Dan Maass was never interested in emulating what others were doing in the health and benefits space; he set out to break the mold. After consulting with employers at a well-known West Coast broker, he partnered with an industry expert to start his own company, i2i benefits, in 2012. Maass built i2i benefits to be different.
The full-service company focused on high-touch consulting and transparency so clients and their employees could see costs, understand fees, and comprehend a complex industry. After eight years, i2i benefits merged with OneDigital to provide consulting to companies of all sizes in insurance, financial services, and human resources.
Combining those three elements posed both challenges and opportunities. “What’s happening in today’s market can be hard to navigate, but it also means that employers can rely on our advisory team for more,” says Maass. “We are known for employee benefits but are also in HR consulting, retirement services, pharmacy consulting, property and casualty, and wealth management.”
With those services in place, OneDigital helps employers address the employee experience from the moment a candidate sits for an interview until they exit into retirement and beyond.
An eclectic background makes Maass perfect to serve as one of OneDigital’s principal leaders. He started his career with the COBRA administration team at a mid-sized regional broker in the Bay Area, then began supporting companies with twenty to fifty employees. Next, Maass found himself building a book of business and working with large clients throughout Silicon Valley. As he partnered with tech and biotech companies, Maass learned how to cater custom-made benefits programs that helped each company achieve its unique goals.
His wide-ranging experience makes Maass unique in the market, while his background as a business owner adds to his expertise and credibility. “I know what it means to make payroll and think about business growth as you construct a benefits program. That perspective informs all I do for our clients at OneDigital,” he says. Maass works with clients to find innovative ways to help them manage benefits and control costs to guide strategy while remaining competitive.
Today’s employers need to reach their Gen Z candidates, their baby boomers on the verge of retirement, and everyone in between in order to stay competitive in the talent market. Maass refers to medical plans as table stakes. In fact, 50 percent of employees who planned to quit their job in 2022 said that they were seeking better benefits and compensation, and 67 percent of job seekers said that benefits were more important now than before the pandemic.
With the volatility of the workforce, it’s vital for employers to have market-leading holistic benefits programs with robust medical plans, mental health benefits, and family-forming benefits.
Additionally, employers can break the mold with a relentless focus on inclusion, considering every facet of the person with gender-affirming benefits, infertility benefits, caregiving benefits, and other modern services.
“Employees want to find and align with companies that are attentive to the social issues they care about, and a complete benefits program helps employers compete for talent as they think about not only recruitment but also ongoing employee satisfaction,” says Maass.
While many of these components come with a cost, there are creative ways for employers to keep costs from rising. Employers can take advantage of decreased expenses and improved cash flow through self-funded plans. Others can harness the power of technology to analyze health care data to continue controlling spend, make plan decisions, and target population health management.
These essential steps proactively address ongoing inflation, rising interest rates, and a looming economic crisis. While some employers are responding with layoffs and hiring freezes, Maass says companies could still see per employee per month (PEPM) benefits spend increase as employees and their dependents who lost coverage on their spouse’s plan enroll in coverage. Maass partners with leaders to avoid late-stage surprises by looking at costs and combining benchmarking, predictive modeling, claims, and utilization data to look at the future of health plan spend.
Current events and post-pandemic effects have led to the evolution of OneDigital’s solutions and practices with clients and each other. In-person open enrollment sessions and one-on-one employee meetings continue to be available, but today, almost all of it has moved online.
At first, Maass, who built his career by forming strong face-to-face relationships, was worried. Now, he and his clients benefit from the flexibility driven by the rapid pace of disruption.
“I have to be thoughtful to make sure I’m really in tune with whatever audience I’m in front of, and that means I have to know their business even better,” he says, adding that the virtual environment also adapts to the changing needs of their workforce.
For Maass, it’s all about keeping clients engaged, asking targeted questions to elicit the right responses, and delivering maximized results while meeting employee expectations.