23% of survey participants told us that they don’t feel their benefits that they are offered address all of their needs. So that obviously matters on a scale of 1 to 10. On how important benefits are there when considering a job, ten being extremely important and one being obviously less important. We had saw a mean score of 9.11 or 9 and 11/10. So you know, obviously it’s critically important. But then you also have that contrast with the survey participants saying that they don’t feel like the benefits that they’re offering are actually addressing their needs.
Episode 413: Educating Employees on the Value of HSAs With Lisa Goldkamp, SVP Health & Benefits With WEX
Welcome to the Workology Podcast, a podcast for the disruptive workplace leader. Join host Jessica Miller-Merrell, founder of Workology.com as she sits down and gets to the bottom of trends, tools, and case studies for the business leader, HR, and recruiting professional who is tired of the status quo. Now here’s Jessica with this episode of Workology.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:01:07.49] It is benefit selection season. I know you’re excited, and you’re also probably overwhelmed with employee and dependent questions about health and benefit plans. And maybe you’re really thinking about how to drive engagement, education, and ultimately adoption and selection of your existing benefit programs. I have found that employees just don’t know about things like HSAs, 401Ks, and all those other benefit plan programs. My guest today is going to shed some light on all these things with a deep dive into HSAs in honor of their 20th anniversary. So welcome to the Workology Podcast. It’s sponsored by Ace The HR Exam and Upskill HR.. These are two courses that we offer here at Workology for certification prep and recertification for human resources leaders. Before I introduce our guest, I do want to hear from you. Head on over to my Instagram. It’s @jmillermerrell. Select the photo of me with the podcast like headset and microphone and put the word “PODCAST” in the comments. You can leave me a comment, connect with me there, and make suggestions for future guests. This is going to get you access to information to connect with me. We’re using Instagram in a new and exciting way. Today I’m joined by Lisa Goldkamp, Senior Vice President of Health and benefits for WEX, the global commerce platform that simplifies the business of running a business. An internship at a company that provided IT training to corporate employees was the first step in Lisa Goldkamp’s career path. Her potential was quickly realized, leading to a permanent role managing a team of 15 employees in operations. From there, a combination of hard work and a willingness to embrace change and new experiences has opened up some really cool doors for Goldkamp, leading her to an almost 20-year career in technology and employee benefits, including her current role as the SVP and General Manager of Health and Benefits at WEX. Lisa, welcome to the Workology Podcast.
Lisa Goldkamp: [00:03:16.25] Oh, thank you. Thank you so much for having me today for this important conversation. I appreciate it.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:03:22.07] Absolutely. Tell me a little bit about your background and then your current role at WEX.
Lisa Goldkamp: [00:03:27.32] Absolutely. So let me talk about WEX first. WEX is a global fintech company, and we’re focused on B2B payments with the purpose of simplifying the business of running a business. Um, we developed software and solutions that business leaders can use to run their back-end processes. But the work that I do is specifically focused on the benefits space. So in the area that I work in, we are helping employers, employees, and partners across the country. They’re leveraging our solutions, our technology, to manage the administration of some of their health benefits. So to credential us a little to understand what that actually means and the significance that we play in the market, that includes approximately 19.9 million benefit accounts, um, including providing benefits to an estimated 60% of Fortune 1000 companies nationwide. We are we’re powering approximately 7.5 million HSAs within that 19.9 million accounts. And what we’re doing is not only are we creating the technology for these benefits, we issue benefit cards so that employees and other plan participants can easily spend funds for the multiple benefits on a single debit card. WEX, we are actually the fifth largest HSA custodian in the market can according to the Devenir mid-year report. So that’s about WEX. Um, about me. You know, you mentioned in your introduction that my professional path to WEX was a bit unconventional. I started as an intern at an IT training company, which really sparked my love for technology and how technology can help people be more efficient and more effective. And I’m really proud to have landed at a tech company with such deep expertise in employee benefits. You know, at the end of the day, benefits are really confusing. They’re really intimidating, and we’re building tools to help simplify the benefits administration process as well as the benefits consumption process. So the people that are listening, I’m sure they know their employees sometimes find that these benefits are really, really tough to, to process and consume and understand. And we’re trying to help make that easier.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:05:55.32] First of all, that’s a lot of HSAs to be a custodian of and employees. Uh, chances are they have worked with WEX in some capacity. However, they might not necessarily have known that they were interfacing with you, which is really exciting. You’re like the secret superhero of like, health care and benefit or health and benefits, which is, uh, good and bad, right? Uh, people don’t know that you’re the technology that’s powering all the things. Um, but they just know that it’s running the way it should be. And employees are hopefully getting this, the resources they need.
Lisa Goldkamp: [00:06:33.54] That’s absolutely right. That’s a good way to describe it. Because even if, uh, someone that’s listening hasn’t really worked with WEX before, they might not think they worked with WEX before. There’s a really strong likelihood that some of their benefit accounts, or maybe enrollment capabilities that they’ve utilized for their employees in the past, were powered by WEX technology, because we do work with a vast number of partners that are out there using their tech, our technology, under their own brand, so we can sometimes be sort of secretly powering some of these, uh, these accounts behind the scenes. So we’re really passionate about educating the market and, uh, you know, employees on, on the benefits that they can personally provide them.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:07:18.30] For the record, I also think that HR professionals are the secret superheroes of the business because we’re often the ones who are kind of directing or trying to assist behind the scenes. And we don’t always get the credit for the work that we’ve done.
Lisa Goldkamp: [00:07:31.38] I think that’s absolutely true. We know that to be true. I would say in my long career working in this space, it’s, it’s a tough job, and trying to innovate and bring value and things that are meaningful, um, and just seeing the evolution over that period of time, uh, agree that there’s those superheroes out there.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:07:51.84] Financial products can be really challenging to understand. Lisa, how do you ensure that the open enrollment period cupports customers and businesses to make the most of their benefits?
Lisa Goldkamp: [00:08:04.53] Well, this is something we spend a lot of time thinking about. So I mentioned earlier, I’m really proud to be working for a technology company in the employee benefits space, and that’s one of the things that we are really focused on as a tech leader is how do we take the the individuals that we’re serving, that 19.9 million benefit account holders, they’re leveraging our software as a service technology, where they go in and log in and manage their benefits. And what we’re trying to do is help design solutions that help the employees and other plan participants make the next best decision related to their benefits. So, you know, in addition to embracing the tech, we think that there are other ideas that HR professionals can use to educate employees on the value of HSAs or just benefits generally. But I’ll tell you, the technology tie in and what we spend so much time thinking about is that next best decision and how we can power that through some of the technology. But outside of tech, you know, some of the tips that we have is simplifying messaging. So we’ve talked about how things can be confusing related to benefits. We think that HR professionals, you know, that are making a concerted effort to simplify language using communications that are going to employees will help them to more easily understand the options and then also make informed decisions.
Lisa Goldkamp: [00:09:34.50] So, instead of using acronyms, of course, we’re talking about HSAs, health savings accounts. So I’m violating this. How do you simplify and use less acronyms? Less technical terms? Use stories and simple and simple language to help people visualize how it will help that person to understand their benefits better. So I think that’s where a story really makes a huge difference. The other thing is increasing communication. So a lot of times people are only thinking about their benefits really significantly in the choices that they’re making during that open enrollment period. And I think a lot of employers and HR professionals are obviously focused on that period of time as a key time that they should be communicating. But we feel that increasing communication from a year round perspective really helps people, not only to keep up to date and informed. It helps to, you know, lower the overwhelm associated with the benefits that are there. You also don’t know when a story is going to resonate. And so maybe it’s not in that two week open enrollment period that you’re going to make an impact on an individual related to the benefits, even though an individual might not be able to change their benefit selection during that non open enrollment period, it’s a good time to hit them about topics that could be meaningful to them, so they can start thinking about it early.
Lisa Goldkamp: [00:11:04.32] We also think that a multi-channel approach is really important. So email handouts, blog posts, videos, people consume information in different ways, and you want to make sure that you, again, don’t overwhelm them by using one modality too much, but sort of trickling that over time as well. And we talked about simplifying messaging, but speaking the language of the employees is really important. So it’s vital when we’re effectively communicating that we meet the audience where they are and that we’re using language that they understand. So a lot of the terms in the employee benefit space are not commonly known. These are HR professionals listening. These are things that they know in and out every day of the week. But for an individual employee, it might not be as easy to understand. You know, when I’m talking about HSAs to someone, I don’t want to start with the tax code rules as an entry point in order to try to promote why those are going to be beneficial. So it’s interesting, we’ve actually been tested messaging, and we know that some of those things, even though it’s compelling, when you start telling stories about the money that someone can save, it just really is hard for people to to grasp on and personalize that to the everyday situations that they’re experiencing.
Lisa Goldkamp: [00:12:32.22] So we think not only, you know, speaking the language and using common terms, make sure that if there are things that will require using terminology that might not be as familiar, that you acknowledge that those are terms that might not be known, make sure that you explain what they mean up front or link to resources as needed. And then we also you want to provide incentives. So personalized benefits um, and online tools to help individuals understand their options. You want to offer rewards for completing certain activities or even for attending benefits education sessions. So how do you incentivize people to take the time and learn a little bit more about the options that are available? And then tying back to where we started, which was with technology, increasing convenience is really important. And that’s something, again, that as a technology provider and a technology innovator, we’re always looking to our tools like our online portals and our mobile apps and digital resources that are available. What can we do to help make employees access information, um, and the access to the benefits that they have and education easier? Um, so that not only that they participate in those benefits and opt in to using them, but they better understand how they can make an impact on their day to day well-being.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:14:04.20] I think it’s so important for the communication to be consistent over time, like you’re saying, at these different intervals, because, you know, you have new hires coming through who are going to have lots of benefit questions. We have different qualifying events that are coming along, and you also have spouses or partners who are involved in these benefits conversations, and they have access to the information and the resources that they need to be able to collectively make a decision differently. So putting these in different ways, in different places over time helps to allow people, uh, it’s like marinating. Like they need time to let it sit and for them to be able to ask questions and maybe research more before they dive into annual benefit enrollment or new hire benefits, whatever it is, or that, that qualifying event. So I appreciate all these things. HR people are really marketers. They don’t know what they are.
Lisa Goldkamp: [00:15:00.21] They are. And it’s it is interesting how, um, the marketing component is so important. Choosing your words. The way that you present something makes such a difference in, in terms of how people are, how that will resonate with individuals. And then I also think kind of that power of that personal story is important. Now, you know, my goal is that we don’t have to educate consumers and employees one individual at a time. But I’m not above that. I would say this morning, my brother-in-law called me and was asking me questions about HSAs as part of his open enrollment, uh, you know, period. And although I’m glad to provide personal guidance and education along the way, it’s how do you create that snowball effect? And even within the employee base is that our HR professionals serve. How do you help to make those connections? And then how do you use those stories? So kind of that water cooler conversation that someone has with each other that talks about, oh gosh, you know, my son broke his arm and but it was great because even though it was a big medical expense, my I had my HSA dollars. And so I didn’t have to worry about having this unexpected expense. I already had money that was, um, set aside for, you know, the unfortunate occurrence of them, you know, falling off the jungle gym or something like that. How do you capture those stories that you’re hearing from the employees and then make that something that the masses, that other employees that might have similar stories and be like, oh, that connects for me. I have a child getting braces or I have glasses that I need to buy every year, and those are expenses that right now I’m paying out of pocket for. I think that’s really, really important.
Break: [00:16:51.48] Let’s take a reset. This is Jessica Miller-Merrell, and you’re listening to the Workology Podcast sponsored by Ace The HR Exam and Upskill HR.. Today I am chatting with Lisa Goldkamp, Senior Vice President of Health and Benefits at WEX. Before we get back to the interview, head on over to my Instagram. It’s @jmillermerrell. I want you to find the photo. It’ll be right at the top of me with my podcast mic and earphones here. And leave a comment. Leave a comment with the word “PODCAST” on it. And this is going to trigger some really cool automation so that you can let me know about the type of guests, the type of content, and just information relating to the podcast. I want to hear your suggestions and really just insights on how we can make this podcast better. So head on over to Instagram.
Break: [00:17:43.86] Personal and professional development is essential for successful HR leaders. Join Upskill HR to access live training community and over 100 on-demand courses for the dynamic leader. HR recert credits available. Visit UpskillHR.com for more.
AI and Employee Benefits
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:17:59.61] I want to talk about artificial intelligence because I feel that’s like that’s what everybody’s talking about AI and technology and how you’re using them at WEX. Because I feel like we talk about how they’re being used in a lot of other places of HR technology, but what about employee benefits and the work that you do at WEX?
Lisa Goldkamp: [00:18:18.81] I love it. We think about AI a lot all the time, particularly as a tool for innovation, and it’s an area that we’ve, we’re investing a lot and really looking at creative ways that we can help, you know, the individuals that we serve in the market, whether it’s an employee and employer or a partner of ours, we’re looking for ways that we can innovate through AI. Um, like everything, there’s great opportunity, there’s risks. AI has real risks. But we feel like product innovation with AI, when coupled with responsible governance, allows us to balance the risk and the opportunity to innovate and provide new or better tools, particularly for employers and employees. You know, one of the exciting innovations that we’ve seen here at WEX is something we call Consumer Pathways, which is powered partially by AI. And what this does is it takes a look. We’ve talked about HSAs today and how there’s different ways that people can use their HSA. You know, not only are we trying to educate people about HSAs specifically, but when you look at an HSA account holder and why an HSA is important to them, there are multiple different profiles. For those that are more familiar with HSAs, they may have heard of something called a saver or a spender in the past, but it’s much, much more nuanced than that.
Lisa Goldkamp: [00:19:47.91] We see, um, multiple different profiles and we actually have different things that we refer to them as. But we’ve heard about investors. We’ve heard about someone that would be more of a spender. But the nuances around how someone is using their account, why they’re using their account, and how their needs evolve over time is really important. So when we think about the employee life cycle of someone from the time that they’re hired to the time that they’re retired, their needs of how they interact with these accounts really shift during time. And we’re using consumer pathways to help them make those next best decisions. And essentially, we’re hitting them with specific messaging and tools and prompting them to help remind them of ways. There are certain points in life where you might want to contribute more to your HSA, because you’re starting to think about that retirement component. There’s times that you might want to spend more because you’ve got those expenses. And so we’ve seen AI as a really, really important way, um, to help people from that perspective. The other thing that we look at through our solutions that are related to enrollment capabilities, because we have tools related to that, is just decision support. So how do we use AI to help people make better decisions? Again, on the benefits that they’re selecting.
Lisa Goldkamp: [00:21:15.21] So that is really important for employees. We actually have approximately 50 AI experiments that are currently happening at WEX. Um, so the decision-making using the data-driven analytics and recommendations are a really, really big one. We like to use that data to provide insights on behavior and preferences. And then overall, um, I would say ultimately a huge driver of that work is improving customer and consumer engagement. Um, we also think that AI can be used to improve the customer experience with those personalized recommendations and also support. So chatbots. I know chatbots doesn’t sound like oh wow, that’s a really engaging thing, but it is amazing how having that instant customer support that’s using language that an individual can relate to at the point in time that they need it, um, can provide those personalized recommendations. So the key is making sure that you’re balancing, again, that AI usage with a really good, um, consumer engagement strategy. And we’ll continue to innovate with AI. We’ll be thoughtful about issues related to bias and transparency and privacy and compliance. But we think that leveraging, um, the really great parts about AI, while protecting from the downsides, is critically important to making sure that we get relevant solutions that actually help, uh, the individuals that we serve.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:22:48.76] How exciting. All the different ways. Uh, 50 different, like testing programs. Uh, I think it’s it’s amazing. Most HR people, I think, are in agreement that artificial intelligence used inside of the work that we do can definitely benefit the employee experience, the customer experience, and certainly like our jobs in terms of how we support, uh, our organizations and our employees. So it’s really cool to hear some ways that y’all are using it in kind of, uh, your kind of corner of the world, uh, and, uh, maybe some ways that we didn’t even consider or think about. Last question for you, what is the most important thing for employees to consider when planning educational programs for employee benefits?
Lisa Goldkamp: [00:23:37.96] Yeah. Great question. In talking with HR professionals, we really think about this in two phases. So we think about the benefits plan design as one phase and then the benefits plan deployment as another phase. So when we think about benefits plan design, 23% of survey participants told us that they don’t feel their benefits that they are offered address all of their needs. So that obviously matters on a scale of 1 to 10. On how important benefits are there when considering a job, ten being extremely important and one being obviously less important. We had saw a mean score of 9.11 or 9 and 11/10. So you know, obviously it’s critically important. But then you also have that contrast with the survey participants saying that they don’t feel like the benefits that they’re offering are actually addressing their needs. So, you know, one of the common threads in the responses as to what was missing is that they want benefits that have more deductible options. They want more HSA or FSA, which are flexible spending account options. They want dental and vision coverage options, increased wellness benefits, and other ideas that come up through, through these conversations are flexible work arrangements, professional development, financial wellness programs, etc. you know, once a plan is designed and again, you want to take these insights and try to continue to augment your plans, um, is there ready to be deployed? And HR professionals, you know, we want to go back to some of those things that we talked about earlier, communicating clearly and continuously in a personalized manner.
Lisa Goldkamp: [00:25:27.46] Seek employee feedback and involvement. Using technology, obviously, I feel very passionately about this, to streamline the benefits enrollment process. Um, and the benefit selection process. Offer incentives for enrolling in wellness programs. The flexibility and benefits options is really important. And then again, we’re always reviewing periodically and adjusting the plans to fit the needs of your employees. So it’s a continuous evolution of, of what you’re presenting. You know, it’s funny because you were just asking about AI. And when we were discussing this question the other day, um, with AI-powered benefit assistants available to help employees and others make the most informed open enrollment decisions based on lifestyle and demographic information information, might we start to see employees with foolproof benefit packages. That’s probably a real stretch in the minds of where we are today to some of the HR professionals out there. But imagine a world where that’s the case, where we’re, we’re using all of this data and all of these tools and the technology that we have available to help connect the dots for people.
Lisa Goldkamp: [00:26:43.39] So, you know, I think a lot of HR professionals that we talk to are frustrated because that disparity that you see, if 23% of the people are saying they’re not getting the benefits or being offered the benefits that they need. And, um, but it’s incredibly important to them. I know HR professionals get frustrated because they say we are offering benefits that actually help these people. They just don’t understand them. So there’s some really interesting, um, opportunities there. And, you know, will employees be able to completely optimize the value of their benefits and protect their well-being and their financial security? It’s just really interesting to think about what AI can do in the realm of employee benefits. Um, but until that time comes, when we have a foolproof benefits, you know, the onus will continue to be on companies like WEX to partner with HR professionals to help them design and deploy plans that are responsive to the needs of their diverse workforce. We want to help have solutions that will attract the right talent and also help to ensure that the employees are just, well overall across all of these areas that we’ve been talking about.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:27:55.57] Well, Lisa, thank you so much for your time and sharing your expertise, answering all our benefits questions. Where can people go connect to connect with you and learn more about what you’re doing at WEX?
Lisa Goldkamp: [00:28:09.37] Absolutely. So to learn more about WEX, our our website is www.wexinc.com. It’s wexinc.com. Um and then my name is Lisa Goldkamp and it’s Goldkamp with a k. And you can find me on LinkedIn. You know, again I hope I don’t have to educate one consumer at a time on HSAs 20 years later. But I’m not above that. I am really excited about educating people, and so I encourage people to reach out and start a dialogue and we’re really excited to help.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:28:45.61] Awesome. Well, thank you so much again. We’ll link to the WEX website, your LinkedIn profile, some additional resources that people need more support, which we do, um, just to help continue our kind of I guess it’s a crusade in a way, a friendly crusade of education and resources for HR and our the employees that that we support. So thank you again so much.
Lisa Goldkamp: [00:29:11.62] Yeah. Thank you. We know there’s such a heavy load on HR professionals. So we really want to try to lighten that load. Thank you so much for having me.
Closing: [00:29:19.42] Total rewards is such an important factor in really everything we do our employment, branding, the employee value proposition and our ability to attract and retain our talent. We can offer our employees more, including things around financial health, I think is really crucial to being competitive in our current talent marketplace and future talent marketplace as the economy changes. I appreciate Lisa taking her time to share her experience with us today. Before we close, I want to thank you for listening and tuning in to the Workology Podcast. I’d love to get your insights head on over to Instagram. It’s @jmillermerrell. It’s my account. Look for the photo of me with the headphones and the microphone for the podcast. Leave a comment with the word “PODCAST” and you can let me know there through direct message any ideas or suggestions about future episodes? I would love to hear from you! Thank you so much for tuning in to the Workology podcast. It is sponsored by Ace The HR Exam and Upskill HR. two courses that we offer for HR certification and recertification. This podcast is for the disruptive workplace leader who’s tired of the status quo. My name is Jessica Miller-Merrell. Thank you for listening or watching. You can visit Workology.com to listen to all our more than 400 episodes of previous Workology Podcast episodes. Have a great day!
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