Just a few years ago, every new Multnomah County employee received a large envelope in the mail when they started their new job, stuffed with dozens of pages of benefits information and enrollment materials. Often, these materials were “no action needed” and went straight into a recycling bin.
Tami Mahrt, Manager of Operations for employee benefits, along with a project team of employees from the Department of County Management and the Department of County Assets decided to put a stop to that waste. “I realized that we, the county, needed to move forward,” says Tami.
In 2014, the project team started meeting with the Information Technology Division in the Department of County Assets (IT) to develop an online benefits enrollment program. No snail mail necessary.
Starting January 2015, after a lot of hard work and creative thinking, the project team transitioned all new employees to an electronic file system.
Today, there is “a system in place where a new employee doesn't have to print anything to enroll in any of their benefit programs.” Explains Kristin Wray, Benefits Office staff in the Department of County Management, “We don’t have to print anything and the employee doesn’t have to print anything.”
Previously, each new employee received a 40-page information package, plus an additional 20 pages of enrollment materials. “It was close to $20 per employee,” says Tami.
At some 500–700 new hires a year, those numbers add up fast: up to 42,000 pages and nearly $14,000 of printing and mailing costs are now saved a year.
“And that’s only a portion of what the Benefits Office does,” adds Kristin. “The whole office will become paperless, hopefully by the end of this year. Everything: all our processes, all our programs.”
Tami reflects on her team’s successes: “The things that we did are not new, we're not geniuses…the key to our success is that we stayed positive, worked as a team and remained solution-driven. When we ran into a barrier, we came up with ways around it. Together.”
This project team hopes to set an example for other departments within Multnomah County to strive for similar savings. “We love to tell our story because I think when people hear the story, they’ll think, ‘oh, this is something to consider,’” says Tami. It’s working: already other Departments in the County are contacting records management to move their own records management workflow to digital. “We have a long list of customers,” jokes Jenny Mundy, electronic records management analyst who works in records management archives and administers the software that Benefits is using to store and access their digital records.
“Anybody can do it,” adds Kristin.Special thanks to the Employee Benefits Team for making this project happen.