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Employee Benefits

Papa Bear and the Goldilocks Health Plan

Steve Harris, CEBS
Steve Harris, CEBS
Development Officer, Employee Benefits

Before a knee injury, one of my annual traditions was running with my fellow Holmies in the annual Dallas Marathon corporate relay. As a first-year captain, I asked each member of our Holmes Murphy team to come up with a handle we could use to cheer each other on out on the course. I was given the name “Papa Bear,” which some of my teammates still call me to this day. So, when we launched a steps-based corporate challenge through our health portal, I logged in under Papa Bear and knew I was headed to the top of the leaderboard.

Our Employee Benefits group designs corporate health and benefit programs that are custom tailored to each client’s culture and business strategy. Under our Holmes Murphy health plan, we ask our people to do logical things throughout the year that detect disease earlier, nudge participants toward evidence-based programs that get results, and engage in individual and team-based well-being initiatives that strengthen our culture. Our health plan requirements must be met by October 1 annually to receive the benefit of lower-cost health deductions for next year’s elections.

I’m sure the invite is somewhere in my Inbox, but I never did participate in the corporate steps-based challenge.

Anyway, at the time of this writing, the deadline is drawing near for me to complete my health requirements. So, I tried logging in with my email and password, and to my surprise, I had been locked out of the system. That is when I entered my email address and the “forgot password” link to restart my registration. I logged in using my email and new password and surveyed my status:

… flu shot (check),

… health screening (check),

… blood pressure (check),

…but, I still had some things I needed to do to qualify for next year. My frustration grew each day as I would try logging in with my email address and new password only to find the system wouldn’t enable me to enter our health portal. Like a typical guy who will not ask for directions when he is lost, I simply continued to enter my email address and reset a new password for over 90 days. Finally, out of frustration, I gave up and submitted a trouble (help desk) ticket. The reply made me smile:

Hi Steve,

Thank you for your message, and we apologize for any frustration while utilizing the portal. We are showing your username for the Holmes Murphy Wellness portal is “Papa Bear.” Can you try logging in with that username and your most recent password?

Somewhere along the line, the technology and health plan designers didn’t make it crystal clear that the handle I came up with for the steps-based challenge was what I needed to log in with as my username instead of my email address. Papa Bear and my password now work every time.

This whole scenario brought to light some important items. Whether you’re working with our teams or a competing agency, try and follow these three rules around design:

  • Be relentless around the user experience. Go through it yourself, ask others to try and break it before going live, and listen to feedback and support tickets. Don’t take negative feedback personally. Your customers aren’t criticizing you; they want to be heard and are giving you free advice on how to improve the experience.
  • Automate inconvenient manual tasks where possible (for example: uploading proof certificates). One of the biggest health carriers in the country still has a health portal that makes users check a box each day they meet a challenge and get in their daily workout. My Garmin just told you I cycled 25 miles this morning. Stop treating us like first graders and forcing us to come to your site and check in each day. We’d rather invest our time getting personal records on race day than validating your “engagement” metrics.
  • Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS). Remember the KISS principle. When you work in an industry filled with acronyms, compliance rules, and vendor limitations, we take for granted those who expect and deserve simplicity. Be kind and patient in being clear around the “why” decisions were made.

We all have Papa Bears we serve who get frustrated when things don’t go as planned. If you put the user experience first, just like Goldilocks, you will eventually find your health plan requirements are “just right.”

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