The open enrollment period between November 1 and December
15 can be one of the most challenging times of year for HR professionals.
Getting enrollment right in a timely manner is crucial to supporting your
workforce and maximizing the two-way value of employee benefits.
With that said, open enrollment is tricky because it is such
a complex challenge. There’s no one thing an HR leader or department can do to
make the enrollment season go smoothly – it requires proactive planning and
strategizing for a variety of factors and concerns.
Moving forward, we’ll explore:
Introduce five of the biggest challenges,
concerns, and areas of opportunity for HR professionals before and during open
Provide actually strategies HR leaders can use
to navigate or plan for these challenges
Open Enrollment Challenge #1: Logistics
Part of having a successful open enrollment period is having
a very clear vision ahead of time for what that enrollment is going to look
like and how you will ensure success. Without a logistical vision for how
you’re going to pull off enrollment, you’re leaving your ability to have a
successful open enrollment up to chance.
As a department, your first concern is understanding whether
you’ll be leading an active or a passive enrollment. If you’ve recently
rehauled your benefit offerings or you have internal data suggesting that many
employees are on suboptimal plans, then an active enrollment can make a big
difference for your benefits program On the other hand, passive enrollments
work best in organizations with many long-term employees who are generally
happy with their coverage.
If you’re going to leverage technology to streamline your
enrollment procedure (and in 2019, you definitely should) that means your
logistical planning needs to involve your IT team, as they’ll be the people
determining the actual look and feel of the system that your employees will use
to enroll in their benefits. HR and IT must work together to ensure the user
experience is easy, clear, stress-free, and built right into the systems that
employees use for their day-to-day work to maximize accessibility and invite
Open Enrollment Challenge #2: Communication
Communication is the probably the single biggest key to a
great open enrollment season, but it may also be the single biggest challenge.
As an HR professional, it’s your responsibility to ensure
that nobody can forget about open enrollment season. At the same time, however,
benefit election time is also when HR departments can actually harm buy-in and
hurt long-term employee engagement by providing the wrong kind of communication
or using the wrong tone with employees.
For example, weekly email reminders to make benefit
elections are useful for employees who have not completed the process, but they
can seem annoying or impersonal to professionals who were sure to make their
elections early in the cycle. Creating a communication strategy that maximizes
that valuable communication while eliminating repetitive or unnecessary messaging
is key to short-term success during enrollment and long-term success
maintaining a great relationship with your talent.
One of the best ways to be successful is by spreading your
message across multiple platforms. If your organization uses an ERP that all
employees work through, partner with IT to get reminders in highly visible
spaces that your team members can’t help but see. If your company has a
preferred messaging system or bespoke communication app, you can use those
channels to send enrollment reminders as well.
Open Enrollment Challenge #3: Education
Education is your greatest weapon to ensure employees choose
their ideal benefits package, maximizing two-way value for talent and the
organization alike. With that said, out of all these challenges, education can
be the toughest one to truly embrace and hold yourself accountable to because
it takes a lot of work.
In order to provide employees with the information they need
to select the plans that are best for their families, you need to think like a
teacher, providing multiple access points to the information and presenting
things in a variety of ways to make sure that everybody understands the
material, regardless of their personal learning style. That means just passing
along the literature from your provider isn’t nearly enough.
Employees require a blend of independent learning
opportunities (like brochures and manuals), large group learning opportunities
(like formal training sessions), and small group (or even one-on-one) support
from benefits-savvy HR team members to maximize their educational level and
resultant engagement potential. Making time for those initiatives requires
buy-in from senior leadership, but education is truly the difference between
setting up your team for enrollment success and leaving them dangling in the
Open Enrollment Challenge #4: Engagement
Engagement is the special sauce that makes every single
aspect of operations at your organization run smoothly. When it comes to open
enrollment, engagement means a workforce that cares about maximizing the value
of their benefits and getting those elections made in a timely manner.
Health and wellness are crucial points of employee
engagement for any business, but when they are active pillars of the employee
culture, it significantly streamlines the yearly dance of open enrollment. When
talent is engaged in terms of health and wellness, they work toward building
their own understanding of how they’re using their benefits, what they need,
and how they could be making smarter selections. That translates directly into
making the right choices in November.
If that culture doesn’t already exist in your organization,
the lead-up to enrollment season is a great time to brainstorm some incentives
that invite engagement and build a positive, empowered attitude toward
enrollment throughout the organization. The more you can create a positive buzz
for health and wellness, the more active a role your employees will take in
Open Enrollment Challenge #5: Picking the Right Benefits
Of course, the over-arching challenge that hangs above the
other four is the challenge of offering your employees the very best, most
valuable benefits you possibly can.
Many employee benefits providers try to build a standardized
definition of a “great benefits package,” but for your open enrollment to be
successful in the long term for your department, your organization, and your
talent, you should never settle for a one-size-fits-all approach. If you’re a
small or medium-sized business, this can require working with a white glove
service to help you connect with exactly the coverage you need to support your
Partnering with the wrong benefits broker can and will cost
the organization in the long-term, whether it’s over-spend on unused benefits
or employee dissatisfaction with limited offerings. Finding a benefits partner
who understands your organization, your team, and your goals is crucial to
maximizing employee experience and business value through enrollment.
Open enrollment is a complex challenge, but when you
understand each individual aspect of the challenge and can formulate a
proactive strategy that addresses each concern, you maximize your chances to
deliver wins for your employees and organization as a whole. Remember…
You must plan ahead in the lead up to
open enrollment and create a roadmap for success
You must communicate positively with your
team in a way that guarantees awareness and provides them with the information
they need to enroll
You must educate your team in a way that
ensures they are able to make the best benefit enrollment selections for their
You must engage your team in a positive
manner that builds their enthusiasm for wellness in general
You must find the best possible benefits
partner for your size and goals
How to Learn More
If you’re an HR professional hoping to lead or support a
successful open enrollment this winter, you can get your enrollment knowledge
up to date with the latest trends, connect with actionable success strategies,
and get coaching from two of Chicago’s top HR and employee benefits
professionals by attending the upcoming webinar “How to Have
a Successful Open Enrollment.”
The free one-hour learning session will take place at 11AM
CST on Tuesday, October 29, but even if that time doesn’t work for your
schedule, you can register for the event to receive a link to a full recording
of the webinar as soon as it concludes.
The webinar will feature insights from Alex Koglin and
Christine Lewis of Launchways, as
they apply their respective backgrounds in employee benefits and HR thought
leadership to walk the audience through seven actionable steps businesses can
take today to improve their enrollment process. Specific discussion topics will
How to create a data-driven approach to
How to set and track reasonable enrollment goals
How to design a successful enrollment
How to leverage technology to streamline the
How to provide education that will lead your
employees toward the right plan
How to identify the right benefits provider
This learning opportunity will be packed with actionable
takeaways for HR professionals looking to improve their organization’s approach
to open enrollment and stay up-to-date on emerging best practices. If you’re an
HR leader recognizing the challenges of enrollment, register for
“How to Have a Successful Open Enrollment” today!
When businesses truly embrace diversity and inclusion, they create a powerful, complementary team that’s unbeatable together . Unfortunately, though, there’s no magic wand you can wave to get there.
To leverage the incredible team-building and innovative
potential of diversity and inclusion, businesses need to articulate strong
values, make them a real part of daily work culture, and create policies and
procedures that hold themselves and their employees accountable. It takes
honest commitment, thoughtful planning, strong follow-through, and built-in
checks and balances along the way.
With that said, no business should be dissuaded from working
towards building diverse and inclusive HR policies just because the work is
complex. In fact, organizations who don’t tackle the challenge and opportunity
of diversity head-on only set themselves up to stagnate.
In this post we’ll explore:
What strong workplace diversity and inclusion
“look like” as we near 2020
How truly valuing diversity and inclusion builds
success for businesses
The many costs associated with undervaluing and not
practicing workplace diversity and inclusion
How HR professionals trying to increase their
knowledge of current best practices for diversity and inclusion can connect
with the best resources
The State of Workplace Diversity & Inclusion
The world of workplace diversity has transformed immensely
over the past decade. A diverse, progressive, and inclusive workplace culture
can no longer be treated like an optional, industry-specific perk. Instead, a
commitment to diversity and inclusion has become a necessity for businesses at
any size. In fact, diversity and inclusion policies are increasingly
requirements when it comes to disclosures for business partnerships, grant
applications, and proposals.
In today’s modern work climate, organizations that don’t understand and leverage the value of workplace diversity will fail to outperform their competitors.
Let’s take a minute to break down both the words “diversity”
and “inclusion” and think about what they really mean in today’s marketplace.
means hiring, promoting, and valuing professionals from a variety of different
backgrounds, experiences, and approaches. It means employing people who think
differently, look differently, and experience the world differently from each
other. It means thinking beyond age, race, religion, disability, or sexual
identity. It means trying to build a team that is truly complementary and
reflects the world and marketplace as a whole.
Diversity, however, is nothing without inclusion. In fact, it is inclusion that has become the hot-button
issue and the trendier topic over the last two years. Inclusion is the
company’s devotion to and strategies for ensuring their diverse workforce
functions as a true team, and all people’s skills, values, and perspectives are
valued in a fair way.
As we approach 2020, diversity is firmly cemented as one of
the most important values for all corporations and businesses, while inclusion
is continuing to emerge and take its rightful place as a key focus of HR. Let’s
take a minute to think about what benefits forward-thinking HR departments can
create for their organizations when they get both diversity and inclusion
How Diversity & Inclusion Help Businesses Win
As an HR professional, it’s your job to build a team that
sets your business up for success. From that perspective, diversity and
inclusion aren’t even really values or ideals anymore – they’re simply matters
of best practice.
When your organization embraces a variety of professionals,
perspectives, and people, you create a team that can accomplish more than any
homogeneous group. With that said, maximizing their impact means pairing that
diversity with inclusion – that is to say, diverse staffing practices must be
supported by policies, leadership, and day-to-day workflows that keep everybody
feeling empowered and engaged.
Businesses that call pull those two components off can reap significant
business results that less diverse or inclusive workplaces simply can’t access.
Talent Attraction and Retention
One of the most seismic shifts of the twenty-first century
has been the deemphasis on base salary, especially in the face of a thriving
workplace culture. Simply put, great talent wants to work in a great
environment – one that feels warm but professional, welcoming and collegial.
People also want to work in a place where their perspective
is appreciated and valued. That’s where the organization that values diversity
can connect with outstanding talent. If you can establish an identity and a
reputation as a business that truly creates opportunity for people based on the
strengths of their talents and thinks beyond twentieth-century concepts of what
corporate leadership and a productive office look like, you’ll be operating a
workplace where the very best talent of every background will want to work.
Increased Authentic Engagement
When your boss is the person who signs your check, you’ll
work to meet their expectations. When your boss is a person who shares your
values, applies fairness in every possible situation, and builds a team of
diverse voices that makes you (and everybody) feel heard, you’ll work to exceed
By fostering a diverse team, promoting diverse leadership,
and creating a workplace where everybody has the level of comfort, support, and
safety they need to get their work done, you can build something truly special:
an environment without glass ceilings or toxic secret inner circles. You will
have a workplace where all employees feel like they’re working positively
toward shared goals. This sets talent up to be their best selves and function
as a whole that’s much greater and more powerful than the sum of its parts.
Building a Variety of Perspectives
Too often, organizations lock themselves into a vision, a
culture, and a way of thinking early on in their lifecycle and craft hiring and
promotion programs in a way that reinforces that orthodoxy. This can be a
recipe for business stagnation.
Forward-thinking businesses aren’t afraid of a diversity of
perspectives or approaches destabilizing what they’ve previously built. On the
contrary, these businesses realize that a team with a wide variety of
backgrounds creates a much greater pool of ideas for innovation,
problem-solving, messaging, and more.
When each department, committee, and project team is diverse
and everybody knows their perspective and work is valued, businesses create the
strongest possible framework for innovative thinking, innovative work, and
innovative approaches to quality assurance.
Fostering a Reputation as a True Modern Business
If you can establish a great, diverse, inclusive workplace
culture where everybody feels supported and bought-in, you can turn your
organization into a destination landing spot for great talent and great buzz
alike. Your HR and marketing departments can leverage your thriving, positive
culture as an anchor point for campaigns that help your business grow and
spread the word about the great work you’re doing.
How Businesses Lose When They Don’t Prioritize Diversity
Organizations that lack a strong commitment to diversity
don’t just miss out on all the benefits discussed previously, they also create
several very real and very dangerous business problems for themselves. Whether
it’s through explicit exclusion or simply a lack of care at the leadership and
HR levels, businesses that disregard building a thoughtful approach to
diversity put themselves in a tenuous business and legal position.
Businesses that preach diversity on paper but do little to
make inclusion a daily workplace value at every level leave themselves
vulnerable to many of the same problems. In fact, in some ways, a half-hearted
approach to diversity and inclusion can set you up to lose bigger, as the
organization comes away looking either disconnected from its values or like a
When employees don’t feel fully safe, valued, appreciated,
plugged-in, or supported, they head for the door. Of all the changes to the
workplace over the last twenty years, this is the one that’s caught senior
leaders and HR professionals off-guard the most.
Turnover due to gaps in diversity and inclusion isn’t just
the result of stereotypical harassment or bullying, though. Today’s top talent
is sensitive to their environment and can generally gauge whether or not they
are a fit for a job and its culture within six months. If talent feels there is
a glass ceiling or lack of potential for success and personal happiness due to
your organization’s lack of devotion to diversity and inclusion, they’ll just
hand in their notice and move on.
No HR professional needs to be told how damaging the spend
associated with turnover is. Gaps in productivity, hiring expenses, and
training time all hurt the bottom line and significantly impact the team’s
ability to fire on all cylinders. Even if you’re great at identifying and
hiring diverse talent, you’re just setting your organization up for a brain
drain if there isn’t a framework in place to ensure those professionals are valued
Lower Employee Morale & Reduced Engagement
Discrimination and exclusion are ugly things, and when
people see them in the workplace – even devoted professionals – they simply
can’t work like their best selves. To put it simply, toxic cultures bum people
out, and nobody is motivated to do their best work when their workplace feels
With that said, the way gaps in inclusion affect morale can
be subtler but no less devastating. When employees are physically present but
feel like they aren’t valued, heard, and included in the same ways as their
peers, their engagement level, buy-in, and quality of work begin to drop at a
One of the biggest mistakes HR leaders make is
underestimating how many people are sensitive to issues of diversity and
inclusion. When discrimination occurs or inclusion is clearly not a priority,
the blow to morale and buy-in extends far beyond the direct victim of the
situation. That means that organizations that do wrong by their minority or
LGBTQ+ employees are actually damaging the productivity, motivation, and
engagement of a much higher percentage of the workforce, who stand as allies to
Diversity is a synonym of “variety,” and the less diversity
an organization has, the less variety there will be in terms of innovative
thinking and profit-driving work. If you get a room full of 10 people from
similar backgrounds and ask them to solve a problem, they’ll probably come up
with one or two well-defined ideas. In a room of 10 people from diverse
backgrounds, however, you can have a much richer discussion about possible
solutions because there are more ways of looking at the problem and a wider
range of past experiences and familiar approaches available.
Organizations that don’t prioritize diversity and inclusion
at every level within the organization set up themselves up to fall victim to
groupthink. This can be especially limiting at the executive or leadership
level, where a true team of complementary minds is necessary to steer the work.
Reputation & Perception as an Innovator
In this day and age, reputation is everything, for
individuals and businesses alike. Tone-deaf marketing campaigns sink brands
overnight, and reports of regressive, toxic, or non-inclusive culture on sites
like Glassdoor can quickly limit an organization’s potential to land great
When people encounter a discriminatory or non-inclusive
environment in today’s culture, they’re not going to suffer in silence or keep
it to themselves. They will use the tools available to make sure that the world
knows exactly what gaps exist in their current or former employee’s commitment
Of course, litigation is always the elephant in the room,
especially when HR issues are concerned. When it comes to inclusion and
diversity, a lack of HR commitment can quickly spiral into a costly legal
On one hand, all organizations in the U.S. with at least 15
employees are beholden to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC).
EEOC investigations and adjudications can last for months, or even years,
creating a long, damaging process that can devastate an organization’s ability
to turn a profit in both the short- and long-term. Depending on the state in
which your business is located, there may be additional anti-discrimination and
inclusion laws you need to consider.
On the other, there’s the specter of civil litigation. Civil
cases can be resolved much more quickly than EEOC investigations, but they can
be just as damaging in terms of finance, reputation, and ongoing employee
morale. No matter where your organization is located, there are several
attorneys in your area who make their bread and butter on discrimination
claims, and they know how to use your own policies (or lack thereof) against
you to win the biggest possible award for their clients.
As an HR professional, it’s your job to build the best
possible team and create an environment in which that team can thrive and
succeed. Part of building that great team is truly understanding the importance
of diversity to high-quality work; another part is commitment to supporting the
team you’ve built with policies, procedures, and structure that help them feel
plugged-in and valued.
Some key takeaways from this post include:
Diversity and inclusion are no longer optional workplace values
Businesses that create a welcoming, diverse, inclusive environment provide themselves with the best opportunities for innovation and the widest array of skills and perspectives
Organizations that don’t embrace diversity and inclusion stand to lose the war for talent and set themselves up for legal and financial trouble
How to Learn More
Whether you’re an emerging HR leader trying to build a better understanding of diversity and inclusion or an experienced veteran looking to bring yourself up to speed on how D&I best practices are evolving, be sure to reserve a seat at Launchways’ upcoming Diversity & Inclusion Summit for HR and Finance Leaders.
The free education session will take place after hours on Wednesday, October 16th at TechNexus in Chicago and will feature an expert panel with the Midwest’s leading HR professionals and diversity and inclusion experts, including…
· Rebekah Wolford of Paylocity, a culture- and success-oriented HR leader with experience leading data-driven D&I initiatives
· Alex Koglin of Launchways, a leading Chicago-area employee benefits consultant with a passion for LGBTQ+ rights
· Chanté Thurmond of The Darkest Horse, an executive talent consultant who specializes in radical inclusion and expert team building
· Manny Flores of SomerCor, a small business lender with a track record of empowering diverse entrepreneurs
Panel discussions will be packed with takeaways related to diversity and inclusion, including…
· How to foster a diverse and inclusive company culture
· How to build diverse and inclusive HR policies and practices
· How to ensure compliance with federal and state diversity and inclusion regulations
· How to create diverse and inclusive benefits packages.
In addition to these key insights, open Q&A and networking time will allow attendees to guide and personalize the summit experience to maximize their takeaways. If you’re a finance or HR leader in the Chicago area, be sure to save your seat at the Diversity & Inclusion Summit for HR and Finance Leaders!
This post is brought to you by our valued partner Paylocity.
CHICAGO, Oct. 1, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Launchways, a leading provider of human resources, employee benefits, and business insurance solutions, today announced that it is partnering with Rippling to provide its clients with an integrated HR, payroll, and benefits platform.
Founded by Zenefits veteran Parker Conrad, Rippling offers a better alternative for growing businesses as one of the first all-in-one, modernized system for handling the entire employee experience from hiring to offboarding. Rippling’s competitive edge lies in a modern and streamlined interface, its relative affordability, and its scalability. The platform is as easy to use as it is comprehensive and serves a business of ten people just as well as after they grow into a team of a thousand. This unique approach has helped Rippling secure $60M in funding and resulted in widespread acclaim from experts and customers alike, including ranking first among Payroll Software and HR Software on Capterra.
Launchways believes that people fuel business success and help entrepreneurs achieve sustainable growth by empowering their people through intentional benefits and HR strategy. After implementing Rippling for a client, Launchways was impressed both by the support from the Rippling team and the business results for the client. Moving forward, Launchways has decided to create a formal partnership with Rippling to bring Rippling’s technology as a strategic solution to future clients.
The partnership will give Launchways’ clients significant discounts on the software as well as a dedicated service and support team. As James Taylor, Launchways CEO, says: “Rippling is doing something unique in the software industry. We look forward to implementing their solution to streamline our clients’ HR, benefits, and payroll operations. Having a scalable solution helps our clients take a more intentional approach to their benefits and HR.”
Launchways provides business leaders with the resources and guidance they need to build scalable people processes to support long-term growth. Founded in 2009, Launchways has helped thousands of businesses better approach the people side of their business through strategic solutions for human resources, employee benefits, and business insurance. For more information, please visit www.launchways.com.
Rippling is the first way for businesses to manage their HR & IT — from payroll and benefits, to employee computers and apps — all in one, modern system. It’s the only platform that truly unifies every employee system, and automates all of the administrative work. For more information, please visit https://www.rippling.com.
At Launchways we take a drastically different approach to
benefits and human resources. We believe that we do best for ourselves by doing
best for our clients and that our clients thrive when they do right by their
employees. We know that benefits and effective HR are some of the best tools
that growing businesses can use to attract, engage, and retain the talent they
need to not only survive but thrive and grow.
By taking a personalized approach, we can find unique
solutions that reduce costs while actually improving the value that our clients
provide for their employees. Our team is deeply involved in our clients’
business and that’s why we act as partners and problem solvers instead of
salespeople. Which has not only helped us rapidly grow our business but also
makes it genuinely rewarding to come into work each day.
Here’s how we do things differently at Launchways to ensure
we’re always doing what’s best for our clients:
A consultative sales process means we find the solutions that work best for our clients
We help people first to empower business results
Our team becomes an extension of our clients’ teams so we act as experts not only in benefits and HR but also in our clients’ industries
Constant innovation helps Launchways and its clients thrive
Scalable solutions mean that we build long-term client relationships
Consultative Sales: Finding the Solutions that Work for
One of the best things about what we do at Launchways is
that we get to be problem solvers instead of salesmen. Our business thrives by
always providing our clients with the solutions that best meet their specific
needs and budgets. That means that we take a consultative
sales approach with our clients.
What does a consultative sales process entail? Essentially,
it means that we are selling solutions instead of products. Our sales team
members serve as consultants for our clients, guiding them towards the
insurance plans, benefits, and technology partners that will work the best for
them and their businesses.
We use our industry experience to advise our clients about
which options we think are right for them and build connections with premier vendors
to provide our clients with the best possible options. This unique approach
means that we don’t bring our clients “out-of-the-box” packages and ask them to
pick one. Instead, we craft custom, strategic solutions that are tailored to
each client’s unique needs. While we have formed numerous strategic
partnerships with insurers, benefits providers, and technology companies, we
don’t pitch our clients on their solutions. Instead, we leverage our
partnerships to deliver unique savings, greater support, and customized
solutions to fuel our clients’ businesses.
Helping People First to Deliver Business Results
Our business model is based on the essential truth that a
company is only as strong as its people and that businesses perform best when
they do best by their employees. Growing businesses might come to Launchways to
control costs, increase employee productivity and retention, and achieve other
business results, but our solutions are ultimately grounded in helping our
clients build and maintain a team that fuels business success.
What does that mean for Launchways? For one thing, it means we
are extremely strategic in the way we help our clients control costs at their
businesses. Reducing costs is important for most of our clients. But we understand
how to balance cost cutting with maintaining employee happiness and building an
attractive employer brand.
Growing businesses can often achieve the cost-savings they
need by reducing bureaucracy, rather than reducing the quality of employee
healthcare. We streamline processes, generate savings through strategic plan
design, and identify real employee healthcare needs to increase the benefits
that matter most to employees while eliminating waste.
A Business of Partnership: Consultants and Advisors not
Launchways is a growing business that understands the pain
points that our fellow scaling businesses face. We understand that benefits and
HR are very personal topics and should be addressed with personalized
solutions. Launchways takes a uniquely boutique approach to benefits and human
resources. Our team serves an extension of our clients’ human resources and leadership
teams, helping steer their companies towards sustainable growth and scalable
Under this approach, our advisors serve as partners and
problem solvers. Our team embeds itself in our clients’ businesses to create custom
solutions for unique challenges. We get the opportunity to work not just for
Launchways but for each of Launchways’ clients.
Because of our dedication to doing everything possible to
help our clients and their employees succeed, Launchways is always searching
for new ways to empower our clients’ benefits and human resources. Whether it’s
a new benefits management software platform, unique wellness benefit,
telehealth program or innovative approach to prescription savings, our job is
to find out what the cutting-edge solutions are and determine how we can
leverage them to help our clients.
At Launchways, we always have our eyes on the horizon so we
never get stuck in a rut. We are constantly pushing forward, never content to
rest still and implement the same solutions over and over again until they
The focus on innovation to fuel client results fundamentally
changes the nature of our organization and how we operate. From our trendy office
space at the heart of Chicago’s startup district, our work-life balance, and
even the way we handle our internal communications, Launchways lives-and-breathes
like a tech startup rather than a traditional benefits broker.
Human resources and benefits should be exciting and
rewarding. The Launchways approach cuts through the usual bureaucracy to bring
the focus back on people and innovative problem-solving.
Scalable Solutions Mean Long Term Relationships
Businesses’ needs change as they grow, their employee
demographics and priorities change, and the market shifts. And the solutions
available to address business challenges are changing just as quickly.
So while Launchways is dedicated to implementing solutions
and strategies that can scale with our clients’ growth, we know that truly
scalable solutions require continuous feedback and revision. We know that we
won’t do right by our clients if we just sell them a new benefits package and
then move onto the next account. Instead, we forge long term relationships in
which we make our expertise, resources, and strategic partners available to
meet any issues that our clients might face. Ongoing service and consultation are
an integral part of our business at its core.
Launchways was founded to provide a better model to tackle
the benefits and human resources challenges that growing businesses face. Our
mission has led us to take an unconventional stance for a successful benefits
broker: we always do what’s best for our clients and their employees. This has
a ripple effect that changes just about everything about how we do business,
Our sales team takes a fully consultative sales approach that focuses on building solutions, not selling products
We get to help people because we know that businesses succeed when they help their employees succeed
Launchways’ benefits advisors become an extension of our clients’ teams, getting to know their businesses and working for them as much as for Launchways
Technological advancements and changes in the healthcare market mean that Launchways is constantly innovating to deliver the best results possible
There is no one-off solution for benefits and human resources challenges, so we take a long-term approach to our client relationships that makes our work more productive and rewarding
Do you like the sound of doing what’s best for your clients,
forming deeper relationships with clients’ teams, and developing solutions that
help people? The Launchways model has proved successful and we are expanding
our team to meet the growing demand for our business model. Check out the open
positions on our careers page.
Growing companies are increasingly turning to diversity and inclusion, or D&I, initiatives to fuel their success. People are the ultimate drivers of business success and having the widest range of perspectives available to tackle business challenges is an invaluable asset to companies of all sizes. But small-to-mid-sized businesses are particularly strongly defined by the makeup of their employees.
Many businesses have D&I policies and procedures as a matter of course and treat it as a compliance issue or silo it in HR. But others are starting to put the principles of diversity and inclusion at the heart of everything that they do. And they’re seeing real results. Recent studies show that greater gender and racial diversity each are directly correlated with increased profitability and value creation. And companies with the most women and minorities in leadership positions are between 20-30% more likely to achieve above-average financial performance.
One of the companies that have gone above and beyond in their D&I efforts is Launchways client Tandem, a consultancy that focuses on developing custom software solutions for growing businesses. We spoke to Tandem CEO, JC Grubbs, about how and why he has tried to foster diversity at his startup and how these efforts have contributed to his business’s phenomenal success. As it turns out, businesses looking for ways to stand out from competitors and fuel innovation within their organization have a lot to gain from the lessons that Tandem has learned.
Why D&I Is A Top Priority for Tandem
Before delving into the business advantages of having a more diverse and inclusive team, it’s worth spending some time to consider the moral forces that influence businesses like Tandem to focus so much effort into D&I. Generally speaking, many employers feel a moral responsibility to take care of the employees who dedicate so much of their time and energy to growing their company, and that includes making sure that all employees feel welcome and receive fair treatment regardless of their backgrounds or demographics. Diversity and genuine inclusion are important elements of the positive company culture that so many business leaders want to maintain.
For JC, though, his moral obligation to promote a diverse and inclusive workplace at Tandem goes beyond these general principles. As a member of the LGBTQ community who has experienced first-hand both inclusive and non-inclusive environments work environments, he sees it as his duty to make sure that everyone feels welcome and included at Tandem.
Beyond moral considerations, D&I is just good business for companies like Tandem. The studies showing how diversity contributes to profitability and value creation are grounded in business realities that JC has seen at his company. Since starting the company in 2011, he has seen how Tandem’s products and the ways that the company executes its work dramatically improve as the team becomes more diverse. As JC says, “It has happened over time but as I look at the way that we’ve run engagements with clients, I see a continual improvement in that. Part of that comes from learning and process improvement but I attribute a significant portion of that to our efforts in bringing more diverse voices to the table in how we deliver work to our clients.”
So how has JC built such a diverse and productive team? A lot of it has to do with the way that Tandem brands itself and crafts its company culture.
Importance of Employer Branding
Authentic branding should represent who you want to be as a company not just how you want to be seen. With that principle in mind, Tandem recently underwent a significant branding effort, including adopting the name Tandem in place of DevMynd, to put the principles of diversity, inclusion, and human connection at the very core of the brand. This new brand emphasizes the company’s focus on the human side of software development: getting as many diverse voices and perspectives involved as possible to create unique solutions that fuel innovation.
A significant part of the D&I branding effort has focused on how Tandem features their employees on their website. The “Team” page plays a much stronger role in the site than for most companies, and Tandem has done several things differently to foster a sense of diversity and inclusion. The first thing that visitors will probably notice is that the page isn’t organized with the C-Suite at the top and lower-ranked team members as you scroll down. Instead, everyone is mixed together with the CEO and COO right in the middle so that leadership at the center, rather than the top, of the company. And each employee profile features an in-depth bio that helps potential clients and employees get to know the team, plus three photos including one featuring the employee’s favorite hobby to further humanize the team members.
It’s hard to overemphasize the importance of employer branding and featuring employees so heavily on the website. In fact, according to JC, branding and highlighting his team members has been the number one contributor to the increase in diversity at Tandem. One of the first things that people from underrepresented communities look at when they’re considering a potential employer is what the team looks like. As JC puts it, “When they go to your site and see people who look like them and when they read their bios, they read things that feel like them, it immediately puts them in a different frame of mind in terms of how they view you as an employer.”
The benefits don’t stop at attracting diverse and talented employees, either. Another driver for Tandem’s focus on their Team page and D&I branding is to celebrate their success in that area and the success of their team. Small-to-mid-sized businesses are ultimately just a conglomeration of their employees and it’s important that both potential employees and clients see the people they’re going to be working with and get a sense of what voices are going to be in the room. This can not only lead to productive partnerships but also prevent damaging missteps as it can drive away employees or clients who aren’t a good fit. As far as Tandem is concerned, they don’t want to work with employees or clients who do not want to work with a team like theirs, so the more public they make their diversity the better.
Tailoring the Employee Benefits Package for D&I
But branding can only go so far; the real measure of a business’s diversity and inclusion is how they treat their employees. For growing businesses, especially in the tech field, who lack the resources to compete with major companies in terms of salaries and bonuses, this means tailoring their benefits packages to attract talent and build a diverse and inclusive team.
At Tandem, this started with a comprehensive and fully employer-paid insurance package that provides 100% coverage for employees and their families on all major health aspects: medical, dental, vision, and more. Just last year, they added a telehealth program so that employees can get access to medical advice more quickly and easily; a benefit that especially appeals to employees with children.
Tandem tailored its other benefits to accommodate people who have responsibilities that aren’t tied to work, such as being the caretaker for aging parents or being parents themselves. They implemented a flexible time policy that lets employees set their own schedule as long as they are in the office for core work hours from 10:00am-4:00, give employees the option of working remotely one day a week, and allow employees to work from home on other days whenever the need arises. Despite being too small to be required to offer maternity leave under FMLA, Tandem also offers 8 weeks of new-parent leave for natural births and adoptions, on top of standard PTO. Having that flexibility and making sure that the flexibility is integrated into company policies and processes is an important step to support a diverse set of outside of work needs; another key element of D&I.
Tandem isn’t ready to stop there, either. They are already exploring two new potential benefits to better foster diversity and inclusion: fertility and gender transition support benefits. While they are still looking into costs and proper structures and have not pulled the trigger yet, they believe that it is important to think ahead and look beyond traditional benefits to see what you can and should do to support a more diverse set of employee needs.
Ongoing D&I Efforts and Accountability
The final lesson that growing businesses can take away from Tandem’s D&I success is that diversity and inclusion is a constantly evolving process and that it is important to reevaluate current practices to see if you’re doing the right things and if are there new areas that you should explore. In fact, Tandem’s CEO went so far as to say, “If I had any advice for other growing businesses it would be that D&I is not a one-and-done, ‘check all the boxes’ and then move on type of issue: you need to reexamine it on a continuing basis.”
So what should growing businesses who are dedicated to promoting D&I do to monitor and reexamine their efforts? Tandem conducts bi-annual employee satisfaction surveys and the CEO has a one-on-one with every employee at least annually so that Tandem can be sure that it is maintaining its culture, that its employees feel engaged and included, and that any issues can be identified and corrected. JC also decided to create a Culture and Inclusion committee made up of a wide range of employees that meets every quarter to review current practices, discuss possible initiatives, and generally steer the direction of the company’s D&I efforts.
This committee has been central to the successful integration of D&I into Tandem’s brand and operations. It was responsible for raising the possibility of providing fertility and gender transition support benefits after it worked with Launchways to determine what the current insurance covered and what opportunities for improvement were left on the table. It also looks at the public face of the company to see if it is sending the types of signals to job candidates, such as reviewing job descriptions to see if they appropriately emphasize inclusion or use language that can be interpreted as exclusionary.
Tandem also recently completed an ADA study of their physical office space to get a sense of what they need to do to support people who need access to the building in different ways. And Tandem is planning on publicly releasing career paths, complete with requirements to move up to each position and salary ranges for every position, to encourage transparency and fairness both internally and for potential employees. This is significant, because transparency is absolutely vital to fostering true diversity and inclusion.
Every company is unique, and its approach diversity and inclusion should be as well. But Tandem provides a compelling model of how companies can put the principles of D&I at the heart of their employer brand, benefits strategy, and processes to build a diverse and innovative team. Hopefully, you can apply some of the lessons that Tandem has learned to fuel your business’s growth. Just remember that:
• In addition to being morally right, diversity and inclusion is just good business and results in increased profits and business results
• Your employer brand defines how potential employees and clients see you, so making sure that it aligns with and celebrates diversity and inclusion can help you build an innovative workforce and productive partnerships
• Benefits are often the most concrete tool that employers have to foster D&I by accommodating a wide range of employee needs
• D&I is an ongoing process that requires constant reevaluation, accountability, and transparency