Microsoft’s Transition to a
New Health Plan
How did you approach this change?
What mistakes do most Corporate
Benefits dir...
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Microsoft’s Transition to a New Health Plan - Fred Thiele, Microsoft Corporation

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Fred Thiele, a speaker at the marcus evans Corporate Benefits Summit 2014, outlines how Microsoft recently migrated to a high-deductible health plan for all US employees.
Interview with: Fred Thiele, Senior Director of Global Benefits, Microsoft Corporation

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Microsoft’s Transition to a New Health Plan - Fred Thiele, Microsoft Corporation

  1. 1. Microsoft’s Transition to a New Health Plan How did you approach this change? What mistakes do most Corporate Benefits directors make when planning such a transition? My team and I approached this with great sensitivity and regard for employees’ understandable attachment to the former plan. Interview with: Fred Thiele, Senior Director of Global Benefits, Microsoft Corporation With healthcare reforms underway, many Corporate Benefits directors are contemplating how their organization’s health plan design should be adjusted. A common mistake they make, according to Fred Thiele, Senior Director of Global Benefits, Microsoft Corporation, is that they push through profound change too rapidly and just assume that employees will eventually fall in line. This approach is especially risky in competitive industries where the top firms are all vying for the same talent, he adds. A speaker at the marcus evans Corporate Benefits Summit 2014, in Las Vegas, Nevada, January 26-28, Thiele discusses Microsoft’s smooth transition to a new health plan. Why did Microsoft make the decision to transition to a highdeductible health plan with health savings accounts, despite the popularity of its health plan? While our former US health plan design was generally popular, it was also inefficient and did not provide any opportunity for long-term savings. Quantitative analysis based on our employee demographics showed that the fully-paid plan design resulted in overconsumption of health care in certain places without correspondingly better outcomes. Conscientious communications and change management were hugely important, as many considered the health plan to be a key component of our corporate culture in the US. One mistake that some Benefits leaders make -- which we were determined to avoid -- is to push through profound change too rapidly and just assume that employees will eventually “get it” and fall in line. Any final words of advice? Take time to know your unique employee population and how they perceive what you have to offer in the marketplace. It is too easy to default to generalizations about a “typical” or “aggregate” population, which may cause you to miss the mark on matters of critical importance. Microsoft operates in a hotly competitive industry where many of the top firms are vying for the same sought-after talent. Companies in other segments face similar realities. You cannot afford to have someone else know your employees better than you do. Competitive benefits programs are still one of the most visible ways to attract, retain and motivate your talent. How should such a change be communicated to employees? What tools could be useful? We gave our employees two years notice of the 2013 plan migration and kept an open dialogue with them along the way. Since we never underestimated the gravity of this change, we always approached our employee population proactively, frankly, and within a principles-driven framework. Our employees expect nothing less from us. We assured them that the new plan would remain among the best in the technology industry and that it would cover them and their dependents thoroughly, with reasonable costsharing. But we also conceded that it would require them to think about their health care differently, because of the consumerism aspects that would now come into play. To help employees with their decision-making, we introduced a health care cost and quality transparency tool, in addition to an online bill-pay tool to lessen the administrative burden. Take time to know your unique employee population
  2. 2. The HR Network – marcus evans Summits group delivers peer-to-peer information on strategic matters, professional trends and breakthrough innovations. About the Corporate Benefits Summit 2014 This unique forum will take place at the Red Rock Casino, Resort & Spa, Las Vegas, Nevada, January 26-28, 2014. Offering much more than any conference, exhibition or trade show, this exclusive meeting will bring together esteemed industry thought leaders and solution providers to a highly focused and interactive networking event. The Summit includes presentations on complying with healthcare reform, engaging staff to understand the full value of their benefits package, managing benefits internationally and tapping into diversity. www.corporatebenefitssummit.com Please note that the Summit is a closed number business of event participants and the strictly limited. Contact Sarin Kouyoumdjian-Gurunlian, Press Manager, marcus evans, Summits Division Tel: Email: + 357 22 849 313 press@marcusevanscy.com For more information please send an email to info@marcusevanscy.com All rights reserved. The above content may be republished or reproduced. Kindly inform us by sending an email to press@marcusevanscy.com About marcus evans Summits marcus evans Summits are high level business forums for the world’s leading decision-makers to meet, learn and discuss strategies and solutions. Held at exclusive locations around the world, these events provide attendees with a unique opportunity to individually tailor their schedules of keynote presentations, case studies, roundtables and one-on-one business meetings. For more information, please visit: www.marcusevans.com Upcoming Events Corporate Learning & Talent Development Summit - www.cltdsummit.com HR Summit (Australia) - www.hranzsummit.com To view the web version of this interview, please click here: www.corporatebenefitssummit.com/FredThiele

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