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Financial Wellness

6 Things I Learned at SHRM’s Annual Conference

Our VP of Human Resources: 6 Things I Learned at SHRM’s Annual Conference

06/26/2018

by Sherry Olson

 

Last week, the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) annual conference and expedition brought over 17,000 HR professionals and 3,000 vendors to Chicago for keynotes, sessions and special events. On the exposition floor, 700 exhibitors provided a buffet of HR solutions for every need, with a focus on HR technology, talent acquisition and retention solutions, health, wellness, leadership development and more.

 

In addition to what I learned during the keynotes and sessions, I found significant value in the many opportunities for networking, which gave me a chance to connect personally, share experiences, perspectives and challenges and creatively look at new ways to approach the diverse workforce needs that WEX Health faces every day. I thought these learnings would be valuable for our partners, many of whom work in human resources. What follows are my key takeaways from the conference:

 

  1. Company culture must start in HR: This was reinforced in many of the sessions I attended, with the call to action being that HR must come to understand the strong influence they have on organizational cultures. From recruitment to engagement, the best companies don’t just assess a candidate’s fit; they look for originality (people who challenge others, processes and systems) and focus on assessing and hiring people who can enrich the culture.

 

  1. Change biases through recruiting, benefits/leave and compensation programs: Many initiatives now exist to detect biases in the workplace and to address them, including pay and gender analysis for disparities, enhanced parental and bereavement leave policies, and the use of alternative ways to review and engage candidates in the recruiting process. Human resources professionals need to continue to seek out methods for recognizing and addressing bias.

 

  1. To keep talent, expand your benefit offerings: During the conference, SHRM released its 2018 Employee Benefits survey. Among its key findings, 34 percent of organizations increased their benefit offerings in the last year, with 72 percent citing retention as a reason for doing so and over one-half saying they’ve done it to attract new talent (58 percent) and/or respond to employee feedback (54 percent). Companies are also putting a higher priority on benefits today because of historic low unemployment rates and the number of millennials entering the workforce.

 

  1. Employers are more likely to offer employees additional health-related benefits, including consumer-directed healthcare: A statistic from the 2018 Employee Benefits survey revealed that the share of employers offering consumer-directed healthcare plans linked to health savings accounts (HSAs) increased to 56 percent this year—up from 45 percent in 2014. Given the nature of HSA portability, the tax savings these accounts provide, their use in helping to mitigate first dollar costs and to create retirement accounts for the future, HSAs will continue to be a popular topic.

 

  1. Wellness wins: Of organizations that increased their benefits offerings in the last 12 months, 44 percent increased their wellness benefits, according to the SHRM survey. Many of the sessions I attended demonstrated how wellness is being customized, as employers offer to help their employees manage their stress, miss less work and reduce costly health conditions by providing fitness center subsidies, quiet rooms, online stress management and wellness challenges.

 

  1. The future of employee benefits: Emerging and leading-edge benefits include student debt repayment programs, paid leave benefits (parental leave, expanded VTO, review of PTO limits), work life/convenience benefits, financial/career benefits (incentives, awards) and professional/career development benefits (memberships, certifications, licenses, counseling, coaching)—all aimed at higher employee retention. Of special note, the SHRM survey found that the prevalence of paid parental leave increased significantly between 2016 and 2018 for every type of parental leave assessed, including maternity, paternity, adoption, foster child and surrogacy leave.

 

As an HR leader, I’ve returned to WEX from the SHRM conference feeling much more informed, inspired and equipped with tools to solve my organization’s greatest challenges.

 

For more on benefits administration, read our post about why employers should care about their employees’ financial stability.

 


Sherry Olson WEX Health VP of Human Resources

Sherry Olson

Senior Director of Product Management at WEX Health

Sherry specializes in implementation for human resources policies and practices, benefits, rewards, performance management and HR efficiencies. During her 20-plus years in the corporate world, Sherry has served in HR positions in healthcare, high-technology software development and banking. She holds designations as a SHRM Senior Certified Professional, a Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR), Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), a certified Discovery Insights Practitioner and career advisor, President-Elect for the Agassiz Valley Human Resources Association (AVHRA) organization.


Where Mobile Meets Financial & Physical Health

Where Mobile Meets Financial & Physical Health

06/20/2018

by Jackie Dornfeld

 

The financial and physical health of many Americans is alarming. About 40 percent of U.S. adults cannot cover a $400 emergency expense1, and less than three percent of Americans live a “healthy lifestyle”2.  In addition, according to the 2018 WEX Health Clear Insights Report, most U.S. workers find healthcare confusing, spend less than 30 minutes annually making benefit decisions, and are increasingly concerned about out-of-pocket medical expenses today and in retirement. All of this can result in a vicious cycle of financial insecurity, leading to stress and chronic disease, and ending in devastating medical expenses and financial ruin. Frightening.

 

Building Resilience

To help break this spiral, consumers need support in developing resilience against health and financial stress. According to the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI), helping consumers use good judgement and a strategy to spend, save, borrow, and plan can help build financial health:

Source:  CFSI, Insuring the Way to a Financially Resilient America, June 2018

 

 Enter Consumer-Driven Health and Mobile Technology

A tax advantaged, consumer-driven health account such as a health savings account (HSA), health reimbursement arrangement (HRA), or flexible spending account (FSA) accessed using mobile technology is one specific path to resilience. For instance, paying for qualified medical expenses with HSA funds can yield savings of 22 to 40 percent. And, with 79 percent of U.S. consumers now owning a smartphone3, many consumers prefer using mobile apps to manage both their personal finances and health benefits.  

 

Building the Right Consumer Experience

The WEX Health Cloud Mobile App is an example of how key features can be delivered that help consumers use their consumer-driven health account to spend, save, borrow and plan.

With the WEX Health Cloud Mobile App, Consumers Can…

  • Spend:
    • Use fingerprint login and enhanced authentication options to:
      • Pay bills using HSA, HRA, or FSA funds
      • Snap a photo of a receipt and submit with a new or existing claim
      • Request an HSA distribution
    • Save:
      • Contribute funds to an HSA or FSA to build savings
      • View HSA investment details to gauge progress against savings goals
    • Borrow:
      • Check account balances including HSA Advance, which is a WEX Health feature that allows employees to borrow against future HSA balances to cover unplanned expenses
    • Plan:
      • Scan a product bar code to determine eligibility as a qualified medical expense
      • View “Account Snapshot” graphics to assess status of account details

 

 

Looking to the Future

As consumers become more sophisticated and their digital expectations grow, opportunities exist to enhance and personalize the mobile experience even further with price transparency tools, calculators, targeted messaging, guidance tools, fitness resources, and more. By delivering mobile innovations that engage consumers in managing their financial and physical health, we empower better decision-making and accountability for millions of Americans.

 

To learn more about consumer attitudes and expectations regarding healthcare expenses, preferences for using online tools and mobile apps, and more, read the 2018 WEX Health Clear Insights Report.

 

Footnotes:

  1. Report on the Economic Well-being of U.S. Households, 2017
  2. Healthy Lifestyle Characteristics, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 2016
  3. ComScore, 2016

 


Jackie Dornfeld

Senior Director of Product Management at WEX Health

Jackie Dornfeld is the Senior Director of Product Management at WEX Health, responsible for annual product roadmap planning and the research, definition, and launch of new products including the WEX Health Cloud Mobile App.  She has over 25 years in health care including leadership positions in the areas of product development, product management, marketing and strategic planning.  Prior to joining WEX Health in 2008, Jackie held roles in the TPA, health plan, consulting, and hospital industries and is currently active on the Membership Committee of the Women’s Health Leadership Trust.  Jackie received a BA from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, and an MBA from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN.  


Observations from CFSI EMERGE Day 2-3: The Virtuous Cycle of Financial Health

Observations from CFSI EMERGE Day 2-3: The Virtuous Cycle of Financial Health

06/19/2018

by Tracy Faleide

 

It has been nearly a week since I soaked up the last bit of California sunshine outside and thought-provoking content and connections inside during closing sessions at the Center for Financial Services Innovation’s annual conference, CFSI EMERGE. Each request from colleagues to “provide a quick recap” reminds me of another insight that can spark innovative solutioning, resource we can communicate across the network of WEX Health Partners, or quote that could inspire broad mind shifts.

 

Inclusion Is a Choice

The CFSI team brought together an impressive and inspiring group of keynote speakers for this year’s forum. Almost all of them spoke about inclusion in one way or another. In all six of the 2018 Financial Solutions Lab winners I saw new products built by people who found ingenious ways to serve populations whose needs were not previously being met by mainstream financial institutions. Industry leaders Colin Walsh of Varo Money and Jacqueline Reses of Square Inc. shared how their respective missions of making money management tools and business loans easy and readily available to young people and small business owners has radically shifted mind sets and approaches. Dan Schulman, president and CEO of PayPal, inspired us with his stories of growing up with nothing, staying in a state of empathy by spending time living on the streets of New York City as a homeless person, and the responsibility and moral obligation that business leaders have to be forces of good in the world.

 

Fast Money/Slow Money

Always on the lookout for “aha” moments, I certainly was not disappointed at this event. Naveen Agarwal, chief customer officer at Prudential, explained that we all engage in “fast-money” transactions – $18 here, $30 there, $6 at the coffee drive-thru. They are quick, easy and frequent. We don’t give these transactions much thought. And then there are “slow-money” transactions like mortgages or college loans. These kinds of transactions are stressful, requiring collateral, credit checks, co-signers, legal reviews, and dozens of signatures. We’ve been programmed to avoid slow-money transactions, and this automatically informs our financial behaviors, such as renting versus buying to build up equity. When we can apply design thinking across the industry and simplify slow-money transactions to the point where they are as simple as fast-money transactions, we might all be more inclined to make wiser financial decisions.

 

Volatility Is the Real Income Problem

Daryl Collins with Bankable Frontier Associates relayed how similar her interviews were with small family-run business owners in Nigeria and Kentucky. Both had six to eight sources of income, about a third of them unpredictable. Both managed complex juggling acts, prioritizing which bills to pay and which to delay, deftly moving funds between several accounts, and somehow getting by. After having hundreds of these conversations in places all around the world, Daryl discovered a few universal needs—evening out the income streams and making temporary bridges or “floats” available to get through the tight times. I was very encouraged to hear that so many of the new products being launched by industry leaders like MasterCard, Fiserv, PayPal and Square are all about addressing these universal needs—for all people, not just those who already are accustomed to having ready access to financial services…and stability.

 

Thank you for coming along with me on this quick tour of the CFSI EMERGE Financial Health Forum. I am even more excited about the many ways WEX Health can help advance the cause of improved financial health due to our unique position at the intersection of healthcare and financial services. To read my observations on day one at EMERGE, read our post here. And for more information about the Center for Financial Services Innovation, see www.cfsinnovation.org. [https://cfsinnovation.org/]

For more news and insights from WEX Health-ers, follow us on Twitter at @wexhealthinc.

 


Tracy-Faleide WEX Health

 

Tracy Faleide

Marketing Lead at WEX Health

As Marketing Lead at WEX Health, Tracy provides direction on high-level messaging and thought leadership strategies. Tracy and her team are accountable for product marketing and ongoing internal, external and Partner communications. Although Tracy is new to WEX Health, having joined the team in late 2017, she is not new to healthcare or technology, having held several leadership roles in marketing, communications and partner/customer experience in healthcare operational management and business management software and technology companies over the past 30 years.

Observations from CFSI EMERGE Day 1: The Health-Wealth Connection

06/08/2018

by Tracy Faleide

 

I’m reporting from sunny Los Angeles, where the Center for Financial Services Innovation’s big annual conference, CFSI EMERGE, has convened more than 800 finhealth leaders and innovators across sectors to explore financial health. This is WEX Health’s first time at EMERGE, and I’m in full-on learning mode here and loving CFSI’s mission to support day-to-day financial systems that build long-term resilience and opportunity for Americans, in particular the unbanked and the underbanked. CFSI believes that finance can be a force for good in people’s lives, and that serving the needs of consumers responsibly is ultimately more profitable for the financial services industry—values that resonate with WEX Health, too.

Continue reading

Alleviate Employee Stress with Workplace Financial Wellness Program

Alleviate Employee Stress with Workplace Financial Wellness Program

Employers considering a financial wellness program may find their timing perfect. Employee financial wellness has been on the decline over the past several years. According to a 2016 Bank of America Merrill Lynch survey the number of employees who are not at all secure about their finances rose from 31% in 2013 to 41% in 2016. Continue reading