Over more than 20 years in the industry, new Winston Benefits team member David Blum has seen human capital management evolve significantly as new generations of talent have joined the workforce and technology has advanced.
Blum, who was recently named Winston’s vice president of sales for the Midwest, is an accomplished professional with 23 years of cultivating business partnerships from human capital management services to both employer-based and carrier health plan technology and services. He says that early in his career it was still common for people to use paper applications for benefits and hand them in to HR.
“They would do all the manual keying into the carrier's website of all the enrollments,” he says. “It was extremely inaccurate, lots of things fell through the cracks and it was a bad experience for the employee.”
Today, he says, it’s much more likely that an organization has implemented some sort of automation or outsourced solution to manage its employee benefits.
Filling the Education Gap
Blum spent 14 years with ADP, most recently as corporate sales manager for benefits services. He also served as senior business development manager at the payroll company CloudPay.
He says that even though the benefits industry has shifted to more of a self-service culture, companies and consumers still need the expertise of personalized benefits recommendations or a benefits counselor to help them make the best decisions. He says parsing benefits options is often as much of a math discussion as much as it is a health discussion, because the choices can affect an individual’s life, family, health and wealth.
“As health care consumers, we’re savvy, but confused,” he says. “We think we know about health care because we experience it firsthand. We know about going to a doctor and we know what a deductible is in general. But there's so much more to utilizing your benefits appropriately and picking the right plan — picking the right voluntary benefits around it and making your contributions to a health savings account and your 401(k).”
Blum says both telephone and face-to-face assistance are effective tools if they’re done right. He says employers increasingly understand the value of having experts on-site when their organizations are trying to affect some kind of change in their participation — for example in a high-deductible plan versus a PPO plan — or trying to migrate employees over to a particular program so it can reduce costs and improve outcomes.
“That's only done through great, simplified communication because it's a complex topic when you really get down to everything that is offered today, and how it works together,” he says. “There's no substitute for that interaction between one person who knows and the other person who wants to know.”
How HR Reps Can Keep Up
With the world of benefits and human capital management evolving at such a fast pace these days, Blum says, it’s important for people in his position, as well as HR practitioners, to keep up with those changes.
Rather than trying to become an expert across the entire field, Blum suggests HR leaders select a couple of areas of personal and professional interest and focus their learning on those to develop expertise.
“Pick a couple of topics, then pick your favorite mode of learning — online or face-to-face — and start to keep up with things. When you have questions, there are always resources inside of organizations or on Linkedin that can help you. You'll be surprised what some of your peers know that you may not and vice versa.”
Blum says he was attracted to working at Winston not only because it was a good fit for his experience and skills but because he felt the company was a combination of an industry leader and a smaller, more agile organization willing to invest in improvements when necessary.
“Winston is not afraid in making investments to stay current with the industry,” he says. “Winston is ahead of the curve.”
Winston Benefits is a Benefits Administration, Enrollment, and Communication company. We provide employers with a technology enabled benefit process in order to help communicate, enroll and administer their employee benefit programs while empowering their employees to make better benefit decisions. Contact us to learn more.