Archive for the ‘Employee Administration’ category

Benefits Outsourcing is Blooming

May 9, 2013
Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Benefits administration is producing a bountiful crop of new and expanding services. Recent contract award announcements included ADP, Aon Hewitt, Ceridian, Equiniti, Fidelity, Mass Mutual and Merrill Lynch. A wide range of industry segments were represented: banking; food; education; non-profits; hi-tech; pharmaceuticals; and travel. This week, I have taken a look at some of the newer benefit outsourcing “crops” that are starting to grow nicely.

Managed Retirement Accounts

Fidelity’s relatively new managed retirement account offering – Fidelity Portfolio Advisory Service at Work – was designed to address the low rate of adequate preparation for retirement by many employees by combining Fidelity Investments plan sponsor customized portfolio active management services with auto enrollment and available advisory services to help bridge the gap in achieving retirement goals from a defined contribution plan. The service grew in both participants and assets by 50% in 2012. Already in 2013, another 135 new clients have been added, bringing the total to more than 1,800 plan sponsors.

  • Fidelity awarded a contract for Portfolio Advisory Service at Work by ADM.

Health and Wellness

ADP’s Vitality wellness solution supports employers with between 50 and 1,000 employees manage rising healthcare costs and also reduce employee absenteeism. Vitality’s incentive-based program includes an interactive wellness portal, health risk assessments, biometric screenings and personalized wellness plans with recommended goals and activities. It integrates with social networking sites, mobile applications and fitness technologies; and when employees achieve planned goals, they earn points towards lowering their health plan contributions. The service is also integrated with ADP’s payroll services.

  • ADP awarded a contract by Jackson Companies for ADP Vitality services.

Benefits Bouquet Bundles

HRO buyers want multiple related services from one vendor under one contract; and health and wellness lends itself to packaging separate services into bundles. Ceridian’s LifeWorks.com combines EAP, work-life, and wellness services into one program with its own portal and mobile access. Also available is Health Coaching – a program for high-risk employees that provides access to comprehensive health assessments and personalized guidance programs – and Client Value Dashboard – included for employers to monitor reports usage data and ROI information.

  • Ball State University chooses Ceridian’s LifeWorks.com

Private Employer Exchanges

Mercer’s Marketplace allows employers to improve management of their benefits spending and administrative responsibilities for active employees. Employers determine how much to contribute toward the cost of their benefits program and can select from a range of insured and self-funded products and providers. The platform includes full benefits outsourcing and provides employees with call center and online decision support.

  • Mercer recently announced names of 10 of its 20 national, regional and state carriers that have joined Mercer Marketplace for providing core medical and voluntary benefits.

A good garden has a variety of plants. Some base crops are evergreen like benefits enrollment and management services, while others are changed out to meet growing market demand. Benefits HRO: how does your garden grow? Very well thank you.

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HRO Confidence Remains Steady for 2012

May 10, 2012

Every quarter, my colleague Amy Gurchensky surveys HRO vendors for the NelsonHall HR Outsourcing Confidence Index (HROCI), which is then available for our clients and the participating service providers. In normal times, the HROCI does not change drastically from quarter to quarter; it more shows changes in trends over time. In uncertain times, however, it is a timely way to see changes in market perceptions even before disruptions occur in contract values, volumes, and revenues.

It is of some comfort that the HROCI is in a steady state of small changes from quarter to quarter. That is not a sign of upcoming exuberant growth, but it is a predictor that we will continue to see solid continuous HRO growth throughout 2012.

The most recent HROCI shows a vendor confidence level of 153, where 100 represents unchanged confidence and higher scores indicate increased confidence. While 153 is down a bit from 164 in 1Q 2011, it is in line with 3Q and 4Q 2011 at 151 and 147 respectively. Vendor confidence is often based on how current business is going, along with the pipeline. In HRO, growth from existing clients is just as important as new business. Ever since deals got smaller in scale and scope, there has been increased focus on retaining and growing existing accounts, and we see positive vendor confidence here as well.

Looking at some of the HR lines of service, payroll is once again in the leading position for growth, followed by RPO, multi-process HRO (MPHRO), benefit administration, and learning. MPHRO is expected to perform well in 2012, primarily driven by the need of organizations to standardize HR services across regions and geographies. Vendors such as ADP and NorthgateArinso that previously offered primarily payroll and employee administration services have been very active in acquiring or partnering to extend capabilities to a wider range of platform-based MPHRO functions. In addition, Logica is becoming increasingly successful in this space in Europe.

There is a slight tempering of growth expectations that can be seen in the data, although pipelines still seem solid. I think this is the same kind of hedge-your-bets thinking that is in the larger economy and what we are seeing from HRO buyers. Everyone still has a healthy sense of caution in case things suddenly go sideways.

Luckily, more and more HRO buyers and clients are willing to move ahead and get on with doing business, even if a bit cautiously. Other buyers still suffer from frozen decision-making and unwillingness to make long-term investments. Buyers with clear direction for what they want to achieve through HRO are the most likely to be deal ready – as along as prices are right and there is not too much upfront investment. The earlier service providers can assess readiness, the faster they will be able to fill pipelines with well-qualified prospects.

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

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