Jared Pottkotter, Senior HR and Benefits Technology Manager at Midmark, previously worked in operations before returning to his roots in HR. When it comes to success in his role, he talks about how HR technology, employee benefits communications, and wellness programs drive key people and business results.
Many people go into HR because they enjoy working with people; they don’t expect to work with HR systems. Pottkotter emphasizes the importance of accommodating HR systems and learning from them: “You need to embrace systems. You aren’t going to get away from them. You don’t need to go into HR for systems . . . but know that wherever you work, you are going to be working with HR systems. Embrace it.”
The Value of Employee Benefits Extends Beyond Work
Pottkotter is drawn to HR because he loves getting to help people. “I love that I am in a position where I get to really help by providing [team members] with valuable benefits and coverage when they have issues.” Benefits impact people not just at work, but also at home. Pottkotter values being able to make a difference in the personal lives of employees. Including helping them in their best moments as well as during hard times.
Investing in Wellness Means Investing in the Whole Person
The HR and benefits space is seeing a lot of changes happening at once. It can be difficult to nail down where benefits will go in the future. With more and more companies facing issues with employee turnover, Pottkotter sees there being an emphasis on wellness. “Top of mind is wellness. [Midmark is] very committed to improving the health and wellbeing of our teammates.” Companies must work on investing in their employees as it’s crucial in order to attract and retain talent. “When you invest in wellness, you are not only investing to cut the costs of benefits . . . but you are also investing in the person.”
How to Approach Employee Benefits Communications
Benefits can get complicated, especially for those who don’t work with them on a day to day basis. That is where employee benefits communications come in. To ensure success during enrollment, Pottkotter stresses, “Never assume that people are listening to what you say or that they even heard 25% of what you say.” HR professionals have to be on point and convey only the most critical things about benefits. Pottkotter highlights that professionals should provide information throughout the year and in moments when they are needed.
At Midmark, when it comes to employee benefits communications, employees receive messages monthly, including reminders about their wellness program. Midmark has a unique wellness program that Pottkotter explains is the number one driver of benefits engagement aside from sickness. Every month, employees earn points for completing activities like seeing their primary care physicians for a physical. These prompts and incentives encourage employees to visit their medical providers throughout the year. The program is designed so that employees are constantly engaged with wellness/health throughout the year.
Managing Rising Healthcare Costs Through Wellness & Benefits Engagement
Midmark has been dealing with the rising costs of healthcare by staying on course with their wellness program. Though this has high up-front costs, it will pay off in the long-run. The program incentivizes employees to get preventive care. This care allows for early detection of diseases which will bring down costs in the long run.
Midmark measures the success of their benefits programs by keeping a close eye on costs and utilization rates. Pottkotter checks these rates monthly to better understand if employees are getting the care they need. He also uses the information to help target those not using their benefits. In addition, Pottkotter employs the wellness program to get aggregate data about the health of the employee population and create targeted programs.
When asked how he relaxes after a more trying day, Pottkotter said he enjoys reading, gardening, and a quiet commute back home. “I typically find it most helpful to unwind with silence.”
Meaningful and Personal Support When It Matters Most
The success of a benefits program can be measured through numbers, but also stories of the impact they’ve had on employees. A few years back one of Pottkotter’s teammates had a spouse who received a terminal cancer diagnosis. He approached Pottkotter to select his elections; he had specific ones in mind. The employee selected things that were familiar rather than what was best. However, Pottkotter was able to show him how different plans worked and how at the end of the day, the high deductible plan with the HSA was going to be better from the financial standpoint under their particular plans. The employee was weary because he had a lot going on in his personal life, but he has come back to thank Pottkotter for the benefits recommendations many times. “That’s one of my favorite stories to share how I get to positively impact people [with benefits].”