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Get Inside Their Heads: What Consumers Care About During Open Enrollment

Get Inside Their Heads: What Consumers Care About During Open Enrollment

09/25/2018

by Angela Greenhalgh

Originally posted on BenefitsPro.com

 

Americans are frustrated with the cost and complexity of health care. And since employers provide health insurance coverage for the majority of the population (roughly 56 percent of Americans), disenchanted consumers are increasingly looking to their employers for help managing health care expenses and weighing their benefits options. In turn, employers are calling on benefit brokers to help educate their employees and to supply tools to engage them with their benefits. The ultimate goal: to empower employees to make smarter health care decisions.

To enhance your approach with trusted clients and forge relationships with new employer groups, it’s helpful to begin with an understanding of what their employees value most and are most concerned with today. Here are four insights to guide you as we move into open enrollment season:

 

1)   Employees enroll in high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) to save for future needs.

In 2018, WEX Health surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. workers with employer-provided health insurance. Among the most interesting of the findings, published in the 2018 WEX Health Clear Insights report: Even though more than three-quarters of those who participate in HDHPs think that managing their health care spending account helps them make smarter health decisions, there’s still a knowledge gap that needs to be addressed. In fact, although survey participants primarily intend to use health savings accounts (HSAs) as a savings vehicle, many aren’t aware of their full savings potential and aren’t aware that they can invest their HSA funds in stocks, mutual funds and other investment vehicles. During open enrollment this year, it’s important to not only educate employees on the benefits of engaging with their HSA but to provide tips and tricks on how to make the most out of it.

 

2)   Employees’ satisfaction with benefits can be enhanced through personalized experiences.

By tailoring educational tools and experiences to employees’ specific needs, brokers and employers are better able to make every minute with employees count. The Vitals for Change Scorecard, a guide for employers from Mercer and Catalyst for Payment Reform, found that one-third of senior leaders are now making efforts to understand what their different workforce segments or demographic groups value in terms of benefits, programs and policies. Understanding the employee population and working closely with employers to tailor benefits design can lead to more employees enrolled in programs that fit their needs, ultimately leading to better satisfaction.

 

3)   They prefer online and mobile tools for education and engagement.

Most senior leaders believe that programs encouraging employee engagement with health and well-being are an important means of achieving their overall HR and business objectives, according to the Vitals for Change Scorecard. But what’s the best way to engage employees, especially when they’re inundated daily with information from several sources and devices? Knowing which online and mobile tools and resources work best for different groups of employees can make a big difference in the effectiveness of education and engagement programs. When asked to select all the tools and resources they would find most helpful, employees who participated in the WEX Health survey ranked highest those personalized online tools that compare plans, estimate costs and calculate savings. In particular, employees say they need help figuring out how much money to set aside to cover deductibles and to put in their HDHP account. Post-enrollment, providing personalized messaging can help employees stick to their savings goals.

 

4) But don’t disregard the value of an in-person presentation or consultation.

While it may be tempting to discard all of the more traditional ways of relaying benefits information to employees, it’s important to recognize the diverse settings and needs of employee populations and to consider those factors when delivering educational content. If, for example, you’re delivering a benefits presentation in an industrial setting like a manufacturing plant floor versus in a large auditorium, some of the “old-school” methods and tools—i.e., handouts and discussion—remain the most helpful. And in the WEX Health survey, respondents selected fact sheets as the most useful of all educational resources. In-person presentations during which employees can get immediate answers from human resources and benefits administration representatives also ranked high, with more passive videos and webinars ranking lower.

 

Armed with this information, benefits administrators and brokers can help employers develop personalized engagement strategies that will result in higher plan satisfaction, retention and overall increased revenue—beginning with open enrollment education and lasting throughout the year.

 


Angela Greenhalgh

Angela Greenhalgh

Vice President of Vertical Sales at WEX Health

Angela Greenhalgh has over 25 years working in health care and supporting the needs of employers, health plans, consumers, and members. She has been with WEX Health for almost 2 years where she focuses on educating and nurturing relationships with brokers and consultants. Previously, Angela spent nearly 9 years at Truven Health Analytics (now part of IBM Watson Health) where she worked to solve the data analytic, consumer engagement, and data warehousing needs of those same constituents. Her varied positions and collaborations with many brokers and consultants has fostered an understanding of the powerful role trusted confidants and relationship building plays when assisting employers with their benefits designs.


How Healthcare Expenses Are Putting American Workers’ Retirement in Peril

How Healthcare Expenses Are Putting American Workers’ Retirement in Peril

09/11/2018

 

The old and faded American Dream version of retirement calls up sun-drenched images of fun and leisure, and perhaps even ideals about reinvention and new beginnings. But the reality today is much more ominous: Looming retirement is more likely to evoke Americans’ anxiety and/or to serve as an indicator of our naivety (numerous studies show that most of us are terribly unequipped for retirement, but not necessarily aware of it).

In the last couple of weeks, WEX Health has been tracking two new reports, each of which unpack the ways in which healthcare’s rising costs in particular are imperiling retirement for so many Americans. “Health Care USA: A Cancer on the American Dream,” co-released by Willis Towers Watson and the Council for Affordable Health Coverage, and “Preparing for Tomorrow by Fixing Today—Helping Low- and Moderate-Income Americans Thrive in Retirement,” released by the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI), both contained some key takeaways for WEX Health Partners:

 

 

Excessive healthcare costs are reducing employers’ contributions to retirement benefits.

According to the Health Care USA report, compensation for most workers grew between 2000 and 2010, but during that same time period health premiums and the cost of retirement benefits grew 2.25 and 3.25 times the 1990s rates, respectively.

In this report, Willis Towers Watson estimates that employer allocations to health and retirement benefits in 2001 were 41.9 percent for health and 58.1 percent for retirement. By 2015, the split was in the other direction: 63.5 percent for health benefits and 36.5 percent for retirement benefits. As a result, between 2010 and 2015, employers’ average hourly contributions to retirement plans declined by $0.22 compared to the prior decade.

 

 

The situation is worse for people with low and moderate incomes.

The United States is home to 6.4 million seniors who live below the poverty line. The new report from CFSI takes a look at the challenges faced by Americans living at, or even right above, the poverty line. According to Census Bureau data, the typical household that earns less than $67,200 a year has no retirement savings. And only 19 percent of Americans with low and moderate incomes (LMI) say they could make ends meet for at least six months, much less long enough to sustain them during retirement.

 

It’s not necessarily that Americans are less prepared than we once were for retirement; rather, it’s that we once didn’t have to be so prepared for it.

 

We used to be able to count on employer-sponsored defined benefit plans to supply most of our income during retirement, along with income streams from Social Security and our accumulated individual savings. That’s certainly not the case anymore. CFSI data shows that 27 percent of Americans report having less than $1,000 saved for retirement.

 

 

Financial services innovators are needed to educate and empower Americans to prepare for retirement.

CFSI calls on financial services providers to help LMI retirees enjoy a financially healthier retirement by developing ideas and solutions that rethink the user experience, customer service, marketing and distribution from the consumer’s point of view.

 WEX Health’s guiding purpose to “simplify the business of healthcare” is far more than a tagline. As a proud member of the CFSI Financial Health Network, we are partnering with CFSI to find more ways to make it easier for individuals to better prepare for healthcare expenses and retirement. Learn more about CFSI and the CFSI Financial Health Network here.

5 Reasons WEX Health Is a Great Place to Work

08/27/2018

by Sherry Olson

 

How does WEX Health simplify the business of healthcare? With the help of great people. By the end of this year, we anticipate hiring at least 50 more creators, innovators and leaders to join our staff. To accommodate our continued growth, we’ll have positions to fill across our offices. And on the heels of our very successful WEX Health Career Fair, I want to tell you what sets WEX Health apart as an employer and why you may want to consider joining our team:

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Brokers, Look for an HSA Provider Who Does These 4 Things

Brokers, Look for an HSA Provider Who Does These 4 Things

08/14/2018

by Angela Greenhalgh

Originally posted on BenefitsPro.com

 

When securing new employer group clients, a strong HSA vendor can be one of a broker’s greatest allies. Not only can the right vendor make the job easier for both you and the employer, but it can further your reputation, leading to retention and more revenue. The ideal HSA vendor should provide expertise that complements your own in the following ways:

 

They know how to empower employers to help employees make better healthcare decisions.

The 2018 WEX Health Clear Insights Report, which surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. workers with employer-provided health insurance, found that most consumers with consumer-directed healthcare (CDH) plans need help figuring out how much money to set aside to cover deductibles and help with managing their doctor bills. Keeping consumers’ limited health literacy in mind, your HSA vendor should have a tight grasp on these and other employee pain points and have a plan to educate employer groups in ways that allow them to influence the desired action during open enrollment and beyond. This includes providing employers with consumer-facing education pieces, tools and continued support to ensure that employees understand how to manage their accounts outside of the open enrollment season. There are now platforms and apps, for example, that allow employees to scan a product bar code to instantly determine whether an expense will be covered by their HSA and online dashboards that show employees their spending trends year-over-year, by expense type and even by family member.

 

They understand the power of personalized employee engagement.

When asked to select all the tools and resources they would find most helpful to become educated about their healthcare plan options, consumers ranked highest those that compare plans, estimate costs and calculate savings—all tools that yield personalized results. Deloitte’s 2017 survey of U.S. healthcare consumers corroborates this, finding that personalization—including clear communication and sensitivity—was rated as respondents’ top healthcare priority. To grab and hold employees’ attention and drive desired behaviors, your HSA vendor should offer numerous ways for you to customize messaging, allowing employer groups to send data-driven communications directly to employee populations.

 

They bring one integrated platform to the table. 

Your CDH vendor should provide an intuitive technology platform that removes the complexity of managing multiple accounts, allowing employer groups to manage numerous plans and products seamlessly as well as to customize plans and portal designs. This will lessen the administrative burden on both you and the employer group, which helps to save on time and costs, not to mention resulting in less confusion for employees. Look for a platform’s integrated capabilities to include claims and EDI feeds, payroll, claim reimbursement invoices and automatic investment allocation.

 

Their reputation precedes them.

You should ask a lot of your HSA vendor: They should make the entire enrollment process seamless for your employer groups and their employees, increasing engagement and ultimately enrollment. But that’s not all. Vendors must also be known for their ability to pair up complex CDH account strategies that will satisfy the needs of employees while helping to control costs for the employer (such as pairing an HSA with a limited-purpose FSA). The best vendor will also continuously monitor—and demonstrate thought leadership on—industry trends and technology advancements. This will ensure that your clients receive top-tier services and are properly informed about any trends that could affect their benefits plan designs.

As a broker, you’re well-aware how relationship-based this market is. To reinforce your important relationships with employer groups, partner only with the best-of-the-best CDH vendors.

 

Want more? Download the Clear Insights Report here.

 


Angela Greenhalgh

Angela Greenhalgh

Vice President of Vertical Sales at WEX Health

Angela Greenhalgh has over 25 years working in health care and supporting the needs of employers, health plans, consumers, and members. She has been with WEX Health for almost 2 years where she focuses on educating and nurturing relationships with brokers and consultants. Previously, Angela spent nearly 9 years at Truven Health Analytics (now part of IBM Watson Health) where she worked to solve the data analytic, consumer engagement, and data warehousing needs of those same constituents. Her varied positions and collaborations with many brokers and consultants has fostered an understanding of the powerful role trusted confidants and relationship building plays when assisting employers with their benefits designs.


More Than Half of Employers Now Offer HSAs to Help Them Recruit and Retain Talent

More Than Half of Employers Now Offer HSAs to Help Them Recruit and Retain Talent

07/31/2018

by Sherry Olson

 

In 2018, employee benefits make up approximately one-third of a company’s total compensation costs. To maximize an employer’s return on this investment, it’s critical for HR departments and organizations as a whole to take a strategic approach to designing their benefits packages. This will also make it easier to recruit and retain talent in a candidate-driven market at time when the unemployment rate has declined by approximately 20 percent between 2015 and 2017, and in the last year, 14 states set record lows for unemployment.

 

A good place to start when looking to inform your approach to benefits planning? In addition to WEX Health’s Clear Insights report, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)’s annual Employee Benefits report should be required reading. Springing from its survey of U.S. employers, it tracks the evolution of benefits offerings including healthcare, wellness, paid leave, retirement savings and planning, work/life and convenience, financial and career, professional and career development, travel and relocation benefits. Below are four key findings we pulled out that are relevant for our WEX Health Partners.

 

  1. More Than a Half of Employers Now Offer Employees Health Savings Accounts

Given the increase in the prevalence of organizations offering Consumer-Directed Healthcare Plans (CDHPs) since 2014 (30 percent in 2014 versus 40 percent in 2018), it is not surprising that Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) have also increased in popularity, with more than one-half of employers offering this benefit in 2018 (56 percent), as compared to 45 percent of employers in 2014.

 

  1. Popularity of Health Reimbursement Arrangements Remains Steady, While Interest in FSAs Has Declined Slightly

In contrast, the percentage of organizations offering health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) has remained steady at 17 percent to 20 percent over the past five years; flexible spending accounts (FSAs) have declined from 68 percent in 2014 to 63 percent in 2018.

 

  1. PPO Plans Are Still the No. 1 Choice, with Consumer-Directed Healthcare Plans in Second Place

Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans continue to be the most popular (84 percent), followed by CDHPs (40 percent), Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans (35 percent), high-deductible health care plans not linked to an HSA or an HRA (29 percent), and point of service (POS) plans (17 percent); less than 10 percent of organizations offered other types of healthcare plans.

 

  1. The Prevalence of CDHPs Has Been Volatile the Past Five Years But Things Are Looking Up Again

In a 2016 SHRM survey, 28 percent of HR professionals indicated that offering CDHPs was the most successful activity in terms of helping their organization control the costs of healthcare. However, the prevalence of CDHPs has been volatile over the past five years, falling by 11 percentage points between 2015 and 2017 and then increasing 17 percentage points (to 40 percent) between 2017 and 2018.

 

More than two-thirds of organizations increased their benefit offerings to retain employees in the last year. According to SHRM, “Second to compensation planning, designing a strategic benefits plan is the most important step organizations can take to stay competitive. Once a strategic benefits program is in place, the next step is to ensure effective communication of benefits to both current and potential future employees.”

 

The WEX Health Cloud platform can help employers personalize communications with their employees and customize data to help employees make the most of their CDHP. Learn more here.

 


Sherry Olson WEX Health VP of Human Resources

Sherry Olson

Vice President of Human Resources 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.


How Today’s Financial Advisors Are Viewing and Thinking About HSAs

Survey Says: How Today’s Financial Advisors Are Viewing and Thinking About HSAs

07/26/2018

by Helene Cole

 

The results are in, and the National Association of Plan Advisors (NAPA)’s survey of more than 500 retirement plan advisors has yielded some insights that we think our WEX Health Partners will find illuminating. Of particular interest were the findings about how advisors are viewing and thinking about health savings accounts (HSAs) in terms of retirement and financial planning.

The inaugural NAPA 401(k) Summit Insider survey was sent to financial advisors after NAPA’s annual summit, the largest gathering of retirement plan advisors in the nation, this past spring.

Among the key findings relevant to our Partners:

  • Fifty-six percent of financial advisors said they would like more information about HSAs—in the form of white papers, email newsletters, online articles and webinars—more so than any other topic.
  • Client Retention was the most important issue raised by the advisors with 57% advisors rating it either “very important” or “important”. Concerns about fee compression followed closely behind client retention, and fiduciary regulation came in as the third biggest concern. WEX Health Partner benchmarks show that offering more than one account or plan increases client retention by more than 40%.
  • The advisors’ second most common challenge when it comes to HSAs? Finding trusted HSA administrator partners for their clients, cited by more than a third (36 percent) of advisor respondents.
  • Advisors also reported issues understanding HSA compliance regulations, complaints about “low investment opportunity and potential” and concern regarding consumers’ ability to save healthcare dollars. WEX Health and its network of Partners work hard to develop tools and technology to help employees better understand and use their healthcare benefits to save costs and ease the burden of healthcare. HSAs are the cutting edge way to not only save for the unexpected costs of healthcare – but also help you save for retirement as well.

 

Sponsored by WEX Health, the NAPA 401(k) Summit Insider report correlated financial advisors’ increased interest in HSAs to growing concerns about the cost of healthcare in retirement. The report cites Fidelity’s Retiree Health Care Cost Estimate, which said that a 65-year-old couple retiring in 2017 will need an estimated $275,000 to cover healthcare costs in retirement, up from an estimated $245,000 in 2015.

Have questions about health savings accounts? We have answers; review our FAQ here.

 


Helene Cole WEX Health

Helene Cole

Vice President, Financial Institution Market at WEX Health

Helene has been focused on helping partners and clients meet their goals for her entire career.  Most recently she has been at WEX Health, driving strategy and partner relationship for our Financial Institutions Partners. Our goal is to ensure our platform enables our partners to best solve their clients healthcare challenges while also facilitating the merger of health and wealth. Focus is on how best to create unique account offerings (HSA, HRA, FSA) for each of our partners to support growth, strengthen client relationships and create new opportunities for cross-selling and relationship building.


Insights and Actions from AHIP Institute & Expo 2018

Insights and Actions from AHIP Institute & Expo 2018

07/10/2018

by Becky Wagner

 

At this year’s America’s Health Insurance Plans’ (AHIP) Institute & Expo 2018, which I and several of my WEX Health team members attended, one session—“Navigating Uncertainty, Health Reform and Market Transition”—hinted at the great need to simplify the business of healthcare. WEX Health works to do just that—through feedback from real members, it powers CDH account and COBRA administration forms that make managing healthcare engaging and easier to understand.

With sessions like “Technology, Trends and Business Insight,” “Data, Analytics and Actionable Intelligence” and many others, one thing that struck me above all is that technology was part of every conversation. It’s clear that technology sits front and center among the methods and tools to improve healthcare for consumers, payers and providers. Needless to say, its value goes way beyond creating engaging consumer portals and one-to-one journeys. It stretches into how new technologies can help people better manage their health to cut down on the need for unnecessary care and help reduce healthcare costs. And WEX is committed to advancing technology to better serve its customers for all those reasons and more.

 

Some additional highlights we gleaned from the San Diego Convention Center include:

Consumer-health literacy remains a problem. This means that it is more important than ever for health plans to simplify messaging and documents they share with their members. For consumer-directed healthcare to continue on its growth trajectory, consumers must be provided with not just accurate information but information that is presented in ways that are easily understood.

There is a continued desire to slow the growth of and reduce healthcare costs by providing innovative ways to seek care. Some of these methods include telemedicine, cost comparison tools and machine learning. Though the tools are available, they have been met with some resistance from consumers in deploying them. Therefore, the next step is to encourage people to take advantage of tools to make smarter decisions.

Leaders in this industry must learn to build a team of people with a wide array of expertise to ensure organizational success, because the field requires such wide-ranging skills as it expands and seeks to meet the needs of consumers. Successful leadership, in other words, means realizing that it’s not always about being the best and the brightest individually—but it’s more about being the best team for the business.

AHIP CEO Matt Eyles gave an engaging presentation on the growing recognition from payers that social determinants significantly impact chronic disease. These factors must be accounted for—and mitigated, whenever possible—by efforts to address them earlier in the consumer healthcare journey.

 

We left the expo with the conviction that consumer-directed healthcare is on the path to flourish. The businesses and organizations who tend to the industry are engaging in lively conversations and smart and strategic plans to ensure that it does.

It’s no secret that using technology to influence smarter healthcare decisions is top of mind. The WEX Health Clear Insights Report sheds light on how members prepare for open enrollment and saving for healthcare expenses.

Click here to view the report: https://wexhealthinc.com/clearinsights-ahip2018/.

 


BeckyWagner_WEXHealth

Becky Wagner

Senior Marketing Manager at WEX Health

As the Senior Marketing Manager for the Health Plan Vertical, Becky connects market-driven insights to develop campaigns and content that resonate with consumer-directed healthcare account administrators and consumers. She is an experienced marketer with an MBA from the University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management. With over three years in the healthcare industry, Becky has experience in marketing, product development and account management at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and Further.

An Interview with Partner Conference Keynoter Sally Hogshead

Be Fascinating: An Interview with Partner Conference Keynoter Sally Hogshead

07/09/2018

 

This past spring, New York Times bestselling author Sally Hogshead delivered a motivational keynote at WEX Health Partner Conference 2018. Before doing so, each of our Partners in attendance took her 28-question Fascination Advantage personality test—the first personality test to measure not how you see yourself but how others see you. As a result, Sally customized her keynote about what high performers do differently to also reveal some of the traits that set the WEX Health Partner Conference audiences apart. In this interview, we asked her for more insights into our Partners’ test results as well as how her personality assessment has allowed people around the world to be more effective communicators.

 

WEX Health (WH): Tell us what you learned about WEX Health Partners in attendance at Partner Conference from reviewing their assessment results.  

 

Sally Hogshead (SH): There were very specific patterns in how that roomful of leaders communicated differently than the average population. When people take the Fascination Advantage assessment, it’s measuring the cues and signals that you send out into the world that determine how other people see you, what kind of first impression you make, and how they perceive you as adding value or not. We are measuring on seven different data points—seven different forms of communication. And after measuring 1 million people, we found that there is an average result, and the WEX Health Partners’ result was different than the average result.

 

Here is what we learned: WEX Health Partners’ scores were lower in passion and very high in trust. I had this data before I got on stage, so I knew this group did not want touchy-feely, emotionally evocative stories. They want results; they want outcomes; they want action steps. So, I presented a deep-dive analysis on the audience. Each person individually in the audience had their own personal results, but we also did the audience as an aggregate. Our two key findings: First, the group does not communicate with emotion; they communicate in other ways. So, if I was going to come up on stage and try to tell a story about pulling out hair or teeth, that wouldn’t resonate.

 

On the other hand, they scored very high in trust. Neurologically, trust is all about patterns and doing things with dependability and stability. It’s about finding a way to replicate what’s been done in the past. This group as a whole scored 48 percent higher than the average person in trust. What that means is this group is going to be dependable and stable.

 

The takeaway is that because this group scores so high in trust but lower in passion, it’s important that the leaders in the room have people on their team who score high in innovation—people who can experiment, make improvements and adopt something new. You also need people around you who score high in passion to make sure that everyone stays involved, engaged and emotionally connected to the outcome.

 

WH: It’s interesting that instead of saying that our Partners need to change to be more passionate, you’re saying they need to surround themselves with people who complement their strengths and weaknesses.

 

SH: After measuring 1 million people inside of companies like GE, AT&T, Cisco, QUALCOMM and IBM, what we see is that the highest-performing teams are not built on similarities. They’re built on differences. They are not built on group think, where everyone has one model of adding value, because then the team becomes lopsided. Instead, the groups value how different people on the team add value. For example, if somebody is really good at details, then the team supports that individual in getting hyper-involved in the details and making sure that they bring their eye for detail to every project. Don’t ask that person to be the brainstormer in charge of the big-picture vision. And conversely, people who are super creative can’t add value if they’re told to just focus on the details; that doesn’t allow that person to become a high performer.

 

WH: How does understanding your Fascination Advantage help you as an individual?

 

SH: Every time you communicate, you’re doing one of two things: You are either adding value, or you are taking up space. The people who have the most value are not only the most successful, but they’re also the most admired, appreciated and promoted. They inspire loyalty; they create evangelists. They’re bringing something to the table that wasn’t there before. If you’re just taking up space, it’s sort of like being spam. So, the question is: How are you most likely to add value? You can’t do a self-evaluation of how you think you add value. Adding value is sort of like humor. If I think I’m funny, but you don’t think I’m funny, I’m not funny. It lives in the eyes of the other person. This is true for a brand, too. The purpose of the assessment is not to understand how you see yourself or how you see the world. The purpose is to determine how other people see you so that you can do what you are already doing right, with purpose, instead of it being a happy accident. You can double down on the qualities that make you exceptional, such as detail-orientation or creativity, and then do that on purpose.

 

WH: In this era of “fake news,” short attention spans and short news cycles, would you say that it’s more important now than ever to be able to quickly get to the heart of what makes you special?

 

SH: Yes, absolutely. Authenticity is the opposite of fake news. If people perceive that you’re contrived or that you’re trying to do something that isn’t a natural fit for you, that you’re trying to create an impression instead of adding value, it’s a huge turn-off. As far as short attention spans, in 2006, I started studying attention spans and why we pay attention to one thing versus another. At the time, the research said that the average attention span was nine seconds, which is the same as a goldfish. Since then, there has been a lot of other research done, most notably by Microsoft, that says it’s eight seconds. Regardless, it’s continually getting shorter. That means we have less time and space to create those first moments when we add value. As attention spans get shorter, it’s not the listener’s job to pay attention. It’s the speaker’s job to earn attention.

 

WH: For people who work in industries that are often thought of as boring, how do you help them imagine being fascinating and to find ways for their business to be fascinating?

 

SH: When I worked in advertising, it was always really fun to work on the Nike account or the Mini Cooper account because those brands do exciting, attention-grabbing, memorable things. The problem is, the bar is so high that it’s hard to stand out and do extraordinary, world-changing, creative things for those brands, in the sense that the great stuff has already been done, to a certain extent.

 

The opposite is true with B2B brands in industries like insurance, banking, technology, health, etc., because it’s actually easier to stand out because the bar is set lower. People aren’t walking into a meeting and thinking, “How can I intentionally add value in a way that people will hear, remember and take action on?” If an individual does do that, if they think, “The way in which I will most likely add value in this meeting is by showing them ideas they’ve never thought of and helping them see the world in a different way so they can stand out, be heard and get people to take action,” then that’s a novel way of approaching it. In other words, the question is—what makes you fascinating in the ears of your listener?

 

WH: Are there any other words of encouragement that you would offer specifically to WEX Health Partners?

 

SH: I loved this audience because they are focused leaders with a savvy, big-picture understanding of the industry and how they can serve. I also saw that there was a lot of hunger for them to be able to take the Fascination Advantage back to their teams so that they could introduce this as a new technology to measure how different people add value individually. I had a lot of follow-up requests afterward asking for more tools, so I made a code available to WEX Health Partners who want to take the test. (WEX Health Partners reading this post can find information about this code within Partner Central and the Partner Pulse newsletter.)

 

My advice is to have team meetings focused on it: Have everybody in your office do the assessment, and then have a meeting around it—a lunch-and-learn, or an off-site, or even just a casual 20-minute meeting. Go around the circle and have each person describe one quality of themselves that is who they are at their best. It’s an incredibly motivating thing to show somebody what they are already doing right.

 

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.