WageWorks – Case Study

WageWorks Employee benefits program

What is WageWorks?

WageWorks is dedicated to administering Consumer-Directed Benefits (CDBs), including pre-tax spending accounts, such as Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), health and dependent care Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs), as well as Commuter Benefit Services, including transit and parking programs, wellness programs, COBRA, and other employee benefits. WageWorks makes it easier to understand and take advantage of Consumer-Directed Benefits for over 85,000 employer clients and approximately 6.5 million people. WageWorks is headquartered in San Mateo, California, with offices in major locations throughout the United States.

WageWorks and the Health Care Industry

The healthcare sector consists of businesses that provide medical services, manufacture medical equipment or drugs, provide medical insurance, or otherwise facilitate the provision of healthcare to patients.

One of the largest and most complex in the U.S. economy, the healthcare sector is accounting for close to a fifth of overall gross domestic product (GDP). The U.S. healthcare sector benefits from a strong system of medical research and development, in cooperation with the higher education system and the technology industry. The aging U.S. population and the advancing senescence of the Baby Boomer generation are driving ongoing strong demand in the healthcare sector.

Major barriers to entry exist in the form of professional licensure, regulation, intellectual property protections, specialized expertise, research and development costs, and natural economies of scale. Consumption (or non-consumption) and production of medical services can involve significant externalities, particularly regarding infectious disease. Transactions costs are high in both the provision of care and the coordination of care.

WageWork’s Emphasis on the Consumer

Consumer-Directed Benefits are an integral part of the WageWorks business. As WageWorks has grown and evolved they have centered around their main goal to create and administer Consumer-Directed Benefits programs that benefit everyone. WageWorks is one of the largest independent benefits administrators in the country. Regardless of the health insurance carrier, payroll administrator, or financial services firm your company uses, WageWorks Consumer-Directed Benefits can be claimed online through the use of technology.

Benefit programs can be hard to understand so WageWorks goes one step further than just offering the service but by helping to inform employees to be more engaged employees. Once engaged employees are more likely to enroll in a company’s Consumer-Directed Benefits, fund their benefit accounts fully, and become advocates for their benefit programs. This gives the companies more return on its benefits investment.

WageWorks knows how to simplify Consumer Directed Benefits so that everyone benefits— employers and employees alike. The company works as a trusted benefits advisor, supporting organizations from open enrollment and beyond. WageWorks provide organizations with the tools to do employee outreach, education, and direct support so employees are able to get a better grasp of their benefits and get the best value of participation.

In addition to administering benefits, WageWorks educates, advocates, and consults with employers on all aspects of Consumer Directed Benefits. The company is able to help convey important benefits information and simplify the message and the process. The organization provides companies with a broad range of tools to help their employees learn about their benefits and determine how best to use them to maximize savings. WageWorks can also help create employee communications specific to each company and its specific plan requirements. These communications can be printed, mailed, emailed, or posted to the company’s intranet or through the WageWorks Media Store.

WageWork’s Focus on Leadership

Because WageWorks provides administration services to manage health savings and consumer-directed benefits such as flexible spending accounts, the leadership & development team focused on product training. However, Miller’s research indicated they now needed to be deliberate about creating a focused, scalable leadership training program for all leaders in the organization.

With a geographically dispersed workforce, virtual training options were necessary so leaders could manage their workloads. However, Miller also wanted to incorporate some face-to-face interaction to help embed the learning and build camaraderie between staff members. The company created the acronym RISE—Reach, Inspire, Serve and Empower—for its leadership training curriculum. Now in its fourth year, RISE consists of a servant leadership session and a 360° assessment against the identified leadership competencies.

A year after the training, participants are reassessed using the 360° tool again to evaluate their improvements and conclude if additional training is needed to sustain the learning. The ultimate goal was to make servant leadership the common leadership language at the organization, so its people were constantly serving one another.

wage works

The leadership trained caused the WageWorks team to see an increase across the board on the preset training objectives of:

  • Define and clarify expectations of leaders at WageWorks.
  • Adjust and match my leadership style to the development level of others.
  • Identify principles and demonstrate behaviours of leading by serving the needs of others.
  • Apply the tools and principles to my current leadership challenges

The Acquisition

On June 27, 2019, HealthEquity, the nation’s largest independent health savings account (HSA) and WageWorks announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which HealthEquity will acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares of common stock of WageWorks, representing a total value of approximately $2 billion. Its focus on member engagement and remarkable service enables HealthEquity to more fully meet the needs of employers, partners, and a broader range of consumers along the continuum of health savings.


With more than 45,000 employer clients and more than 3.8 million employee customers, WageWorks is a leading provider of Consumer-Directed Benefits in the United States. With employers in every industry—from the public sector to transportation, manufacturing, consumer packaged goods, high tech, retail, and financial services, WageWorks has clients in every size. From large enterprises with thousands of employees to small businesses with fewer than 20 employees the company has been able to carve out a successful model through emphasizing the customer and creating education tool to support them, training leadership, and eventually merger with another organization.

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