Ed­i­tor’s Desk

Employee Benefit News - - CONTENTS -

As ev­i­denced by this year’s Benny Award win­ners, ben­e­fits pro­fes­sion­als are work­ing harder than ever to in­crease em­ployee en­gage­ment and fo­cus on work-life bal­ance.

I LOVE THE BE­GIN­NING OF FALL. IT feels like the sea­son of some­thing new — new col­ors, new school year, new fan­tasy foot­ball prospects.

The sea­son also gives me the chance ev­ery year to sift through dozens of nom­i­na­tions for EBN’s an­nual Benny Awards — which rec­og­nize ex­cel­lence in the em­ployee ben­e­fits/ hu­man re­sources field. I love learn­ing about amaz­ing ben­e­fits pro­fes­sion­als all over the coun­try who are mak­ing a big im­pact on their work­place, the ben­e­fits in­dus­try in gen­eral, and most im­por­tantly, the lives of their em­ploy­ees.

That was clearly ev­i­dent with Sarah Sardella, se­nior di­rec­tor of global ben­e­fits at Aka­mai Tech­nolo­gies — and our 2017 Ben­e­fits Pro­fes­sional of the Year. For her, suc­cess­ful ben­e­fits pro­grams aren’t en­tirely about ROI and they aren’t all about mak­ing big dents in the health­care bud­get — his­tor­i­cally the norm for most com­pa­nies. It’s more about cre­at­ing pro­grams that will bet­ter the lives of the com­pany’s em­ploy­ees and meet their spe­cific needs. In the case of Aka­mai, that meant help­ing stressed­out, high-func­tion­ing tech em­ploy­ees. That took the form of a bevy of en­vi­able ben­e­fits that aimed to help cre­ate a work-life bal­ance: flex­i­bil­ity, un­lim­ited time off, paid fam­ily leave, care­giv­ing ben­e­fits and so on.

Match­ing 401(k)? Gen­er­ous health ben­e­fits? Those are ta­ble stakes now, Sardella ex­plained to me. “It’s the pro­grams that go be­yond the foun­da­tional ben­e­fits that typ­i­cally serve to dif­fer­en­ti­ate one com­pany from another,” she said. “Those are also the things that em­ploy­ees tend to talk about the most.”

Talk to any em­ployee about why they love their com­pany, and an­swers usu­ally run the gamut — from gen­er­ous time-off poli­cies and flex­i­ble sched­ules to fun work events and a great com­pany cul­ture. No one’s get­ting too ex­cited about a PPO or health risk as­sess­ments.

It’s about the big pic­ture, Sardella says. “Com­pen­sa­tion, in­cen­tive pro­grams, the work en­vi­ron­ment and the com­pany cul­ture are just as im­por­tant,” she says. In short? It’s about em­ployee en­gage­ment — if a worker feels like their com­pany cares about them, they will care more about their com­pany.

That’s a phi­los­o­phy shared by this year’s other im­pres­sive Benny Award win­ners. Be­gin­ning on p. 14, you’ll read about:

• Julie Wilkes (Ben­e­fits Lead­er­ship in Health Care), North Amer­i­can Wellness Pro­gram Lead, Ac­cen­ture

• Cliff York (Ben­e­fits Lead­er­ship in Re­tire­ment Plan­ning), Head of Pen­sions & Ben­e­fits, Amer­i­cas,

BP

• Becky Cantieri (Judges’ Choice) SVP, Hu­man Re­sources at Sur­vey­Mon­key

I’m ex­cited that Sarah and Julie will be two of our speak­ers at our Ben­e­fits Fo­rum & Expo in Boca Ra­ton, Fla. Sept. 18-20, speak­ing about ben­e­fits that mat­ter to em­ploy­ees.

The fo­rum is a great place to meet other HR and ben­e­fits pro­fes­sion­als who are pas­sion­ate about their busi­ness and, above all, pas­sion­ate about cre­at­ing of­fer­ings that make a dif­fer­ence in em­ploy­ees’ lives.

I hope you can join us.

KATHRYN MAYER ED­I­TOR-IN-CHIEF

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