Voya’s New Workplace Head Thinking About the Employee Experience in More “Bundled” Fashion

Rob Grubka of Voya has had his role expanded to oversee workplace solutions, encompassing all benefits and savings businesses. He tells PLANADVISER the combined position is a natural progression to meet evolving employer needs.

Voya Financial has promoted its former head of health, Rob Grubka, to a newly created role as CEO of workplace solutions as the firm pushes for a more holistic approach to employee benefits, savings and wealth management.

Rob Grubka

As head of Voya’s Health Solutions division through the height of the COVID pandemic, Grubka saw firsthand the demand for a wider range of support for employers, spanning everything from mental health to financial planning in an uncertain world.

“We learned that we needed to be more holistic with employees to help them manage all the things they were dealing with,” Grubka tells PLANADVISER. “Employers were looking at the ways they could show up and be supportive for the people they rely on every day to operate the business.”

This ongoing connection between health, wealth and savings was made more explicit last Thursday when Voya announced Grubka will take a newly created position overseeing all workplace solutions and reporting to CEO-elect Heather Lavallee.

“Bringing together our Health Solutions and Wealth Solutions businesses under one leader ensures that we continue to deliver on the current expectations of our clients, while fostering greater alignment across our businesses to meet the growing needs of employers, employees and intermediaries,” Lavallee said in a press release.

The broader approach to employee engagement pushed during the start of COVID has not gone away, Grubka says. In fact, it is snowballing into other areas, including how much of an employee’s paycheck should be diverted into a 401(k) plan as compared to a health savings plan or some type of emergency savings fund.

“I think the industry is at a point where we did so much unbundled, that this is a good time to think about things in a more bundled fashion,” Grubka says.

That combining of health and wealth solutions is already well in place at Voya, Grubka says, with offerings such as myVoyage launched earlier this year. This “one-stop” platform for employees is an app where individuals get a complete view of their workplace benefits, as well as financial accounts, including personal checking and credit cards.

Retirement Background

Before taking the CEO of health solutions position at Voya in 2016, Grubka had worked as chief risk officer for the company’s retirement division (now wealth solutions) and former annuities business. Prior to joining Voya, he held positions with Lincoln Financial, including head of group protection in the annuity and retirement markets, and senior vice president and head of retirement solutions products.

In the new role, Grubka will be overseeing about 3,600 employees around the country, working both in Voya offices and remotely in the New York-based company’s hybrid workplace.

Grubka says his teams will be working to find ways for employers to go beyond the flood of information during open enrollment to engagement throughout the year in simple and educational ways.

I really do think the emphasis on tools and experience for the consumer is foundational,” Grubka says. “To me, that is really the big hurdle to jump. … There are an awful lot of solutions, but are they getting used well?”

Whether employees are deciding between putting their paycheck toward a health savings account or considering a retirement income option, the connectivity between the decisions is crucial for their long-term success, Grubka says.

One of the largest retirement recordkeepers by assets, Voya’s investing division has $317 billion in assets under management for both institutional and individual investors. The firm also works with employers on the insurance side of health, providing stop-loss coverage that can mitigate the payouts related to high-cost employee medical claims.

Voya is not the only retirement provider that has been linking health and financial wellness more distinctly. Empower works with health-services provider Optum on its health savings accounts, and Fidelity Investments offers a health savings account integrated with a wealth investment platform.

Meanwhile, full-service aggregators such as Hub International and OneDigital Investment Advisors have built advisory firms that can work across retirement planning, healthcare benefits and insurance.

Grubka says the industry will have no problem continuing to create products and solutions to help employees invest, save and be covered. The key will be helping employers engage with workers on the solutions.

“Plenty of ideas will continue to emerge, but the key is how to talk about them and think about them working together—that is the near-term opportunity,” Grubka says. “The bottom line is: I think employers need to do as much as they can to simplify, better educate and have employees walk away from these decisions confident of how they are using their paycheck.”