Archive for the ‘outsourcing research’ 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 SaaS for the Small Business Employer

May 3, 2013
Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

SaaS systems for HR administration and payroll have opened up the small business market to the benefits of web-based HR systems with self-service and easier implementations. The rapid uptake by clients is testimony that a ‘sweet spot’ has been reached in cost, ease and value.

MoorepayHR

I followed up with Anne Fitzpatrick, Moorepay managing director, for an update on how MoorepayHR, a cloud-based SaaS payroll and HR administration platform with BPO services, is doing one year after its launch in the U.K. small business market.

Moorepay, a NorthgateArinso (NGA) subsidiary, is already “large” in the U.K. small business market with >10,000 clients. However, past success does not guarantee future success. The company saw the need for an integrated HR and payroll platform and wanted to achieve this in its own way by combining new technology with its existing BPO managed payroll and HR services, including on-hand subject-matter experts for guidance on employee issues, into a business process as a service (BPaaS) service.

At first there was some concern if the market was ready for a SaaS multitenant cloud service. Moorepay quickly found that buyers understand the cloud based on their own experiences as consumers and were actually eager for the new service. By the end of April, MoorepayHR had signed its 1,000th customer, and this week the entire company is holding a company-wide celebration!

The client base is 80% new and 20% from existing clients.57% of clients add on payroll, and even more select one or more of the BPO options, led by compliance support for employment law and health and safety advisory.

Moorepay will be adding more offerings to the system, including a newly-released ‘lite’ version. Next for the company is the rolling-out of an advanced version that adds functionality for recruiting, performance management and learning. Targeted at businesses with up to 500 employees, MoorepayHR will be expanded to up to 1,000 employees in the near future.

RUN Powered by ADP

ADP first introduced its RUN system nationally in the U.S. in 2010 for the very small market (1-49 employees). More HR features and payroll functionality have been added to the SaaS cloud-based mobile platform on a regular basis. In addition to ease-of-use, RUN offers a 24×7 help desk with certified HR professionals and an online HR library. RUN added its 200,000th customer in April 2013.

Two Vendors, One Success Story

Both Moorepay and ADP understands that clients of any size have similar needs. As Anish Rajparia, president of ADP’s small business services division, commented: “Small business owners demand flexible tools and resources tailored for them to help manage the risks associated with running their business.”

There are already a variety of options in the market for the small business owner and I am sure we will see many more. One size never fits all, and I am pleased to see that this class of buyer now has HRO choice.

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A Look at Automatic Enrollment in the U.S. to Predict the Success in the U.K. and Potential Opportunities for HRO Service Providers

December 8, 2011

There is currently a global crisis of people failing to save enough funds for their retirement. This reality is faced by those nearing retirement, and it’s affecting millions more. Reasons for this range from a lack of an employer plan to it being too confusing to simply just not getting around to it. In an effort to manage the crisis, legislation has been enacted to facilitate the ease of saving.

 

In the U.K., the primary answer lies in the automatic enrollment (AE) requirement of the Pensions Act of 2008. The AE requirement compels employers to automatically enroll their employees into qualifying pension schemes and to contribute to the pension as well. AE will commence in October 2012 and will be rolled out in stages based on employer size until September 2016 with large organizations (i.e., those with more than 120,000 employees) starting first.

 

Trying to predict the success that AE will have in the U.K. is difficult, but perhaps the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA) in the U.S. can provide some guidance.

 

Recently, Fidelity highlighted the positive impact that the PPA has had on participation rates among other things. Fidelity’s plans that offer AE have increased to 21%, up from 2% in 2006. Furthermore, the AE feature is a part of 63% of plans with more than 50,000 participants, and Fidelity has seen participation increasing as a result of AE.

 

The average participation rate for plans without AE is 55%; but with AE, the participation rate is 82%. More interesting is the effect that AE is having on younger employees, who are typically not too concerned with saving for retirement. For employees between ages 20 and 24 years old, the participation rate for plans with AE is 76% and only 20% for plans without AE.

 

While the PPA in the U.S. does not require AE by all employers, it is proving to be an effective way to encourage participation to actively save for retirement, and it can also provide further opportunities for HRO service providers.

 

In the U.K., for example, Capita has already won business related to the AE requirement of the Pensions Act of 2008. It was awarded a 7 year £105m contract by the U.K. Pension Regulator to support direct communications and transactional processes with employers for AE that began in October 2011. Capita’s responsibilities include:

  • Communicating campaign messages to employers
  • Communicating AE duty dates to employers
  • Ensuring employers register with the regulator
  • Operating a customer contact center
  • Some enforcement activities such as administering compliance notices and penalties for non-compliance.

 

Shortly after Capita’s contract award, Xafinity became the first pension administration provider to launch an AE offering that:

  • Identifies who to automatically enroll and when to enroll them
  • Sets a course of action for all stakeholders
  • Runs financial analysis on different scenarios and take-up rates based on employee data, and selects a strategy that supports corporate objectives
  • Provides AE administrative services including member communications; employee identification; auto-enrolling, opting out, and re-enrolling employees; and reporting.

 

Expect to see more HRO service providers based in the U.K. and others doing business there to launch an AE offering. Some may be late to the game though since the first staging date is less than a year away and compliance can take ~18 months to achieve. It is an area with lots of potential and service providers like Capita and Xafinity are well-poised to gain the first-mover advantage.

 

Amy L. Gurchensky, Research Analyst, HRO, NelsonHall

 

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Three Forces Shaping HRO for 2012

December 6, 2011

As 2011 comes to a close, let’s look ahead to 2012 and the three current trends that will continue into the New Year and beyond.

HR SaaS has been around for years. Now that the breadth of cloud coverage is in the HR ERP space it is opening up the middle market for HRO at long last, and is swimming upstream into the large client market. HR mobile applications are proliferating and vendors will be hard-pressed to deal with the rising demand by clients and participants for more on-the-go functionality. What seemed like an innovative differentiator is quickly becoming a competitive requirement.

HRO globalization has long been on the agenda of many HRO vendors, mainly targeted by major multinational companies (MNCs), but there are only so many global MNCs. We are now seeing additional focus on regional service networks for multi-country companies. HRO activity in emerging markets is also picking up for MNCs and for in-country client services. Expect to see HRO acquisitions, partnerships, and new offices for sales and service delivery grow in 2012 as service providers continue to fill-in geographic footprints and service gaps.

The globalization of RPO will continue to be a big story in 2012. RPO vendors are gearing up to meet the demand and two of the largest acquisitions in 2011 included SourceRight (part of SFN Group), which was acquired by Randstad, and The RightThing, which was acquired by ADP.

The growing global RPO demand was illustrated in a big way by Kenexa when it was awarded with a five-year RPO contract by Eli Lilly and Company, which includes recruiting in Asia Pacific, Europe, and the Americas. NelsonHall estimates the deal to be worth more than $50 million, one of the largest RPO contracts to date.

HRO contract awards will continue to increase across Asia Pacific, with some year to year variability due to economic conditions. Three years ago, ~10% of contracts included Australia, with half of those for clients headquartered in Australia. Two years ago, it was ~11%, with about an even split of Australian-based clients. In the past year, the number has jumped to ~16%, with the majority of contracts for clients based in Australia.

China has also emerged as a client base for HRO, including for in-country services. As emerging market companies reach a fast-growth stage and expand their services internationally, the need for HR technology, processes, and delivery capabilities can outstrip the local talent base for HR. For example, Manpower made two acquisitions in China, REACH HR in South China and Xi’ and Fresco in Henan Province.

These are three of the forces shaping the future of HRO. Those HRO vendors that are able to update their portfolio of services and quickly and cost effectively invest in the acquisition or development of new capabilities will gain an advantage in the growing marketplace for HRO.

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.

Volatility Is the Future – for Businesses and HRO

November 22, 2011

According to the Talent2 APAC Market Pulse Survey, many business executives in the Asia Pacific region have come to accept market volatility as the new business norm with a large proportion feeling more prepared to respond to unstable market conditions. The just released study presents a broad view of senior business executives across Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. Of the more than 700 survey respondents, more than 70% were from multinational corporations.

The goal of the study was to understand the level of business confidence and volatility and its impact on talent and people strategies across APAC. Tested by fire, 55% of the executives feel better prepared for continued market volatility. That will be needed, as the study highlights that even those countries enjoying consistent growth are concerned about another recession happening within the next year, with 97% in Singapore, 95% in Hong Kong, 87% in China, and 85% in Australia worried about another financial crisis.

Even with these concerns, many APAC companies are continuing to add employees with businesses in China, Hong Kong, and Singapore increasing staff numbers. In China, 80% of businesses have increased staff in the last 12 months, followed by Hong Kong and Singapore at 73%, then Australia (53%) with New Zealand (40%), and Japan (30%). At the same time, skill shortage is of concern in the region, with most businesses (65%) having experienced problems in recruiting due to skill shortages in the past year.

Although executives are accepting that market instability will continue and they must balance growth and cost control in the face of recessionary concerns, Talent2 points out that not much is changing in how workforces are managed in APAC. Most recruiting and hiring is focused on permanent employees, even though executives see the benefits in employing contract workers for the flexibility to scale up and down (76%) and the ability to better manage employment costs (43%). Currently, only 12% of the APAC workforce is employed on a contingent basis, compared to 22% globally.

It is not easy to move to a blended workforce that includes a greater use of contingent workers. For many of the APAC countries with faster growth workforces, employees are naturally looking for permanent jobs with higher wages. It is also hard to find all of the tools and talents needed to help from one vendor. RPO is taking off very well in many APAC areas, but vendors may not also have the technology and expertise to support building a contingent workforce.

Talent management is not just a software application. It is a critical business capability, one well suited for HRO providers that can blend technology, service, analytics, and consulting on a regional and global basis across the full suite of talent management elements. Leading HRO vendors should also be leaders in creating the agile workforces of the future. Who will we be seeing leading the way?

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.

The Rise of Smartphone Apps in Benefits Administration

November 16, 2011

Over the past year, HRO service providers have launched various smartphone apps. One of the first apps I became aware of was ADP’s RUN app for small business owners. It’s been interesting monitoring the progress of this app since its launch in October 2010. Within six months, it reached 100,000 users while only available for Apple devices. It has since been made available to the Android and RIM platforms, adding even more users.

Payroll seemed like an ideal place for HRO service providers to develop apps. ADP then took it one step further and launched the ADP Mobile Solutions app, which provides users with HR, payroll, and benefits information including retirement savings information such as current 401(k) allocations, distribution percentages, account balances, and rates of return.

Towers Watson also has an app, TWGlobal50. It provides HR and benefits professionals with various information including planned pay increases, changes in employee engagement levels, talent mobility interest rates, and changes in healthcare benefit costs.

Unlike payroll, apps within benefits administration can cover a broad range of topics such as Morneau Shepell’s My EAP app, which provides the following:

  • Health and wellness articles (from its workhealthlife.com website)
  • Access to confidential e-counseling
  • LifeSpeak On Demand video clips on a range of personal and work-related topics.

Other apps available from benefits administration providers allow users to access more personalized data. For example, Buck Consultants’ Benefits Genie Lite and Benefits Genie apps enable users to track a wide variety of health and insurance information for themselves or other family members including:

  • Allergy information
  • Prescription medications
  • Vaccinations
  • Operations
  • Family history
  • Physician contact information
  • Benefits co-payments and deductibles, etc.

Although not an app per se, Aon Hewitt is also enabling its client employees to access their personal health and retirement information from smartphones via secure websites, allowing users to make changes to their retirement plans and even enroll for benefits.

These more interactive personalized apps make it easy for employees to stay connected and engaged as more responsibility is being shifted on individuals to manage their own retirement savings and health. Also, with healthcare reform, we are likely to see apps expanding to new areas such as healthcare exchanges.

Mobile access from any device will quickly move from a differentiator to a requirement, including for HRO. The difficulty is the development time, costs, and security challenges for services that will not likely generate new revenues as much as protect revenues and support continued growth. Technology investment decisions will be critical in staying current and still managing needed margins.

Stay tuned.

Amy L. Gurchensky, 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.

Uncertainty as a Competitive Advantage for Benefits Administration Outsourcing

September 1, 2011

This week let’s explore how benefits administration (BA) can create a competitive advantage from uncertainty.  A new Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) study, The State of Employee Health Care Benefits, indicates that many organizations are still in wait-and-see mode due to health care reform uncertainty and are delaying any major overhauls of health care benefits into 2012. In the meantime, high-performance organizations are differentiating themselves in the talent marketplace by:

  • Emphasizing literacy in health, health care terminology, and health care plans (75%) relative to low-performing organizations (45%)
  • Using incentives more than low performing organizations, especially for biometric screenings and health assessments
  • Using a broader range of cost-sharing strategies than low performing organizations.

An interesting data point: more high performing organizations report that they target offering competitive benefits (64%), while many low performers target “better than” competitive benefits to effectively compete for talent (43%). High performance companies offer a wider range of common benefits like medical, vision and dental, and provide benefits for part-time employees at almost twice the rate of lower performers. All surveyed organizations continue to increase approaches for employee cost-sharing.

Benefits administration is a win-win HRO opportunity zone for client-vendor partnerships that offer great service at competitive prices while working together to optimize total benefit spend. Mercer just issued a summary of new business for 1H 2011. A significant portion of the 15 new BA contracts, including 10 large market clients, are for added service lines with existing clients. Mercer’s HRO revenues are also up 20% year-over-year, based on a similar volume of new business in 1H 2010.

Buyers, look for a BA service provider that also offers multi-channel employee communication excellence beyond the annual enrollment window. According to the i4cp, “quality of communication will likely be the arbiter of whether or not a new approach to employee health care is embraced by employees.”

Equally important is finding a BA vendor with the capability to gather and analyze evidence-based data that will help you manage the dynamic balance between employer cost, talent management, and employee benefit. Finding a strategy that balances costs with effectiveness is a moving target. Gaining employee cooperation in containing health care costs is extremely difficult for all companies, high performing or not. For example, a poorly designed and communicated incentive can disincent the desired behavior.

Providers, there will always be clients looking for low cost commodity-level BA. There will also be high-performance companies, and those who want to be, willing to lead the way with the right vendor partner in actively managing benefits programs way beyond basic administration. Do you take into account prospect and client market position, strategy, and culture when shaping offers? Do you vary service packages to create pricing offers based on client segments? How effectively are you leveraging your competitive advantages in employee communications that increase desired behaviors and do you have the empirical evidence to prove it?

Linda Merritt, Research Analyst, HRO, NelsonHall