In our continuing commitment to stay on top of product developments in HR Technology, three members of our team attended the recent 2018 Employee Navigator Conference. This year’s event brought together more than 800 Employee Navigator (EN) users and partners. What ensued was three days of knowledge sharing, networking, and training. Employee Navigator is one of BTR’s pre-vetted and negotiated benefits administration providers. We offer this provider selectively to our small-market clients who have no need for the RFP process. Our team received first-hand updates on the EN platform and product strategy. Moreover, we gained useful insights from broker and carrier panels. Now we are pleased to share these insights with our family of partners. We hope these will assist you in your role as a benefits adviser to your clients.
Employee Navigator Strategy is Broker-Centric
During a Q&A with EN president and CEO George Reese, VP for quality assurance Cherie Marks and CTO and chief architect John Crowley, we learned EN’s strategy is to be a solution for 90 percent of a broker’s book of business, versus a customized solution for individual large groups. EN sees its biggest competitors as EaseCentral and Bernard Health. Reese said his “ultimate goal” is not to take money off the table that fairly should go to the broker. Addressing the future of the company, Reese could not guarantee that EN will never be sold. He did say, however, that in such a circumstance the “who” would be very important. Reese said that he will only entertain investors who bring intellectual capital to the table. Those offering money only will not be considered.
The Future of Getting Data to Carriers
EN’s carrier marketplace now has 16 active participants, including Principal, Aflac, Transamerica, Colonial and Mutual of Omaha. Most brokers work with 10 or more carriers. However, Rachael Setler, EN’s director for carrier operations, advised against this. She explained that strategically shortening the list of carriers would result in a better overall process for brokers. Brokers are challenged by the fact that many carriers want data keyed into their systems or provided in a carrier-specific spreadsheet format.
CTO John Crowley reported that carriers are beginning to look at API (application programming interface) technology as a method to transmit data. (Humana and Anthem are currently investing in this process. Anthem stated it will move exclusively to online employer apps within the next two years.) EN’s data exchange uses the same software that an API connection would. In the future, EN believes that self-bill and data exchange will be the primary means for sending enrollment data to carriers. Competition, not innovation, will drive this.
Product Updates and Announcements
The following is a quick-hit list of what’s new or updated with the Employee Navigator platform.
- PTO– Weekends and a customizable default day length (accommodates partial daytime off requests) have been added. Also, changes made to existing policies will apply to future requests for time off.
- Onboarding – Recurring and revisioning feature allows documents to be sent throughout the year. A new option is available to dismiss all incomplete tasks.
- Security– Two-factor authentication (currently in beta) will soon be mandatory for all agencies under the broker. This will eliminate the broker’s ability to selectively determine which clients use two-factor authentication. Employee-level authentication is coming soon.
- Quick change – Allows brokers to toggle between clients. This eliminates the need to return to the broker home page to switch to another client view.
- Reporting – A dashboard was added to allow the employer to assign each enrollment. Brokers can also create fliers when creating reports.
- Notifications– HR admin users can receive email notifications or “digests” for upcoming events. This includes their assigned employees’ time-off requests, birthdays and work anniversaries.
Beginning in July, new updates to the enrollment user interface will be functional. Among them:
- Through a progress bar, employees will be able to track their enrollment progress.
- Informational/instructional videos can be added to enhance the employee user experience.
- Evidence of insurability (EOI)/beneficiary forms will appear after the applicable benefits.
- When employees enroll in benefits with contingency plans, those plans will now appear sequentially. For example, if an employer offers an HSA plan for employees enrolled in an HDHP, the HSA plan will appear immediately after the medical HDHP election. Similarly, for HMO plans that require PCP ID, the request for PCP ID will appear immediately after the election of an HMO plan.
- Employees who do not complete enrollment will see a list of outstanding items.
- The “agree” button on the enrollment form signature page will be larger.
- Through the “manage employee” dashboard the employer can send bulk welcome emails to new hires or to those not yet registered.
The Mobile App Will Be “Sun-Setted” Although Mobile Enrollments Are Up
Employee Navigator reported a 5 to 6 percent increase in mobile enrollments compared to last year and they expect the trend to continue. However, EN is sun-setting its mobile app, relying instead on its mobile-friendly, responsive website. This gives employees the same functionality that they have through their desktop, e.g., time-off requests, via their mobile devices. This strategy ensures more timely updates of new features.
What the GDPR Means for U.S. Companies
Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect May 25, regulating data protection and privacy within the European Union. It also applies to foreign companies that conduct business in the EU, making them subject to the requirements of the GDPR. The law is highly complex in its own right, but there are potential conflicts with existing U.S. laws, e.g., GDPR’s protected right of individuals to remove their data for purposes of privacy versus U.S. employer obligations to retain data for audit/compliance purposes.
Case law will eventually sort this out, but in the meantime, many companies will be caught off guard without a GDPR compliance strategy. Because of this, BTR recommends brokers talk to their clients about GDPR to make sure it’s on their radar and encourage them to consult with legal counsel about specific compliance issues. Furthermore, employers should also ask each of their HR technology providers about their GDPR compliance strategy.
Broker Panel Offers Tips for Selling
Kyle Reese, EN’s director of business development, moderated a panel of brokers who shared their best practices for selling HR technology —including Employee Navigator. Among the best takeaways we heard:
- Have a broker dedicated to EN to introduce the platform to clients.
- Lead with what you offer and use a generic demo site; one broker reported their demo site has 966 processes. Demos uncover a lot of client issues that open the door for demonstrating the value of the platform.
- Focus on the strategy of implementation and potential for positive impact on the client.
- Lead with the platform as a compliance tool.
- Offer two paths: one using EN and one without EN where the client manages eligibility/compliance themselves.
Are Brokers Leaving Money on the Table?
EN’s George Reese wondered if the broker community is reluctant to suggest change and improve efficiencies with clients. He encouraged brokers to stop viewing benefits strictly as insurance. Instead, brokers should consider the importance of employee retention and the role benefits/technology can play. As Reese says, “You are in a technology industry surrounded by an antiquated insurance industry.” Therefore, to thrive in today’s market, brokers need to think like they’re a technology business.
BTR Team Member Featured on Employee Navigator Panel
We couldn’t end our recap without a shout out to our own Corrina D‘Elia. D’Elia, our HR technology analyst, participated on a panel focused on implementation best practices. Drawing from more than six years in the industry and in-depth knowledge of benefits administration, ACA compliance, and strong client service skills, she shared her implementation expertise and insights with EN conference attendees.
The 2018 Employee Navigator Conference was very product-focused. This gave our team members important information for you and your clients who use the EN platform (or are considering a change). As a result, our team returned with insights relevant to the broader industry and its challenges and opportunities for benefit advisers and their clients. No matter your client’s needs, our independent team of HR technology consultants can work with you and your clients to help determine the best system to meet those needs.