Dumping benefits for cash? And how a soft drink maker’s HR tech deal fizzled

You know you’ve attended a terrific panel session at a conference when conversations during the question-and-answer portion light up. At last week’s Health & Benefits Leadership Conference in Las Vegas, some equally informative moments arrived after the PowerPoint presentations ended and people started sharing their professional experiences.

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Here are a pair of telling anecdotes from Q&As that sparked recognition and interest from the audience at HBLC.

Driving a hard benefits bargain

Some truck drivers want cash, not medical coverage, according to an audience member at the “Benefits Plus: How to Win Over Talent With a Winning Message” panel session.

“We show the drivers our benefits and they say, ‘Wow, you offer some nice benefits but I don’t want benefits, I want money,’” an HR leader told panelist Yanni Spiliotis, benefits consultant for Newfront.

Related: The biggest HR innovation right now? ‘It’s you,’ HR leaders

In response to this show-me-the-money reality, the trucking company, which was not named, will allow drivers to opt out of medical insurance coverage for themselves and family members in exchange for a $6,000 bonus for this year. “The drivers just aren’t interested,” he said.

Another member of the audience suggested that HR should provide stories about what would happen if the uninsured employee has an expensive medical event. “Tell them in plain English that this happened to someone else and this is what it could cost,” she suggested.

The HR leader from the trucking company dismissed this approach. “They want money, pure and simple,” he said.

How HR tech deals can fizzle out

Buying new HR technology is a long process that could crash if HR fails to include other departments inside the organization.

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An HR leader for a major carbonated beverage manufacturer—think Fortune 50, although it also was not named—saw a major deal with an HR technology vendor come to a complete halt when the company failed to vet the contract properly.

According to George LaRocque, founder and principal analyst for WorkTech, the company lost nearly one year because the HR leader who led the technology search failed to include IT and legal representatives in critical stages of the procurement process. Instead, an issue with the vendor’s contract surfaced just about the time that the contract was to be signed.

“They lost an entire year of negotiating and choosing a new HR tech solution only to stop because the vendor and the customer’s legal team wouldn’t budge on a small but important part of their contract,” LaRocque said in his HBLC session entitled, “How Benefits Technology Is Transforming the Workplace.”

In his presentation, LaRocque advised HR leaders to consult with IT and legal early and often during a technology acquisition for this very reason.

For more coverage from the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference, visit here.

Phil Albinus
Phil Albinus is the former HR Tech Editor for HRE. He has been covering personal and business technology for 25 years and has served as editor and executive editor for a number of financial services, trading technology and employee benefits titles. He is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz and lives in the Hudson Valley with his audiologist wife and three adult children.