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Leader Reveals the True Challenge of Benefits Administration – and Its Solution | VA Employee Benefits Agents

Employee experience is tied to the technology that organizations deploy and the benefits they provide. Both can be demonstrations of a company’s care for its employees or they can be an exercise in inducing anxiety. It depends on the the approach of Human Resources.

Recently, HiBob, the Human Resources information system (HRIS) company, announced the integration of benefits administration provider, bswift, into its Payroll Hub. As a result of this news, HR Exchange Network interviewed Annie Rosencrans, People and Culture Director, U.S., at HiBob, about the connections between benefits, technology, and wellness and how they impact the employee experience. Read to the end to discover Rosencrans insight into a common benefits problem HR faces:

HREN: How does technology play into the employee experience? How can you use it to your advantage rather?  

AR: We want technology to be an enabler, not something that makes lives more complicated. Having a tool that makes it quick and easy to find what you need to accomplish what you need, whether it’s onboarding or finding someone on the org chart or enrolling in your benefits, the more time you have to focus on what you came to work to do. From the HR perspective, the thing I love about HR tech is that it automates a lot of the processes, which allows me to do the things that I got into HR to do, which is not the admin but it’s the working with people, the strategy, the more interesting side of the job. I get to use my brain and not fill out paperwork.

Benefits and Wellness

HREN: What role has the benefits and compensation packages that you offer your employees played in their wellness?

AR: The expectation of candidates today is that when you come to a company, you’re not just getting a paycheck and – maybe – some health insurance. There has been a push toward the whole person experience. So, when we think about wellness, it’s not just physical health and it’s not just mental health. There’s financial well-being and thinking about your pet’s and family’s well-being and legal support. Now, we’d love to obviously offer all these things to employees, but there’s a financial element. We need to weigh the costs and benefits.

Every year we look at where we can improve. Do we want to put our effort and funds toward increasing the premium coverage or subsidy that we offer toward health insurance? Or do we want to take some of that money and put it toward another type of perk or benefit like fertility benefits or mental health services or a meditation app subscription? So, it’s a really complicated world. There are new platforms or tools, and you have to evaluate whether it’s something that people will take advantage of and whether it will persuade employees to want to work at HiBob.

HREN: Have you done anything to address people’s mental health and wellness that you’d like to share?

AR: We did a big push toward mental health awareness month this year. We had a financial wellness seminar in every region. It was really interesting. You don’t think of financial wellness as being about mental health, but so much of employee and human stress is related to money. Planning ahead and knowing whether you can support the future that you want to have [is important]. That was actually one of the most successful sessions that we held. We also set up massages in the office, which is more of a partner initiative, but employees always appreciate that. We offered healthy food and drinks for the week. And we set up a wellness corner in the office, which is a space for employees to come to when they’re stressed or need a break or need to be in a quiet space.

We want mental health and wellness to be something that employees experience long term. It’s not a one week thing or a day thing. Our messaging to you as employees is that we care about your mental health and wellness full time. We also encourage people to use their PTO [paid time off]. We celebrate it when people come back from vacation. I went on vacation last week, in fact, and sent photos of my travels to my team over Slack. When managers take time off and aren’t on Slack and email throughout their trip, we signal to employees that we actually value their time away, and that it’s meaningful and important.

Solutions to Improving the Employee Experience

HREN: That’s a good point. How are you thinking about helping employees have work-life balance?

AR: It’s incredibly hard. I can tell you at a global organization, my manager is in Israel, so she’s seven hours ahead of us. Time zones are an absolute challenge for us at HiBob. Those of us who work in a global capacity model good behavior and set boundaries for ourselves. It’s easier for leaders because we have a bit more authority. We can say, ‘No, I’m not going to take this meeting because it’s 4 a.m. or I have a family obligation or I need to have dinner with my my kids tonight.’ It’s really about setting a culture of respect for the whole person. Yes, we have to make exceptions. Occasionally, there may be times, when you have to miss dinner with your family for an important meeting. But there’s no magic bullet for how you create that culture. It’s all in the way that your leaders model and set the tone for other employees to respect their personal time.

HREN: So, what is your advice when it comes to the employee experience?

AR: I would say there’s a lot of noise in the benefits space. There are so many vendors that are offering so many things, some are holistic, some are very niche. The first thing I would say is do your homework and understand the benchmark data. There’s benchmark data all over the place. What are your competitors offering? What’s market standard versus what will set you apart? Interview your employees. Always find out what matters most to them. It’s very easy to spend money on things that sound nice. Then, you get to the end of the year and realize no one used it, or it didn’t actually have the impact that you wanted. Put in the the time up front to understand your market, understand your employees, and invest your money in the things that will matter most and have the greatest impact on your people.

By Francesca DiMeglio

Originally posted on HR Exchange Network