HRO – A Healthy Option for Health and Welfare Administration

Health and welfare (H&W) benefits administration is a well-accepted foundation partner of the HRO services family. It is also the fastest growing part of benefits administration according to the last NelsonHall Targeting Benefits Administration market analysis. Amy Gurchensky, my NelsonHall HRO colleague, is underway with her research for the benefits 2012 report. (H&W HRO service providers, if you are not yet scheduled for your interview, please contact Amy. See contact information below.)

In the meantime, there are elements of H&W that we can explore now. Carol Harnett, HR Executive Online, has written several columns recently on H&W with the linking theme of flexibility and lifestyle. Her first article asks, “Should we give employees what they want?” In that piece, Harnett says that many employees are interested in a wider range of lifestyle benefits. Pet insurance, child care or elderly care subsidies, commuter benefits, and even onsite massages have value to one or another employee group. Access to products and services with special discounted pricing is valuable, if relevant and better than what is commonly available. There is even a new company, BetterWorks, which will help you find what they call “hyper-local” discounts for your employees.

From the employer perspective, consider the nature of the business as relevance will vary with the characteristics of the work and workforce. Occupational health and safety is a big H&W issue for manufacturing. Employees with long tenures will have a wider range of stage of life needs compared to a retail workforce that is largely young, part time with high turnover.

Many H&W programs can meet the needs of both parties, if packaged, serviced, and communicated well. I see a new level of packaging benefit programs together in the area of EAP and wellness, which together will help employees and employers manage productivity and healthcare costs. Ceridian recently launched its redesigned LifeWorks.com portal that combines EAP, work-life, and wellness.

HRO H&W service providers can be advisors to clients reassessing and revamping H&W offerings. In addition to strategic consulting services, vendors can also offer practical operational advice. Buyers, ask your providers what they see new and different. Ask what else they offer and if they have experience with new point solution vendors, or have preferred suppliers that may be helpful in your decisions making. Run new options by them to evaluate operational costs and issues and assess total cost. For example, consider when to provide payroll deduction services or stored value cards to access benefits compared to letting employees pay directly from both a tactical and operational cost perspective.

Every so often we need to reassess the point and purpose of employer benefits. Beyond any regulatory mandated benefits, organizations need to find a dynamic balance between what employees and their families want and what employers need to support retention, productivity, and manageable cost. In H&W, one size may not fit all, and yesterday’s programs may not meet today’s needs.

Linda Merritt, Research Analyst, HRO, NelsonHall

Interested in reading the latest HRO news from NelsonHall? Subscribe to our newsletter by emailing amy.gurchensky@nelson-hall.com with “HRO Insight” as the subject.

Advertisements
Explore posts in the same categories: benefits administration, EAP, Employer Benefits, Health and Saftey, health and welfare administration, hr outsourcing, hr outsourcing research, hro, hro research, Lifestyle Benefits, nelsonhall, Wellness

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s