- A group of more than 20 U.S. employers will collaborate with the National Business Group on Health (NBGH) in launching the Leadership Forum on Employee Experience, the group announced in a statement Wednesday. The initiative aims to help employers improve employee engagement and experience with respect to employer-sponsored health and well-being benefits.
- The forum is composed of NBGH member organizations, all of them national employers, Ellen Kelsay, chief strategy officer at NBGH, wrote in an email to HR Dive. Kelsay confirmed the name of one employer that had signed on to the initiative: AmeriGas.
- Additional "health industry partners" signing onto the initiative include consultants, data aggregators, health companies and healthcare aggregators, according to Kelsay. One of these partners, ROC Group, has been confirmed as being part of the initiative.
"Employer-based care is broken," author and surgeon Atul Gawande said shortly after being named the CEO of a nonprofit healthcare organization backed by Amazon, JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway, summing up the general concerns of those observing movements within the healthcare system. The significance of the topic extends beyond HR, with an estimated 55.7% of Americans receiving employer-based health insurance coverage for at least some or part of the year, according to 2016 figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Gawande spoke specifically to frustrations with insurance on a broader scale, noting gaps in coverage as workers move in and out of jobs — a growing problem as contingent work arrangements scale — but a more immediate concern on the employer side is value. Executives are primarily concerned about the value of their benefits investments and whether workers are actually receiving quality care. And it's apparently for this reason that NBGH's newest initiative is being created.
"Employee engagement is a major concern for large employers and understanding how to best use their benefits is complicated for many employees," Kelsay said in a statement. "That's the primary reason we are developing this group." Vendor research seems to support engagement concerns; a 2018 study from Castlight found that most health and well-being programs aren't meeting worker expectations. Insurer Aflac found in a 2017 study that fewer than 25% of workers could correctly answer questions about basic healthcare terms (deductibles, copays, etc.) despite having high self-reported confidence about understanding their benefits options.
Benefits delivery is as much about education and communication as it is providing the right options, experts have previously told HR Dive. There are a multitude of tech solutions out there for plan sponsors to choose from, primarily app-based and virtual assistance solutions, but HR must take the unique qualities of its employee population into account when evaluating those choices. It's these types of administrative issues that NBGH's initiative might eventually help employers address.
"We envision best practice guides, employers and stakeholders learning from one other, avenues to optimize within the current state as well as pilot programs and other opportunities for employers to engage to address the gaps in the market relative to engagement and employee/consumer experience," Kelsay told HR Dive.
Correction: In a previous version of this article, ROC Group was misidentified as an employer in the initiative. The story has been updated to reflect ROC Group's status as a health industry partner in the initiative.