Here in the U.S., it’s required by every employee, once a year, to enroll into a benefits package for individuals and families for all available benefits and coverage that might be needed during the stated benefits period. The concept of enrolling into benefits on a once per year basis seems rather dated, doesn’t it? One time every year, I am instructed to visit a website. I probably understand half the language on the website.

I might read a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document for the stuff I don’t understand. HR might host an event in the cafeteria, and I might even have the opportunity to talk to someone about this open enrollment process. Does any part of this feel modern, intuitive, responsive, high-touch, or like the digital and fluid experiences we’ve come to expect in most areas of our everyday lives? 

When it comes to most things related in the Now of Work – but especially when it comes to the health and wellness of your workforce, this experience, process, and practice needs to feel “always on.” Sure, I need to be enrolled. But the concept of moving from enrollment to execution, from transaction to experience, needs to serve the “whole life” concept that is so crucial for the world we live in today. 

Think about standard benefits of full-time employment, including medical, dental, vision, mental, pet, flexible spending, HSA, and all of the perks and rewards organizations offer as part of my employment. Information about enrollment, access, and use of these benefits, while standard, are typically scattered throughout the organization. I might find one on a page here. I might find one in the cafeteria there. I might access something in a portal over here.

I might even have an app to download on device, but, overall, it’s very cumbersome. It’s difficult to find necessary information and even more difficult to take full advantage of the information and expenses allocated for these services. This costs organizations billions and billions of dollars every year. And frankly, delivered in this manner, employees don’t fully adopt, let alone realize intended maximum value, from these programs. 

We live in a time, happening right now, where everything about the world is uncertain. We are actively living through unprecedented times while the coronavirus-driven pandemic changes  all our lives in tangible and intangible ways. Think about the change that will be required. On the other side of the immediate crisis, we can all be expecting to work from home for two or three months, or perhaps always.

Our social and physical behaviors are changing. We may rely on the vast majority of our interaction through online collaboration tools. Without a doubt, many of us will lose family members, friends, jobs, pay increases. What does all that mean? All that means people will be under tremendous physical and mental strain. 

That said, it’s time for us to take health and wellness truly seriously — not a nice-to-have, not a perk that’s sitting around — a must. Mandatory. A mandate that is part of the overall workforce experience. I have to think about my overall health and wellness experience the same way I think about my overall employee experience. One is part of the other. And when I think about my experience, it needs to be frictionless. It needs to be in my pocket. It needs to get the right information to me, the right person at the right time through the right channel, and the only way to do that is to truly take the concept of health and wellness experience and digitize it.

Health benefits are no longer a transaction. This needs to be an interaction and an experience. To do that, I have to take basic transactions and basic programs like I had before and turn them into experiences; you do that by digitizing them and adding in tools like artificial intelligence and machine learning.  Knowing me, knowing what I’m doing, knowing what kind of mental health guidance I need, knowing what kind of physical health guidance I need — knowing these things and personalizing my experience will make or break whether or not I’m going to use these tools again.

Once again, what am I doing? We throw billions and billions of dollars at solutions and programs from which the workforce realizes no benefit. That’s why 2020 is the year of experience.

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Undeniably, this will also be the year of health and wellness. It’s time to truly reinvent this space, get rid of our once a year processes, get rid of our forms, replace them, and digitize them with what technology and tools really allow me to do today, which is making sure I can bring my whole self to work, that I can take care of my whole self in one place, and that I, as an employee, truly understand that I’m taking care of my entire whole workforce through this concept of health and wellness workforce experience.

It’s time to think about:

  • Awareness 
    • Employees don’t know what programs are available to them
  • Accessibility
    • Employees don’t know how to access the programs they have  
  • Employee Communications
    • We don’t have a meaningful way to communicate benefits updates and changes
  • Closing the Gaps in the Types of Offerings You Provide
    • Present gaps in offerings for acute virtual care/telemedicine & mental health 
  • Agility/Versatility 
    • Our current health and benefits experience makes it difficult to launch and scale new program offerings
  • Cost Savings

Is it time we rethink our current health and benefits experience? I’m saying this is the year.

We’re happy to partner with League to bring a better Healthcare Benefits Experience to life.

About the Author

Jason Averbook is a leading analyst, thought leader and consultant in the area of human resources, the future of work and the impact technology has on that future. He is the Co-founder and CEO of Leapgen, a digital transformation company shaping the future of work by broadening executive mindset to rethink how to better design and deliver employee services that meet the expectations of the workforce and the needs of the business.