Insurer dispenses with paper and pencil employee reviews, increasing engagement

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Founded in 1909, Pharmacists Mutual Insurance Company (PhMIC) of Algona, Iowa, is a nationally recognized leader, providing insurance and financial products to the pharmacy community. Licensed in 49 states, Pharmacists Mutual and its subsidiaries — Pharmacists Mutual Insurance Company, The Pharmacists Life Insurance Company and Pro Advantage Services, Inc., d/b/a Pharmacists Insurance Agency (in California) — provide business, personal and financial products to its core markets of pharmacy, home medical/home health, and gift & card stores.

The notion of an online employee performance appraisal system was just beginning to formulate when Human Resource specialist, Crystal Drake, joined the company. After a hit and miss attempt to automate using an inexpensive web-based survey tool, PhMIC leadership asked Drake and her HR colleague to source an online solution that would remedy performance management ailments for the company’s 300+ employees.

Since implementing Halogen Performance™ and Halogen 360 Multirater™ they've seen:

  • Dramatic time savings
  • Appraisal completion rates increase from 50 to 95 percent
  • Increased employee/manager engagement
  • Cohesive reporting among their cross-country workforce

Assessment ailment requires new treatment regimen

The organization’s original pencil and paper option was extremely basic. It was time consuming, yet not comprehensive enough to deliver any meaningful insights. Like many organizations conducting reviews on paper, a good 50 percent of evaluations were left incomplete and on the back burner of “to do” lists.

The company had initially used an online survey tool to conduct appraisals, but quickly identified a few challenges that made a more sophisticated online system desirable. The HR team began to research specialized software programs designed specifically for employee performance and talent management. That's when Drake began to look at Halogen Software and SuccessFactors.

Simple online remedy

The simplicity of Halogen Software's Halogen TalentSpace™ spoke volumes. As Drake recounts, “The sales rep did an awesome job demonstrating the product in context of our needs. When compared with the competing solution, it was clear that Halogen was the way to go.”

What sold Pharmacists Mutual on the Halogen Software solution was the look, design, and user-friendliness of the products, as well as the support the company would receive after purchase. They purchased Halogen Performance and Halogen 360 Multirater in 2008 and implemented both organization-wide in under six months.

As the primary contact between her company and the vendor, Drake says the implementation support Halogen Software offered was “the best I have ever experienced in any of the programs I've ever used, anything I've encountered, even in my personal life. They were very frank with me, telling me what I had to get done and when. I trusted them implicitly.”

Drake led the implementation, and focused on training small groups of employees on an ongoing basis. “By training employees in smaller groups, we were able to ensure they were comfortable from the get-go. For our sales reps spread across the U.S. we were able to do all of our training online, which was a huge time saver.”

Prescribed solution alleviates performance evaluation pain

Since implementing their new performance appraisal solution, Pharmacists Mutual has seen a significant change in employee participation, and there has been a tangible time saving for all involved.

“The amount of time saved for employees, managers and HR is huge. This alone has exceeded our expectations,” explained Drake. “But more importantly, completion rates have jumped from 50 to 95 percent, and employees are meeting with their managers. Employees are being coached, and performance is being discussed on an ongoing basis — and these details are being documented and saved in eAppraisal. This is a significant and very positive change for our organization, not just culturally, but for our business overall.”

The new process has also helped to connect teams, managers and employees. With a sales force scattered from the Atlantic to the Pacific, performance discussions are now held remotely, on an ongoing basis. Team leaders and field representatives run through sales figures and reports as well as employee performance matters, logging their discussions online with relative ease.

Employee performance data is now housed in a single place including everything from annual appraisals to 90-day employee evaluations, performance improvement plans, 6- and 18-month evaluations for sales staff and weekly reviews for new employees. Everyone gets fingertip access to the information they need, when they need it.

“It’s now up to us to make sure our processes are in place and that we are continuing to maximize everything that the Halogen suite has to offer. Eventually I would love to add further modules and extend the value of our talent management.”