Kylee Beth Ngo
Manager of Compensation and Benefits
Genesis Energy, LP
What is your biggest challenge, or what “keeps you up at night” as a human resources professional in the energy industry, and what are you doing to address it?
Over the last year, many companies in the oil and gas market have made difficult personnel decisions whether it be around hiring freezes, reductions in force, delaying merit increases or freezing salaries, and decreasing the value of short-term and long-term incentive programs. Often times these types of responses create uncertainty and anxiety in the workforce, which leads to dissatisfaction with the company. One of the many challenges in this environment is understanding the attrition risks when the job market does open up again. Some employees who were dissatisfied with the annual bonus they received or the lack of a merit program, among other things, will be the first to enter the job market and potentially leave. Unfortunately, some of these will be key employees and high-potential employees. As an HR team, each time we implement a program, we work to identify these employees and address individually to help mitigate any risk of attraction in the coming years.
How is technology affecting your role in HR?
Technology has streamlined the administrative functions of many HR activities including recruiting, onboarding, compensation management, benefits enrollment, and others. Over the last two years, management at Genesis has embraced multiple initiatives to enhance the technology in place, allowing me to transform the Compensation and Benefits programs. Two years ago we implemented online open enrollment for the first time modernizing a very archaic process and eliminating hours of work for the benefits team. A year ago, I worked with IT to build direct file feeds between our HRIS system and our carriers removing the need for double entry of benefits elections. On the compensation side, in addition to fully utilizing the Compensation Workbench for the annual bonus and merit program, we have moved all one-time payments into the HRIS system eliminating the need for email trails of approvals. Each time we are able to move a manual process to a tool, it reduces the manual workload of my team, allowing us to focus more on the strategic direction of the programs and the employee experience all while decreasing the potential for errors.
The two year delay of the 40% excise tax, also known as the Cadillac tax, on employer-sponsored healthcare benefits was a significant opportunity. This was part of the first wave of significant changes to the landmark Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). What changes are your company still considering in response to the PPACA? Or, is your company taking a “wait and see” approach? What is the driving factor behind your company’s approach?
The delay in the excise tax was considered by many HR professionals, specifically Benefits professionals, to be a huge win when it comes to the ACA. However, prior to this delay, many oil and gas companies, including Genesis Energy, LLC, had already implemented the “wait and see” approach. While the health care insurers and consultants have better developed many alternatives to the traditional health offerings (exchanges, narrow networks, full replacement consumer-centric plans, and specialty care management programs) which would decrease the actuarial value of a plan, in turn decreasing the excise tax burden, the traditional PPO is still the most prominent plan for most oil and gas companies. For Genesis Energy, LLC, the potential for the excise tax did not immediately change our benefits strategy. We discussed offering alternatives as additional programs to the PPO, but chose not to implement. In the coming years, there may be opportunity for us to adopt more aggressive strategies, but for now we shall wait and see.
How do you facilitate communication and a positive work culture in your company?
From a benefits perspective, I have created an educational email communication program. Just like many other small companies, Genesis does not have an internal communication team with most Genesis branded communications created by outside consultants. As we discussed the need for a benefits communication program to educate employees and get them excited about benefits, we had to look to alternatives. These alternatives actually come straight from the vendors as most have well developed communications to serve our exact need. Over the last few months, I have sent a weekly or bi-weekly email with these “canned” communications and the result has been overwhelming. The increased discussion around benefits and the additional questions the benefits team has answered not only helps to educate the employees but it gets them excited about their benefits. Any time an employee can better utilize the benefits we provide, or chooses to increase their 401k deferral, we feel we have positively impacted our employees.
What one event in your childhood had the greatest effect on your life?
While not a single event, playing softball had the greatest impact on my life. As a member of the team, you have to work together to achieve a common goal while working individually to succeed in your own position. This can be applied to most aspects of my professional life. I have a team working together to achieve a common goal, but I must individually succeed in my own role to make the team successful. As a softball player, my position was pitcher which meant I had to practice the hardest and longest and be the best player on the team in order for the team to win. I have applied this mentality to every professional position I have taken. I have to be the best in my role, work the hardest and set an example for the team.