Introducing our “Spotlight Series,” where Ovia Health highlights forward-thinking employers and the influential work they’re doing in the benefits space. Follow along to uncover best practices from key decision makers in HR & Benefits.
We interviewed Milt Ezzard, Senior Director of Global Benefits at Activision Blizzard, to better understand his decision-making processes as a benefits industry leader and to see how Ovia Health is helping him achieve his goals. Activision Blizzard is the world’s most successful standalone interactive entertainment company and is based in Santa Monica, CA.
How do decisions get made in the benefits space, and what actually makes an impact? Well, it all depends on whether you’re a sheep or a fox. Milt Ezzard was once told a particular metaphor about sheep and foxes in the benefits space, and it made an impact on how he thinks about decision making. If you’re a sheep in the benefits space, you go with the flow. You get fleeced once a year, but otherwise, life is fine. The life of a fox is riskier — a fox is constantly looking for a new way, a better way. Milt wants to be a fox. He wants to take on the risk to find the best solutions for his employee population.
While Milt is always willing to blaze new trails, he faces issues at Activision Blizzard that are common among many other organizations. Every year, there will be a few catastrophic health costs that crop up, seemingly out of nowhere, like cancer or high-risk pregnancies. Milt takes into consideration that these events are to be expected and uses that knowledge to specifically look at places in his cost driver and claim data that can be meaningfully and quickly impacted.
Milt’s population at Activision Blizzard includes a wide variety of individuals and roles: artists, developers, corporate executives, and call center representatives. He knows his population prefers simplicity and technology when it comes to benefits; the ability to have resources readily available without having to hunt for them is hugely important. Milt specifically works to ensure the benefits he offers map directly to his unique employee population and their needs.
“There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all benefits program.”
Knowing he has a diverse workforce, Milt offers a diverse menu of programs to satisfy individuals’ needs. “There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all benefits program,” he says. “I’ve tried to veer away from the one-stop shop. Instead of getting condition management programs from one vendor, I’ve chosen to hand select boutique, standalone solutions. I believe they’re higher in quality because each solution has its core competency.”
One of the key conditions Milt has wanted to provide a solution for is maternity care — an issue that could immensely benefit from a specialized solution. Despite having standard medical condition management programs that are aimed at maximizing outcomes, Activision Blizzard struggled with low participation. The traditional health insurance-provided pregnancy programs weren’t engaging people. Milt was also seeing rising healthcare costs associated with high-risk pregnancies, and conventional carriers couldn’t prove very much success in these programs.
Due to these issues, Milt replaced his traditional carrier program with Ovia Health, a specialized fertility and maternity program, in order to achieve higher engagement, get access to aggregate usage data, and ultimately improve outcomes. He’s been able to accomplish all of these goals and do so in a way that aligns with employees’ preference for simplicity, privacy, and technology-based solutions.
Milt’s philosophy on how to engage your population? “You need a one-to-one understanding of your employees,” he says. “You need targeted communication with an employee for them to interact — interacting at a time that’s meaningful for them.” His trying-to-conceive and pregnant populations were a natural touchpoint for Ovia Health. Activision Blizzard has seen great success in 2016 with Ovia Health, with an average of 37 sessions and 65 data points per employee per month.
“You need a one-to-one understanding of your employees. You need targeted communication with an employee for them to interact — interacting at a time that’s meaningful for them.”
Activision Blizzard is a forward-thinking employer when it comes to benefits. After all, it is the world’s most successful standalone interactive entertainment company. They were repeatedly named to Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work, and it’s no surprise why. Milt and his team pay attention to the needs of their workforce, helping retain employees and solving their needs inside and outside of the workplace. And after all, wouldn’t you want a fox watching your back, rather than a sheep?
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