Christine Pabst knows firsthand how tough the healthcare system can be to navigate during a time of crisis. And with that perspective, Christine and her team at American Electric Power focus on providing employees the support they need when it comes to navigating times of uncertainty, delivering benefits, and ensuring they’re getting the best employee experience.
As the Director of Employee Benefits at American Electric Power, Christine and her team serve a multi-generational workforce which means working with employees who are just starting out in their career to those who are pre-retirement.
Christine is one of our speakers this year at Camp Engage 2023, and she’ll share her thoughts on how to communicate and support a multi-generational workforce. We caught up with her ahead of Camp Engage to learn more about her approach and role at American Electric Power.
Name: Christine Pabst
Title: Director, Employee Benefits
Company: American Electric Power
Preferred pronouns: She/her
Where can we find you online? LinkedIn
What 3 things would you bring on a camping trip?
1) Supplies for s’mores.
2) An inflatable mattress (these bones have seen better days).
3) Family—camping provides an opportunity to disconnect from everything around us and reconnect with each other.
Tell us a bit about yourself and American Electric Power.
I have been in the benefits industry for over 20 years supporting both middle and large employers with their benefits strategy and offerings. Having been a patient caught in the healthcare system at a time of crisis, I have a keen focus on employee support and navigation during times of uncertainty.
As the Director of Employee Benefits at AEP, I am responsible for the oversight of all benefit functions including strategy, administration, benefit plan cost analysis and forecasting, communications, compliance, and more. I could not do this without the support of my team consisting of eight individuals who are passionate about delivering benefits to our employees and retirees with a focus on the member experience.
What gets you up in the morning? What’s your favorite thing about your job?
Interacting with my team. They put our members first and are always striving to make someone’s day a bit easier. The healthcare system and insurance are complex. I always look forward to what we are learning and staying current on but more than that, how we are able to communicate and provide these services to our members in their times of greatest need.
What are you prioritizing this year when it comes to helping employees choose, use, and engage with their benefits?
We are going back to the basics for communications and learning about our benefits. We transitioned our entire medical and pharmacy program for the start of 2023 and learned through that process that we need to take a step back and make sure we are covering the fundamentals for individuals to feel supported in their decision-making.
We are also heavily leaning into our new advocacy partnership with Quantum Health to support our members in their personal journeys and navigate them to solutions and providers to best support their individual needs.
What’s your top piece of advice for HR professionals you’d like to share when it comes to open enrollment?
There is not a one size fits all approach. You have to deploy all modalities, know your audience, and just keep at it. Also, learn to understand that you will miss people and that isn’t necessarily due to anything you have done (or not done). It’s the nature of the beast when communicating about benefits.
Is there anything you think benefits professionals are missing or should be focusing on more?
I think it goes back to what I noted above, going back to the basics from an education perspective. In addition, look for ways in which you can simplify member interactions. One place to call, one website to visit, etc. when seeking benefit information. It’s also really important to make sure that the same information is accessible to spouses/partners as they are likely helping to support or in some cases completely driving the needs of the member.
What are you looking forward to at Camp Engage 2023?
I am honored to be able to provide my perspective on things that have and haven’t worked for me and learn from other companies on how they are being innovative and effective in serving their members.
What’s your favorite summer activity?
Traveling and making memories with my family.
Do you have a story about how ALEX has helped you that you’d like to share?
From my perspective, ALEX has been the single most effective tool we can leverage to put benefits terminology into a consumable format. It makes ingesting benefit information much less scary and I think it has helped our members to feel more supported in their plan choices just with the educational pieces of the tool.