December 17, 2019

Speed, Access, and Partnership: Findings from New Research on Employee Benefits Analytics [Part 3]

Artemis Health recently conducted original research on what employee benefits leaders really want from their partnerships with brokers, consultants, and other partners in the benefits industry. In this series of blog posts, we will recap what we found in the research study, including what benefits leaders told us about their goals, motivations, and challenges. In each part, we will showcase a selection from our larger research paper, which you can find here.

About the research: 

The very nature of employee benefits is changing dramatically — and not least for consultants and brokers. Group plans are becoming more complex. Expectations are rising from employers and employees. And the need for better health, greater productivity, and more favorable financial outcomes are more important than ever. To give consultants and brokers a helping hand in meeting these needs, Artemis Health sought insight into the perspectives of 300 HR and benefits leaders at enterprise organizations across the U.S. We focused on organizations with 5000+ employees across all industries.

Keeping Up with Industry Standards

On the topic of efficiency, benefits leaders feel generally confident. In fact, 83% of benefits leaders say they are very or extremely confident in the efficiency of their organizations’ current benefits plans — with 1 in 4 stating they’re extremely confident.

However, when comparing their benefits programs to industry standards, only 18% feel they’re ahead of the curve. Almost two-thirds of benefits leaders surveyed feel their company’s benefit offerings are keeping up with industry standards, while 19% feel their company is actually falling behind.

Relying on Feedback

These findings suggest that efficient benefits plans are simply not enough — benefits leaders are looking for something more to push their organizations forward and into the next generation of innovation and industry leadership. To dive deeper into how they’re keeping up, we asked what resources they most rely on to make major decisions about their benefits programs:

The majority of benefits leaders rely most on employee feedback, industry best practices, financial data, and recruiting data or feedback. Given their focus — and the focus of their supervisors — on employee satisfaction, this makes sense. Yet considering how much they trust consultants and brokers, it is surprising to see those advisors at the very bottom of this list. Again, it seems that there’s a disconnect between how benefits leaders perceive advisory services. This represents an opportunity for consultants and brokers to partner on delivering even greater value from their services.

“I once worked with a client to launch a large survey to  inquire on what aspects of a benefits program are most important to employees. Personalization, choice, and affordability rose to the top. Gaining access to employee feedback is important and good data to use in conjunction with benefits data. It’s not necessarily a matter of collecting claims data over employee feedback — they need to be used together.”

— Consultant, HR consulting firm

The Secret to Getting Ahead: Using Healthcare Analytics for Actionable Insights

This question also revealed a key finding for understanding why so many benefits leaders feel they’re just keeping up. Benefits leaders who feel they’re ahead of the curve in terms of industry standards were significantly more likely to cite data analytics technology as a resource they rely upon. Even more telling, the use of data or advanced technology was also one of the most-cited reasons for respondents’ ability to keep up or get ahead.

This may be the key for benefits leaders: Listening to employees and using best practices may help benefits leaders achieve a benefits program that’s efficient and in line with industry standards. But innovations like healthcare analytics and advanced technology are what really pushes their programs forward.

Getting Ahead with Better Insights: Where Benefits Leaders Are Going

Data is essential to putting enterprise benefits leaders ahead of the curve. So why have so many struggled to crack the code? Businesses today have plenty of data; some might even say too much. What are the biggest challenges benefits leaders face with their current data, and how equipped are they to overcome them?

When it comes to healthcare and benefits data, it’s clear that benefits leaders see value in it. Eighty-eight percent of benefits leaders believe the use of data is somewhat to extremely important to their ability to design and manage an effective benefits program, with 57% seeing it as important or extremely important. When it comes to their challenges, however, benefits leaders have a clear need for speed, access, and accuracy. 

This mirrored our findings that a third of benefits leaders say speed and ease are most important to delivering the best possible benefits program. Another industry survey also found that getting key benefits information takes benefits leaders anywhere from a few minutes to three months, depending on their data solution and support.

Again, benefits leaders see partnering with outside advisors is less important to their benefits program compared with their ability to get access to reliable data.

So, what exactly are benefits leaders looking for in their partnerships with advisors? We’ll explore this in further detail in the next part of our series of posts.

This is just the beginning of our research. Stay tuned for additional parts in this blog post series to learn more about benefits leaders’ motivations, perceptions about their brokers and consultants, and relationships with healthcare data analytics.

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