A Collaborative Approach to Well-Being: Humana’s Tim Huval

Tim Huval said he barely knew anything about Louisville, Ky., when he was recruited to be Humana’s senior vice president and chief human resources officer in January, but he was happy to make the move. He wanted to be a part of a company he considers to be a game-changer in the health care industry, one that is fast-paced and making a difference in many lives. Huval said he was initially interested in the role because he is accustomed to transition and change. Joining an industry in the spotlight of legislation and transformation excited him.

Prior to joining Humana, Huval spent 10 years at Bank of America in senior-level roles across various departments, including human resources executive and chief information officer for the company’s global wealth and investment management group. He later became a human resources executive for global treasury services and technology and global operations.

In those 10 years Huval led several operations, including global card services, where he was responsible for all card operations and customer service, serving more than 40 million customers. He said he learned to keep a keen eye on customer service and another on employee engagement. But while the banking industry kept him busy, he was ready for a change.

As Humana’s CHRO, Huval is accountable for more than 400 of the company’s associates and leads all aspects of what he calls broad HR: talent acquisition, diversity and inclusion, learning, succession management, engagement, compensation and benefits, and health and well-being.

Although his scope is wide and he’s new to the job, Huval’s expertise already has been applauded in progress reports from other members of the C-suite. “Tim is doing an excellent job working to foster an atmosphere of collaboration among our associates, which ultimately results in better health solutions for our members,” said Humana CEO Bruce Broussard.

Learning for All
As soon as Huval joined Humana, he began having conversations with Broussard about how to educate employees and customers about the changing market and the company’s new delivery model.

Humana offers a range of health and wellness services and health care coverage products that incorporate an integrated approach to lifelong well-being. By leveraging the strengths of its core businesses, the company can better explore opportunities for existing and emerging adjacencies in health care that can enhance wellness for millions of people.

The integrated care delivery model streamlines much of the company’s business and partnerships with outside providers to make it easier for customers to attain better services from physicians and to better gauge overall well-being. The model was designed in 2012 as a customer-focused program. The model leverages three elements: care delivery, member experience and clinical and consumer insights to reinforce value for providers and members. Humana refers to its new platform as a holistic approach to members’ health. Huval said it will enhance the quality of care customers receive and drive down costs.

The model also involves a full-risk arrangement between the physicians. To do this, the provider is fully engaged and given appropriate data to help the physician provide the most high-quality experience possible. Humana’s executives believe that its member satisfaction rates are the highest in this type of arrangement.

The industry shift to preventive care means the focus has moved toward higher-quality health care at a lower cost. Changes in the health care industry make employee education a vital component to organizations, their associates and customers.

“Health care’s major changes have put a lot of stress on employees. It’s change, and that’s very stressful for organizations and employees who live through that,” said Rod Fralicx, vice president of health care practice at HR consulting firm Hay Group.

Fralicx said companies such as Humana need a system that educates both internal staff and external members about the health care environment. He said tools such as the company’s new delivery model empower employees because “everyone wants to work for a winner.” In May profits came in at $2.95 per share, almost double the $1.49 recorded a year ago and ahead of management’s expectations of $1.75 to $1.85 per share. He said seeing Humana on the forefront of health care reform gives the company’s employees a sense of pride.

Huval said while the national health care system is not working well, there’s no clear-cut remedy. If health care was easy to solve, it would have been solved by now. Education for employees and clients can help. Further, anytime there’s massive change, Huval said he prefers to look at it as a challenge or an opportunity for creativity. “Health care changes are an incredible opportunity, a call to action, that allow people to act a bit out of the normal procedure,” he said.

With this in mind, Huval said the integrated care delivery model was rolled out to simplify the way Humana does business and to bring the sum of the business parts together.

“We have to make it easier for our associates to do what they do but also make it easier for our members to experience us,” he said. “The challenge is syncing up the two bookends, and they have to move in tandem.” What’s important, Huval said, is to continually reinvent.

To educate its employees, hundreds of videos can be accessed online that address the structure of its new delivery program and help employees find ways to enhance their overall health.

Customers Inside and Out
Huval also analogizes talent management with bookends to illustrate how the company must educate its associates, who then must educate members. Thinking of one bookend as the customer, and the other bookend as the employee, Huval said, “We have to think about both of these bookends in tandem when developing talent that’s aligned to the overall strategy and dream of the company.”

Huval said engaged associates are able to deliver the bookends, which will help customers and business in the end. He also said employee engagement is key to business development. To roll out a new idea such as the delivery model, Huval said leaders must ascertain that associates are on board. “You have to have talent that is completely aligned to the capabilities and competencies required to get integrated care delivery,” he said. “It can’t be done without the talent.”

Huval said with help from its in-house staffing and recruiting team, the company has been growing employment dramatically rather than shrinking through layoffs. Some of this is due to health firm acquisitions such as that of Florida-based Metropolitan Health Networks, which was acquired in 2012, and Texas-based Concentra in 2010. But most of the growth was organic.

Huval said that high engagement scores as well as low turnover and retention rates indicate employees’ job satisfaction. “We seem to be getting it right; while we’re always acquiring, we’re still retaining the best of the best talent, and that’s the model for us, really.”

Broussard said Humana’s talent management philosophy is based on this empowerment. “We’re focused on providing the necessary tools and resources to enable all our associates to unlock their potential,” he said. “As we move to a more consumer-focused business model, finding the right associate talent to further help our members achieve lifelong well-being will be a critical element of our talent management strategy.”

This is where collaboration comes in. Because of an assortment of new business policies, Humana’s associates are urged to collaborate with each other, customers and the company’s leaders.

Huval said collaboration is one of the most important things for Humana’s success and will be emphasized more and more going forward. “It’s a journey, but it hangs together when you look at the values and the other components of the company,” he said. “The sum of all the parts have to be able to collaborate together regardless of roles, silo or hierarchy.”

Humana also makes health and well-being for its employees a priority. There are health coaching services and interactive events to promote employee fitness. “It’s about creating an environment where every associate or employee is empowered and enabled to be [the] absolute best and achieve his or her full potential,” Huval said.

To be their best, Huval said employees have to work together on personal and professional goals. Employees are encouraged to collaborate on and offline and are given tools to do so. For instance, associates can connect and collaborate with each other on Buzz, the company’s internal social networking system, on a range of topics, from business collaboration to fitness and nutrition best practices. The Buzz platform, which employees gained access to in 2011, allows associates to serve customers more efficiently by facilitating communication between associates and allowing them to access knowledge and expertise faster.

Huval said some of the company’s methods to encourage communication and collaboration have helped him transition into his new role. “Every day I’m learning more and more about opportunities and our company. Now we’re working to find ways to grow better as a team. When I made this move, I never would have thought I’d leave a company that I loved working for — Bank of America — but this was an opportunity to impact an entire industry and even society, and that is pretty exciting.”

Jennifer Kahn is a former intern at Talent Management magazine. She can be contacted at editor@talentmgt.com.

Humana’s Five Core Values

Inspire health: We inspire health by making conscious choices every day and motivating others with our positive example. We care about each other and actively contribute to an environment of well-being.

Rethink routine: Innovation emerges from a culture that cultivates curiosity. We spark creativity by challenging ourselves to think differently.

Cultivate uniqueness: We find ways to connect with each other and our consumers. Respecting one another, listening with an open mind and seeking different perspectives result in richer solutions.

Pioneer simplicity: We make life easier and believe that less can be more. When we empower associates with responsibility, we are able to create an agile organization and an exceptional experience.

Thrive together: We focus on shared success by breaking down silos, inviting collaboration and mentoring others. We believe in, and act with, positive intention to create an environment of trust and integrity.

Humana CHRO Tim Huval said these five values, which were created by associates last year, exemplify the company. He said the organization uses these attributes to inspire employees and drive business in every department. “They really get at the essence of what we’ve got to accomplish as a company,” Huval said. “For us to get from where we are now to where we want to be, these values are how we want and need to behave.”