Before I landed at ClaimVantage, I worked in the insurance industry for over 15 years, selling employee benefits (group insurance) to employers of all types and sizes. It was a great way to learn about a variety of industries, from Health Care, Manufacturing, and Wholesale/Retail Trade employers to technology-oriented organizations, professional services of all kinds, and even public-sector groups, too.
Over time I’ve learned that each industry vertical is unique. For instance, hospitals operate very differently than law firms, of course, but they also have some things in common culturally: Both industries tend to have employers that are often quite “paternal” about employee benefits. Paternal employers tend to emphasize benefit education and employee communication. Their approach is usually not a take-it-or-leave-it style; they want employees to understand the value of the benefits package being offered and further, that the employer cares about them.
On the other hand, it’s not unfair to say that Manufacturing or Transportation organizations are more likely to be matter-of-fact in their employee communication styles as well as in their employment policies in general. Many companies in these segments make insurance decisions through risk management rather than human resources. In many ways, employee contributions in these industries are more easily quantified, leading to a metric-oriented culture. It is what it is, as they say. Yes, these are generalizations, and there are always exceptions to the rule, but one tends to notice these similarities after a while.
But one thing that HR leaders from all industries have in common is that they are notoriously interested in what their industry peers are doing. You can be sure that if Cogswell’s Cogs begins to offer Paid Paternal Leave, Spacely’s Sprockets won’t be far behind. Why so nosy? Because all employers are bottom-line driven; They are not providing benefits because it’s a nice thing to do – it is HR’s job to attract and retain the best employees. And employers compete with each other for talent just as they do for customers. That’s the business case for offering employee benefits and other types of non-cash compensation and perks.
As my sales career has evolved, I’ve gone from dealing with employers with less than 500 employees to National Accounts, where companies with 5,000+ workers are the norm. These groups are so large that they often self-insure many of their insurance coverages, and soon terms like “benefits administration,” “workflow” and “benchmarking” become a regular part of your vocabulary. Institutional curiosity is still rampant, certainly, and big companies still want to know how their results stack up against their peer’s data.
Many large companies – as well as their insurers and administrators – closely track benefits utilization, absence incidence and the duration of all types of leaves and disabilities, and make year-over-year comparisons with themselves as well as industry norms. Deciphering these trends and providing predictive modeling for the year to come is what Analytics is all about.
I often joke that I did not go to sleep as a kid dreaming about Absence Management, but I do find the Analytics and Reporting of this business hugely interesting. Yes, my inner nerd emerges sometimes, and I have plenty of kindred spirits in the software business, just as I did in the insurance industry. (Writing code is just as thrilling as building morbidity tables.)
So, after working for a technology-driven company for a while, the evolution of my observations of jumbo employers and industry verticals continues as my enjoyment of Analytics remains:
- As it turns out, the largest employers – those over 20,000 lives – actually have more in common with each other than they do with their industry peers. The fact that they are large organizations binds them more than their SIC code might. ClaimVantage has sponsored a study in this area, and we’ll be presenting our findings over the coming year through various conferences, webinars, and articles.
- There is no aggregate data available for benchmarking absence-oriented employer results for companies that are self-administered (not to be confused with those that are self-insured!).
Many of us enjoy benchmarking tools such as those offered by IBI because there are lots of ways to slice and dice the data for comparative purposes. But remember, the context is FML, Disability and Workers Comp data provided by third-party administrators. To my knowledge, there is no repository of absence-oriented data for employers that manage leaves, and often disabilities, in-house.
It’s true, many insurers and TPAs use ClaimVantage software to provide absence-and claims-management services to their customers. But we also have employers and prospective customers whose interest in our AbsenceDirect and Integrated solutions includes a hyper-focus on efficiency and administrative automation. Is it possible that an employer could out-perform the claims-handling professionals in certain metrics? The answer is YES!
Cloud-based absence management systems easily allow integration with HRIS systems like payroll, which makes administrative coordination a breeze. There’s no retroactive “true-up” necessary after pay-cycles or an employee’s return to work. Thus, the workflow of concurrent administrative processes happen effortlessly, decisions are made more quickly, and claims-turnaround becomes an impressive metric.