Tik Tok may be a great way for your Gen Z employees to zone out after a long work day. But does it also have something to teach us about how we should be approaching employee benefits engagement

Niagara Bottling’s Senior Manager of Benefits, Kristi, Morrissey, says yes. A self-proclaimed benefits geek and long-time admirer of ALEX, Kristi loves everything about benefit administration. Her goal is to provide high quality benefits and easy-to-understand communications and tools to ensure her team members not only understand what they are choosing, but have resources to help them when they actually need their benefits. 

And this year, we’re honored to welcome Kristi as one of our speakers at Engage 2022! We caught up with her for a sneak peek at what she’ll share during her session, hear what energizes her most about her job, and find out how she takes her coffee. (Hint: she doesn’t.)

Name: Kristi Morrissey

Title: Sr. Manager, Benefits & Wellness

Company: Niagara Bottling

Where can we find you online? LinkedIn

How do you like your coffee?  Complicated?!  Before I gave up coffee, I loved a coconut milk cinnamon dolce latte. Now, I enjoy candy cane tea.

Tell us a bit about yourself and Niagara Bottling.

We produce and supply Niagara® brand and private label bottled water to many of the nation’s leading retailers.  Our customers choose Niagara® bottled water products based on high quality, affordable prices and exceptional service. Niagara promotes family-building benefits, and ensures employees have access to a comprehensive benefits package—for themselves and their families.

What energizes you about your job?

Niagara provides growth and development opportunities like no other company.  We are never standing still.  It’s been an exciting ride as we have made significant investments in our team members through strategic partnerships like ALEX, Progyny, and so many others.

What most excites you about participating in Engage 2022?

I have enjoyed a lot of success with ALEX over the last (dare I say) 7 years!  We have a lot of great ideas that have driven outstanding engagement.  I am excited to share our journey and I am excited to hear how others have leveraged ALEX for their successes.

Hear from Kristi and other HR & benefits experts at Engage 2022.

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Why is it important for employees to engage with and take full advantage of their health and wellness benefits?

Most workers likely have benefits because someone told them they have to – a mother, spouse, the federal government, etc.  Understanding what you have, how it works, and how to use it has become a growing problem for workforces, especially those still working from home.  It’s important to have the right knowledge before you end up with a $1,000 bill for something that should have cost less than $100.  

The reality is that most workers probably spend less than 1 hour trying to understand their benefits every year during open enrollment.  Then when they need it most, they have no idea what they have or how to use it.  It’s our job as benefits professionals to make sure our employees have the right tools and resources when they need it.

From an employer perspective, employee benefits are the 2nd biggest line item expense in most cases.  While it’s hard to quantify “return on investment”, we can drive return on engagement.  If you’re spending millions of dollars on a thing called benefits, we should ensure everyone knows as much as possible about it.

While it’s hard to quantify “return on investment”, we can drive return on engagement.  If you’re spending millions of dollars on a thing called benefits, we should ensure everyone knows as much as possible about it.

What is the biggest challenge to driving employee engagement with their benefits? 

Time.  I think as a nation, we are all stretched in too many directions and finding the time to actually be thoughtful about your benefits is scarce—let alone making the time to actually see a doctor.  You have to meet people where they are.  And I think the “Tik Tok approach,” or 90-second benefits soundbytes, will be our next wave of communication strategies.

Which employee benefits and perks should employers be most focused on in the coming year and why?

I think it depends on your organization, industry, size, revenue, culture… 

Then, it’s all about finding the right fit for your company and the problems your team members are facing.  That might mean enhancing your medical plans (lifting age/gender/duration limits from preventive services), or adding enhanced fertility, providing financial wellness, encouraging healthy behaviors. We have to find ways to cut through all of the noise to help team members understand what they have and then have the things they need most when they actually need it.

What is your top tip—you can only pick one!—to help employees choose, use and engage with their benefits?

 ALEX, of course!

You have to meet people where they are.  And I think the “Tik Tok approach,” or 90-second benefits soundbytes, will be our next wave of communication strategies.

What’s missing from the HR + benefits space right now? What aren’t we talking about/doing enough of?

I think we are talking a lot about mental health and finding solutions – but getting people to engage has been a challenge.  

Ready to take your benefits engagement strategy to the next level? Join us at Engage 2022.

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