When talking about the cycle of client-side innovation, Escher is thoughtful and deliberate in his words, yet animated. “For innovation to happen,” he explains, “you need three things: 1) to be inspired; 2) to take initiative; and 3) to have a ‘design thinking’ mindset.”
Escher elaborates, “Individuals who exhibit these three qualities can’t help but innovate when working with their clients and coming up with new ideas at the same time. These ideas can be small, or they can be big. For example, you meet with a client, hear about a problem they have, become inspired by the challenge, and while solving that particular problem, begin thinking about others who may have this same problem. If you help to solve it for one client, you may be able to solve it for multiple clients.”
While not a company tagline, Escher can often be heard saying his team’s unofficial motto is “Better, Faster, Cheaper,” which translates into a method of improving timelines, creating efficiency, and expanding value at the same or lower cost for the client. And that is a win for TPG, as well.
“Serving clients inspires our team and leads to new products and new ideas. And that leads to solution development, execution, and implementation. It’s deliberate and happens in a cycle,” Escher says. “Innovation isn’t just conjured out of thin air.”
Innovation at Work: Paid Leave Oregon Impact Analyses
So what’s a recent, high-impact example of client-side innovation? A major TPG healthcare client needed to quantify the impact that Paid Leave Oregon, the newly enacted paid family leave payroll tax and legislation, would have on its organization. Escher and our total absence management team worked together to deliver an in-depth, comprehensive, well-received report to that client. Escher and co-workers quickly realized what a value these custom analyses would be to all TPG clients with staff in Oregon.
That led to an idea – could we create a basic analysis that, with limited information, quantifies the impact Paid Leave Oregon will have on a client while informing them about the new law at the same time? As a result, TPG developed and implemented a process which completed more than 170 Paid Leave Oregon custom analyses over a three-month period, along with recommendations for clients (and potential clients) on choosing a plan and maintaining compliance. Our company was among the first benefits firms to launch a Paid Leave Oregon info site, custom analyses, and live webinars for employers across the state who were scratching their heads about how to administer the paid leave tax and legislation. TPG continues to provide guidance and support as the legislation progresses.
Goals for the Year Ahead
“Employers are facing new challenges on a regular basis and are looking for partners who can bring meaningful, effective solutions quickly,” Escher says. “One way to meet this head-on is delivering proactive client innovation, such as our custom Paid Leave Oregon analyses.”
One effort underway is the development of what Escher calls a solution catalog – a web application that brings employer services and solutions (wellness, benefits administration, new products, etc.) into a central location in which TPG can begin to build reviews, thoughts, metadata, and more. “We have new vendors coming to us all the time who want an audience. But right now, all we have is tribal knowledge [about these vendors] – everyone has their favorites. We want to bring all information into one repository and leverage it for the benefit of our clients.”
Another example of innovation that began with serving clients is TPG’s Sentinel Reports. Applicable to self-funded groups, these reports are designed to answer, “Why did we pay so much more (or less) this month in claims?” These reports can provide the answer quickly, succinctly, and efficiently, soon after we receive month-end claim extracts from payors. “Nine times out of 10, the reason for a spike in claims payment has to do with a single or very few high-cost claimant(s). The Sentinel Reports not only verify this is the case, but provide useful, deidentified, additional context to help our Benefit Consultants explain to our clients what happened.”
Core Values Affecting All We Do
TPG’s core values – play well with others, own it, be curious, have fun and live well, and be a champion – are common unifiers for all of us at The Partners Group.
When asked about the value that resonates most for him, Escher says, “It’s to be curious, because I’m an analyst at heart. It aligns with an innate quality of myself. That cycle of innovation can’t happen without curiosity, and serving the client is the key to it all. At TPG, I get to satisfy that curiosity on a regular basis. Nothing excites me more than the discovery process.”
If you’d like to chat with Escher about TPG’s innovation goals, our Paid Leave Oregon analyses, or data analytics in general, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.