New Balance started out primarily as a manufacturing organization with six locations in the U.S. Each location had a representative managing its paper-based benefits program. When the company decided to go direct-to-consumer opening several retail stores, its workforce grew more geographically and demographically diverse. Its 3,100-employee workforce in the U.S. was split between manufacturing, designers, corporate functions and retail stores across the country.
As New Balance’s benefit packages became more and more sophisticated and complex, paper processes became less practical and communication more important. Employees had to access a variety of resources to get answers to their benefit questions. And benefits administrators were spending hours each week manually updating paper files for something as simple as an address change. The paper-based system was becoming less effective. New Balance’s hourly employees would inadvertently enroll in benefits as if they were full-time. It all started to add up.
An online solution would allow New Balance to operate more efficiently, but the benefits team was concerned that an online solution would mean compromising the company’s unique benefits features to meet the system’s technical specifications.
New Balance found the flexibility they were looking for with the BENEFITFOCUS® Marketplace. The configurable cloud-based platform enabled New Balance to support online enrollment for the multiple types of benefits and unique plan designs that helped their employees enjoy a certain quality of life. Administrators enjoyed the flexibility to custom design their Marketplace to include the New Balance branding and messaging. User-friendly editing tools made it easy for administrators to update information and keep content fresh. Now, employees have a single source to view the most current and relevant benefits information throughout the year.
“Benefitfocus, we found, was very flexible and was basically able to meet every design nuance that we had,” commented Benefits Manager Glen Haskell. “Whatever we said, they would figure out a way to make it happen... and the architecture of the system is such that it allows for that. It was just a custom job right from the get go and the other thing I would say about it is it’s easy to work with.”
By configuring the Marketplace to enforce the company’s unique business rules, New Balance was able to create enrollment workflows based on an employee’s profile and eligibility status. “We don’t have errors anymore where a 25- hour employee is somehow accidentally getting medical benefits,” said Haskell.
Benefits enrollment went from confusing paper forms to a self-guided online tour that presented employees with the plans for which they were eligible. Using plan comparison tools and cost estimators, employees were able to select the coverage that would help keep their families both financially and physically fit.
Address and life event changes were simplified using the Marketplace’s convenient self-service feature. Once an employee enters a change it is automatically cascaded to carriers, payroll and HR systems integrated with the Marketplace without any HR involvement. Self service didn’t end with change management. Employees could help themselves to an educational video library and extensive FAQ knowledgebase. Available 24 x 7, the knowledgebase relieved the HR and benefits team from answering the same questions multiple times.
The Marketplace system has freed more time for administrators to focus on plan design, controlling healthcare costs and strategic projects...”and I think that really pays dividends to the company,” stated Haskell.