Digital innovation transforming benefits HR


The HR and benefits industry has gone digital. From virtual reality and digital voice assistants to a benefits television station and text analysis tools, new technology is transforming the industry by helping employers and employees better engage in healthcare, benefits and the workplace in general.

New technologies are no longer a nice-to-have, but a must-have. In fact, the vast majority (92%) of C-suite and HR leaders surveyed by global talent acquisition and management firm Randstad say that they believe technology enhances the attraction, engagement and retention of employees. That’s up from 79% who said the same in 2016.

Behind this industry transformation are our 2019 Digital Innovators, individuals driving these technologies and making these innovations possible. After poring through dozens of nominations from Employee Benefit News and Employee Benefit Adviser readers, editors consulted with industry experts and called on their own field of knowledge to choose this year’s award recipients.

Rosario Avila and Andrew McNeil, founders of BenefitsTV

Their innovation: Avila and McNeil created BenefitsTV — a series of videos posted to social media —after they couldn’t find any benefits content in video form. Since teaming up earlier this year, the two benefits advisers have created and posted more than 50 short videos for a YouTube and Instagram channel. The videos explain to both employers and employees a myriad of topics, such as what an annual group medical deductible is, payment options at the pharmacy, health savings account contributions and workplace culture. Now, some employers are asking the two to provide custom videos for their internal use.

Why it matters: The majority of employees have difficulty understanding their benefits: For instance, just 4% of Americans are able to correctly define the four terms — deductible, co-pay, coinsurance and out-of-pocket maximum — that determine how much they would personally have to pay for medical services and drugs they receive under their health plans, according to a 2016 survey from Policygenius. That confusion and frustration is taking a hit on employers, too, and is why new ideas to communicate benefits and their value are cropping up. “Audio and video are great ways to communicate with people because they can watch or listen on their own time and are able to multitask,” Avila says.

Lorna Borenstein, founder and CEO of Grokker

Her innovation: Grokker’s well-being video tool provides more than 4,000 on-demand fitness, yoga, mindfulness, sleep, nutrition and financial well-being videos along with a community of experts. Employers including SurveyMonkey and Pinterest offer Grokker’s personalized programs to employees in hopes of helping them stay physically and emotionally fit anywhere, anytime, on any device. The latest Grokker update introduced a new onboarding journey, designed to better capture an employee’s interests, abilities and goals to create a customized experience.

Why it matters: Grokker aims to make wellness fun, user-friendly and accessible. It also claims to help employers, too, since employees who use its platform report being less stressed and anxious, and more focused and productive at work. “As an employer, you will lose [employees] if you don’t give them permission and the tools to take care of themselves,” Borenstein says. “They want to feel encouraged, guided and connected, and they want to work for a company that cares about them as a whole person.” Grokker’s tool, she says, “gives employees around the world tools they will actually want to use, helping them to be present and productive in the workplace.”

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