Client: Austin Industries
Company size: 5,000-10,000
Austin Industries is among the 10 largest general contractors based in the southern half of the United States and is the nation’s third-largest merit-shop contractor. It has 6,000 to 7,000 employee-owners working on projects nationwide at any given time, providing construction services through three operating companies, headquartered separately in Dallas, nearby Irving, and the gulf city of La Porte, Texas.
It is one of the largest and most diversified U.S.-based construction companies—but its benefits enrollment and administration system was another matter. Over the years, it had become an outdated, inefficient, cost-consuming mass of paper and manual processes that simply needed to be torn down and replaced. It would be a different type of construction job, for sure.
“Everything was on paper; we had no benefits system in place,” is the way Chris Hallman, Austin Industries manager of benefits, described the company’s annual enrollment and benefits administration as late as 2014, the year he joined the company. For annual enrollment, every one of the company’s job sites received a stack of enrollment forms “that could be two feet high.”
In addition to the massive amount of time and HR resources needed to manually distribute and collect the enrollment kits and verify and enter enrollment elections, there were times when enrollment kits didn’t get to the right location. Worse were the obvious concerns of inserting errors into the process through manual data entry.
Beyond annual enrollment, all benefits-related changes and enrollments during the plan year had to be submitted on paper and entered manually.
Choosing the right partner
The company had never quantified the cost of its manual enrollment and administration methods. But in making the business case for leaving paper behind, Hallman:
- Estimated that moving to an automated enrollment and benefits administration system would save the company the equivalent of at least one full-time position annually
- Convincingly argued that if the company were to achieve its goal of growing to 10,000 employees and were still on a paper system, “at some point the system’s going to break”
Also, Austin Industries had already moved forward in other areas of human capital management, implementing best-in-class solutions for its applicant tracking system and performance management.
“Now it was benefits administration’s time,” Hallman said.
Hallman says they went with CareerBuilder HCM primarily for its flexibility.
“Benefits administration is benefits administration at the end of the day, but we wanted to be able to do specific messaging or create pages in the system in very specific ways. Their customization ability, their desire to make something we needed for us — that was what sold us more than anything else.”
The new system also had to:
- Be live for open enrollment on November 1.
- Automatically adjust employee benefits premiums when they changed jobs (often in different cities or states) to avoid gaps in coverage.
- Deal efficiently and accurately with extremely complex benefit-rate structures, which varied at every job site, with as many as three plans at each of its 80 job sites.
- Improve the efficiency of managing benefits for a geographically diverse employee population.
- Make it easier for employees to understand, compare and select their benefits, and to make changes as allowed during the year.
- Provide mobile and remote benefits enrollment and administration capability, either online or through a call center. This was especially important because such a large share of the Austin Industries workforce does not work at a desk.
The Solution The project began in September 2014. The implementation would include the BenAdmin solution — with evidence of insurability administration and consolidated billing and reconciliation — and the Affordable Care Act Compliance solution.
The entire system was in place for annual enrollment for the 2015 plan year less than 90 days after signing the agreement.
“We didn’t have a plan B,” he said. “Some vendors were all set to turn off the benefits [for the transition to the new plan year], so we had to move forward.”
The first year of online annual enrollment not only launched on time, but saw 85 percent of enrollees in medical plans enroll online.
“That was a huge accomplishment, considering we’re a mostly blue-collar, nontechnical, guys-strewn-about-the-country kind of company that had always done enrollment by paper,” Hallman said.
The team at Austin Industries found benefit in CareerBuilder HCM’s capability to automatically adjust rates when an employee changes jobs or locations. And the implementation of CareerBuilder ACA Compliance put all of the necessary data to comply with ACA reporting at Austin Industries’ fingertips.
“Change is not necessarily easily adopted here,” Hallman said. “But after doing this for a couple of years, people go online, and they’re using the self-service system, and it seems like it’s being adopted. And, actually, there’s a sense of wanting to do it.”