Employers have a vested interest in ensuring their employees are fit, healthy and not overstressed. Private medical insurance, to deal with the physical health of employees and their dependents, is pretty standard. Much has been done in recent years in terms of mental health. Now more employers are looking to see what can be done for employees around financial wellbeing.
Last year’s survey by Neyber, the workplace loan provider suggested a third of employees cite financial worries as their biggest concern. Financial worries say the report are the biggest issue for workers under age 55, after age 55 health becomes the biggest concern.
In a speech last year the FCA’s Jonathan Davidson said “16m people in the UK have savings of less than £100”. The FCA’s 16/17 annual report and accounts says “61% of people in the UK have at least one consumer credit product, with 26% of them having an outstanding debt on that product. We estimate that two million credit cardholders have persistent levels of debt and a further two million cardholders were in arrears or defaulted on payments”
With large numbers of people failing to put aside rainy day money, and over reliant on credit, it is no surprise that some people are on the edge of their finances unable to do more than pay the minimum payments whilst other are drifting into debt through slow repayment.
With uncertainty over how Brexit will affect the UK, and in an environment where wages have been slow to rise, yet the cost of living keeps going up and interest rate increases are on the horizon, these issues may become even more widespread. So this is a good time for employers to seize the opportunity to put employee wellbeing at the top of their agenda.
What can employers do to help their employees caught up in a spiral of debt and stressed as a result without actually paying them more? One option is to provide access to financial education, savings solutions and affordable loans.
Neyber’s survey says 48% of employees regularly borrow money to meet basic financial needs. Where their credit rating is not good, or their income fluctuates and lacks consistency, they may turn to loan sharks or payday lenders who will charge very high rates of interest (rates of over 1,000% per annum are not unusual). Accordingly, even if the money loan is paid back are likely to only make the employees position worse in the long term.
As employers are increasingly looking to improve their employee benefits package and wanting to include something for everyone, the more rounded the benefits package the better. Financial support as part of the benefits package looks like a win-win for an employer. Financially stressed employees may have a bad attendance record, but even if they turn up for work then with their mind on financial worries they are likely to be less productive.
Workplace loan providers will not be looking at the credit rating of individual members of staff as the repayments will come from salary deductions by the employer. Much like a season ticket loan that many employers already operate. Interest rates are typically in single figures, so while employees with strong credit ratings may be able to access cheaper forms of credit, the rates are manageable and considerably lower than those offered by less scrupulous lenders.
For those already in debt, the ability to consolidate their loans at an acceptable rate of interest could transform their day to day financial position and as a result be far less financially stressed.
It’s true however, that those in debt are unlikely to be paying meaningful amounts of money into workplace pensions and other savings. So even securing a loan via flex may not be enough to make them a habitual saver. Employers usually find pension benefits form the largest part of their benefits package. With auto enrolment there are minimum levels of contribution that an employer must make into a workplace pension. Those employers paying more than the statutory minimum could consider enabling employees to choose to divert part of what would otherwise have gone into their pension into a shorter term saving vehicle such as a workplace ISA or Lifetime ISA. This would enable the pension budget to support wider financial goals than purely long term saving for retirement. True that would have an effect on the employees long term saving but breaking out of financial debt and building a saving habit now is much more likely in the long run to see employees end up saving more for their retirement.
Employers are in a good position to help financially stressed employees take back control over their finances. That would be good for the employees and good for productivity and the employer. Of course payday lenders may not like it!
During a very intense professional sports playoff game, a commentator glanced at his smart watch and noticed his heart rate was highly elevated. In that teachable moment, he committed to get his health under better control because he wasn’t going to stop attending stress-inducing sporting events.
In “Can My Smartphone Make Me Healthier?” (Benefits Quarterly, Fourth Quarter 2017), we argue that smartphones and other mobile devices can – if the user selects, appropriately uses and sustains use of the tool and application, to achieve lasting results. Therein lies the rub – using the solution for lasting behavior change.
There’s no shortage of mobile devices – IHS Technology predicts growth from 23 million in 2011 to 75.5 million by the end of 2018.1 Increasingly, wearable sensors are being built directly into smartphones and smart watches, and the numbers of health-related apps continue to multiply. Consumer demand is strong but significant room remains to connect individuals to device-based solutions that make it much easier to stay healthy or better manage health conditions.
Top players such as Apple and Microsoft, Fitbit and Garmin, plus various medical manufacturers as well as many technology start-ups are developing related devices and apps.
For example, portable EKG readers that work with smartphones have been available for some time, allowing users to check their heart’s electrical activity by using a separate device. Newer technology such as the KardiaBand for Apple watches, from AliveCor, continuously measures heart rate every five seconds right on one’s wrist – based not on generic standards, but personalized to the user. Data can be forwarded to the doctor, reducing unnecessary doctor visits. And the immediate notification lets the user know whether it’s just a minor surge in heart rate or a “life or death” situation. 2
Many app-based solutions help users manage key health metrics and related conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, coronary artery disease, and more. Some monitor fertility while others help monitor pregnancy. Even basic solutions such as medication and dosage reminders can make a dramatic difference in health, given that half of U.S. patients stop taking their medications within one year of being prescribed. 3 Or carriers’ provider-finder apps can better promote decision-support research based on cost and quality metrics, or reduce unnecessary use of the ER. In one study, HIV patients using a mobile app were 2.9 times more likely to be adherent to treatment. 4
Many have found apps helpful in promoting greater physical activity and healthier eating, as well as weight loss. And while it’s early in their use, apps to support mindfulness and resilience have been reported as helping some users better manage stress and the related comorbidities such as depression. Some apps also help with financial health, from tracking spending to better budgeting – important to stress reduction and mental/emotional health.
Employers can play a role in promoting smart use of smart devices to help enhance their employees’ health:
Analyze data to identify the top health challenges in the workforce, so as to prioritize and target top needs and opportunities
Conduct an inventory of existing partners’ available applications and available alternatives, with a “mobile first” priority
Validate effectiveness and identify mobile solutions that will overcome classic barriers to healthy behaviors change – convenience and access, ease of use (intuitive), motivational, and sustainability
Provide periodic communication to promote opportunities, including targeted communication for messaging on tools relevant to given individuals – using technology and partner/provider support for confidentiality
So the question remains, are you smarter than your smartphone? It likely comes down to how you use your smartphone – or how your smartphone uses you. Those who can identify the right apps/features for their health needs, sustain ongoing use, and in turn score health improvements are the smart ones. That’s true for both individuals who use the devices and for the employers who can achieve organizational health behavioral change from these ever-increasing mobile solutions.
The pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance and the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association have just announced an agreement to reduce the cost of generic drugs in Canada effective April 1, 2018. Under the new agreement, the price of some of the drugs will fall to 10% of the brand-name price.
According to the press release “the prices of nearly 70 of the most commonly prescribed drugs in Canada will be reduced by 25% – 40%, resulting in overall discounts of up to 90% off the price of their brand-name equivalents. These drugs include those used to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and depression, and are collectively used by millions of Canadians.” This is a five-year initiative and will benefit both public drug plans and employer sponsored drug plans.
While high cost drugs are getting all the attention currently, the majority of claims under drug plans is for lower cost drugs to treat chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and depression as mentioned previously. Cost reductions on these drugs help by leaving a little more in the budget for less frequent but higher cost drugs for the treatment of catastrophic illnesses.
Is your benefit plan designed to maximize the savings opportunity this presents? Employees may be a bit resistant to change. It is important that they understand that generic drugs must contain the same medicinal ingredient as the name brand. Incentives built into the plan, such as reimbursing only up to the cost of the generic drug, encourage employees to change behaviour.
Let me know if you want to talk about the challenges of changing your plan. I’ll buy the coffee, so it is another win for your budget!
As HR professionals, it’s our duty to help our employees not just be physically well but be well emotionally, financially and socially. Total wellbeing programs work, helping to keep employees engaged and productive. But what happens when an employee is forced to give up one aspect of total wellbeing to support another?
I was at an Open Enrollment planning meeting with a client – this was many years ago. We’d gone over the healthcare renewal (costs were flat) and other H&W plan design changes. The client then advised me that “based on the results” of the employee survey they did, they were going to increase the 401(k) match.
“”However you look at it, having employees forego one pillar of wellbeing to support another can have devastating effects in the long run.” Lori Block, Principal—Total Wellbeing Strategist, Engagement Practice.” Lori Block
The company did not plan on increasing its total benefit spend, so to pay for the match they were planning on increasing employees’ health care premium contributions.
When I asked whether that was what they wanted to tell employees, the client said “of course not.” So when I asked the obvious follow-up question — how then did they want to position it — they said that employees were used to being informed that healthcare costs were rising, so we should just tell them that. (What a learning experience that was for me! When I got to the office I asked to be removed from the account.)
What was particularly annoying was the client only had about 65% of its employees participating in the 401(k). Somehow, I doubted that increasing the match was going to improve that — faced with higher healthcare costs, employees were even less likely to be able to participate in the 401(k).
Skyrocketing healthcare costs, pharmacy drug costs, premiums and deductibles are putting so much financial strain on employees that they are reducing—sometimes even foregoing altogether—saving for retirement to pay for increases in premium contributions and out-of-pocket health care expenses. At the same time employers too have reduced their contributions to employees’ retirement needs as health care costs consume an ever-larger slice of the total rewards pie. Call it a Faustian bargain (a deal in which one focuses on present gain without considering the long-term consequences), or robbing Peter to pay Paul. However you look at it, having employees forego one pillar of wellbeing to support another can have devastating effects for both the individual and the organization.
Thankfully, not all hope is lost. With advances in technology and data analytics, employees have access to tools that can analyze their individual needs and optimize their plans both for health and retirement. Here are six ways you can help employees keep total wellbeing whole, and not something they have to sacrifice.
Before making changes to plan design, consider how they will impact your employees in the long term. Create “use cases” to identify any extreme impacts of plan design changes before those changes go into effect—and adjust the design, or your communications, if needed. And if you make changes, how are you telling employees how those changes affect both retirement savings and health coverage?
Help employees understand how your online health and retirement tools work. Many employees are overwhelmed by the choices and decisions that they’re faced with and required to make.
Create personas that employees can use to model their decisions. Often employees make plan selections that are ineffective for their needs. Having the ability to make decisions based on personas that match their circumstances could lead to lower costs, and more effective coverage.
Conduct periodic audits of your plans to identify ways to improve efficiencies, making plans more affordable.
Encourage positive lifestyle changes. Employees and their families, when engaged in healthy lifestyle practices, will see a lower overall cost for their health insurance. In the long term the money that’s saved on healthcare can lower premiums and keep their retirement fund growing.
Don’t be afraid to talk to your employees about how to make good choices. It’s understandable that, for most employees, costs become their main worry, but being open with them leads to a more engaged workforce, which is a great resource for any organization.
While Faust may not have been seeking a lower deductible plan, and Paul may have simply been trying to rebalance his 401(k) plan, the fact still remains that employees frequently need assistance when making short- and long-term life decisions. What my client wanted to do – putting employees in an untenable position – was a stark reminder of why considering all of the implications of plan design changes (not to mention carefully crafting surveys) is so important.
And the benefits to the company go beyond a workforce that’s engaged and productive. Research shows that workers who are unable to retire are costing companies thousands of dollars a year. So helping employees stay balanced by being healthy today, and saving for tomorrow, can have short- and long-term benefits for everyone.
Suicide is the leading cause of injury-related death in Canada and the 10th leading cause of all deaths in the United States, while in the United Kingdom, one in 15 people have attempted to take their lives. Working-aged men and women represent one of the highest risk groups for suicide.
This week (September 10-16) is National Suicide Prevention Week in the U.S., so we wanted to help raise awareness of the issue from a workplace perspective, to guide employers through the steps they can take to understand, and try to prevent, suicide. Three of our health consulting experts from the U.S., Canada and the U.K. have written on the topic of mental health in this blog in the recent past – we hope the information they convey will be helpful to you.
Wellbeing: Walking the Walk – Employees with mental illness need programs and work arrangements that support their good health. In her June 2016 post, our Canadian Health Practice Leader Lizann Reitmeier laid out some ideas to help.
Managing Adversity and Everyday Life – Key to the ongoing success of an employee mental health wellbeing strategy is helping to build emotional resilience in the workforce. Simon Crew, one of our former health consultants in the U.K., wrote candidly about the topic in his May 2016 post.
[Editor’s note: In this post, Shane Morgenstern gives us a quick gaze into the near future of corporate portal design. Conduent’s own technology “skunk works” team in Toronto is always thinking and developing new ideas, constantly looking for ways to improve the user experience in – and engagement with – HR technology.]
We just found out one of our boys needs braces. Fortunately, thanks to a little forward thinking, we have a health care spending account (HCSA) to help soften the blow.
Not being one to procrastinate, I went to our HR portal to check on our HCSA. Let’s see, where would I find it? Braces are dental, so it must be under ‘Dental’. But wait, the HCSA isn’t just for dental, it can be used for other things too, right? Then it must be under ‘Health’, or is it under ‘Wealth’ because it’s part of a savings program? Who knows? I’m already 10 minutes in and I’m still clicking around hoping for the best.
“As technology evolves, user behaviour and expectations evolve as well.” Shane Morgenstern, National Practice Leader and Creative Director Health, Wealth, Career Communications
Fast forward to Friday night, the kids were finally asleep and my wife and I were ready to snuggle up with Netflix.
“What do you want to watch?” She asked. “I don’t know,” I replied, “how about that series about the history of baseball? I think it’s under ‘History’.” “Yeah that sounds good,” she said, “but wouldn’t it be under ‘Documentaries’?” Here we go again.
Well, it turns out the baseball documentary was listed in both the history and documentary categories. In fact, it also came up when I did a search on baseball, and a search on sports. Our search even discovered three other similar movies that we agreed to watch another time. It seemed like Netflix had read our minds, or at least managed to categorize shows in such a dynamic way that made them almost impossible to miss.
Too bad HR portals can’t be this easy to navigate. Or can they?
HR and Netflix: So close, yet so far apart
Most HR technology firms offer a robust solution full of data feeds, tools and features. They often push personalized content unique to each member through dashboards or pop-ups. Some offer total rewards information while others have modelers, calculators or estimators. Unfortunately, most are also loaded up with old pdfs with content that HR believes can’t be deleted. For all their capabilities, users like me have to sift through so much content and make so many decisions that finding the one thing you’re after is frustrating and time-consuming.
Yet every software vendor wants to provide a solution that is useful and that delights and engages employees. Can they learn anything from the Netflix experience to make the HR portal more usable? After all, they both have more things in common than you might think:
Both have lots of information, with new content being added regularly.
Both will push targeted messages to the user, based on your previous activity and stored data.
Both have to sort and categorize all this content, so users can find what they’re looking for quickly and easily, even if they’re not completely sure what they’re looking for.
The future of portals, by Netflix
As technology evolves, user behaviour and expectations evolve as well. Instead of treating navigation, content and personalization as independent components of the online experience, portals need to combine them all seamlessly, delivering a portal that for the most part, is all on one level. Content should be revealed to you through thoughtful transitions, presented in logically grouped neat little modules. You can sort modules using a number of parameters and, as our baseball documentary showed, modules can belong to more than one category.
Essentially, Netflix has turned the content into the user interface, providing you with an experience that showcases content you want and helps guide you to content you might find relevant. And don’t forget, nearly all of it happens without leaving the home page.
A new approach to the HR portal
An HR portal modeled after the Netflix approach would present content in interactive modules right on the home page. Modules could be grouped into HR categories like ‘Health’ and ‘Wealth’. And remember, it would be okay to include a module in more than one category. You’ll look for it in the places that make sense to you.
Including a powerful search engine lets you search for your content using the search terms of your choice. A sortable results page is an opportunity to serve up, not only your search result, but also any other related content that may be helpful.
It the end, you’d have an HR portal that is searchable, findable and sortable all on one page. As with Netflix, the content itself would become the user interface, eliminating most of the cumbersome traditional menu buttons. Your employees would be guided through a logical flow of interactivity to the right content, in the right place, at the right time.
As Netflix and other digital powerhouses like Airbnb, EBay and Amazon all look to the user experience as a driving consideration for their success, maybe it’s time for HR technology to get on board, too.
Apparently I have been a little too quiet lately. Some of my colleagues are asking about my wellbeing, so I will take a moment to remind everyone that I am still very much here and alive and well. And I have a big question.
Is cash king?
This morning on the train I got into a discussion with some employment recruiters regarding compensation. (Okay. Full disclosure. I was eavesdropping until I inserted myself in the conversation. I rarely do that but something had to be said.) One recruiter was bemoaning the fact that the government agency she worked for had much lower compensation than the private sector. Her colleagues who understand these things were pointing out that she had an amazing pension plan on her side. “Sure,” she said, “but in interviewing candidates I rarely get past the compensation, so the pension doesn’t come up.”
“What is insurance other than a tool to protect your cash?” Lizann Reitmeier, Health Practice Leader, Canada
Things have changed
That raised my question: is cash king? Are employees really only interested in cash compensation to the exclusion of the retirement and benefit plans? Perhaps this is the next logical step in the evolution of work. In my father’s day (note I didn’t say my mother’s day, but the evolution of women in the workplace is another story) you got a job and you stayed with that employer for many, many years until you retired with a gold watch and a pension guaranteed for life. But that was before Nortel, before rightsizing, before the gig economy.
Now employees change companies and even careers multiple times through their working lives. Now companies regularly rightsize, downsize, merge and globalize. Employers are likely to hire contractors where no benefits or pensions are offered or expected. If you had a job that could end tomorrow, would you be focused on what your employer could do for you in the future?
An employee in good health would get a greater benefit from an extra 10% of pay annually than from a benefit plan he or she doesn’t use. The extra dollars could be stashed away to be used in the future, when health expenses do come up, whether the employee is still with this employer or not. (Although human nature being what it is, that extra 10% would have been spent on shoes months ago. Not human nature? Just me? Okay maybe shoes aren’t your thing, but you get the idea.)
While I understand the reasoning for not caring about benefits and pension while you are healthy and under age 65, allowing the healthy people to opt out of the health plan and the young to stay away from the pension plan undermines the fundamental tenets of these plans. Everyone participates to spread the risk and minimize the actual per capita cost. If every one of us claimed $30,000 annually under the employer’s health plan, it would be unsustainable. Balance is only achieved when high claimers are offset by lots of low claimers. On the retirement side, in a defined benefit plan, the contributions for all fund the benefit for those who make it to retirement and beyond. Can an employee bank on that pension that they don’t control and don’t hold in their own account?
Similarly, is the employer’s promise of Long Term Disability coverage the same as an actual personal policy or an enormous sum of money in the bank? Experience suggests there may be flaws in that promise of “a benefit to age 65” or “guaranteed annuitized income”. Ask a Nortel retiree or a Sears employee.
HSA – on a good day
So, back to the question at hand: Is cash king? The statistics are conflicting. Employees seem to be favouring Healthcare Spending Accounts over traditional benefit plans. I understand this. Spending accounts are great on good days. Do traditional plans need an overhaul? If every day is good enough that a Healthcare Spending Account is adequate, maybe it is time for high deductible Health plans to cover catastrophic events. Plan members who don’t have high health claims would have coverage for routine expenses through a Healthcare Spending Account and plan members with high claims would probably be out-of-pocket more than they are under the traditional plans we have today, but they would have a safety net with the high deductible plan.
Part of the household budget
What about the big risks? What about Life and disability insurance? This is coverage that employers can provide to employees without evidence of good health, and that protects them and their families from long-term hardship. If we change the mandatory nature of these coverages, in the name of flexibility, insurers will change the underwriting requirements, especially for small groups.
Over the course of my career, I have paid out thousands of dollars for Long Term Disability insurance coverage and, I am happy to say, I haven’t claimed a single penny. This coverage, like car, home and life insurance should be considered part of the household budget. This is the benefit that will replace your income if you are unable to work – and is the one benefit everyone should be asking from prospective employers.
What is insurance other than a tool to protect your cash? Properly designed plans protect you from financial losses. At its core, a health plan is not designed to keep people healthy; it is designed to protect them from paying the costs associated with sickness. Employee benefits are an integral part of financial wellbeing. While cash may be king in our short-term focused world, we need to teach plan members and society in general that the value of benefit plans far outweighs the $500 of massage therapy a member can access in a year.
And to my new recruiter friends from the train I say, start with the benefits. Explain the benefit plans and the retirement plans to prospective employees before you talk about salary. Reinforce the value these bring to your employment proposition. Ensure all the cards are on the table so prospective employees understand what you have to offer and can compare apples to apples when considering other options. I guarantee you will change the conversation with recruits and increase the appreciation of your overall offering.
And recruits may realize that, since cash is king, it makes sense to protect it.
The worst has happened. Today alone, 565 people will be diagnosed with cancer, according to the Canadian Cancer Society. We’ve been busily rolling out a new Critical Illness benefit and, unfortunately, in the time it takes to implement a plan, one of our people could have received a diagnosis of a Critical Illness.
“…we can encourage people to invest in the tools that protect themselves and their families at the worst of times.” Lizann Reitmeier, Health Practice Leader, Canada
Now, I am not so optimistic as to believe that Critical Illness coverage will make all the challenges of a critical diagnosis vanish, but I learned very early on in my career that the one thing we can do is help people financially at a time of need. As a veteran Life Insurance agent, we’ll call him Mr. Rea (because that was his name) told me, when someone is grieving, giving them the financial resources to deal with their immediate challenges is the best we can do. We don’t have a cure for the illnesses that plague the world and we cannot “put a stopper in death”, but we can encourage people to invest in the tools that protect themselves and their families at the worst of times.
The cost of medical treatment can add up even when you have a drug plan and provincial health care. Parking or travel expenses, care for a child, and lost earnings due to illness, and doctors’ visits take their toll and are not covered under any plan. But Critical Illness coverage pays a lump sum to the insured in event of a covered diagnosis. This is not a reimbursement for expenses: the money can be used as needed or wanted.
I encourage you to consider this coverage. Don’t think about it too long though, as, with our aging population, the incidence of illness is increasing. Group insurers have developed robust offerings over the last decade. Most policies have limitations and survival requirements following diagnosis and the covered conditions vary, so pay attention to the details; but almost any Critical Illness plan is better than
none at all.
Call me if you want to discuss the pros and cons and what might be the best fit for your group.
Some people enjoy the adrenaline rush that comes with taking risks, while others prefer the peace of mind that comes with security. If you’re sponsoring or administering a pension plan, you probably want to manage any risk very closely. Risk is about choices and consequences.
“The CAPSA guideline is certainly a very relevant document if you have not yet started to think about what you will want in your own governance and funding policies.”
When it comes to managing a pension plan, there are numerous risks taken by various parties, such as plan beneficiaries, plan sponsors, plan administrators, boards of directors, regulators, etc. It may not be easy to consider all them when evaluating the consequences on all parties of any required decisions. This is probably what the Ontario regulator had in mind when a decision was taken to require pension plans to develop written funding and governance policies, as was announced by FSCO in May 2017.
Governance and funding policies establish a process for making well-informed decisions that meet the prudency standard required by legislation, for implementing them, and for monitoring their impact, while eliminating the emotions related to the environment of the moment. Good governance focuses on decisions, not results. It serves as an important tool to inform interested parties how pension plan risks are managed and to ensure that the rationale behind any decision can be easily explained. This may prove useful in the event of an argument over a potential breach of trust. It also provides a tool for the regulators to evaluate whether a plan is administered as intended.
It is likely that the Ontario regulators will clearly define the minimal content that they want to see in Governance and funding policies. You may want to refer to the Alberta and British Columbia legislative requirements for more information. Although most items can be found in the Canadian Association of Pension Supervisory Authorities’ (CAPSA) pension plan governance guidelines, there are some differences.
We do not know what Ontario will require at this point in time. But the CAPSA guideline is certainly a very relevant document if you have not yet started to think about what you will want in your own governance and funding policies. CAPSA also provides a self-assessment questionnaire to help you assess how your plan management practices compare with best-practice governance principles.
Your pension consultant can guide you toward the development of governance and funding policies that will reflect how you can realistically manage the pension plan various risks while balancing the interest of all parties.
New habits don’t develop overnight. In fact, while pop culture has perpetuated the belief that it takes 21 days to develop a new habit, more recent scientific research has pushed that average to 66 days. This is important because getting your post-Cloud transformation organization ready and willing to embrace the end state takes both time and effort.
“Being done with the implementation is just the beginning…” Jeff Kays, Conduent Principal – Management Consulting
New grooves in the road can be hard to develop, especially when it’s so easy to slip into existing ones. We want to be healthy, but often a bag of snacks and the couch are easier than water and a workout. Think of your Cloud transformation in the same way. Through a combination of time, discipline, commitment and support, the new grooves can be created.
Here are five things you should be doing to help those new grooves get cut, help new habits stick, help generate momentum and create motivation in your move to the Cloud.
1. Measure and promote value beyond cost savings
A successful move to the Cloud should be treated as a unique opportunity to show your stakeholders the many benefits — beyond cost savings — of the transformation. Measuring financials is a given in any project, but in a Cloud transformation non-financials can be very powerful proof points of success. These measurements are usually more personal in nature and enable you to create additional employee engagement, long-term momentum and opportunities to celebrate your successes.
As you develop your overall plan to report metrics, be careful to balance what you are measuring with how much you are measuring. If you try to measure too many things, the good things get crowded out, which may undermine their incentive effect. If you measure too few things, you may miss out on opportunities to motivate people to create and deepen those new grooves. Successfully navigate between the two by adopting a metric perspective that tracks the most vital measurements. Identify those essential strategic, financial and operational outcomes of the Cloud transformation required to call the project a success.
2. Make your Cloud partner a real partner
Implementing Cloud means you now have an important new stakeholder in your company: the Cloud partner. There will be future opportunities, capabilities, risks and other issues that will require close collaboration. If you treat them simply as a vendor, you’ll miss out on a wealth of perspectives and the opportunity to influence them. In the post-transformation world, you want them to think of themselves as an extension of your organization. If you nurture the relationship with your Cloud partner during the implementation stage, it will put you in a position to create a culture of collaboration for the long term. Don’t forget to include and involve your Cloud partner as you celebrate milestones and share in the successes (and failures) together.
3. Help your people get there
Back to human nature. Without the appropriate training and support, your retained organization will try to do their old job the old way. Be cognizant of this as you map new cross-functional organizations and create new responsibilities. Thoughtful design and resources to support the transformation are necessary to help your teams succeed in their new roles. By providing the tools and support necessary to change behaviors and learn new ways of working, you will help your people develop a commitment to the end state.
Remember to consider the end user experience as you plan your new structure and responsibilities, as the operation must appear seamless from their perspective. And since your new organization may look very different than its previous state, your Cloud partner needs to be equipped with cultural training and consistent communication feeds on the direction and performance of the company they serve: you!
4. Stay in shape after implementation
Some of your stakeholders will be excited by the cost reductions realized by the transformation, but a sizeable part of your company will let their geek flag fly about all the new technology. After all, technology is really what’s driving the new world after a Cloud move. Being done with the implementation is just the beginning of an exciting world of future functions and features, analytics and opportunities to meet stakeholders’ needs in creative ways.
Having the infrastructure in place to take advantage of new releases, absorb new capabilities and address issues in an expedited manner is critical. To stay on top of the technology, create a routine of ongoing checks on the scalability, performance, and resiliency (disaster recovery); one-off check-ins just won’t do the job.
5. Embrace innovation
It’s one thing to be prepared for new technology operationally; it’s wholly different to be prepared organizationally or culturally. It is critical to have a plan to stay current with Cloud partner releases and understand the value associated with each release relative to your organization. Leveraging your strong Cloud partner relationship, build the pipeline necessary to attract ideas, cultivate them and act on them. As a check and balance measure, you can use Root Cause Analysis and Recovery to address gaps in capability and manage them to complete closure.
If you’ve followed along since our first post, you’ve seen the necessity of being prepared for a Cloud transformation, learned how important your business case and roadmap are to Cloud transformation success and read about some of the largest pitfalls you might encounter in your move to the Cloud. With this post, we conclude our four-part series on moving to the Cloud. We hope you’ve gained some necessary and meaningful insight into the journey to the Cloud.
Editor’s note: This is the fourth and final post from Jeff Kays about moving to the Cloud. More information about Conduent Cloud transformation consulting services can be found here.
Read Full Article
Read for later
Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
Scroll to Top
Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.