What are the benefits of benefits? In the effort to improve health care, employee benefit programs should play a critical role. Yet the results aren’t always as positive as desired.

“Companies spend a lot of money, costs have been escalating, employees are generally dissatisfied and outcomes are stagnant,” says Mike Serbinis, CEO and founder of League (league.com/ca/).

He set out to change that.

League, launched in 2014, is a digital benefits platform. Employees can use the League app as a one-stop shop for all of their health benefits (as well as retirement benefits and other personal finance benefits). Through HBX, a cloud-based infrastructure, League connects businesses and their teams with health insurance, flexible spending accounts, health content, curated health journeys and on-demand health support.

For instance, individualized health plans are tailored to the end consumer. A digital wallet helps employees understand their benefits and how to use them, pay for health and wellness services, review benefit coverage and track their spending. League also provides employees with chat-based customer care, registered nurses (through a health concierge) and a marketplace to discover a wide range of health products and services.

Serbinis says that League empowers employees, and helps companies differentiate their employee experience. Benefits become a competitive advantage to attract and retain talent.

“We’re an enterprise operating system for health and benefits,” he says.

To League, the traditional benefits model is “one-size-fits-none”. League’s platform aims to engage employees, focus on preventative health and offer always-on solutions. Moreover, the platform eases the administrative burden on HR and benefits managers, meaning they can spend more time actually supporting their people.

League customers include the likes of Unilever, Shopify and Lush, who want to consolidate their benefits programs into a seamless experience for employees. Serbinis says that the average customer signed in the most recent quarter was 15 times larger than a customer 18 months prior. The company expanded to the U.S. market in 2017, and to Europe this year.

Overall, customers report higher levels of enrollment and satisfaction, lower costs (about a 15% savings), and far fewer benefits-related questions (80% less) directed at HR.

Frost & Sullivan, a market research and analysis firm, predicts that “League will take a market leadership position in the coming years.” They gave League their 2019 North America Customer Value Leadership Award.

Serbinis founded League two years after selling another firm he founded: Kobo, the digital reading company. Before that, he founded (and sold) a cloud storage company called DocSpace.

League investors include OMERS Ventures, RBC, Manulife, BDC and Infinite Potential Technologies.

While Serbinis hadn’t worked in health care before, he was guided by a fundamental truth that crosses industries: “Today’s consumers want a very different experience,” he says.

Where did the name League come from? Serbinis says it evokes a practice in ancient Rome, where the rulers wanted to promote public health. There were three pillars: clean water, garbage removal and personal responsibility. As part of the latter, the idea was that everyone should walk an hour a day. A league was a unit of length – the distance a person could walk in an hour.

He embraces the notion that people can take charge of their health, while employers get a boost too.

“We can help them save money, and make their employees better health care consumers,” says Serbinis. “We want to create an experience that people love, to build happier, healthier and longer lives.”