with the requisite skills. What does make sense is that workers staying employed just to have medical benefits now have an alternative way through the public exchanges like HealthCare.gov. This may open more jobs up for active job seekers who are more career-minded, but that’s just supposition at this point.

16.7% found the proportion of part-time work was up.

- We’ve seen a huge rise in the interest around managing variable hour employees. (Those that might be full or part-time depending upon their scheduling.) Since the ACA only mandates benefits for full-time employees (over 30 hours) many observers have been curious to see if employers would rebuild their workforces by exchanging full-time jobs for part-time. Equifax’s eThority application has great modeling tools around the unintended consequences of these possible actions for any employer looking to do some modeling.

28.8% said prices to customers rose.

- This is the most concerning statistic to me as I’m always hearing about surveys, such as the CareerBuilder survey, showing the majority of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. This just seems to increase the pressure on an already difficult situation.

1.6% said wage and salary compensation per worker is higher.

Between the ‘pay or play’ mandate which includes additional costs per employee depending on the employer choice and the additional taxes (including potential excise taxes), employers are having to plan more in their budgets to cover the employee overhead costs.  As a result of the additional planning and taxes involved…..

3% of participants said they were dropping health insurance.

- This is a much lower percentage of employers than the fear mongers would have had us believe when this legislation was new. I’m glad to see the number is so small, but I know there is a lot of dust that hasn’t yet settled.

51.5% said they were making changes.

2.9% said more employees are being covered, but manufacturers are reporting higher employee contributions, deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums and copays, with a lower range of medical coverage and a lower size and breadth of the network.

I know most of you looking at these numbers are thinking: “those don’t seem significant enough to reach the conclusion that the ACA is reducing employment and increasing prices.” If you check out the full survey results here, you will see that most employers haven’t experienced any changes due to ACA.  Yet of the employers who have seen changes, the experience leads one to conclude that reduced employment and increased prices are occurring and will continue to occur.

According to Stephen Stanley, Chief Economist at Pierpont Securities, “This combination confirms that the Affordable Care Act has been a negative supply shock ─ weaker employment and higher prices ─ a combination that the Fed can do little to fix.”

This survey doesn’t cover the entire U.S. and therefore isn’t comprehensive of all employers; however, I thought it was an interesting preview as to what we might see coming as more employers attempt to meet the requirements of ACA. I’m especially curious to see the results of this survey years from now, after employers have implemented programs to adhere to the ACA to make it work for their companies. Will this health care provision continue to negatively shock the supply side as Stephen Stanley believes has already occurred? If that happens…what will we do next?

17th Annual HR Tech Conference

Posted by on September 2, 2014 | Be the First to Comment

Wow! I can’t believe it’s already September! You know what that means? We are only about a month out from the 17th Annual HR Technology Conference and Exposition!

I know, I’m sure you are thinking “Kaiser, your geek is showing.” I am not ashamed! This is THE conference for HR Technologists, like me. (After all, it wasn’t until this year that my Kansas City Royals even had a sliver of a chance of playing baseball in October, so I had to find something else to love.)

This year’s conference is being held at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas October 7-10th and will certainly be filled wall to wall with insightful speakers, vendor booths and everything HR Tech!

hrt_banner_ad

As an HR professional, this conference is definitely worth your time. It’s one of Trade Show Executive’s fastest Growing Shows of 2013 and there is opportunity to earn HRCI and HRIP recertification credits. Having access to all of the HR Technology vendors and their product innovations and releases in one place is a pretty big deal too. Of course, several members of my team and I will be in attendance. You might remember our coverage of last year’s event. (If you didn’t, click here to read it.)This year we will also be blogging about our findings, and you can visit us at booth # 2541 or plan on us stopping by your booth! And if any of our readers are willing to help guard our cubes from practical jokers while we’re away, you have our attention!

123

Here are a few things to look for at this year’s conference:

  • Over 275 vendors in the Expo Hall = lots of networking and free stuff!
  • Opening Keynote “Making the Right Choices in the Second Machine Age” by Andrew McAfee, Principal Research Scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the co-author of The Second Machine Age.
  • A session moderated by David Gergen, Senior Political Analyst at CNN, with Ahu Yildirmaz, PhD, Head of ADP Research Institute, ADP, titled:  “Workforce 2020: How Data and Analytics Will Shape the Workplace”.
  • Another general session about the awesome new technologies for HR.
  • Breakout sessions, including “Behind the Curtain” Technical track with content from Naomi Bloom.
  • Closing Keynote “Transforming the Future of Work in a Digital World” by R “Ray” Wang, Founder and Principal Analyst at Constellation Research and author of A Software Insider’s Point of View blog.
  • Plus, there will also be several other general sessions, vendor demos and product announcements.

If you are interested in attending this year’s conference, let me know! We can hook you up with a free Expo Pass or a discounted rate on your registration. If you are interested in learning more about this year’s conference, check out the official website, download the App or follow @HRTechConf  and #HRTechConf on Twitter.

Outsourcing Benefits Administration

Posted by on August 28, 2014 | Be the First to Comment

The following post comes from a Benefits Administration vendor that our team has had the opportunity to work with on several client engagements. Empyrean Benefit Solutions was founded in 2007 and provides technology and services for managing large and middle-market employers’ health and benefits programs. Empyrean provides enrollment, eligibility management and a range of other plan administration services to three distinct markets: employers, insurance brokers and healthcare exchanges. Lockton still remains vendor neutral, which is why this is just the first of many vendor guest posts. We realize that vendors have a lot to say and have access to some solid data about the happenings of the HR Tech industry and we want to relay that information to you. What better way than to let them tell it to you through us?!

empyrean

As benefits administration becomes more complex and new requirements emerge, HR executives find themselves facing the tough decision of whether to continue handling these tasks internally (“insourcing”), whether to outsource all benefits administration or whether to find a middle ground, retaining pieces of their current process in-house and outsourcing the rest (“co-sourcing”).

 

Today, some organizations opt to insource because they are more comfortable maintaining control of all administrative functions, in spite of the need to continually invest in the technology and the ongoing education necessary to perform these functions. Other choose to insource because they tend to be more paternalistic and want to stay in close touch with their workforce, believing that they can provide a better, more personalized experience for their employees.

Most recently, however, a number of employers have chosen to outsource their benefits administration as a direct result of the ever expanding rules and regulations around the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (health care reform). The new requirements only make benefits administration more complex, more costly and more time consuming than ever, and these employers have come to realize that outsourcing can provide the infrastructure and technology needed to handle the myriad benefits administration tasks, as well as give them access to the expertise needed to ensure ongoing regulatory compliance. According to Everest’s February 2013 Benefits Administration Outsourcing (BAO) – Service Provider Landscape and Capability Assessment, “the Benefits Administration Outsourcing (BAO) market grew at a healthy pace of 13% to reach US$6.1 billion in annualized revenue in 2012.” This assessment went on to say that the market is expected to accelerate at an even faster rate in 2014.

80 percentNot surprisingly, large employers are more likely to outsource benefits administration due to the size of their workforce, their multiple locations and/or the greater complexity of their benefit programs. Midsized or smaller organizations tend to consider outsourcing benefits the solution for lack of internal resources and expertise. Many employers, regardless of size, choose to work with an external advisor when making their decisions regarding outsourcing. Whether soliciting third-party advice or making the determination on their own, most employers consider the following factors and outcomes as part of their decision-making process:

  • Reducing the cost of benefits administration
  • Ensuring ongoing regulatory compliance
  • Freeing up internal HR/Benefits resources to focus on core business needs and more strategic initiatives
  • Improving the overall employee experience through streamlined enrollment processes
  • Positively impacting employee engagement and communication through Web-based, employee self-service technology and more robust decision support tools
  • Providing competent, consistent administration of technical services such as COBRA, Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs)
  • Reducing internal investments in infrastructure maintenance and development
  • Utilizing real-time reporting to manage enrollment, support budgeting, measure carrier/vendor performance and provide greater insight into the operational aspects of the benefits program

reducing costFor most companies, the key factors that drive the decision to outsource benefits administration come down to cost savings and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements. In addition, HR/Benefits executive who have time and resource restrictions are realizing that they can rely on those companies that specialize in BAO to provide the resources and expertise to help them and their staffs keep up with future trends. No matter how the decision is being made, it appears that benefits administration outsourcing is here to stay. In fact, according to research by Gartner, Inc., “80 percent of companies now outsource at least one HR activity, and that number is swiftly growing.”

So, how will you decide whether outsourcing benefits administration is right for your company?

A good place to start is by asking your internal staff and business partners the following questions:

  • Do we have the appropriate resources and infrastructure to handle benefits administration in-house?
  • Do we have the financial support to develop/maintain the skill sets and technology needed to manage benefits administration effectively?
  • Do we have the in-house expertise to understand today’s complex regulatory compliance issues?
  • Can we continue to manage all of our daily administrative functions whiles also supporting the strategic initiatives necessary for our company to grow?

If you have any questions about outsourcing benefits administration or about Empyrean, comment below. If you happen to be a vendor and would like to contribute to Lockton’s HR Technology blog, please comment below or contact Courtney at clawrence@lockton.com .

Sharing is Fun

Posted by on August 26, 2014 | Be the First to Comment

Way back in the day, my mom would constantly remind me to share my toys with the neighbor boys.  Even though my dump truck was bigger and could hold more dirt making it hard to let anyone else touch, I found that the dirt mound got moved a lot quicker when I let my friends make a few trips with my Tonka. Although my toys don’t look like Hot Wheels or science kits anymore (well, okay sometimes), the concept of sharing has stuck with me. So here friends, I would like to share my blog with you! (I hope my mom is reading this! Look, I remember what you taught me!)

sharing toys

I know that I am not the sole HR Technology expert (not even close!), which is why I value what others touched by these area have to say. We can learn so much from each other’s experiences.

Do you have an HR Technology related topic that you would like to talk to the world about? (Okay, probably not the entire world, but you never know…) Maybe as an employer client, you would like to share your recent implementation experience. Maybe as a fellow Lockton Associate, you would like to share your understanding of carrier file feeds or the use of call centers. Maybe as a vendor, you would like to explain why a Benefits Administration or ACA system is important to a business. Maybe as a fellow HR Technology lover, you would like to share your predictions for the future of HR Technology. Regardless of who you are, we want to give you the opportunity to use this blog as your canvas.

Later this week, we will have our first vendor guest writer take the stage and share more about the decision to outsource Benefits Administration.

If you have topic ideas (or for the over-achievers out there so eager to take advantage of this opportunity- an entire post draft!) send them to Courtney at clawrence@lockton.com .

What to Expect in Q3

Posted by on August 21, 2014 | Be the First to Comment

What to Expect Q3

Being in the technology industry, changes happen frequently. It can be a challenge to manage all of the new updates being promised by the various HR Technology vendors. You could make color-coded charts of the different roadmap items, or you could leave that to us! We recently reached out to some of the bigger players in the Benefits Administration technology game for some of their promised system enhancements for the third quarter.  Most of the vendors addressed the impending Affordable Care Act and compliance as well as functionalities to make the systems more configurable. All of the updates are targeted at making their clients’ lives easier, while allowing them to be more efficient and strategic.  So as we’re currently in the midst of Q3, be on the lookout for these updates in alphabetical order:

ADP

ADP

ADP has announced new enhancements to its ADP Workforce Now platform for midsized employers. These enhancements include the ADP Workforce Now Compensation module, which automates compensation planning by creating a pay-for-performance culture. This tool complements ADP Performance Management to help organizations link employee performance to employer-defined award guidelines and budget thresholds and simplify the processes associated with pay increases and bonuses. The next update from ADP is its ACA Compliance Dashboard. This ACA dashboard is part of the Benefits Administration solution and will help companies stay compliant with ACA provisions. A new Application Programming Interface (API) Library will make ADP Workforce Now easier to use for employees, employers and developers by providing access to hundreds of HCM-related data fields. ADP has also expanded its Global Human Resources System of Record to support 33 countries with multilingual and multi-currency capabilities. The last enhancement to expect from ADP this quarter is the enhanced ADP Analytics package with built-in industry standard HCM metrics for HR, time, payroll and talent. This will also enable employers to add customized Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and allow HR executives to compare their company’s performance against industry standard metrics.

 

benefitfocus

Benefitfocus  

Benefitfocus recently redesigned their Benefits Administration Role earlier this summer. The new Benefits Administration Role is a multi-release plan and will have new features coming over the next 3 releases. Some of these features include: ability to view plan participation details and on-demand open enrollment status, updates to the Message Center, ability to send automated notifications regarding benefit changes resulting from life events, ability to send message center notifications related to outstanding document requirements, ability to generate W-2 reports, automatic enrollment in single-level benefits, ability to set review and approval preferences for automated dependent cancellation and the ability to prorate initial and scheduled employer HSA contributions. Benefitfocus will also be updating their HR InTouch Marketplace by improving the training module tracking, management and reporting with the Training Tool. HR InTouch users will be able to archive and filter content within the HR InTouch Marketplace. HR InTouch Early Adopters (must have the Benefitfocus Communication Package) will also be able to configure pay statements using paycheck presentment. Benefitfocus is adding the ability to add and update emergency contact information and the ability to capture benefit ID information functionalities to the HR In Touch mobile app.

 

businessolver

Businessolver

Businessolver announced continued evolvement of its ACA compliance solution, ACA StatusTracker. This technology currently measures, tracks, applies eligibility and creates ACA-required reporting. New features include addressing rehire rules, protected leave and improvements to analytic reporting. Businessolver also announced new member wellness tools offering employees the ability to track and manage their wellness and any impact on insurance premiums.  Businessolver will roll out its Decision Support engine, MyChoice at the end of Q3 to help consumers make purchasing decisions by providing a full slate of information – not just past utilization. The configurable Layout Manager tools available within Benefitsolver will be getting even more flexible as updates to the WYSIWTG editor allow for easy-to-set-up layout options. This will result in better looking layouts to improve user experience and communication capabilities. The last update from Businessolver is the capability for Benefitsolver to be configured as a microsite built to support multiple webpages based on benefit types, employee demographics, etc. This addition offers a wide range of communication options for HR/benefits teams.

empyrean

Empyrean

Empyrean is also working on its ACA tools offering, Safe Harbor. Safe Harbor will go live and has the ability to track 30 hours, offering coverage and affordability, plans with minimum essential coverage and/or minimum value, and annual reporting. Empyrean will also release its video library, VisualKnowledge.  VisualKnowledge is a value-added feature that will deliver information to help employees understand their health insurance benefits, retirement and living well programs. Another new release from Empyrean is its retroactive payroll feature. This is a complete closed-loop payroll reconciliation integrated with all payroll applications. Empyrean is also offering a Private Exchange Platform which will go live during Q3. This platform will consist of tailored exchange technology and administration services for carriers, third-party exchanges, advisors and employers including stand-alone exchanges and insurance carriers.

 

If you are currently a user of any of the systems above and would like to share your experience with these updates, please do so in the comment box below. If you are a vendor and didn’t see your updates listed, send them to me at mkaiser@lockton.com for future postings. I want to give a big thanks to all of the vendors who participated in our first ever quarterly update!