The majority of GEO’s 15,435 U.S. employees work in the company’s correctional, detention and rehabilitation facilities that are open around the clock. Making sure their workforce is cared for so their operations can run 24/7 is a big responsibility for the benefits team, which wasn’t easy with paper-based processes and communications. If the individual with benefits information wasn’t available during a given employee’s shift, responses to benefits questions could be delayed.
“We have a large population of workers in rural areas so it’s important for the benefits and their costs to be explained in a very straightforward manner–what the benefits are and what choices are available,” stated Susan Story, Director of HR Information Systems at GEO Group.
The rising cost of healthcare and regulatory demands prompted a growing need for 24/7 communication. Most employees do not have company email, so reaching employees was accomplished through posters, mailings and meetings. While these options were good, employees wanted information at their fingertips any time of day. In addition, Benefit executives were tasked with designing cost-effective and Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliant health plans and to communicate the value of these plans to employees and business executives alike. It was time to make a change.
The GEO Group selected the BENEFITFOCUS® Marketplace to support benefits enrollment, communication and administration – all in one place. Beyond technology, The GEO Group was looking for a human touch to guide its employees through enrollment, particularly employees who didn’t have access to a computer, but had a smartphone or tablet. The BENEFITFOCUS® Benefits Service Center provided access to a team of benefits specialists via telephone, in addition to GEO’s 24 x7 online portal. Both options delivered timely support to help GEO employees enroll in their benefits and get answers about their coverage.
“That human interaction with the Benefits Service Center is very important,” explained Story. “...it’s important for these folks to be listened to, to have the right time spent... and they do that at the Benefits Service Center.”
Even if employees choose not to speak to a Benefits Service Center specialist for guidance, they can still obtain guidance from their online portal. Benefitfocus integrates decision support features into the marketplace, encouraging employees to evaluate their personal health and benefit costs. Decision support came in handy when GEO introduced a preventive plan option addressing the essential health benefits required by the ACA. Employees were guided to estimate costs based on their expected usage and choose the most cost-effective coverage for their needs.
Additionally, Benefitfocus Marketplace integrated with GEO’s payroll system and various benefit vendors, helping benefits administrators maintain a much higher level of accuracy and efficiency. And with a dedicated account manager and support team at Benefitfocus, they felt empowered to tackle new challenges brought on by recent acquisitions. At one point the GEO team onboarded 750 new employees and enrolled them in benefits through Benefitfocus in just weeks! Not only did these new employees complete enrollment on time, but also their benefits became effective on the day the acquisition closed. These new employees received their first GEO paycheck with accurate benefit deductions.