Know What You’re Solving For: The Siloed Benefits Experience

 In Thinking

Ask any benefits leader what they want to give their employees, and you’ll probably hear some version of this: an interconnected benefits experience.

And why not? When people have a better benefits experience, they actually engage with those offerings. They get the resources they need to achieve personal goals, and they realize the value of the investment their employer has put into their well-beingnot to mention, employers see return on those offerings they’ve purchased. Employees win. Employers win.

However, both parties typically deal with something different: a siloed benefits experience. With all the different websites, apps, and paperwork that employees are directed to, people don’t think about benefits until they need them. Employers recognize this major problem, as well as a need for the right solutionand so do we.

A peek into the siloed experience

When new hires are onboarded at a company, they get benefits information from their employer before their first day, on their first day, and within their first week. This includes enrollment in benefits and their 401(k), as well as learning about the perks and discounts available. A lot of materials at once, with little follow-up later.

Fast-forward a bit to when they actually need to engage with these resources…

  • Struggling with back pain, one employee visits his company’s onsite clinicbut has to explain his entire medical history before the clinician can help. He then calls his health-plan support line about coverage for an MRI and needs to explain his history once again, as well as what happened at the onsite clinic since the advocate doesn’t have that context.
  • Down the line, another employee receives a promotion. Due to the salary raise that accompanies it, she wants to increase her 401(k) and HSA contributions, but has to log into three different systems to do so: the payroll system to see her current paycheck contributions, the HSA administration system, and the 401(k) administration system. This also means recalling three different usernames and passwords.

Each of these scenarios requires extra effort and time on the employee’s parttaking them away from the things that matter at home and lowering productivity at work. Even if they find all the details they need and successfully engage with all the benefits, they’re left in the aftermath of a frustrating and lengthy experience. When each of those benefits experiences is siloed, the employees feel siloed themselves.

Why does this happen?

As a benefits team builds up their offerings, they add more and more vendorsand thus, more and more systems of record. The employer ends up with an impressive suite of benefits providers, but each one exists independently.

The problem is these systems of record don’t “talk” to each other, even though they’re coexisting in an employer’s ecosystem. Making that ecosystem interconnected seems difficult, time-consuming, and resource-intensive to many employers. As a result, the vendors remain siloed and so does each part of the member journey.

The consequences of siloed experiences

In a siloed experience, there’s no single platform for employees to get connected with all of the benefits in one placeeach vendor has its own phone number, email, and portal that employees need to access. When communicating with multiple vendors, the employee has to enter and re-enter the same personal information over and over to set up and log into accounts. Moreover, they need to create and store multiple login credentials. Not only is that inconvenient, it’s risky.

Another wrench that’s thrown in is that employees get bombarded with different vendors’ messages and user flows. Instead of getting to see and access all of those updates through one employer-branded platform (also a nice reminder of where these benefits are coming from), they’re forced to dive into each provider’s customer experience on their ownand typically receive one-size-fits-all messaging.

Each click takes them deeper into a vendor’s website or platform and brings them further away from the employer, weakening the connection between the benefit they’re enjoying and the employer that’s offering it. These interactions simply become transactional and nothing more.

Where there’s room for improvement

It’s important to realize the full scope of areas that suffer from siloed experiences. Concierges, clinics, centers of excellence, and other care providers don’t have the information they need to offer relevant guidance and recommendations. Employees choose a health plan with no relevant data to guide them, and they don’t receive timely reminders when they’re due for preventive care.

Removing barriers, interconnecting the benefits ecosystem, and integrating vendors within a single platform can open doors to applying predictive analytics and recommendation engines. User experiences can become seamless, easy, and even enjoyable. And the link between employers and the benefits they offer remains strong.

All it takes is an intelligent system to manage it all. It’s the firstand probably most importantstep in delivering that better benefits experience.

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