People work for people, so companies must get their culture right says Steve Auerbach CEO at Alegeus in this TecHRseries interview. During a time such as the present where companies and economies are struggling through a lot of uncertainty because of the novel coronavirus, having the right culture fit while motivating employees to lean in will help businesses tide over rough times.
Catch more from this story where Steve shares a little about his journey into the healthcare benefits niche and why now is as good a time as any for HR teams to start thinking beyond traditional support.
Tell us a little about yourself Steve, how did you venture into the healthcare benefits industry and how has your journey been this far?
Healthcare is very personal to me. I’ve watched people close to me, including my parents while I was growing up, struggle to make difficult healthcare decisions. This first-hand experience inspired me to do everything I can to simplify the space and help the average consumer be smarter and more strategic about healthcare spending and saving. Since beginning my tenure with Alegeus, the company has pivoted from a transactional-based business to an organization focused on guiding consumers to the right coverage, cash and care strategies. This high-touch value proposition has led to year-over-year growth – for both Alegeus and our clients – and resulted in a September 2018 acquisition by Vista Equity Partners, a market-leading technology investment firm focused exclusively on organizations disrupting their industries.
Alegeus uses advanced technologies to transform the way people navigate the U.S. healthcare system and help them live healthier lives. For example, in response to COVID-19, we launched an Employee Care Card to help employers get emergency relief funds into the hands of their employees, quickly. Now, more than ever, we’re proud of the work we do!
In your journey so far, what are some of the biggest leadership/team building lessons you’ve learnt?
I’ll give you my top three:
- Invest in your employees holistically. To properly support and grow a team of leaders, you must take the time to know them as individuals, understanding their needs, goals and realities. The way we work is changing, and so too is the employer-employee relationship. Now, more than ever, the workplace is a source of support, and employees expect their employers to take an interest in their lives beyond the office walls.
- Relationships matter. If you are sitting in your office behind a desk, you are in the wrong spot. I believe those who get out into the market, talk to their customers, invest in those relationships, and become a ‘student of the sport’ will be our future winners.
- Keep your processes lean and focus on the critical few. Five-minute tasks should take just that. Staying efficient and agile is especially important at the intersection of healthcare, finance and technology, where things evolve rapidly. The quicker we can react to changing market needs, the better, and I always want my team focused on what drives results. Anything else is just activity. I often remind my team to ‘major in major’ and focus on the critical projects that push the business forward. When you try to focus on everything, you’re really focused on nothing.
We’d love some of your thoughts on building / scaling sales and marketing teams for health benefits technology (product) companies- what are some of your top tips for hiring/building a strong marketing/sales unit here?
Building the right team comes down to cultural add. When you hire people who are passionate and want to create value, give them the right incentives and they will deliver amazing results.
To grow the sales organization, start with an honest evaluation of the market need and always stay true to deliver value to the end user – making sure deals are a win-win. When you do what is right for all parties and stay true to your word, success is fast to follow.
We’d love your thoughts on how some of the top (global) tech companies or B2B companies are using health benefits and other employee benefits to create a better experience at the workplace, we’d love to know how you foresee this segment evolve – what will companies need to do in future to ensure they are giving their teams the best?
Beyond typical employer support, such as health and employee benefits packages, we are steadfast in our commitment to diversity and inclusion initiatives. Our goal is to create an environment that supports the authentic person. When people feel accepted and respected for who they are, they bring their unique talents and perspectives to the table. I view building our Alegeus team as creating a family, and I view supporting employees as nurturing that family.
Besides a comprehensive healthcare benefits package, what are some of the other crucial elements that, according to you, HR teams should offer their employees worldwide?
It’s never been more important for HR teams to think beyond traditional support. The COVID-19 pandemic has invited us into our employees’ lives like never before, especially through video conferencing. We see their pets, their kids, their homes – a more personal version of everyone – and that gives us an opportunity to show more empathy and compassion. This has led Alegeus to embrace flexible work hours, personal check-ins and more authentic living. HR teams can take the lessons learned during this time and turn them into pillars of their culture long after this pandemic passes.
Given the current world situation, what are your top thoughts on healthcare benefits, how can companies facing these uncertain times ensure they are giving their employees what they need through this pandemic while ensuring business continuity in other ways?
Set aside time to check in with your teams and ask what they need and what they’re worried about. You’ll likely find healthcare and finances at the root of their concerns, especially now. In addition to where Alegeus already plays supporting consumers with their healthcare benefit accounts, to get relief funds quickly into the hands of employees, we recently launched the Employee Care Card, a debit card that allows employers to load and reload funds. We’re more committed than ever to using our technology in ways that remove fear and help people live healthier lives.
If you could change 5 (mundane) things about employee practices in tech companies, when it comes to employee or healthcare benefits – what would they be
Easy. Lack of vision and hiring outside company walls.
Ultimately, people work for people, so companies must get culture right. Sharing a vision and sense of adventure with employees allows them to see the greater meaning behind the company and feel like part of a family.
This brings me to my next point: Employers often miss the most obvious opportunities when they focus on hiring external staff. Instead, focus on moving existing employees into their next role. There is so much room for growth around every corner, and you’ll be surprised by the value your employees can deliver when they are given the opportunity to lean in and grow. Unlock your team and be passionate about helping everyone reach their full potential.
Tag (mention/write about) the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read!
Richard Anderson, the former CEO of Delta Airlines, created not only one of the best performing airlines but also a passionate workforce.
A few tips for businesses worldwide dealing with the current world pandemic.
I would just say stay compassionate, invest in your people, and don’t wait to see what happens. Be sure to take daily inventory of what you’re grateful for as an organization and do what you can to help others not just survive, but thrive, during this time. Times like these show us what we are made of. Encourage employees to lean in, and you will uncover new strengths and talents across the business. To come out of this pandemic strong, businesses must stay in front of the impact, and to do this, they must be willing to evolve and be nimble in their operations.
Steve Auerbach is the Chief Executive Officer at Alegeus and a member of its Board of Directors. With a singular focus on making customers successful, Steve brings more than 25 years of industry experience and has a proven track record of driving organizational growth by offering differentiated value, providing excellent customer service, and creating outstanding consumer experiences. Steve holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics and Statistics from the University of Connecticut and an MBA from the University of Hartford.