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Patricio Olivas at Portland Trail Blazers Shares the Joys of HR Systems and Meeting Employees Where They Are

As the Manager of People & Culture Technology at Portland Trail Blazers, Patricio Olivas works to ensure that employees have a seamless and efficient experience with their benefits programs. Olivas started his career in the restaurant industry. Through his experience in management and payroll there, he discovered a passion for human resources. After obtaining a degree in HR, Olivas entered the corporate world and found himself drawn to business intelligence and systems. He joined Portland Trail Blazers in 2021 and has been committed to making the employee benefits program a success.

The Benefits Beat with guest Patricio Olivas, Manager, People & Culture Systems at Portland Trail Blazers

Creating operational efficiency through HR systems

Olivas finds joy in helping employees understand their benefits and making their lives easier by implementing efficient processes. “One of my favorite things that I did when I got to the Portland Trail Blazers was get rid of six file cabinets and get them digitally into systems. That brings me joy, seeing the efficiency created by that.” In addition, Olivas loves seeing his employees light up after they finally understand their benefits.

Improving the employee benefits experience is always top of mind. Olivas focuses on meeting employees where they are by providing definitions to help employees understand their benefits. Overall in the benefits space, he is noticing how benefits are being made more accessible through mobile devices so that employees can always update their benefits on the go.

Planning ahead for benefits programs success

When it comes to open enrollment, planning is key. Olivas and team connects with HR systems providers and other key partners as soon as possible to discuss challenges and enhancements for the upcoming season. They also tailor their communication strategies to meet different employee groups where they are. Through those communications, they collect feedback to improve the process further.

Olivas continuously evaluates the benefits programs to ensure employees are getting the most from them. Strategies like creating a Slack channel for benefits communications and making sure that employees have an instant connection with their Total Rewards leader helps employees feel comfortable navigating their benefits. “They create that connection right from the beginning. She holds their hand as much as possible through that first process so that when it comes to life event changes, they feel comfortable [asking for help].”

Measuring programs success through utilization and savings

Measuring the success of benefits programs is crucial. Olivas reviews employee usage and cost reductions before every enrollment and uses the data to refine the programs further.

Olivas’ favorite benefits success story is when his company implemented a new product that increased part-time staff enrollment. It jumped from 36% to 82%. The enhancements they made bridging the gap between employees who were technology-adverse, resulting in a huge win for their team.

Tips to unwind after a hard day

After a day of putting out fires, Olivas loves going for a run for a serotonin kick and spending time with his German Shepard. Every weekend, he makes sure to make time to spend time in nature with his family to recharge and reflect.

Interested in learning more from HR systems leaders?

Check out The Benefits Beat interview with Jared Pottkotter, Senior HR and Benefits Technology Manager at Midmark.

Julie Scotland

Julie Scotland Co-Founded Pasito after a successful career in technology, startups, and marketing. Before Pasito, Julie ran Migration Marketing Consulting, where she led go-to-market and growth marketing strategies for funded technology startups. Previously, Julie led the MyCase Marketing team at SaaS technology unicorn AppFolio.

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