in the Orange County, Calif., office of Minneapolis-based
broker Hays Companies is used to wearing two hats when dealing
She helps clients
determine the best resource for addressing their benefits
and administrative needs, but her input often is much more
meaningful. She actually uses the suggested tools, practicing
what she preaches.
Employease, the leading provider of on-demand HR and benefits
administration solutions, and she advises how to best use
the system as more employers move to the operational efficiencies
of a paperless environment. "Employease is a flexible and
easily accessible resource that Hays uses to address specific
clients' needs," she says, "and because it works so well,
we use it ourselves."
duty is aimed at meeting changing expectations as brokers
move from a procurement role to one of strategic partner
and advisor in an increasingly competitive business climate.
Mindful of this trend, Hays hires more professionals with
well-rounded HR skills and experience to offer a higher
level of administrative assistance and consultation on resources
and best practices.
vice president of business development at Employease and
the firm's co-founder, is well aware that "the world has
changed a lot for HR and benefits professionals over the
past five years." Serving as a backdrop: corporate directives
to accomplish more tasks with fewer staff, greater scrutiny
from senior management to deliver results, an increasingly
complex regulatory environment and skyrocketing health care
As a result,
he notes that insurance brokers are being asked to do more
than ever before across the entire employee benefits spectrum.
Popular requests now involve assistance with managing benefits
administration and finding the right technology systems
so that HR departments can accomplish more with less.
can provide the right answers and great service are able
to protect and grow their business," Seckler believes.
LeBlanc joined AES Corporation in Arlington, Va., as practice
leader for compensation and benefits last July, he faced
a monumental task: find a service provider capable of implementing
the leading independent power company's first company-wide
online open enrollment for 2,800 employees in just 45 days.
And he'd have to do it on the heels of a corporate directive
of consolidating 61 group health plans into five options
referred to Employease by a major third-party administrator,
LeBlanc and his staff were able to fulfill a major company
initiative and direct resources to improving business processes
and the quality of benefits offered to their workforce.
HR now plays a critical advisory role to 120 businesses
for which AES serves as a holding company, charting a clearer
path on a host of complex issues as the company expands.
With 40 power
generation plants in the U.S., AES employs a number of workers
who do not have access to computers at work. No doubt, there
was serious concern about how many people would enroll online.
But enrollment participants enthusiastically embraced the
process and found it easy to use. LeBlanc was pleasantly
surprised to see 100% participation by the deadline date.
"That was great because we had no buffer this time," he
It's a phenomenon
Employease has seen repeated across a number of industries
and employee populations, often to the amazement of the
HR departments and their brokers.
on the strategic
the experience of Atrium Companies, Inc. in Dallas, the
largest manufacturer of aluminum and vinyl window and patio
doors in the United States.
The firm grew
from 900 to 5,600 employees across 40 locations following
a series of acquisitions in six years. After Atrium's broker
recommended Employease, benefits administration chores were
gladly handed over. In the first month of providing services,
Employease handled 599 e-mails, 501 enrollments and 239
"We would need
four or five additional full-time benefits professionals
to handle the workload Employease manages," explains D.
"Gus" Agostinelli, Sr., Atrium's senior vice president of
human resources. His staff is now free to focus on strategic
projects such as lowering benefit costs, consolidating insurance
carriers and improving employee communication.
that his company's innovative mix of Web-based solutions
and outsourcing options "gives employers the power to choose
the right mix of internal automation and external outsourcing
to meet their unique needs."
Web-based solutions also enable brokers to have client approved,
real time access to employee demographic and benefits information.
This helps brokers establish closer ties to clients as a
strategic partner, which Seckler says is key to retaining
former managing editor of Employee Benefit News,
is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.