Engage on the Go: Mastering Benefits Connectivity to Support Your Mobile Workforce

Engage on the Go: Mastering Benefits Connectivity to Support Your Mobile Workforce

As working away from the office becomes the new normal, how can you reach employees that work outside of the office, on their feet, or without email – without adding to your workload?

Modern technology is allowing people to connect across distances, channels, and even workspaces like never before. Today’s workforce is more mobile than ever: Approximately 69% of American employers now offer flexible work policies.1

Remote work and flexible working arrangements are becoming key requirements to attract and retain top talent – but the mobile workforce isn’t simply limited to those employees that telecommute. A wide variety of employees work outside of a typical 8-to-5 office or are frequently on-the-go.

Empyrean’s latest At-A-Glance Guide offers practical steps to engage your mobile employees with their benefits – and keep them engaged – to foster better outcomes for your workers, their families, and your business. Download your free copy of the guide today!

While the concept of mobile remote work has been around for decades, the number of employees enjoying flexible workspaces has skyrocketed in recent years. In fact, there has been a 91% increase in remote work since 2009, and a 44% increase over the past five years alone.2

While the prevalence of mobile work can provide plenty of perks, it also brings with it some major challenges for HR teams to solve.

Remember that mobile workers aren’t limited to those that work from home: These workers also include on-site and traveling employees, shift workers, retail associates, frequent travelers (including salespeople and team managers) and more.

It can be tough enough to get in-office workers to break from their busy schedules and engage with their benefits and resources. With mobile employees, this challenge becomes even more difficult, as these employees often face additional obstacles that can hinder meaningful benefits engagement and optimization.

Unlike your typical office worker, many mobile employees (such as retail, service, and construction workers) are never assigned a personal work email address. Additionally, many workplaces lack a central computer station for employees to check for work-related email in the first place.

And remote employees working from home or elsewhere can miss out on your in-office efforts (such as posters and programs) that their more traditional counterparts enjoy.

This can put a huge dent in employers’ benefits communication strategies – but a mobile-based strategy can boost the benefits of employee engagement for both your mobile and non-mobile participants alike.

Delivering continuous and personalized support to employees, 24/7/365, is a tall order for even the largest benefit teams. This is precisely where modern, mobile-ready benefits administration technology is poised to make a major impact on the success of your benefits strategy. Today’s mobile technology brings robust consumer tools – plus much-needed quality and cost transparency – to everyday benefits utilization.

One example of this technology is Empyrean Pilot+. Pilot+ uses an employee’s claims and benefits data to deliver personalized, holistic, and clear guidance when employees need it most.

By leveraging claims data, artificial intelligence (AI), and behavioral analytics, participants automatically receive the plan-specific and claims-specific guidance they need, right when they need it. Data is aggregated across an employee’s elected health insurance plans and additional benefits, care and prescription needs, and relevant savings accounts to deliver recommendations that encourage smarter plan utilization year-round.

This kind of guidance helps employees navigate and utilize their entire benefits package, plus offers personalized cost estimates and assists filing claims. Employees even receive consistent feedback on their benefits plan efficiency – informed by their own claims data – which leads to better benefits comprehension and smarter plan recommendations during their next open enrollment opportunity.

Best of all, employees receive anytime guidance through the Empyrean Pilot+ mobile app, to reach members of your workforce directly on their mobile devices, wherever they may be.

By offering access to powerful support via one easy app, your participants no longer have to remember multiple benefit sites, logins, or passwords. And with 81% of Americans now owning a smartphone,3 providing benefits resources via a mobile app, push notifications, and other mobile-friendly methods is the convenient way to keep your mobile workforce highly engaged with their benefits while on-the-go.

Self-service benefits enrollment and engagement solutions are an integral part of making your benefits more accessible and consumer-friendly for your participants. While the demand for digital tools increases, however, don’t lose sight of the importance of live one-on-one service – especially as it pertains to your mobile workforce.

For mobile employees that do not have immediate access to a computer, need additional support during enrollment, or have specific questions throughout the plan year, a dedicated service center provides the knowledgeable and personal support necessary to build greater benefits confidence.

And despite common misconceptions, live customer service doesn’t simply cater to older employees: Nearly 90% of Millennials and Gen Z trust live service representatives – while just over 10% trust chatbots.4

Service center support lets your employees call upon expert professionals to assist with benefits-related questions, contact and follow up with carriers regarding concerns, and more. Live customer service can be a valuable boost to your employees’ benefits experience and overall satisfaction.

With so many generations in the workplace today, combining powerful technology and live service will also help prevent accessibility gaps for mobile employees across all age groups and technology skill levels.

As the mobile workforce continues to expand across industries, benefit teams must be ready to optimize their strategies to support participants working outside of the office. HR leaders are at the forefront of a major shift in how employees connect with every aspect of their work – including their workspaces, remote teams, company culture, and (of course) their benefits.

Looking for more ways to engage your mobile workforce? Download Empyrean’s newest At-A-Glance Guide today!

If you’re ready to modernize your approach to benefits engagement, connect with Empyrean for a consultative conversation with our experts to discuss your unique benefits administration needs. Our client-adaptive technology and award-winning service will deliver the comprehensive solutions and continuous support to keep your mobile workforce moving in the right direction.

Have thoughts, questions, or comments about this topic? We’d love to hear from you. Feel free to contact us anytime at info@goempyrean.com.

References

  1. “The Annual IWG Global Workspace Survey.” International Workplace Group. Zug, Switzerland. March 2019.
  2. Reynolds, Brie Weiler. “159% Increase in Remote Work Since 2005: FlexJobs & Global Workplace Analytics Report.” FlexJobs Corporation. Boulder, CO. July 2019.
  3. “Mobile Fact Sheet.” Pew Research Center. Washington, DC. June 2019.
  4. “The Digital Lives of Millennials and Gen Z.” LivePerson, Inc. New York, NY. October 2017.
Key Ingredients for a Successful Benefits Administration Technology Partner

Key Ingredients for a Successful Benefits Administration Technology Partner

Avoid common compromises – and reduce your risk of poor choice and project failure – by understanding what sets successful benefits administration solutions apart.

Employers offer benefits to stay competitive in a tight talent market and maintain happy employees. However, your employee benefits experience is not dictated solely by the health insurance, retirement benefits, life insurance, disability insurance, or fringe benefits you offer. Your benefits technology platform can make a huge difference in the way employees feel about your offering, as well as how productive your benefits team can be over outdated manual processes.

The benefits of employee engagement and smarter productivity can’t be overstated. As an HR leader, however, you put a lot on the line when selecting the technology provider you’ll entrust with your benefits enrollment, administration, and engagement. The right benefits solution will help you gain higher productivity and increase relevance, improve cost predictability, and mitigate risk through accurate compliance and coverage – but how can you identify the best partner?

Empyrean’s new At-A-Glance Guide covers 10 benefits administration must-haves to help you select a strong benefits administration partner with confidence.  Here we take a quick look at a few of these key “ingredients.” For more,  download the free guide today.

High Client Retention

A lot of time and investment goes into finding the right technology partner – but improperly vetted solutions are bound to fail, even after go-live. Ask for your potential partner’s client retention rate. This indicative figure will show if clients are satisfied and sticking with their solution.

To help find a viable partner to meet your current needs, look for a benefits technology firm that fully delves into and understands your company’s many unique factors, such as industry and culture. Your potential vendor should have proven and positive past experiences with clients of similar size and complexity to your own.

Adaptive and Scalable Solutions

Whether currently insourcing or outsourcing, you likely have existing processes based on your benefits strategy. The technology powering your benefits administration platform should adapt to and enable your strategy – you shouldn’t have to compromise your strategy to fit a vendor’s shortcomings. To increase data accuracy and efficiency, your partner should tailor to your unique formats, culture, employee groups, and strategy, while applying best practices where appropriate.

Your business is ever-changing, and benefits are a large part of that dynamic. Select a proactive benefits administration solution that can keep up with predictable and unpredictable changes in your company, market, and applicable regulations – otherwise you could face unexpected issues down the line. Your partner should have a history of maintaining smooth service throughout clients’ major organizational and strategic changes, to prevent the need for a new vendor search soon after your next big business announcement.

Strong Year-Round Benefits Engagement and Employee Experience

Your benefits technology investment shouldn’t be limited to a single experience during Annual Enrollment, or you could face the risks of disengaged employees. Instead, expect your platform to put artificial intelligence (AI) to work for your employees, saving real dollars and time with better benefits package recommendations, convenient health care providers, cost comparisons and options for prescriptions and treatments, and streamlined processes when filing paperwork and making a claim. Year-round support will make sure employees are engaged and leveraging the benefits you offer to the best of their ability.

Proactive benefits administration technology delivers value that goes beyond basic enrollment and administration – to reach employees at the right point of need. How robust and relevant is your current benefits solution? You need an experience that makes benefits matter to your employees every day – not just once or twice a year.

Data You Can Trust

One of the most common reasons companies seek out a new benefits technology provider is because their current system produces bad data. The problem is then compounded when their vendor fails to properly clean and continually audit their data. When evaluating a solution, look beyond just an attractive and functional user experience, and dive deep into your potential partners’ data handling capabilities. Can the firm manage your data and provide the expertise to understand the whys behind your data and reporting?

Airtight Security Procedures

Managing employee benefits also means handling and protecting your employees’ most sensitive information. Millions of people have already fallen victim to security breaches, as cyber criminals use increasingly sophisticated methods to infiltrate information systems. Security must be more than a “check-the-box” priority for your benefits administration partner.

Your chosen technology provider should employ robust security protocols such as at-rest data encryption, annual security audits, thorough employee background checks, HIPAA training and certification for all employees, and restricted and monitored data access.

Each company’s benefits, workforce, and strategy are different, but selecting your next benefits technology vendor doesn’t have to be risky or nerve-wracking. With support from the right partner you’ll eliminate compromises, lower costs, and enrich lives to increase employee satisfaction and make benefits matter every day.

For the complete checklist of all 10 must-have ingredients – and to see how your benefits technology stacks up – download Empyrean’s newest At-A-Glance Guide.  As you read, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to contact us with questions or comments at info@goempyrean.com.

5 Tips for Year-Round Employee Benefits Engagement

5 Tips for Year-Round Employee Benefits Engagement

Annual Enrollment (AE) season is here for many employers, but how well prepared are you to engage employees once Open Enrollment season is all wrapped up?

For some employees, AE (or OE) can be the only time of year when they are engaged with their benefits – and disengaged employees can take a serious toll on the success of your benefits strategy.

As a Human resources leader, how can you cut through the noise to ensure your employees are actively engaging with your benefits every day – and making smarter decisions for themselves in the process?

Empyrean’s latest At-A-Glance Guide takes you through five crucial tips to foster year-round employee benefits engagement. These tips will help you gain more from your benefits strategy after enrollment is over – and your employees will get more from their benefits, too.

1 | Aim to Excite, Not Overwhelm

67% of employees are uncomfortable when reading about their benefits, and 75% of employees don’t fully understand how their benefits work to begin with.1 This means employees need regular nudges throughout the year to gain the confidence to fully absorb (and get excited about) the information you provide.

However, employees can feel overwhelmed when presented with too much information all at once. And if participants are tuned out, the effectiveness of your engagement efforts will be diminished.

Try distilling your benefits-related messages down into bite-sized bits of information. Instead of sending out one long email highlighting all of your benefit plans and programs, break messages up benefit-by-benefit.

2 | Plan Out Your Communications Calendar

You’re likely sending out the bulk of your benefits-related communications around Annual Enrollment – but it shouldn’t be concentrated in just that one month. What is your communication strategy during the other eleven months of the year?

Make your engagement goals easier to achieve by creating a dedicated benefits content and communications calendar. Make sure you include all pertinent offerings, programs, and tools and technology platforms, so employees stay aware of everything available to them throughout the year. If you miss out on a benefit, chances are employees will too.

A communications calendar will help you stay consistent, keep your messaging fresh and varied, and strengthen the connection between your benefits and events that are already on employees’ minds throughout the year. Download the full guide now for an example content calendar with ideas you can use year-round.

3 | Think Outside the Inbox

While emails are certainly a valid way to get your benefit communications out to employees, be sure to consider alternate channels as well. To better understand the type of communications certain employees might best respond to, take a moment to consider the various benefits-eligible populations within your overall workforce.

While emails will reach the typical desk-job employee, they might miss others that work elsewhere. Mobile-based communications, like text messages, may be better suited for employees that primarily work away from a computer (such as shift workers, retail workers, and those who are frequently on a job site).

4 | Leverage Your Resources

Take advantage of the resources and tools available to you through your partners, vendors, and carriers to help enrich the employee experience and boost your communication efforts. In addition, explore if your benefits administration technology partner offers solutions to make daily engagement much easier to achieve and maintain.

For example, Empyrean Pilot+ leverages real-time claims data, consumer behavior, and artificial intelligence (AI) to provide employees with personalized and plan-specific guidance. Recommendations span providers, prescriptions, spending accounts, voluntary benefits, and more. Participants also get financial updates and cost predictions that add transparency to health care planning and financial wellness, and can also receive alerts for claims filing and appealing charges.

Taking advantage of the resources available to your workforce, including data-driven digital engagement tools, will supercharge your engagement efforts while enabling employees to make smarter care and cost decisions all year round.

5 | Avoid Surprises

With 92% of employees choosing the same benefits year after year,2 any change to your benefits offering might come as a shock to unsuspecting employees down the road. A strong communication strategy will help your workforce avoid unwelcome surprises, support a better understanding of your benefits program, and increase employee satisfaction.

Getting your employees to engage with their benefits (and stay engaged) is not an impossible task – it is just one that requires a strong framework and the right resources to accomplish.

Download Empyrean’s newest At-A-Glance Guide and learn how to engage your workforce and gain more from your benefits strategy all year long. 

As you read, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to contact us with questions or comments at info@goempyrean.com.

References

  1. “2017 Alfac WorkForces Report: Employee Overview.” Aflac, Inc. Columbus, GA. February 2017.
  2. “2017 Aflac WorkForces Report Reveals Employees are Uninspired about Researching Benefits.” Aflac, Inc. Columbus, GA. July 2017.
3 Essentials for Best-in-Class Benefits Administration

3 Essentials for Best-in-Class Benefits Administration

Few employers can afford the financial and compliance risks of a subpar benefits administration technology provider, but many may not realize when their vendor causes them to compromise. These three essentials will help you avoid unnecessary compromises and find the best partner for your business.

Bringing true value to your organization requires relevant experience, insightful thinking, and the right tools and technology to keep pace with evolving demands.  Empyrean’s new At-A-Glance Guide takes a close look at the three essential aspects of a best-in-class benefits administration partner,  to help you identify the solution that will elevate HR’s impact and make your employee benefits matter every day. Read on for a quick primer on these three essentials.

Essential #1 | Trusted Data Management

Data management processes are the foundation of your technology, and are critical in determining your benefits administration success. Without correct and accurate data, your benefits solution will become unreliable and prone to failure—regardless of how well-designed the front-end experience may seem.

Your technology platform should “just work,” properly handling your intricate data and continually checking for accuracy and logic conflicts to keep errors at bay. However, since data management takes place entirely on the back-end of your system, it can be tough to identify and initially understand good management processes from bad.

Deficient data management processes can cause eligibility rules and gatekeeping measures to fail, which can lead to long-term enrollment and coverage headaches that take an enormous effort to unravel and properly resolve. Plus, benefit errors can erode employees’ confidence, and damage your credibility with executives and other stakeholders that rely on accurate reporting.

Given how prominent benefits are to your organization’s success, your benefits administration outsourcing partner must be able to properly manage your data at all times. Each platform manages data differently, but these differences may not be immediately apparent. How a potential system will manage and maintain your data will be a (if not the) key component of your entire solution’s success.

A worthwhile technology partner will dedicate investments and resources to tackle your toughest benefit challenges, solve your current needs, and flex to fit your future strategies.

Essential #2 | Solution Scalability

To remain viable over time, your benefits administration technology must scale with your business as it shifts and evolves. Your business is not static, and your solution must keep up with both small and large changes to your company’s size, population complexity, organizational structure, and industry changes.

Technology solutions must be purpose-built for scalability, or programming limitations can cause your platform to crash or cause errors. Developing a scalable solution relies on a complete understanding of benefits complexity, the rapid pace of potential changes, and the back-end workings of the system itself.

For example, large legacy providers often offer a wide variety of technology services in addition to benefits administration — such as payroll or human resources information systems (HRIS). At first glance, it can seem like a smart move to place multiple HR needs under one vendor, especially if “bundling” these services offers an initially lower price point.

However, many large providers’ product portfolios often grow due to acquisitions, instead of in-house development. The result is a variety of solutions and data storage processes stitched across highly compartmentalized systems that happen to be listed under the same company name.

From a programming perspective, these systems are highly inflexible, unstable, and often comprised of less-than-optimally secure technology. Even small changes (such as data configurations, tax rules amendments, or state and federal compliance updates) can demand time-consuming and expensive manual labor to resolve, or significantly impact the operational capacity of these systems, causing the entire solution to fail.

Scalability (or the lack thereof) is ingrained in your solution’s architecture—and without the right attention to this trait, your team could suffer down the line.

Essential #3 | Insight-Driven User Experience

Your solution’s user interface should be intuitively designed – however, it’s important to keep in mind that a high-gloss interface design does not necessarily denote the most reliable back-end processes or supportive capabilities.

For example, no matter how inviting a retail store may be, your overall experience will be soured if the product you purchase does not work when you get home. Similarly, no matter how well-designed your platform’s user interface may seem, it will prove worthless if its data is inaccurate, your solution proves unstable, and your employee is not covered adequately (or at all) by their benefits selection.

When evaluating a potential partner’s user experience, look for the following:

  • An easily tailored portal experience that can be designed around each of your unique employee populations.
  • The ability to add targeted communications, educational content, provider links, and coverage documents within the employee experience.
  • Fully integrated decision-support that guides employees during their open enrollment period as well as throughout the plan year, with no need to switch between multiple sites or portals.
  • Convenient access from nearly any internet-connected device, including a mobile application experience that offers push notifications and alerts.

Your technology solution should be intuitive for both employees and administrators to use, and smartly designed to allow employees across all generations to take greater control of their benefit choices.

A best-in-class benefits platform will bring solutions that go beyond benefits enrollment and administration, leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to analyze your benefits data and deliver employee-specific recommendations.

A best-in-class benefits administration partner will give your team the efficiency they need to gain back valuable time throughout their day, as well as heighten employees’ benefit experiences to improve outcomes. Download Empyrean’s newest At-A-Glance Guide to learn more on how to identify and evaluate these three essentials within your current vendor or potential partner. 

With the right solution, you’ll have more opportunities to focus on what really matters to you, your employees, and the bottom line of your business.

As you read, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to contact us with questions or comments at info@goempyrean.com.

Empyrean Named One of 30 Great Companies to Explore ASAP

Empyrean Named One of 30 Great Companies to Explore ASAP

Empyrean has been named one of 30 exceptional companies for job seekers.

The list of employers was curated by The Muse, a leading website for job opportunities and professional advice. Empyrean was the only benefits administration company to make the nationwide list, which includes other top organizations such as Dropbox and TripAdvisor. Companies were selected based on their positive company culture, work policies, and employee feedback.

Empyrean helps Human Resources teams drive their employee benefit programs and make benefits matter every day. As a best-in-class provider of benefits administration technology, benefits enrollment solutions, and related services, Empyrean is committed to fostering a strong culture, unique workplace, and work-life balance for our employees.

Empyrean team members are benefit professionals who are motivated to succeed at every stage of their career. Benefits include competitive compensation, medical insurance, dental and vision coverage, retirement benefits, paid time off, in-office perks, and more.

Learn more about what a career at Empyrean can offer you. To see the full list of companies, visit The Muse here.

Benefits Administration Outsourcing: How to Find the Right Path for Your Business

Benefits Administration Outsourcing: How to Find the Right Path for Your Business

Is benefits administration outsourcing right for you? Whether you are considering outsourcing for the first time, or are a seasoned outsourcer searching for a better-fitting solution, make sure you know what points to consider before making your next move.

As health care and employee benefit programs become increasingly more complex, time consuming, and subject to regulatory compliance requirements, employers must accurately assess their team’s capacity when managing this important aspect of their success.  Empyrean’s new At-A-Glance Guide takes you through common considerations and best practices to find the right path for your business and help you make benefits matter every day.   Download the guide now and discover what outsourcing can mean for HR, your strategy, and your workforce.

Here’s a quick primer of the three approaches companies apply to their benefits administration , and a just a few reasons why more organizations are choosing to partner with a best-in-class outsourcing provider to meet their needs.

Insourcing

Often, Human Resource teams insource their benefits administration because they do not feel comfortable relying on a third-party to manage and automate such crucial functions. This discomfort is understandable: Employee benefits – especially health benefits – remain high-visibility stakes all year round, and any errors in your benefits data and execution can spell disaster for employees and quickly diminish confidence in your HR team.

Given this perspective, it’s no surprise that currently insourced organizations include those that have never-before outsourced their benefits administration, as well as those that suffered with a previous outsourcing experience due to a subpar solution or ill-fitting technology platform and vendor.

However, insourcing presents its own costs, risks, and inefficiencies that may not be immediately apparent – while the right outsourcing partner will minimize risks, eliminate inefficiencies, enhance the employee experience, and provide solutions that drive high returns on your investment.

In fact, one report found that HR teams spend 25% less and utilize 30% less labor than their peers when aided by the right processes and technology.1

Co-Sourcing

Co-sourcing is a collaborative approach to benefits administration, where select processes remain in-house (most commonly, call center services), while the remaining responsibilities are outsourced to a trusted provider.

This approach enables organizations to minimize the impact of burdensome administrative tasks – such as enrollment and regulatory compliance  – while maintaining control over more employee-facing services. Co-sourced clients may have reservations about how outsourcing might affect employees’ perceptions of their company culture and their HR department’s effectiveness.

While protecting your company culture is a valid concern, you should know that outsourcing does not have to mean relinquishing control of your culture or lowering your service standards. In fact, a proven outsourcing partner will actually enrich the way employees view their benefits and your company’s commitment to their wellbeing.

While you may have the resources to manage certain aspects of your benefits administration in-house, ask yourself if those resources would be put to more meaningful use if directed towards other priorities? Don’t let common misconceptions about outsourcing limit the impact you can have on your workforce and business.

Outsourcing

As health care and employee benefits continue to become more complex, and employee expectations of benefits value and diversity continues to rise; as such, more businesses are choosing to fully outsource their benefits administration. In fact, 80% of today’s employers utilize outsourcing to manage at least one benefits-related task, and 38% consider outsourcing to be a critical part of their benefits strategy (a 41% increase since 2014).2

Full-service outsourcing lets HR leaders tackle the minutiae of benefits administration and enrollment, and take control of their strategy, without worrying that something has been left behind.

Today the movement towards benefits administration outsourcing remains prevalent, with 40% of employers now utilizing HR technology to manage their benefits administration. 78% of employers use third-party benefits administration technology, and over half of those employers choose to fully outsource their administration.2

The right partner will provide more than a benefits administration system: You’ll also gain the expertise of a knowledgeable and dedicated team, which can provide invaluable insights and best practice recommendations that measurably improve outcomes and drive greater ROI. In some cases, an outsourcing service team will gain the most complete understanding of their client’s benefit offering (even when compared to the client’s own HR team).

HR and benefits executives across every company size and industry are realizing the advantages that outsourcing brings to their businesses. Leveraging a modern benefits administration vendor can provide the technology and expertise to help you eliminate compromises, mitigate risks, and stay prepared for future changes.

So, how can you decide if outsourcing your benefits administration is right for your organization?

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 all aspects of our benefits administration in-house?
  • Do we have the financial support to develop and maintain the skill sets and technology needed to most effectively manage our benefits administration?
  • Do we have the in-house expertise to understand and keep up with complex regulatory compliance requirements?
  • Can we continue to support the strategic initiatives necessary for our company’s growth while also internally managing all of our daily administrative functions?
  • Are we providing the personalized support employees need to make smarter benefit choices, efficiently utilize their benefits, and live healthier, happier lives?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, now may be a smart time to discuss how a best-in-class benefits administration outsourcing partner can positively impact your company.

Whether outsourcing your benefits administration for the first time or making the move to a new vendor, the ultimate goal is to make the most of your investment and ensure long-term success. When you consider the benefits, outsourcing can be a cost-effective solution that greatly increase your team’s productivity, increase employee engagement and retention, and lower costly errors and risks. However, the benefits administration partner you choose must be capable of tailoring to your unique strategy and goals, and adapt and scale to changes within your organization and industry over time.

Download Empyrean’s latest guide to learn more, and discover if outsourcing is the right solution to tackle your company’s complex challenges.

As you read, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to contact us with questions or comments at info@goempyrean.com.

References

  1. “Raising the World-Class Bar in HR Through Digital Transformation.” The Hackett Group, Inc. Miami, Florida. June 2017.
  2. “Game Changer: The Digitalization of Employee Benefits Delivery.” The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America. New York, New York. May 2018.
3 Strategies to Prepare for Annual Enrollment

3 Strategies to Prepare for Annual Enrollment

Annual enrollment (AE) might be your busiest time of the year, but it doesn’t have to mean long nights and looming headaches. With the right planning and support, this AE can be your easiest and most effective yet.

Financial Wellness Success: How You Can Help Employees Take Control of their Health and Wealth

Financial Wellness Success: How You Can Help Employees Take Control of their Health and Wealth

Finances are a major source of employee stress, and can negatively impact your employees’ productivity, health, and happiness. With so much riding on financial wellbeing, financial wellness is gaining popularity in the realm of employee benefits. How can you help employees address their health and wealth, while ensuring a valuable return on your investment?

Empyrean’s new At-A-Glance Guide takes a look at the latest trends and factors impacting employees’ financial wellness and success.  Download your copy for an in-depth look at the financial challenges facing today’s diverse workforce, and discover practical solutions that help you care for employees’ wallets and wellbeing – and optimize your benefits strategy in the process.

You may be wondering why employees need a financial wellness program in the first place. The reality is that money concerns don’t just affect employees’ bank accounts: financial stress can a have huge impact on employees’ productivity, job satisfaction, and even their healthcare claim costs.

59% of employees say that finances are their main source of stress: money issues are cited as more stressful than work-, relationship-, or health-related stressors combined.1 Employees across all generations rank personal finances as their main reason for stress, demonstrating a need for financial wellness support across all your workforce’s demographics and generational profiles.

While it may be true that money can’t buy happiness or love (according to The Beatles), finances play a huge role in ensuring employees and their families have the baseline resources and care they need. Given the importance of finances on everyday life, money concerns can cause significant issues for both employees and employers alike.

How do you define financial wellness? The majority of employees say financial wellness means being stress-free and stable when it comes to their finances.1 Unfortunately, there is a large disconnect between employees’ financial goals and their reality.

A whopping 38% of employees feel less than financially well,2 and 49% are struggling just to make ends meet each month. Meanwhile, only 37% of employees believe their pay has kept up with the rising cost of living.1

35% of employees report that finances have been a distraction at work, and nearly half of those employees admit to spending three hours or more each week thinking about their finances or managing issues related to their finances.1

More than one-fifth of employees say financial concerns have affected their productivity at work. In addition, nearly a third of employees say financial worries have impacted their at-home relationships and their health, which can cause additional problems (and may even lead to rising claim costs) down the line.1

The right financial wellness program can deliver big benefits for your company, including higher employee satisfaction and lower stress rates, better performance, lower healthcare costs, and greater employee retention.2 A financial wellness program may help you attract and retain talent: Of employees that experience financial stress, 78% say they would be attracted to another company that cares more about their financial well-being.1 However, as little as 2% of employers have officially implemented a financial wellness program as part of their benefits package.2

Although nearly all employees can benefit from the right financial wellness program, your approach should provide personalized guidance to each employee to help them reach their specific goals. However, benefit teams can become easily overwhelmed when trying to design and implement a program that addresses all the variables involved in reaching financial security, especially among each generation.

The complex variety of finance-related planning, decisions, and maintenance – along with differing levels of financial education and comprehension – can leave employees confused and benefit teams struggling to find a frustration-free solution. The right financial wellness support will address a host of cost concerns and savings goals (including healthcare, education, retirement, and more) instead of focusing on piecemeal issues alone.

For example, human resources professionals might find it nearly impossible to consider employee benefits and finances without immediately thinking about health coverage. For employees outside of your HR department, however, this connection may not be apparent. Despite being the most costly benefit for both companies and participants, just 7% of employees consider healthcare an important element of their financial success.2 This figure is highly troubling, and has major consequences for both employees and employers – especially as consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) remain a prevalent coverage option.

A smart and integrated recommendation engine within your benefits enrollment experience can help employees discover the most relevant and cost-effective care for their needs. When combined with other financial wellness tools, this decision support technology can empower employees to make more confident coverage choices, without spending hours translating insurance jargon or sifting through tedious plan documents. This technology should also apply to year-round plan utilization, providing valuable information to help employees better utilize their coverage, provider choices, voluntary benefits, and savings account options.

Benefits selection and utilization are just one aspect of financial wellbeing, however. When it comes to truly mastering their finances, employees need a financial wellness action plan. Employees require relevant and achievable step-by-step guidance that helps them meet their individual priorities – whether it’s building an emergency fund, paying down debt, saving for a car or house, or growing their child’s college fund. This kind of insight must take into account the entire scope of an employee’s financial picture, including accounts, debts, budget concerns, benefit policies, investments, and more.

The easiest and most effective way to provide this level of financial guidance is through your benefits administration platformAn integrated financial wellness and benefits experience provides easy access to these resources, encourages sustained benefits engagement, and provides invaluable data and insights into the needs of your workforce – which you can then leverage to enrich and optimize your benefits strategy.

Incorporating financial wellness within your larger benefits experience encourages employees to connect these key concepts together. By combining powerful technology, alongside smarter coverage and financial decision-support, you can provide the tools employees need to feel confident in their finances and more focused at work and beyond. Plus, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of the matters that are affecting and motivating your workforce – and your strategy, team, and business will reap tangible rewards in the process.

Employees want and need financial wellness support: 86% of employees say they are likely to participate in such a program if offered by their employer.2 Incorporating financial support into your benefit experience and strategy will help destigmatize money-related stress, fuel positive business outcomes, and make financial wellness a more achievable goal for your workforce.

For a comprehensive look at what financial wellness and enterprise benefits administration software can do for your business, download Empyrean’s latest At-A-Glance Guide. You’ll learn valuable solutions to gain a more productive organization, a stronger strategy, and happy employees.

As always, we’d love to get your thoughts. Feel free to contact us with questions or comments at info@goempyrean.com.

 

References

  1. “PwC’s 8th Annual Employee Financial Wellness Survey.” PwC US. New York, NY. June 2019.
  2. “2018 Bank of America Merrill Lynch Workplace Benefits Report.” Bank of America Corporation. Charlotte, NC. August 2018.
Introducing Pilot+: Use Healthcare Data to Revolutionize Your Employees’ Benefit Journey

Introducing Pilot+: Use Healthcare Data to Revolutionize Your Employees’ Benefit Journey

By Jim Priebe, Executive Vice President, Product

We live in a data-driven world that allows for high personalization in the consumer experience, from retail to airfare. So, it’s no surprise that your employees want their benefits to offer a similar experience. If you think that level of personalization is far off into the future, I’m thrilled to tell you that the future is here.

How does your benefits administration platform support your employees’ needs? Statistics show that 44% of employees say that in a perfect world, benefits selection would be more like Amazon. Empyrean’s enhanced recommendation engine, Pilot℠, delivers fast and intuitive support that provides the consumer-centric benefits shopping experience employees crave – built on more than a decade of proprietary data and research.

With Pilot­­­­­­+, we’ve expanded these capabilities even further.

Pilot+ features all the packaged benefits recommendations of Pilot, plus personalized guidance and engagement that blends health plan education, claims analysis, and targeted benefits communication. Pilot+ makes it easy for employees to not only understand their benefits, but also utilize them more effectively and cost-efficiently, year round.

Pilot+ strengthens your benefits program and strategy by intelligently automating processes:

  • Pilot helps make the most of short employee attention spans by packaging benefit recommendations into “best match” bundles, including voluntary options when available. Pilot+ adds personalized claims analysis and engagement to this process, so employees can leverage a year’s worth of information to help them select the best plan for the upcoming year.
  • Pilot’s machine-learning technology offers employees more refined and personalized recommendations over time. Ongoing claims information drives the adaptability of Pilot+, which analyzes each health care interaction provide employees with updates and actionable tips on how to best use their plan.
  • Pilot’s recommendation survey tells employees why questions are asked, so they can better understand their needs, and know how their benefit recommendations will meet those needs. Pilot+ takes education even further, by demonstrating how an employee’s chosen health plan performs according to their specific claims data, plan deductible, and spending account information – including health savings accounts (HSAs). With Pilot+, employees feel confident gaining the information they need, right when they need it, so they can leave unpleasant plan surprises behind.
  • Pilot has been rigorously tested to ensure an intuitive and inviting experience for users during the enrollment process. Pilot+ highly engages employees beyond benefits selection, offering personalized alerts and year-round communication.

Pilot+ connects employees to their benefits right when it matters most. Pilot+ automatically delivers personalized and prescriptive recommendations that are relevant to employees’ immediate needs:

During benefits enrollment. “You’ve kept your medical plan from year to year, which may be a safe option. But you have been overpaying in premiums and not going to the doctor that often. Switching to another plan could save you $1,500.”

After an accident. “Your bill from a recent leg injury just posted. You have enough to cover it through your HSA. And you can save $1,200 on your bill by filing for reimbursement using your accident coverage!”

And before a procedure or service. “Yikes! We’re sorry to see your recent claim for a concussion. If your doctor recommended a follow up MRI, you can save $200 at one of these nearby imaging facilities.”

The results? Pilot+ saves employees a median of $1,500 per year. Employees are engaged, and Pilot+ becomes their health and wealth champion.  And Pilot+ could save you up to 7% on your organization’s annual health care expenditures, all while freeing up your human resources team to focus on your priorities.

The future of benefits engagement is here. Learn more about how Pilot+ leverages claims data to engage employees at annual enrollment and beyond.

Leverage Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Automation to Achieve Better Benefit Outcomes

Leverage Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Automation to Achieve Better Benefit Outcomes

Automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning are changing the way many organizations do business – but what does this mean for HR’s undeniably human-centric work?

Empyrean’s new At-A-Glance Guide, Analytics and AI in HR, explores how businesses can leverage AI, machine learning, and data analysis to achieve better benefit outcomes. Download this free guide and learn how properly applying the latest advancements in smart technology can boost your strategy, guide and engage employees year-round, and help save your employees and your company substantial health care costs every year.

Before you can take advantage of the latest technology, however, it helps to understand the basics. Here’s a quick primer.

Automation

Automated technology is programmed to complete routine, predictable, and often physical tasks – think factory robots on an assembly line. Automation increases efficiency and helps eliminate human error that can occur as a result of manual processes.

In its most basic form, HR software and benefits administration technology is an example of automation at work. Rules-based gatekeeping , scheduled file transfers, and employee benefits enrollment are all automated processes that (ideally) make life easier and eliminate potential errors for benefit teams and employees.

Just because a technology is automated, however, does not mean that the technology is smart.

On its own, basic automated technology lacks the ability to understand concepts, recognize problems, or identify patterns that may arise over the course of its use. For technology to be smart, it needs artificial intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning

Artificial intelligence (AI) programming empowers technology to identify concepts, recognize patterns, and analyze complex rules to quickly develop and offer solutions for a multitude of challenges. The goal of AI is to create smarter technology that can “think” and solve problems like a human, but with the computing capabilities and speed of modern machines. Machine learning is a component of AI, enabling AI-equipped technology to better analyze and learn from data.

So how do these concepts apply to – and improve – your business intelligence and the execution of your benefits strategy? When it comes to benefits, what is the most valuable application for this new generation of technology?

Analytics

Data, AI, and machine learning algorithms can come together to positively influence the employee experience and streamline your workload. While analytics may have been previously viewed as something mainly utilized for operations and finance departments, the reality is that analyzing data is now a critical aspect of today’s successful benefit programs and administration.

Employees are often overwhelmed by benefit complexity, and want an easy answer to the question, “What’s the best plan or path to care for me?… But of course, the answer to this question is highly personal and dependent on each employee’s unique circumstances. By analyzing employees’ very own data and behavior, the answer to this question is more accessible and more accurate than ever.

Modern and more robust decision support uses claims data, consumer data, and health indicator data sets to provide a clear and objective view of employees’ care-related spending, coverage utilization patterns, purchasing patterns, and opportunities for consumer-centric plan utilization and selection.

Combining a data analytics engine into your decision support enables employees to finally make use of their own data – without the need for spreadsheets, number-crunching, or a statistics degree. Your benefits administration platform should offer a seamless solution that easily incorporates this technology and predictive analytics into your benefits offering.

For example, imagine that an employee has just welcomed a new child to their family. Now, they are tasked with enrolling in their benefits, but are unsure if they should change their medical insurance coverage after this major life event. How might their anxiety and experience change if they encountered the following message when they went to enroll on your benefits platform?

“Congratulations on your baby delivery this year! Despite it costing you $6,500, the plan you had this year was the best option for you, and you saved $500 overall. Keeping your plan will save you money next year too.”

This message not only provides a clear recommendation to your employees, as well as offer a cost-savings prediction in the year ahead, but also provides understanding support and encouragement that your employees crave and will appreciate.

In addition to supporting decision-making during enrollment, an advanced analytics engine should also help facilitate year-round engagement and look out for your employees’ financial and health care needs. Personalized messages based on recent claims and utilization patterns will help employees better understand how they can utilize their healthcare coverage, provider choices, voluntary benefits, and savings account options in the most cost-effective and efficient manner. Leveraging new technologies and benefits management software solutions in conjunction with data has big advantages for your business: Employees can save a median of $1,500, and employers can save up to 7% on their healthcare costs.

In a world where algorithms help us decide the next article to read, next song to listen to, and even the next job we’ll hold, it is critical that HR paves the way for technology to better the lives of employees and their families. As benefit leaders achieve greater visibility and influence across organizations of all sizes and complexity, they are expected to bring new solutions to classic challenges and emerging problems alike. How well are you prepared for HR’s new chapter?

For an in-depth look at how this technology is impacting HR, download the At-A-Glance Guide, Analytics and AI in HR: Leveraging Data to Take Control of Your Benefits Strategy. As you read, we’d love to get your thoughts. Feel free to contact us with questions or comments at info@goempyrean.com.

Empyrean CEO Rich Wolfe Named 2019 EY Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist

Empyrean CEO Rich Wolfe Named 2019 EY Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist

This marks the fifth consecutive year that Empyrean’s CEO and Co-Founder has received this prestigious honor.

Over nearly 12 years, Rich Wolfe has grown Empyrean to serve over 3 million participants across more than 400 clients, with tens of millions of visits to its online solutions. Today, the benefits administration technology firm serves all major industries, including energy, manufacturing, retail, healthcare, education, and professional services – across a wide spectrum of client sizes and complexity levels.

Mr. Wolfe’s company has experienced year-over-year record growth in new business and client retention since the company’s founding in 2006. Empyrean has been named one of the fastest growing businesses in the Greater Houston area for the past three years, and has been recognized on the Inc. 5000 list for six consecutive years. In 2018, Mr. Wolfe was named one of the most admired CEOs in Houston.  As a 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year finalist, Mr. Wolfe earns yet another distinction for his work connecting benefits and enriching lives through technology and service.

In its 33rd year, the EY Entrepreneur of the Year recognizes entrepreneurs who excel in areas such as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities. Finalists are selected by a panel of independent judges. Winners will be announced at a special gala event at the Marriot Marquis Houston on June 21, 2019.

2019 Benefit Trends Report: Comprehensive coverage and education are top priorities

2019 Benefit Trends Report: Comprehensive coverage and education are top priorities

Benefits are a fast-evolving business, and findings from Empyrean’s 2019 Benefit Trends Report demonstrate that this evolution continues as quickly as ever.

Among this year’s findings: employers are focused on delivering coverage choice in addition to managing costs, offering competitive and comprehensive options that expand beyond the basics, and helping families make the most of their benefit packages by leveraging the right tools, technology solutions, and services to educate and engage their employees.

The report looks at a host of employee benefit trends and analyzes data across a wide variety of Empyrean clients. As benefits increase in complexity and the workforce becomes more diverse, organizations can expect these growing employee (and consumer) demands to make an even bigger impact on how businesses attract and retain top talent – as well as companies’ bottom-line expectations.

Below is just a small selection of findings from the report. For more, download your free copy of the full report here.

  • PPOs and HDHPs remain the most popular health care coverage options. 97% of employers offer at least one of these two types of health insurance plans, and 64% of employers offer both.
  • Of employers offering HDHPs, only 8% utilize a full-replacement (HDHP-only) strategy. This is down from 14% in 2018 – suggesting employers are looking to offer coverage choice over pure cost-savings.
  • 78% of employers offer voluntary benefits to their employees. Voluntary benefits include accident coverage, critical illness coverage, and pet insurance.
  • Over one-third of organizations have decision support tools available to employees during open enrollment. The most popular decision support tool is the recommendation engine. Decision support is emerging as a critical resource that empowers employees to identify the benefit plans that are right for them and their families.

Among this year’s trends are indications that education, benefit technology, interconnectivity, and a holistic, people-centric approach are critical to driving benefits success. Want to know how your benefits strategy compares? Download your free copy of the 2019 Benefit Trends Report now.

You’ll discover how human resource leaders are navigating today’s evolving benefits landscape, adapting to new challenges and demands, and making employee benefits work for their business.

As you read, we’d love to get your thoughts. Feel free to contact us with questions or comments at info@goempyrean.com.

Introducing Pilot: Your Benefits Recommendation Engine to Guide Employees’ Smart Decisions

Introducing Pilot: Your Benefits Recommendation Engine to Guide Employees’ Smart Decisions

By Jim Priebe, Executive Vice President, Product

After completing more than 1,500 hours of training to navigate the skies, it’s not surprising that pilots are among the most trusted professionals in America. Similarly, Empyrean’s recommendation engine helps employees navigate their benefit choices and determine their best coverage “destinations” – so it’s fitting that we’ve launched the major new release of our recommendation engine with enhanced capabilities and a new name: Empyrean PilotSM.

Help Employees Give Flowers, Not the Flu, with Telehealth

Help Employees Give Flowers, Not the Flu, with Telehealth

By Jill Hernandez, Director of Specialty Insurance Solutions

It’s February, which means love is in the air…and unfortunately, so are germs.

You don’t have to be a medical professional to know that doctor’s offices are especially crowded this time of year, with low temperatures bringing lower immune systems. Employers no doubt are struggling to find effective ways to remain productive as employees take higher rates of sick days and navigate the healthcare system. And if you have tiny petri dishes – ahem, children – like me, you’re on high alert this time of year for the first sign of illness in your home.

Drive Smart Enrollment with Decision-Support Tools: The 4 Crucial Elements of an Effective Recommendation Engine

Drive Smart Enrollment with Decision-Support Tools: The 4 Crucial Elements of an Effective Recommendation Engine

Benefits administration technology is reshaping the way employees engage with their benefits—and decision-support tools are a significant factor driving this change. To accommodate the needs of a diverse workforce, however, HR leaders must consider the quality and context of the tools and technology they leverage.

LET'S TALK