Posted tagged ‘absence management’

Highlights and Trends in the HRO Market for H1 2013: Part 2

August 14, 2013
Amy L. Gurchensky, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Amy L. Gurchensky, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Last week, I zeroed in on specific market activity within the payroll, learning and RPO service lines. This week, I’ll take a closer look at H1 2013 activity within benefits administration and MPHRO as well as provide some insights on what to expect in H2 2013 based on NelsonHall’s recent HRO Confidence Index.

Benefits Administration

Contract signings aside, there has been a plethora of activity within benefits administration in H1 2013, including:

  • New offerings:
    • Mercer launched a private benefits exchange, Mercer Marketplace
    • Buck Consultants launched an automatic enrollment offering in the U.K.
    • Secova launched a Coordination of Benefits (COB) audit offering to coordinate benefits with insurance carriers
  • Acquisitions: Wageworks acquired Crosby Benefit Systems and Benefit Concepts to strengthen its H&W administration offering, including reimbursement account and COBRA administration
  • Partnerships:
    • Fidelity partnered with Extend Health, a Towers Watson company, to provide retiree healthcare services
    • JLT Employee Benefits partnered with Vielife for health and wellbeing services in the U.K.
  • New technologies:
    • Xerox launched an account-based benefits portal, BenefitWallet, to assist with managing multiple health accounts on one platform, including HSAs, HRAs, FSAs, HIAs (health/wellness incentive accounts) and other specialized services
    • Aon Hewitt launched an absence management tool, 360 Absence Solutions, to help clients manage absence-related costs, compliance risks, the administrative burden and lost productivity
  • Educational resources:
    • Mercer and ADP both launched websites to provide information on healthcare reform
    • Ceridian launched an auto-enrollment knowledge center in the U.K.

MPHRO

In recent years, the MPHRO market has been relatively quiet in terms of contract announcements and H1 2013 was no exception. However, my last MPHRO research study, published in February 2013, revealed that the market is very much alive with new wins and contract renewals from all the major vendors, including IBM and Accenture. In fact, IBM recently won a new seven-year, multi-country MPHRO contract, which was bundled with F&A outsourcing services. Other wins include ADP and Marriott Vacations Worldwide for core HR, payroll, time & labor management and talent management covering ~9.2k employees.

Many vendors have been focused on their strategies for expansion, including Aon Hewitt with its acquisition of OmniPoint Workday Services. Although still early, NelsonHall expects ADP to make inroads in LATAM with its MPHRO services since it added RPO capabilities in this region from its acquisition of The RightThing and now expands its payroll footprint from the Payroll S.A. acquisition.

H2 2013

So what does the rest of the year have in store? NelsonHall’s recent HRO Confidence Index survey finds that overall expectations for HRO revenue growth remain at the same level as those reported for the last five quarters; with payroll leading followed by RPO. Top industry sectors for HRO services include healthcare, pharmaceuticals and high-tech. By geography, vendors have reported increased confidence for revenue growth in Central and Eastern Europe and Central and Latin America.

Needless to say, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the year unfolds for HRO.

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The CedarCrestone HR Systems Survey and HRO: Part 1

December 7, 2012
Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Lexy Martin, CedarCrestone’s research and analytics vice president, debuted the 2012-2013 HR Systems Survey at the HR Technology Conference. I always enjoy pouring over this research, particularly now as it is in its 15th year and is full of trends and insights into what is happening with HR technology. The findings are especially interesting this year as we see the emergence of newer technologies come into usage and high expectations for the future growth of HR SaaS HRMS, analytics, social, and mobile technologies.There is a lot of good news for HRO service providers and HR technology vendors. As we know, technology investments have seen some lean years recently. This year, the survey of 1,246 respondents from HR, IT, finance, operations, and executives indicates that 50% of large and medium-sized organizations will be increasing HR technology spend for 2013. Interestingly, the largest increase will be from organizations outside of the U.S. and Europe (59% to 44%).

The top HR technology initiatives for 2012-2013 include:

  • Business process improvements and innovations
  • Talent management processes and automation
  • Service delivery improvements
  • Business intelligence/workforce metrics.

While the greatest growth over the next three years is expected for workforce analytics/planning (142%), social media tools (81%), and service delivery (57%), it is important to remember that adoption of the more common technologies is not at 100%. HR administration is highest at 95%, but service delivery applications, which include employee and manager self-service is only at 49%. Check the full report for results by size and industry. For example, large enterprises have higher adoption rates, and industry varies with early adopters seen in high tech, financial services, and retail and late adopters seen in higher education and public administration.

Key Observations

  • A shared services delivery model that includes an HR help desk application and self-service delivers the highest level of efficiency to enterprises and saves at least 15% in administration costs
  • Basic workforce management technologies including time management self-service, absence management, labor scheduling, and labor budgeting can grow operating income faster
  • An integrated HRMS and talent management solution can yield up to 33% higher revenue per employee.

The survey is not about HR outsourcing, but it sure applies. Between the HR technology initiatives, state of adoption of HR technologies, and evidence of results who better to help a client out than your friendly HR service provider!

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PPACA: Pandemonium Today, Panic Later, Prosperity for HRO

June 29, 2012

By Amy L. Gurchensky, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

It was pandemonium after the United States Supreme Court announced its ruling upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The outstanding decision left so many in a holding pattern pending the constitutionality of the act.

Now that the decision is more firmly settled for the time being (primarily pending the November presidential election), U.S. states and organizations will have to take more definitive steps in securing exchanges and evaluating whether to offer health insurance plans or pay the tax penalty.

In fact, the state of Florida, via Florida Health Choices, set the wheels in motion earlier this week ahead of the ruling when it awarded a $68m contract to Xerox to administer a health insurance exchange for nine years. Services include:

  • A web portal and online plan selection tool
  • Eligibility determination and enrollment management services
  • Customer contact center services.

Other states that have delayed taking action are still expected to meet the law’s timelines. The same is true for employers that have yet to make employee healthcare decisions that take the PPACA requirements into consideration. Watch for a spate of webinars by benefits service providers to remind all of us of the changes still to come in 2014 through 2018.

Regardless of today’s decision, HRO and particularly benefits administration service providers have been sitting in a sweet spot.  Vendor interviews for NelsonHall’s recently published “Targeting Benefits Administration” market analysis revealed that business has been going on as usual with many employers turning to benefits administration vendors to implement services that are focused on controlling the cost of rising health care such as:

  • Dependent eligibility audits to remove ineligible dependents from plans
  • Wellness programs
  • Improving absence management
  • Switching to high-deductible health plans with associated health savings accounts.

The published report explores the current state of benefits administration as well as the future market and its growth over the next five years by geography and service line including:

  • H&W administration
  • Reimbursement administration
  • Leave of absence administration
  • COBRA administration
  • Flexible benefits administration
  • DC administration
  • DB administration.

The analysis also looks beyond legislative implications in the U.S. and new offerings that have emerged such as health insurance exchanges to explore the automatic enrollment requirement in the U.K.

The greater unresolved issue at hand, however, is how to control the rising cost of health care that is already arguably unsustainable as evidenced by the more than 30m Americans currently without insurance.

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The Only Certainty is Uncertainty: Managing the Impact of Health Care Reform on HRO

September 21, 2011

A now perennial concern for U.S. employers is the cost of providing health care to employees. It is number one on the list of the “2011 Top Five Total Rewards Priorities,” a study sponsored jointly by Deloitte and the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists (ISCEBS).  Here are the top five for this year:

  1. The cost of providing healthcare benefits to active employees
  2. The willingness of employees to pay for an increasing portion of benefit plan coverage and to manage their own reward budget
  3. The ability of reward programs to attract, motivate and retain talented employees
  4. The ability to adjust to and comply with current and future provisions of Health Reform legislation
  5. Clear alignment of Total Rewards strategy with business strategy and brand.

Employer uncertainty on the requirements and cost of compliance with U.S. health care reform continues to the point where “the only certainty is uncertainty,” according to the study. In the meantime, 65% of 242 respondents said they had no plans to change employee-sponsored coverage. Only 9% of employers indicated that they plan to drop employer-sponsored coverage and pay the penalties with the expectation of further legislation and required changes. Lastly, about 20% of employers said they would consider converting to a defined contribution plan for health care and encourage employees to join an exchange.

Eight-five percent of employers are highly certain that an impact of health care reform will be higher costs for both the employer and employees. Seventeen percent are also concerned they will fall in competitiveness with peers in other countries.

If most employers are planning to change health care benefits at this time, what are they doing? They are closely monitoring the situation with 73% reporting they will re-evaluate benefits due to health care reform in the next 12 months.

Uncertainty is also an opportunity. Besides the obvious opportunity for continued benefits consulting, there are other opportunities for HRO. For example, total rewards statements are more than nice fluff. With effective communications, employers can help employees appreciate the full value of their wages and benefits, support the case for understanding cost shifts to employees, and even help with the attraction and retention of talent. Also, dependent audits have been a good foot-in-the door technique the last couple of years, ensuring value benefits go to only covered employees. Finally, absence management is another growing HRO service line with great potential to assist employees in difficult times and impact the bottom line when well-managed.

In core benefits administration, highlighting expertise in monitoring, understanding, and implementing regulatory benefits changes shows clients they will have a capable partner in their corner, no matter the changes ahead. Being the knowledgeable resource of choice in the midst of health care reform uncertainty and rising costs can be a leverageable factor in attracting new clients and deepening the relationship with current clients.

Is your HRO provider the rock you can rely on in times of uncertainty?

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.

Mercer 2011 Analyst Forum – Style and Substance

May 13, 2011

I enjoy HRO analyst forums, particularly the in-person presentations and the chance for casual conversation with service provider executives and fellow analysts. Live events showcase the personality of the host company. Personality comes through in who is invited, what is said, what is not said, and the venue itself. All have a tone that subtly provides context for content. Some are very nice and some are almost austere. None are luxurious parties.  Apparently HR BPO analysts do not rate that high!

Mercer’s session was on the high-end of venues; the meeting was seemingly casual and relaxed while still guiding attention where desired. The analyst meeting and accompanying client conference was well-prepared and well-presented, providing a consistent profile of Mercer, its style, and confidence. Even the smallest touches reinforced the company’s image of management competency, teamwork, and expertise in HR benefits.

Mercer is a $3.5bn benefits service provider with 27k clients and 20k employees with offices in over 40 countries, serving large market clients primarily based in the U.S. and mid-market clients worldwide. Consulting services bring in the greatest revenue at 2.4bn, followed by outsourcing at $700m, and investment services at a rapidly rising $400m. The largest outsourcing client segment is DC, followed by DB, and H&W. The company has seen significantly more interest in the last 18 months in its newest segment, absence management, with a small but growing base of clients. Mercer Q1 2011 revenues were $922m, up 9% year-over-year, 5% in constant currency compared to Q1 2010, outsourcing was flat in constant currency.

Strategically, Mercer is focusing on increasing revenues and building scale by leveraging existing client relationships to cross-sell, expand into select adjacent market opportunities, and build bundled solutions. These are not uncommon HRO strategies, but it is ability to execute that sets apart the leaders.

Reliance on its ability to work collaboratively across its business segments will be a critical success factor, a style that was amply present throughout the Mercer sessions and is also seen in its several new product offerings.  One is a new solution called Human Capital Connect, which is bringing together consulting and research expertise, software and web technology, and various forms of education to address metrics and analytics in a way that will help HR teams establish the needed foundation of HR information, data and report access, and understand and provide a roadmap to more advanced levels.

According to the soon to be published Mercer 2011 “What’s Working” report, employees are putting more importance on the value of benefits in the mix of total compensation. And we know that employers continue to be very cost conscious even as they return focus to talent management.

With a crowded field of top-tier benefits providers, including Mercer, which one will be able to best capitalize on the opportunities?

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall

HRO Can Help Stem Absence Management Cost Hits – But There’s More

October 21, 2010

A recent CyberShift survey found that one third of the 1,088 respondents cited absence management as a continuing top priority. Yet 53 percent of the survey participants stated they did not have an automated system in place for absence, leave, vacation and FMLA tracking. This is a pretty scary statistic, especially when, per CyberShift, unscheduled absenteeism can cost businesses more than $760,000 per year in direct payroll costs alone.

At the same time, forward-thinking buy-side companies over the past couple of years have awarded absence management contracts to HRO providers, and the vendors are beefing up their absence management offerings. Let’s take a look.

Absence Management Contracts

  • MidlandHR was awarded 10 contracts in the last two years for its iTrent HR and payroll software, including its absence management modules, by the University of Exeter, Capel Manor College, Oxford City Council, NetworkersMSB, Pentagon Investments, Preston College, Which? (yes, this is an actual company name), Manchester Fire and Rescue, Kent County Council and Farnborough College
  • Wipro implemented Oracle’s PeopleSoft Enterprise HCM 9.0 for Jammu & Kashmir Bank in India. Modules implemented include absence management and approval workflow
  • NorthgateArinso won a five-year contract with Hastings College for its ResourceLink HR platform, which supports absence management
  • Convergys entered into a five-year contract renewal for multi-process HRO services with a leading business services company; components of the contract include absence management and leave administration
  • Hewitt was awarded several unnamed contracts that include absence management
  • Raet won a 10-year contract with OSG for its online HR portal, which includes absence management

Providers’ Enhanced Absence Management Offerings

Just a couple of weeks ago, Capita acquired FirstAssist Services Holdings Ltd. to strengthen its capabilities in health and workforce management, including absence management. In January, Hewitt added participant advocacy services to its absence management offering. In August, Ceridian added Presagia’s employee leave management software to support its leave management services. And Xchanging announced an alliance with absence management specialist FirstCare through which the two parties will jointly go to market with FirstCare’s absence management and occupational health pre-employment screening services and Xchanging’s portfolio of HRO services.  

Here’s my take. Leveraging software and services for absence management tracking is a great step in the right direction when it comes to stemming costs. But equally, if not more, important is drilling down into the why’s of non-authorized and non-sick absences. This maps to blogs I’ve written over the past year that focus on rampant employee dissatisfaction. Unhappy employees are more inclined to call in sick simply because they don’t want to go to their jobs. Get to the heart of employee dissatisfaction, fix what is truly broken across the enterprise, and absenteeism will decrease. Strong leadership and performance management training is invaluable in helping determine the root of employee discontent. Corporations lacking internal training programs of this type can leverage offerings from both full-scope and pure-play learning services HRO providers.

Gary Bragar, Lead HRO Analyst, NelsonHall