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Benefits and Technology

By Brandon Conkle, Director of Total Rewards, ChenMed

Brandon Conkle, Director of Total Rewards, ChenMed

At first glance Benefits and Technology may seem like an odd pairing. Benefits are stodgy, and often defined by government terminology, such as pre-tax, Section 125 and 401K. Technology is associated with cutting edge, silicon valley, boom and bust. It’s cordless, then wireless and now smart. Even the verb tense for each word is different— benefits “are” and technology “is.”

At ChenMed, we have changed the way we use technology to enroll employees and report on benefits and prove ROI. Technology advancements allow us to now reach employees during open enrollment via texting and by email for sending required notices.

ChenMed went live with the Workday platform in 2017. We partnered with Aon Voluntary Benefit Enrollment Services (VBES) to handle open enrollment in 2018 for 2019 and used what for us was a range of technology to reach employees at new levels. This partnership allowed us to host webinars, distribute emails, employ chat functions, run daily reports on enrollment stats and weekly projections on medical costs, as well as surveys at the end of enrollment to gauge employee experience.

But there is far bigger potential expanse where technology and benefits and employee engagement will connect in the future. At ChenMed, our mission is to “honor seniors with affordable VIP care, that delivers better health.”

What if we used technology to drive engagement and awareness around benefits with the belief that improving the health of our employees would be to everyone’s benefit? What if instead of every benefit, recognition, wellness and payroll vendor having a different app, there was a single employer portal that pulled all of these things together and enabled communication between the employee, vendors and HR? What if this phone, tablet or other device recognized each individual and their circumstances and could bring everything together? What if an employee could have direct, personalized interaction in real time at specific touch points during the year, the month, the day?

"At ChenMed, we have changed the way we use technology to enroll employees and report on benefits and prove ROI"

Consider the receiving a text message or email detailing the following scenario:

It’s time for a prescription refill and here are the three pharmacies closest to you that have this in stock and in network. You have a balance in your Health Savings Account, would you like to use that now? It’s the end of April, and you just finished your taxes, would you like to change your contribution into the 401K for the rest of the year as part of your savings strategy for next year?

You’ve been going to the gym three times a week and taken one thousand steps. A reward has been loaded unto your wellness card. You also added a dependent. Would you like someone from financial planning to reach out to you about setting up a 529?

Oh and by the way, can you answer these five multiple choice questions about how our benefit, wellness, recognition programs help you?

Undoubtedly someone reading this has already muttered a reference to George Orwell and Big Brother. But there is also the big brother that looks out of you, steers you to the right places, shares hard lessons, and inspires the right behaviors. What if technology combined with benefits and HR oversight, became the right kind of big brother? What if all this information that technology allows us to track could be customized and turned into something digestible and helpful? What if we delivered better health—physical, mental, and financial by combining benefits and technology to develop the right kind of big brother?

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