Got a benefits headache? We can help! This August, we had the pleasure of guest starring on Talent Culture's weekly podcast hosted by Meghan Biro. Our CEO, Rachel Lyubovitzky joined to speak about ways to attract and retain employees and how technology can solve some of your top HR headaches.
Listen to the podcast, or read the transcript below.
Megan: Today's guest is Rachel Lyubovitzky; she’s the CEO of EverythingBenefits, where she’s working on solving some of the biggest benefits headaches that businesses face. Welcome to the show Rachel!
Rachel: Thanks Megan, it’s great to be here!
Megan: So happy you are solving these headaches for us. I know so many of us are grappling with this.
Rachel: Thank you. It has been a very exciting journey, and our clients and their stories have really made it tangible for us and inspired us to keep raising the bar.
Megan: So tell us Rachel more about yourself and how you got into benefits tech.
Rachel: Sure. As long as I can remember, I was always fascinated by technology. My co-founders and I share the same passion. About 4 years ago, we started looking into benefits space which is really a dinosaur in so many ways when you think about technology. At first, we couldn’t believe just how much and what happens behind the scenes is manual. Benefits impacts everyone of us and it just isn’t right that it’s so behind and so we wanted to change that - and it was really an incredibly exciting challenge. And so here we are, 3 years later and we’re so excited with what we have created.
Megan: Good for you. I know how much work that takes. So tell us a little bit more about yourself, where you currently live; we’re curious to know. I know so many of us are all over, literally globally these days.
Rachel: I live in Long Hill, NJ with my husband and two daughters and our Golden Doodle, Dina. Long Hill is about a half hour ride to the Big Apple, so we get to enjoy the beautiful suburbs of the Garden State and yet we are close enough to the city.
Megan: Nice! I know that area well. So tell us where is EverythingBenefits team based?
Rachel: Our headquarters are just a few miles down the road in New Providence, NJ. The majority of our team is based out there. We’re also fortunate to start picking up some incredible talent all around the country.
Megan: Very nice. Do you have another division as well?
Rachel: Yes, we also have a European division because benefits is something that affects all of us. That message resonates with many different audiences and it does help to drive more dedicated individuals to help join us on our mission.
Megan: I can safely say that I think people from all over the world are struggling with this. I don’t care where you are or what country you’re in, it’s always been a headache. And I think having the technology to solve some of that is really, really helpful. You know speaking of problems and headaches and all those things that we’re trying to work on as a community, what key problems are you trying to solve here with this tech?
Rachel: I’d say risk reduction and ease of use are our number one objectives. Benefits space is incredibly complex and ever-changing so a lot of processes are still manual and paper-based. Think about the last time you started the job, there’s still so much paperwork. So it is a headache for both HR and employees. What's worse is that it could be a lot more than a headache for an individual if there are errors in the benefit setup and it could also be a liability for an employer if there are mistakes in that manual process. So our products are really meant make benefits management seamless and risk free for everyone, and also beautiful.
Megan: This all sounds a little bit too good to be true. I’m sure there’s people in our audience and if you’re utilizing the hashtag #WorkTrends, weigh in. We’d love to hear from you about what types of headaches you might be experiencing by the way. So when we talk about this, is it possible to actually create something “beautiful?" Did I hear you once say those words? I mean is that something you see as a reality either now or in the near future?
Rachel: Oh absolutely, very much so. We’ve made great strides over the past three years. The first challenge was really streamlining the communications between the providers of the benefits products and services and the ultimate consumers of those businesses and individuals. Once we got those talking to each other, that became a lot more fun figuring out the best ways for them to engage with one another and to have a great experience doing it.
Megan: So let’s talk a little bit about compliance. And I’m sure everyone out there knew I was getting to this. The sexy word "compliance", right? COBRA sounds awful. Like what is going on with all of that? Tell us.
Rachel: Absolutely. COBRA is the ultimate anti-sexy, so let’s use COBRA compliance as an example. COBRA is the pre-internet law that helps to ensure that individuals who are part of a group plan are still able to keep their coverage when they lose it. For example, when somebody loses their job, their coverage may be terminated. Because it is a pre-internet law, the compliance relies heavily on the paper and it didn’t lend itself easily to the automation. So what we did about that was to overcome it by overturning the paradigm on its head. Technology takes the burden away from the employer and makes the compliance practical, versus reactive. So just to give you an example, the tech detects a potential compliance event and then gives the heads up to the employer versus them having to remember it. Our COBRA admin clients say that it takes them about 20 seconds to manage their COBRA compliance, and that’s exactly what we were going for. That was a little bit of our secret sauce there; creating smart systems that approach the process differently. They wrap around the business and the individual, rather than the other way.
Megan: Because everything is ultimately about the individual, us people who actually want to use it.
Megan: So what are you working on right now?
Rachel: About six months ago, we released a product called benefits reconciliation. We’re so excited about it and there is nothing like that on the market. To make a long story short, benefits recon is an automated way to check carrier invoices. It gets the benefits enrollment data to highlight any billing irregularities. Now every now and then, you hear stories about companies who missed paying a premium or enrolled in an employee in the wrong plan. Not to mention the cases where companies end up paying thousands of dollars for terminated or retired employees. There are tons of cases like that out there. It is really awful for the individuals whose coverage has been enrolled in the wrong plan, and also a huge burden on the company. So to get ahead of these issues, this is something a lot of companies now do on a spreadsheet.
Imagine having a thousand employees and think about how much data it is to compare each month. So our benefits recon makes this process completely automatic. In addition to saving time and money, it is a great tool to help companies avoid potential liability. We work with over 600 insurance companies so it has been wonderful rolling out this solution to our client ecosystem and helping new organizations along the way.
Megan: Just the word “automatic” is music to my ears and I’m sure it is for many of you out there too. So let’s talk a little bit about benefits cost. It’s a huge problem. So how do we get hear and how can employers manage these costs?
Rachel: It is definitely a problem and it’s still growing. There was just a stat that came out last week from a study that in 2019, benefits will be costing employers $15,000 per employee per year. That’s a huge expense and with low unemployment at around 4%, there is bigger competition for employees than ever before. So employees are now putting more emphasis on benefits as well. They want their student loans benefits, they want insurance and wellness benefits, and many other benefits that didn’t even exist five years ago and companies are starting to add them. The cost you need to attract and retain employees, and we just published an ebook about it and what to do about it
Megan: Very cool! Tell us a little bit more about that ebook and I have to say, I think pet insurance is the coolest thing on earth. I mean think about it. How many of us have animals at home, right?
Rachel: Absolutely. I’ll share a little bit of an interesting stat about that in the bit. But regarding our e-book, it’s called Get Your Escalating Benefits Under Control, and in it we offer five ways that companies can do that. A little bit of a spoiler alert for instance, you start with understanding and uncovering your hidden benefits costs. Are you paying benefits for employees who are no longer with your company? Are you paying family coverage when in fact you only have a single employee covered? A lot of employers will be surprised that they are. And it does sound pretty innocuous when it’s only two employees, but imagine scaling that along the larger group of employees and longer time frame that the premium linkage continues for. The book picks up what to do about revisiting the manual processes that take up time and increase your rate of risk and liability. Of course we suggest to revisit your benefits portfolio and its return on investment, for overall perspective of employee engagement and retention.
Megan: So tell us about some of these stats I’m hearing because as we mentioned earlier, everyone seems to want a pet these days. Having pet insurance is super cool. What are you learning about the data around that?
Rachel: It turns out, there are a lot of us that own a pet. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, over 30% of households own a pet, and on average there’s one dog or two cats per household so that's something on top of a lot of people’s minds, how are they going to take care of them as they get older? And so it is likely something that more employers become cautious of when offering support for.
Megan: Yea, I’m starting to see more and more of that. That’s really important and exciting. Of course not every brand is going to choose to do so but the numbers are adding up. I think it’s really interesting. So tell us, what are some of your predictions for the future about employee benefits?
Rachel: We’re definitely going to see increased prominence of benefits as the key differentiator used by employers to attract and retain talent. That might mean more flex work schedule, and remote work capabilities, but also increasing range of the services offered; that means rich benefits portfolios that include legal services, things like pet insurance, and to issue reimbursement among others.
For example we offer tuition reimbursement to our employees and I’m proud to say that there are a good number of them that are currently in the process of getting their advanced degrees while working with us. Finally employers and employees will demand better fulfillment experience specifically for employers, easier ways to manage benefits, understand the ROI, and reduce their liability threat. So I’m hoping that ultimately, the benefits industry will catch up to the world of finance and payroll in terms of automation, user experience, and ultimately quality of the results.
Megan: I’m really curious to know, are there companies out there doing benefits right? Because all I’m thinking about is the ones who are doing it wrong, seriously.
Rachel: So there are many organizations that are putting together great packages for their employees, but very few are able to grapple with the operating costs of offering these and truly understanding the value of their offerings. So that will make it difficult for them longer term to stay ahead of the costs, as the pressure of the war on talent will continue to increase.
Megan: So how do you think government regulations is going to change things here:
Rachel: We’re going to see a lot more standards about the sharing and the storing of the health care data. For example right now, there is now way for individuals to gain access to their claims data. Wouldn’t it be great to access this information over the time of your entire medical history? That will allow you to make better decisions about your care in the future. So another item is getting more transparency about the cost of your services across multiple providers around the country. This will again give the individuals and the businesses better insights that will drive better care decisions in the future. You’re going to see a lot more standardizations around the data communications and more regulation regarding the accountability of the providers and insurance companies regarding data and the services that they provide.
Megan: For anyone who’s listening and feeling overwhelmed by benefits, give us one piece of advice for these people wondering “how do I get through all of this?”
Rachel: You can start by looking at what’s taking up a lot of your time? What is manual? Where do you spend your time? Where are the errors that creep in every now and then coming from? What’s giving you the headache? And then look at solutions for optimizing, that would be a great start. Automation is really the key to solving many of these business problems and there are many options to turn to these days.
Megan: So, who exactly in the organization should be asking these questions? I think sometimes that can be confusing.
Rachel: It really depends on the roles. So as an employee, do you have a full understanding of all the benefits that are available to you? How do they work? Do you know what to do if you have a question? How easy is it for you to make a change, for example add a spouse to the plan or add a new dependent to the plan? Now if you’re an employer, what you want is a very accurate read of your consumption and utilization trends. You can start by getting a general competitive understanding of how do your benefits stack against those offered by other employers in your area or across the industry. Take a look at who is consuming what product across the organization. If you’re spending to attract and retain, are you really giving your employees the products that they really need? And ultimately what you want to know, when you’re delivering these products, how are they affecting your employee behavior, their morale, and engagement? That will drive your ability to then attract more employees.
Megan: Alright so it’s no secret that I love to nerd out on HR tech. What other vendors in the HR tech space are you watching right now and who else is doing cool things?
Rachel: There is tremendous amount of innovation in the benefits space. We’re working on building a marketplace of the relevant benefits offerings to provide to our clients and then offer to their employees. One name that comes to mind is the HealthiestYou. They’re a telemedicine provider; it’s amazing to be able to get some of their services without having to go to the doctor. We also like HealthiestYou because they have a great app and they help our employees and our clients employees to save on the pharmacy prices, so it’s just awesome to have access to the doctor on your cell phone.
Megan: Well, it brings it to you right? It brings it home. I think it’s a great idea to have somebody listening.
Rachel: Absolutely. I think it’s a reflection of who we are as a society. We do need our answers faster and in the convenience of home, or work, or when we’re on the go.
Megan: Okay what’s next? Talking dental floss? I mean seriously, where are we going with this?
Rachel: We are actually pretty close. A company called Beam Dental is a dental insurance carrier that has a smart toothbrush. It’s kind of like a FitBit for your teeth. It is going to tell you how good of a job you are doing brushing your teeth, so I’m anticipating floss to be complaining to your toothbrush that you missed your appointment with your floss so later they are going to call your dentist and complain to schedule an extra painful cleaning session.
Megan: Weigh in WorkTrends community we’d love to hear from you on this one. Listen, you are an entrepreneur, so I know you’re a big idea person. How do you find new ideas and inspiration.
Rachel: Our clients are definitely our number one source of inspiration. They think of the most creative ways of using our tech and they come up with really cool ways of making it better. For example, the idea for our flagship product and benefits recon was inspired by our client. They had two employee that spent a week out of a month manually scrubbing multiple excel spreadsheets to identify any billing issues. Just think about it, that’s somebody’s life and it’s a whole week out of it every month. They encouraged us to come up with a better way to automate it for them and for them and for others as well.
Megan: Very cool. So listen, speaking of teams, where are your teams located right now?
Rachel: The majority of our team is based out of New Jersey. If I was to add a little bit to the comment about the brilliant ideas, a lot of those brilliant ideas are coming from them. Despite the fact that many of them are based in NJ, there’s a good number of them that are outside of the state. We have a very strong culture of integration between the teams so if somebody on the product side hears a brilliant idea from the marketing team, they will make it happen.
Megan: And do you have a favorite tool right now? I mean I know I’m grappling between three of my favorite. And some tools are starting to fall off. What’s going on in your world on that end?
Rachel: I’m curious about yours but for us, I’d say that Skype is the most frequently used of the tools by our team to connect either as individuals or groups, what about you?
Megan: Skype is still a very big one, we also use basecamp and I love it. It just keeps everyone coordinated and it kind of depends on which thread we’re talking about right, like which unit of the business. Some very cool stuff. Now you are a traveler, now what’s next for you on that front?
Rachel: So we’re heading out into the open enrollment season so it’s going to be busy travel season ahead of us. Next, we are heading out to HR Tech in Vegas in September, and then we have InsureTech and a few more shows coming up.
Megan: Nice! Well I’m excited to see you in person because I am also going to be at HR Tech, in Vegas, in September. Go figure.
Rachel: Awesome, let’s connect!
Megan: Let’s connect! Thanks for stopping by today!
Rachel: Thank you, it was a pleasure!