In a time when pay transparency laws are becoming more common, salaries are often top of mind for employees. However, salaries aren’t the only thing that attracts and retains employees. As Katie Richards, the Senior Benefits Analyst at Corewell Health puts it, “Benefits are something special above and beyond the pay of a position.”
And what better time to make employee benefits shine than during open enrollment? While open enrollment may only come around once a year (much like the Super Bowl), Katie has created an effective benefits education and communication strategy at Corewell Health that extends throughout the year. Katie will be one of our speakers at Camp Engage 2023, where she’ll share her advice and tips on how to get creative with open enrollment communication. Here’s a quick look at her approach.
Name: Katie Richards
Title: Benefits Analyst, Sr.
Company: Corewell Health
Where can we find you online? LinkedIn
What 3 things would you bring on a camping trip?
Glamping is more my style: down comforter, a cozy and plush mattress, and a cozy chair to curl up in.
Tell us a bit about yourself and Corewell Health.
I am a member of the Benefits COE (center of excellence) at Corewell Health. As a team, we are responsible for the benefit plan designs and benefits strategies for a 64,000-team-member organization. We recently joined two large health systems within Michigan to become Corewell Health. As a large health system, we are an employer, an insurer, and a provider which places us in a very exciting, but challenging position when it comes to benefit plan designs and strategies.
What gets you up in the morning? What’s your favorite thing about your job?
Benefits education and benefits communications are my love. I love finding ways to be creative in our benefit offerings, communication, and education. Providing little pieces of information throughout the year that continue to show all the different benefit offerings is my favorite part of being a benefits professional. I get to deliver messages about programs that benefit our team members above and beyond base salaries.
What are you prioritizing this year when it comes to helping employees choose, use, and engage with their benefits?
This is an exciting time for our teams, we have the opportunity to get a brand new fresh start at a benefits program as a newly combined health system. Not many get the chance to be on the front-end design of an entirely new benefits program. It is a huge undertaking, but so exciting. Communication and education through tools like ALEX are key to the success of our new benefit offerings—team members need to see the value in the benefits offered. Otherwise, all that spend means nothing if team members never see the true value of the benefits you offer.
What’s your top piece of advice for HR professionals you’d like to share when it comes to open enrollment?
An entire year’s worth of work is all for those few weeks of enrollment, what is better than that? It’s like the Super Bowl of the benefits world! Get excited, and get your team members excited about the benefits. Yes, there are years you get the opportunity to launch a long-awaited exciting benefit and then there are years you have to deliver some hard news, but in the end, benefits are something special above and beyond the pay of a position. You work so hard to develop an amazing benefits program for your team members, make sure to showcase it.
Is there anything you think benefits professionals are missing or should be focusing on more?
It is time to raise your benefits high and showcase the benefits you are offering, tell your team members about the amazing benefits throughout the entire year. Organizations are spending so much on benefit offerings to not toot your own horns a little.
What are you looking forward to at Camp Engage 2023?
The opportunity to connect with other HR and benefits professionals.
What’s your favorite summer activity?
Hot tubbing under the star-filled beautiful Michigan sky.
Do you have a story about how ALEX has helped you that you’d like to share?
ALEX has been a member of our benefits team for many years and has stepped up and provided 24/7 access to benefits education and information. As a health system we are a 24/7 employer so finding solutions that can still provide education at all hours was something that we wanted to implement for our team members. We love ALEX so much that a lot of our benefits communications have turned to “ALEX speak” and we often ask: What would ALEX say? How would ALEX present this benefit? The answers are casual, fun, easy, exciting, over-the-top, funny, and relatable. ALEX is a true benefits expert and a valued member of our benefits team.