Turlock Irrigation District Automates their Benefit Administration

Client: Turlock Irrigation District

Industry: Water and Electricity Provider

Company Size: 200-500

Established in 1887, Turlock Irrigation District was the first publicly owned irrigation district in California. In 1923, it began providing electricity to homes and businesses. Today, the district is one of only four irrigation districts in the state that provides irrigation water and electric retail energy directly to homes, farms, and businesses. The district provides electricity to more than 98,000 accounts and irrigation water to 150,000 acres of farmland.

Even as the district kept pace with changes in technology to provide water and electricity to its customers, it continued to use a manual paper-based system for benefits enrollment and administration. It needed to modernize. With only 80 employees at the district’s headquarters in Turlock, the huge majority of the Turlock Irrigation District workforce is spread among two energy-generation and distribution centers, corporation yards for its service workers, and a recreation area that houses its dam. Yet in an age of online communications and high-tech programs, it was still using paper forms and a manual data-entry and filing system for benefits enrollment and administration.

“Annual benefits enrollment and ongoing administration during the year was 100 percent paper-driven, and payroll was 100 percent hand-coded and specific to an employee’s organization within the district, making it all very time-consuming,” says Andrew Guzman, the district’s benefits coordinator. “And yes, there was also the risk of errors with manual entry.”

The district’s electricity service area covers 662 square miles. It has a 307-square-mile water service area. Some employees who lived an hour’s drive away from the district’s headquarters required a visit from someone in the benefits office to help review their benefits plans and complete their annual enrollment forms.

“Each employee had to hand-complete their enrollment forms, and then the forms had to be sent to the main office of the district, and the information hand-entered, one by one,” Guzman says. “And a lot of those people work rotating shifts, so there was no way to have them come down to Turlock to complete their enrollment.”

Choosing the right partner

In 2011, the district changed health insurance carriers, and with that change, it needed to find a new benefits administration provider. It knew it wanted a platform with employee self-service that would easily integrate with the district’s payroll system.

In October 2011, the district began planning its new online benefits enrollment and administration system on CareerBuilder HCM. The district wanted to reduce the number of premium renewals each year by making enrollment easier and more efficient with an online system. They hoped this would reduce the administrative burden on the district’s HR team.

“Any goals we sought to achieve would simply be the result of a good employee self-service experience, meeting our plan and system needs, and being implemented in time for the 2012 enrollment year,” Guzman says.

The solution Guzman, who joined the district in 2016, says the CareerBuilder HCM solution was implemented and launched on time, met its goals, and was widely accepted by employees. More recently, as the district has expanded its benefits offerings, the system has proved even more beneficial.

“In 2012, we had only one plan for employees to select — it was pretty simple,” Guzman says. “For 2016, we offered two medical plans, three dental plans, a base vision plan and a buy-up plan, STD, LTD, standard life and a buy-up option, and FSA and HSA.”

The district also added a menu of voluntary benefits that included accidental death and dismemberment insurance and a critical illness plan.

“An automated system makes it all easier to manage, for us and for the district employees,” Guzman says. “And it’s been widely adopted — for the most part, it’s all online now.”

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