How Paylocity Co-Created a Virtual MSK Benefits Strategy with Employees

October 13th, 2020  by  Jill Santercier, Benefits Manager at Paylocity

At Paylocity, we care about each and every employee. When it comes to benefits, change is the only constant. Gone are the days of just checking the box. To keep our benefits in tune with our employees’ needs, we involve our employees in our benefits process and co-create our benefits strategy together.

Founded in 1997, Paylocity is a leading provider of cloud-based HR and payroll software solutions. As an industry leader that believes people matter most, Paylocity delivers personalized service with its cutting-edge technology. Like other technology companies, much of our workforce is made up of office-bound and jet-setting employees. While we are based in Schaumburg, Illinois, 60% of our workforce was remote even before COVID- 19. Now of course, pretty much our entire workforce is remote.

Remote work presents new challenges for employees

According to the Hinge Health Survey Report “New Health Risks in the Remote Workplace 2020,” 900+ remote workers said lack of movement is one of their top challenges with remote work. Not surprisingly, the survey also found that back and joint pain are on the rise. Close to half of remote workers are currently experiencing back and joint pain, with over 70% experiencing new or increased back and joint pain since working from home during COVID.

With over half of our employees already working remotely prior to COVID, Paylocity was an early adopter of virtual care offerings and improving member access to care. I recently spoke at the IBI/Conference Board Health & Productivity Forum in September 2020, together with Dr. Krauss, Chief Medical Officer at Hinge Health. Here is a summary of what I shared.

Paylocity benefits philosophy: Co-creating our benefits with employees

Because our employees are top of mind at Paylocity, our benefits philosophy is centered on involving employees as co-creators of our benefits. This is a reflection of our company’s product philosophy to co-create our product with our customers in mind. We bring this same approach to how we shape our benefits with our employees. In addition to looking at our medical claims data, we go a step further and involve our employees when designing our benefits.

Our CEO and C-suite team truly care about our employees both inside and outside the office. For example, if we change pharmacy benefits, our CEO wants to know how far employees will have to go or how much they will have to pay. His first consideration is the experience for employees. It’s not about saving money for the company.

To keep our employees in the loop when it comes to our benefits strategy, we conduct regular employee surveys to constantly solicit feedback. We regularly listen to our employees' challenges and benefit ideas through Employee Resource Groups and focus groups. In addition, we also leverage our own internal communication platform to create feedback channels, so we keep a pulse on their thoughts and concerns. Many of our benefit solutions were originally suggested by our employees.

When designing our benefits programs, we listen, incorporate feedback and iterate. We constantly gut check our benefits with our employees. If our employees tell us the benefit solution isn’t working, we usually go back to the drawing board and continuously improve our offerings. Finally, co-creating your benefits together with employees not only ensures you offer what they need, but also results in high enrollment and engagement in your new benefit solutions.

Musculoskeletal conditions, #3 top cost driver

With the majority of our workforce working from home on a computer, musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions was our #3 top cost driver. Much of this spend was driven by expensive chronic MSK surgeries. We learned this from analyzing our medical claims data, but we knew we could avoid these costly surgeries by offering expert-recommended conservative care like exercise therapy, behavioral health support, and education to address back and joint pain. Before we selected a benefit solution, we also dived deeper into some of the challenges for employees in seeking physical therapy care.

We realized the value of Hinge Health health coaches to help motivate our employees as well as offer a more holistic approach to MSK care by looking at lifestyle issues such as weight or stress. We heard from our employees that making time for their health can be a challenge in their busy lives. Before COVID-19, going to physical therapy once or twice a week wasn’t realistic for several weeks of treatment. In our feedback surveys and focus groups, many employees voiced the inconvenience of scheduling an appointment, taking time off work, having a partner watch the kids, driving to physical therapy, potentially sitting in traffic and so on. Now of course with COVID- 19, going to physical therapy isn’t even an option anymore for many. Many of our employees also voiced challenges in sticking to a physical therapy regime and doing their exercises on their own.

Paylocity’s criteria for an MSK solution

Due to 60% of our workforce being remote even before COVID, we decided to adopt a Digital MSK Clinic to address back and joint pain at home. We were ahead of the curve in addressing a rising trend rather than waiting for it to balloon out of control. Now with COVID, I am glad we implemented a digital MSK solution like Hinge Health.

We also wanted a program that holistically addressed related conditions to MSK and paired technology with a clinical team of physical therapists and health coaches to motivate and support employees to complete the program.

In addition, as a benefits team, easy integration and implementation was another important criterion for Paylocity. We wanted a solution that would seamlessly integrate with our other vendors and health plan for an easy to roll out.

Finally, the solution had to be proven. As a company that is dedicated to enhancing the lives of our employees, we had to make sure that each member had a great experience and our solution provider had the track record to deliver on experience & clinical outcomes.

Because of those priorities, we came to the conclusion that Hinge Health’s Digital MSK Clinic was the best fit for us. With Hinge Health, our participants are surrounded by comprehensive clinical care including doctors of physical therapy, physicians, health coaches, and sensor technology. What’s more, they can consult with their dedicated physical therapist & health coach virtually and do their sensor-guided exercise therapy from the comfort of their homes. With COVID-19, digital MSK care has become an even more important benefit for our workforce.

Enrollment in Hinge Health shot through the roof

The implementation process with Hinge Health was simple and seamless because we were able to bill through our carrier’s medical claims. The implementation process was fast and easy with Hinge Health doing all the heavy lifting.

One of the biggest hurdles for benefits professionals is educating members on their benefits & getting appropriate utilization. To help us, Hinge Health took care of all the member communications to drive member enrollment by launching a surround-sound campaign including postcards, emails, and webinars.

We also used our own Paylocity communication platform called “Community,” which is like an internal social media platform. We created a “Hinge Health group” for employees on our platform, where people could find out more about the program and users could share success stories and tips with each other as well. We pinned how to register in the group to drive enrollments.

As a result, we easily met our enrollment goal with Hinge Health. This also goes back to our philosophy of co-creating benefits with our employees. We listened to them when we designed our MSK benefits and the result was that enrollment and engagement shot through the roof when we launched Hinge Health.

High engagement in the Hinge Health program at Paylocity

Once our members were enrolled, we saw incredible engagement outcomes in the Hinge Health program.

  • Education: Our members read an average of about 14 educational articles throughout the program.
  • Exercise Therapy: Members averaged 2-3 exercise therapy sessions a week over 3 months - it’s hard to imagine employees keeping up that cadence for in-person PT sessions, every week for 3 months. With COVID-19, this is even more challenging. That’s why a digital solution had appeal for Paylocity’s members. You can do it wherever and whenever fits your schedule. The wearable sensors help guide our members to have confidence they are doing the exercises appropriately.
  • Coaching & PTs: We really liked how Hinge Health had dedicated coaches and physical therapists matched to each member for the whole program, so they could build relationships to be a strong accountability partner. Over the 12-week intensive phase, participants interacted with coaches and PTs about 4 times per week.

Each participant averaged 50% reduction in pain

This high engagement resulted in better outcomes for our members. At Paylocity, each participant had an average of 50% reduction in pain after the first 12-weeks of the Hinge Health chronic MSK program. To put that into context, members were seeing pain reduction that was over 3x what they would have expected with opioids.

How Paylocity Co-Created a Virtual MSK Benefits Strategy with Employees

Let me share a story of Jenny, a 29-year old Data Scientist. Her back pain and stiffness limited her ability to do things she loved like going hiking with her family or cycling with her friends. Since completing the Hinge Health program, she can finally get back to doing the things she loves. Her pain levels reduced from 3 out of 10 to 1 out of 10.

We also saw financial outcomes in terms of avoided surgeries. When members’ pain decreases, this also reduces the likelihood of members pursuing expensive surgery options. For Paylocity, 2 out of 3 surgeries were avoided, which is about a 3.6x ROI.

How Paylocity Co-Created a Virtual MSK Benefits Strategy with Employees

Paylocity also saw positive mental health impacts from the Hinge Health program. Research shows a strong connection between depression and chronic pain. We saw depression and anxiety rates were reduced 70% after the first 12 weeks of the Hinge Health program.

How Paylocity Co-Created a Virtual MSK Benefits Strategy with Employees

We were also interested in seeing how productivity would improve as a result of the Hinge Health program. People who are feeling better physically and mentally are usually more productive and engaged workers. At Paylocity, we saw a 25% decrease in absenteeism and presenteeism after the first 12-weeks of the Hinge Health program.

Listen to your employees

Finally, we saw great outcomes from the Hinge Health program in part because we listened to our employees when designing and selecting an MSK benefit solution. We also chose a solution that had proven clinical and financial outcomes with a track record in easy implementation and enterprise readiness.

If you would like to find out more information about Hinge Health’s Digital MSK Clinic, click below for a demo request.

Jill Santercier, Benefits Manager at Paylocity

About the Author

As Paylocity’s Benefits Manager, Jill Santercier plays a pivotal role in the design and implementation of Benefits programs for Paylocity’s 3,000+ employees. With over 20 years of Human Resources experience, Jill expertly translates business visions into innovative Benefits strategies and HR initiatives that improve performance, profitability, growth, and employee engagement.

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