Online Benefits Maturity Assessment

Online Benefits Maturity Assessment

Get the personalized insights you need to become a more strategic benefits leader with our online, interactive Benefits Maturity Assessment. 

Celebrating the Women of Empyrean

Celebrating the Women of Empyrean

Women’s Equality Day commemorates August 26, 1920, the day the 19th amendment was signed into law giving women the right to vote in the United States.

Today and every day, we celebrate the women who make Empyrean great. We asked some of these amazing women to reflect about what workplace gender equality means to them and to share their perspectives on everything from women who have inspired them to advice they would give anyone growing their own careers.

Colleen Waymel
Chief Operating Officer
Empyrean team member since 2012


What does Women’s Equality Day mean to you?

Women’s Equality Day means taking time from our busy lives to remember, be thankful, and celebrate the incredible distance we have (all!) come and the remarkable people and events that have made that progress possible. 

It means acknowledging the many incredible people – women and men – who have inspired us to be who we are today. And it means keeping our sights set on the future that we need to aspire to achieve for ourselves and for our children and grandchildren.

Who are some females that have inspired you during your life – both personally and professionally?

There are so many amazing women I can point to, but my grandmother and mother stand out as they were both STRONG working professionals, great moms (but not perfect people), and anything but conventional. 

I grew up never questioning my opportunities as a woman because I saw the two of them doing what they did with so much class, strength, and care. My grandmother was a college graduate, a divorcee (when divorce wasn’t prevalent), and independent working mother of two. To add to the mix, my father worked from home (before working from home was a thing) so he could be with my three siblings and me while my mother worked outside the home in an active career in politics.

What moment made you most proud to be a woman of Empyrean?

I am proud to introduce myself as COO of Empyrean and to be in a position of influence over such a great organization and team of people. I recognize there is still room for continued growth for more women at Empyrean, and my role gives me the unique opportunity to represent others and show strength for women in leadership – not just at Empyrean but in the market as well.

I’m incredibly proud to not only represent Empyrean, but also all women with the hope that I am inspiring someone in the same way my grandmother and mother inspired me.

What does workplace gender equality mean to you?

It means we all freely share our thoughts, views, and opinions without the typical stereotypes associated with gender. It means we find creative ways to support our working parents/caregivers so they can continue to contribute and thrive at work. 

Do you have a special message you’d like to share with the group?  

We all face obstacles of some kind. We can’t always control what happens around us, and we may not fully eliminate the obstacles, but we should never let them stand in our way. This quote from Christian D. Larson says it all – “Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.”

Trisha Martinez
Team Manager, Service Center
Empyrean team member since 2015

What does women’s equality mean to you?

To me, women’s equality means that I can be who I am as a person and not feel like I am beneath anyone else. I can express my values and passions, and ultimately meet my individual goals without facing the stigma that I cannot do something just because I am a woman.

Who are some females that have inspired you?

My mother has been my biggest inspiration. I would not be the dedicated, hardworking, and intelligent woman I am today without her continuous support. Growing up, my mother transitioned from a stay-at-home mom to a hard-working woman in the workforce holding multiple jobs. Seeing her grow and achieve her goals inspired me to be the best version of myself – and made me realize that I can achieve anything I set out to do in life.

What’s something (in life or at work) that makes you feel empowered?

I feel empowered by positivity. Whether that’s in the workplace or not, giving and receiving positivity every day boosts my motivation and pushes me to do better and go farther than I have before.

Valenda Chancey
Compliance Manager
Empyrean team member since 2014

Who are some women that have inspired you during your life – both personally and professionally?

Personally, I give full credit to my mother for inspiring me from a young age. She was my first example for how to exhibit grace, tolerance, and patience when facing adversity. (Now, I’m not saying I’m successful in doing all these things at all times, but as the saying goes ‘Momma tried!’)

She was a stay-at-home mom and raised four children while my dad was the ‘breadwinner’. We had much more time with mom as a result, and she provided many life lessons that remain ingrained in me today. 

Professionally, I vividly remember the first time I had a female manager early in my career. It was in the 80’s, when it wasn’t as common to see women in leadership roles. My manager was the only female Vice President in the company, and her reputation preceded her – she was tough!

In hindsight, I recognize that she was tough for good reason. She led her team by example – always. She was a great mentor at a time when we still wore business suits to work daily, complete with closed toe high heel shoes and hose! While times (and dress codes!) have changed, the work ethic and life skills I learned early on, from two great women, still inspire me today.

How has workplace gender equality evolved during your career? 

Goodness – where do I start?!? Things have evolved and changed significantly from when my career began to now! 

I think we’re seeing more positive changes play out in a big way in recent years, with actions such as not requiring gender designation at all, or making it an optional disclosure on everything from surveys, to job applications, to benefit election sites.  

What moment made you most proud to be a woman of Empyrean?

I just realized my 8-year anniversary working with Empyrean earlier this month. I use the word ‘with’ rather than ‘at’ or ‘for’ because my experience here has consisted of (and continues to involve) collaboration with so many different teams and talented co-workers. There’s the saying, “there is no ‘I’ in teamwork.” In my experience at Empyrean, there is no gender relevance in teamwork either. We are all working toward one common goal, and that’s to provide our clients with stellar service.

Vinita Tyagi
Benefits, Compensation, & HRIS Manager
Empyrean team member since 2017

As our Benefits, Comp & HRIS Manager, is workplace equity important in the work you do? If so, why?

I think that compensation and benefits are the lead indicators of how much value a company puts on workplace equity. Our policies and practices are guiding us to ensure that Empyrean is a place where a woman (or for that matter any individual) can come in and put in their best work without being held back by their gender identity.

I can proudly say working at Empyrean each day I am able to reinstate our organization’s belief in workplace equity.

Who are some women who have inspired you?

I have been privileged to know many strong women in my life. Some are part of my family, others are close friends, some I have known professionally and have the honor to work with. Each of these women have inspired me, taught me, and guided me in the interactions I have had with them.  

Do you have a special message you’d like to share with the group?

To all my fellow ladies – the strength that we seek is within us. Spend your energy and resources in developing yourself and not in external validation.

Olivia Lopez
Sr. IT Project Manager
Empyrean team member since 2022

Who are some females that have inspired you?

My mother and older sister have inspired me so much. My mother always taught us to be strong women and encouraged us to do and pursue whatever we wanted to in life. She supported us every step of the way – including whatever decisions we made professionally and in our personal life.

My sister is one of the strongest people I know. She has worked tremendously hard – and continues to work hard – for everything she has earned in life. She is one of the first few Spanish captioners in the U.S. and also owns her own successful business!

What moment made you most proud to be a woman of Empyrean?

Honestly, the day I was offered this position. Knowing Empyrean believed in me enough to come into a new EMPO to manage a variety of complex projects was an incredibly meaningful day for me.

Do you have any advice for women entering career paths / industries that have been historically male dominated?

Don’t doubt your worth or your own potential to achieve your goals. No matter what obstacle you may face, you can get through it if you work hard enough and want it bad enough.

What is the most important piece of advice you were given during your career?

This may seem simple, but these words of advice from a CIO that I previously worked under have stuck with me throughout my career – “Be intentional in whatever you do.”

Carla Kimble
Sr. Implementation Manager
Empyrean team member since 2016

What does workplace gender equality mean to you?

Workplace gender equality means that everyone has access to the same opportunities, and that those opportunities are based on your qualifications, abilities, and contributions – not your gender.

Who are some females that have inspired you?

My grandmother and mom are my biggest inspirations. They both became mothers in their teens, but they didn’t let that stop them from accomplishing their goals. They both attended college and surpassed all the stereotypes that one would project on a teen mom.

My grandmother became the first black RN in neurosurgery at the VA hospital in Dallas, TX, and my mom has traveled to over 14 different countries as a PM. Both while married and raising their children. They are the epitome of perseverance and proof of just how much you can accomplish with a lot of hard work and determination.

What is your proudest Empyrean work accomplishment?

My proudest work accomplishment at Empyrean is not limited to one moment. I feel like my role as an Implementation Manager suits me perfectly in that each successful go-live/project completion is an accomplishment.

Every project presents a unique set of challenges. Each challenge presents opportunities. To be able to navigate both with the client to achieve a positive outcome is always an accomplishment.  

Alysah Leos
CSR Lead

Empyrean team member since 2020

What does women’s equality mean to you?

Women’s equality means having the security and support to take up space. Having the freedom to BE and flourish as a human – without social judgement, financial disparity, or fear of harm by others. Being whoever you want to be and being represented.

This includes allowing men to take up space as well, and share responsibility for roles that may have at one time been viewed as outside of “traditional gender roles”. It means supporting others and sharing responsibilities that should not be defined by gender.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Be unapologetically you!

What’s something (in life or at work) that makes you feel empowered?

Learning makes me feel empowered. Whether it’s learning a new client at work, new disc golf techniques, or learning how to better myself as a human. Gaining knowledge and having the ability to pass it on is one of the most rewarding and empowering things I do for myself.

Katie Carroll
Sr. Consumer Marketing Manager
Empyrean team member since 2022

What does Women’s Equality Day mean to you?

It means treating everyone with fairness and respect and recognizing that every single person has unique needs.

It means that my daughters won’t be told something they are passionate about or interested in is “for boys”…like I was.

In your role, you speak directly to participants using our platform. Do you feel like your work helps women overcome inequities in healthcare?

I myself have had trouble navigating the healthcare system in the past, and that has influenced how I guide our participants. For example, I still have large hospital bills for the birth of my second child. I’m also navigating how to cover occupational therapy costs for my 4-year-old.

At a bare minimum, my focus is to ensure that every participant understands what benefits are available to them and how to use them. From there, we can help women learn how to use benefits to their advantage and enable them to thrive both physically and mentally. I think we have become so accustomed to just surviving that we have lost sight of what it means to truly thrive.

As a working mother, how does Empyrean support you?

I’m given the space to not feel pressured to figure out a “work/life balance”. I have many things going on in my life and working for Empyrean is just one of them. Some days this means working during baby nap times or not having to worry when preschool is closed (again) and I have both kids at home. If the work is moving forward, then I am empowered to balance my schedule as needed. I wish every parent had this type of support, especially in the early years of parenthood.

What is the most important piece of advice you were given during your career?

Your voice is your superpower, and your voice is more powerful that you realize.

Speak up, share those new ideas, fail, learn, it’s all part of the human experience. Stop worrying about what people think, they are too busy dealing with their own things anyways. 


Happy Women’s Equality Day!

Pet Insurance Enrollments Surged by 56% in 2022

Pet Insurance Enrollments Surged by 56% in 2022

Today is National Dog Day, which was first celebrated in 2004 across the country to increase awareness about dogs in need of rescue and to encourage pet adoption.

Now celebrated annually on August 26th, members of the 69 million U.S. households who have at least one dog recognize the day by taking to social media to post photos of their pups and share information about local animal shelters and pet rescues. 

As a nation, why are we so obsessed with our pets?

The benefits of pet ownership are evident. According to a pulse survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), 75 percent of pet owners surveyed reported that spending time with their pet helps them manage stress levels while increasing their sense of well-being.

From the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, pets quickly emerged as the ultimate work from home companions. Office closures, social distancing, and lockdowns forced Americans to spend much more time at home, leading to a surge in new pet adoption and ownership across the country.

As of March 2021, more than 23 million American households had brought home a new pet since the start of the pandemic. With more than 70 percent of U.S. households owning pets, the majority of which pay more than $2,000 annually in pet care, many employers are offering supplemental benefits to assist employees with pet care costs.

Data from the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) shows that there has been yearly double-digit growth in pet insurance enrollments since the mid-2010s. Empyrean’s 2022 enrollment data shows a dramatic 56.37 percent increase in pet care benefit adoption over 2021, with almost 35 percent of plan participants offered the benefit electing coverage.

As more U.S. households welcome pets home each year, employers can expect employees to continue to seek ways to offset the financial costs associated with pet ownership – especially during times of economic uncertainty.

Pet Benefit Solutions – An Empyrean Preferred Partner

Pet Benefit Solutions is a valued partner in our carrier network, integrating directly with the Empyrean platform to create simplified administrator and employee benefit experiences. Comprehensive coverage under Pet Benefit Solution’s Total Pet Program includes veterinary care, pet product savings, and pet care services.

There are several key advantages for employers looking to offer pet insurance benefits through Empyrean’s partnership with Pet Benefit Solutions, including:

  • Simple and straightforward employee enrollment directly in the Empyrean platform
  • Easy setup and streamlined administration
  • Coverage for all pets with no pre-existing condition exclusions, waiting periods, or deductibles
  • Flat rate family pet plan coverage for multiple pets
  • Simple billing processes with no reconciliation needed
  • High employee participation and engagement rates

Please contact our team at info@goempyrean.com with any questions regarding the Empyrean platform or our ability to integrate with your preferred pet insurance carrier.

Happy National Dog Day!

Empyrean Adds Kelly Knick to Channel Enablement Group  

Empyrean Adds Kelly Knick to Channel Enablement Group  

Houston, TX. [Aug. 19, 2022] Empyrean (www.goempyrean.com), a leading technology and service-focused employee benefits administration provider, has announced that Kelly Knick has joined the growing organization as a Director of Channel Enablement. In this role, Knick will focus on building and nurturing broker and carrier relationships across the country.

“Kelly has been a wonderful addition to our organization and has been able to make an immediate impact with our broker partners and carriers,” said Chris Rossi, Empyrean’s VP of Sales. “She will be instrumental in spearheading our channel enablement efforts alongside the rest of our channel enablement team.”

Knick is an industry veteran, spending the majority of her career in the BenAdmin technology and service space. Prior to joining the Empyrean team, she served in sales roles at both Benefitfocus and Nayya.

“I am excited to get to focus on our Channel Partnerships here at Empyrean,” Knick added. “If there is anything I have learned working with large employers, it’s how much value and trust there is in an employer’s established broker and carrier relationships.”

The addition of Knick comes at a time of sustained growth for the organization, including the continued development of strong partnerships across the benefits ecosystem.

Throughout 2022, Empyrean has had a continued focus on creating tailored, personalized, and connected benefit experiences that result in better outcomes for participants, employers, and brokers and advisors across the country. This focus has included the development and enhancement of several Empyrean technologies and services, including updates to employee mobile experiences, rollout of new communication platforms, and enhancements to Pilot+, Empyrean’s decision support and healthcare navigation tool.

Knick earned a B.A. from the University of Maryland.

About Empyrean

Since 2006, Empyrean has provided employers of varying size, industry, and benefit plan complexity with the innovative technology and best in class service necessary to accelerate their benefit strategies and bring their benefit programs to life.

Empyrean’s platform and services were designed to create connected employee benefit experiences that enrich lives, strengthen employer brands, and improve workplace cultures. Focused on total employee health and wellness, Empyrean is dedicated to delivering scalable and tailored experiences that empower participants to better understand, access, and engage with their benefit programs not just at enrollment time, but on a year-round basis.

Today, more than 4.6 million participants across the U.S. rely on Empyrean’s cutting-edge platform and top-notch support teams to inform and guide their benefit enrollment and utilization decisions.

Headquartered in Houston, TX, Empyrean has additional office locations in Minneapolis, MN and Nashville, TN, as well as remote teams located throughout the U.S.

Empyrean is a subsidiary of Securian Financial (www.securian.com).

MEDIA CONTACT:
Brienne Driscoll
Head of Content & Communications
Empyrean
bdriscoll@goempyrean.com

The Growing Role of Financial Wellness Programs in Support of Total Employee Wellbeing

The Growing Role of Financial Wellness Programs in Support of Total Employee Wellbeing

Human resources and benefit leaders continue to navigate one of the most volatile and fast moving business and economic landscapes many of us have ever known. The Great Resignation, increased levels of caregiver responsibilities, financial uncertainty tied to the ongoing pandemic, inflation, and other macroeconomic factors have brought an even stronger focus on the need to support total employee wellbeing in the form of financial wellness benefits.

With 62 percent of employers reporting that they feel “extremely” responsible for the financial wellness of their employees, organizations are taking this challenge more seriously than ever. Back in 2013, just 13 percent of employers said they felt this same level of obligation to their teams.

Companies that offer financial wellness programs have an opportunity to play a vital role in bridging the gap between work and financial health. The advantages of supplying this level of support for employees is well documented, with improved outcomes in areas like employee engagement and productivity, recruitment and retention, cost containment, and workforce management and diversity.

Caregiving Needs Can Threaten Financial Wellness


As employers develop their benefit strategies, it is critical to consider programs that support the needs of employees serving as caregivers – especially those in the sandwich generation caring for both children and older adults.

More than one in five U.S. adults have acted as unpaid caregivers in the past 12 months, a statistic that often goes overlooked by employers as only half of employed caregivers say that their manager is aware of their caregiving responsibilities. Demographic trends indicate the need for caregiving will continue to increase, negatively affecting employers due to rising employee stress levels, decreased productivity, and increased rates of absenteeism.

Employers can help employees balance work and caregiving responsibilities while protecting their financial health by offering tools and programs designed to meet their needs, helping to improve emotional, financial, and physical wellness across their employee populations.

Offering benefits like caregiving support services, paid family and medical leave programs, and flexible work schedules and arrangements can help foster an inclusive and supportive environment for employees that serve as caregivers.

Carrier Partner Spotlight: Prudential


Prudential Financial continues to be one of Empyrean’s strongest carrier partners, and together we are committed to helping our clients’ employees get the financial protection and support they need as they navigate life’s challenges. Through simple and efficient delivery, we make it easy for employers to provide options that help their teams work towards both short and long-term financial goals while simplifying the enrollment process and improving overall employee experiences.

With operations in the United States, Asia, Europe and Latin America, Prudential provides customers with products and services that include life insurance, annuities, retirement-related services, mutual funds and investment management.

There are several advantages for employers looking to offer Prudential’s financial wellness benefits through the Empyrean platform, including:

  • Easy setup and administration
  • Zero cost implementation for employee-paid products
  • Expanded employee choice
  • EOI Connect and EOI decision status update API capabilities
  • Streamlined data integration and reduced production-ready timelines due to standard EDI templates

Access the full Prudential report, “Why Employers Should Care About Caregiving,” to learn more about how to provide increased financial wellness support to the caregivers in your organization.   

For more information about the Empyrean and Prudential partnership, please contact us at info@goempyrean.com.

Empyrean is an independent third-party administrator and is not affiliated with Prudential.

Group Insurance coverages are issued by The Prudential Insurance Company of America, a Prudential Financial company, Newark, NJ.

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Empyrean Welcomes Ken Gooch to Their Sales Team as Director of Channel Enablement

Empyrean Welcomes Ken Gooch to Their Sales Team as Director of Channel Enablement

Houston, TX. [May 18, 2022] Empyrean, (www.goempyrean.com), a leading technology and service-focused employee benefits administration provider, has announced that Ken Gooch has joined their expanding sales team as Director of Channel Enablement. In this role, Gooch will focus on building valuable partnerships to accelerate Empyrean’s growth across all U.S. regions.  

“As an industry veteran, Ken’s ability to establish and nurture long-lasting partnerships is nothing short of exceptional,” said Stephanie Haney, VP of Sales. “With his can-do attitude, industry knowledge, and ability to drive revenue growth by building third-party relationships, Ken is going to be instrumental in spearheading Empyrean’s channel enablement efforts.”

Gooch has held a variety of noteworthy positions throughout his career with Unum, MetLife, and Aetna. For the past decade, he’s been focusing on strategic business development to increase market share in the Voluntary Worksite space. This involved aligning with top national consultants, brokers, enrollment and communication firms, and benefits administration companies.

“My entire career has revolved around building sustainable partnerships that optimize operational efficiencies and deliver customer satisfaction and profitable growth,” said Gooch. “I’m excited to be joining the Empyrean team, and look forward to working with some of the same carrier and broker partners that I’ve been developing relationships with for years.”

Gooch joins the Empyrean team at a time of heightened market expansion and strategic positioning. As a leading employee benefits administration provider, Empyrean’s tech + service approach is designed to empower organizations to create a culture of wellbeing through the delivery of their benefit offerings. In early 2022, Empyrean released its yearly Benefit Trends Report, outlining the top five trends influencing the state of employee benefits today.

Gooch resides in Frisco, Texas.

About Empyrean

Since 2006, Empyrean has provided employers of varying size, industry, and benefit plan complexity with the innovative technology and best in class service necessary to accelerate their benefits strategies and bring their benefit programs to life. Empyrean’s platform and services were designed to create connected employee benefit experiences that enrich lives, strengthen employer brands, and improve workplace cultures.

Today, more than 4.6 million participants across the U.S. rely on Empyrean’s cutting-edge systems and top-notch support teams to inform and guide their benefit enrollment and utilization decisions. Focused on total employee health and wellness, Empyrean is dedicated to delivering a scalable and tailored benefits experience for all employees and their families by combining innovative technology with employee-centric services to empower participants to better understand, access, and engage with their benefit programs not just at enrollment time, but on a year-round basis.

Empyrean’s platforms and services empower employees to not only better understand the value of the benefit programs offered to them, but to then connect with these benefits in a way that drives better outcomes from themselves, their families, and their organization.

Headquartered in Houston, TX, Empyrean has additional office locations in Minneapolis, MN and Nashville, TN, as well as remote teams located throughout the U.S.

Empyrean is a subsidiary of Securian Financial (www.securian.com).

MEDIA CONTACT:
Brienne Driscoll
Head of Content & Communications
Empyrean
bdriscoll@goempyrean.com

Maureen Gardner Joins Empyrean’s Growing Sales Team as Director, Business Development in the Plains Region

Maureen Gardner Joins Empyrean’s Growing Sales Team as Director, Business Development in the Plains Region

Houston, TX. [April 26, 2022] Empyrean, (www.goempyrean.com), a leading technology and service-centric employee benefits administration provider, has announced the addition of Maureen Gardner to their growing sales team. In this role, Gardner will focus on strengthening Empyrean’s presence in the Plains region, developing employer and broker relationships with a focus on groups above 5,000 benefits eligible employees.

“Maureen joins us with extensive experience in the HR technology realm, and her impressive track record in sales and client partnerships will undoubtedly lead to Empyrean’s increased expansion in the Plains region,” said Mark Lawson, Empyrean’s VP of Sales. “Her wide range of abilities and knowledge across the HR and benefits space make her an invaluable addition to our team.”

Gardner began her sales career at Ceridian as a National Account Manager, and has held several high-level sales and partnership positions including Senior Director of Strategic Client Partnerships at ADP, where she spent 13 years managing national accounts and fostering revenue retention and overall client success.

“After spending decades in the HR Technology space helping organizations become more efficient through technology, I understand the value and importance of building culture through benefits,” said Gardner. “I am very excited to work with a team of professionals who believe in and are committed to delivering a ‘service-first’ approach.”

Gardner joins Empyrean at a time of strategic growth as the organization broadens its client base across all U.S. markets. Leading with a focus on tech + service, Empyrean continues to enhance and roll out new benefits administration technology, including COVID-19 vaccination tracking and attestation capabilities, enhanced ACA reporting functionality, and Pilot+, Empyrean’s claims-based decision support and personalized healthcare navigation product.

In late 2021, Empyrean also launched its new website, reflecting the organization’s mission to help employers create positive workplace cultures by connecting their employees to life-enriching benefits.

Gardner earned a B.A. from Bowling Green State University, and resides in Denver, Colorado.

About Empyrean

Since 2006, Empyrean has provided employers of varying size, industry, and benefit plan complexity with the innovative technology and best in class service necessary to accelerate their benefits strategies and bring their benefit programs to life. Empyrean’s platform and services were designed to create connected employee benefit experiences that enrich lives, strengthen employer brands, and improve workplace cultures.

Today, more than 4.6 million participants across the U.S. rely on Empyrean’s cutting-edge systems and top-notch support teams to inform and guide their benefit enrollment and utilization decisions. Focused on total employee health and wellness, Empyrean is dedicated to delivering a scalable and tailored benefits experience for all employees and their families by combining innovative technology with employee-centric services to empower participants to better understand, access, and engage with their benefit programs not just at enrollment time, but on a year-round basis.

Empyrean’s platforms and services empower employees to not only better understand the value of the benefit programs offered to them, but to then connect with these benefits in a way that drives better outcomes from themselves, their families, and their organization.

Headquartered in Houston, TX, Empyrean has additional office locations in Minneapolis, MN and Nashville, TN, as well as remote teams located throughout the U.S.

Empyrean is a subsidiary of Securian Financial (www.securian.com).

MEDIA CONTACT:
Brienne Driscoll
Head of Content & Communications
Empyrean
bdriscoll@goempyrean.com

Why Having a Rich Benefits Program Isn’t Enough to Attract & Retain Today’s Talent

Why Having a Rich Benefits Program Isn’t Enough to Attract & Retain Today’s Talent

CHROs, benefits leaders, and members of the C-suite continue to recognize the strong influence their employee benefits program has over their ability to attract and retain their top talent.

Unfortunately, a rich, well-designed benefits program is not enough to drive the strong employer brands and workplace cultures that make an organization an employer of choice – organizations also need a strong benefits communication and engagement strategy that helps their people better choose and use the best benefits available to them, at the individual level.

Benefits are the Second Leading Driver Pushing Your Employees to Seek New Employment

While voluntary quits have eased slightly at 3.9 million voluntary resignations in early 2023, employers report that 40% of workers consider leaving a job for better benefits, according to a recent Forbes Advisory survey.

Data collected in a PwC study also supports this trend, demonstrating that employees looking for new roles cited better benefits as the second leading driver for seeking a new position, ahead of desires for increased flexibility or career advancements. Fifty-seven percent of employees say they are at least somewhat likely to accept a position with slightly lower pay in exchange for a more robust benefits package.

Unfortunately, the ability to attract and retain workers depends on an organization’s ability to communicate the value of its benefits offering in relation to the needs of each individual, creating personalized benefit experiences that align with their current healthcare needs, financial wellness, life stage, lifestyle, or circumstance.

Positive Benefit Experiences Drive Strong Workplace Cultures & Employer Brands

Employers who neglect to take the necessary steps to inform both future and existing employees about their benefits demonstrate both a lack of employee support and an uncaring company culture, no matter how generous their employee benefit plan design may
be.

This is absolutely detrimental to an organization’s people experience, as data shows that employees of all generations present in today’s workforce rank “organizations that care about employee well-being” as a top three criteria when evaluating and selecting an employer.

“Without a big picture understanding, employees will be unable to truly understand the value of your benefits offering. This understanding is especially critical as employees continue to make employment decisions based on the benefits program they believe they are getting,” says Angel Seufert, Executive Vice President, Human Resources at Empyrean.

The ongoing volume of voluntary quits has made it clear that employers who do not meet the evolving demands of employees can expect to see high levels of turnover, making it critical that employers take the time to inform both future and existing employees about the value of their benefits offering.

HR Teams Must Work Together to Attract and Retain Talent 

Seufert also says that talent acquisition teams, HR, and benefits leaders must work together to create cohesive and thoughtful communication campaigns that positively demonstrate the value of your benefits program throughout the candidate and employee lifecycle.

“Gone are the days when benefits and HR teams could work in a silo,” Seufert adds. “HR and benefits leaders need to work together to listen and understand exactly what your unique employee populations are looking for, whether that be through exit surveys, engagement and stay surveys, or through a benefit utilization analysis.”

HR teams will need to create a positive journey throughout the employee lifecycle, starting with candidate experience and communications. And to combat attrition, HR teams will need to align to ensure they understand what their employees’ benefits needs truly are.

“Employers need to hone in on which benefits will both retain current talent as well as attract new desirable talent,” says Empyrean Strategic Account Advisor, Scott Mesteller.

Even when the job market eventually shifts to favor employers, it can be expected that top talent will continue to prioritize employment with organizations that demonstrate they value employees through commitments to positive employee experiences and total well-being. One of the most tangible ways for employers to express their commitment, values, and dedication to positive workplace cultures will continue to be through employee benefits.

Check out more Empyrean Insights to learn how to drive positive people and benefit experiences at your organization.

Empyrean Releases Full Agenda & Speaker Details for EVOLVE/22

Empyrean Releases Full Agenda & Speaker Details for EVOLVE/22

Empyrean is excited to welcome some of the industry’s top thought leaders and benefits experts to EVOLVE/22!

DATE: April 6-8, 2022
LOCATION: The Hutton Hotel, Nashville

Building Culture Through Benefits

The theme for this invitation-only event is “Building Culture Through Benefits”, and from our high-energy opening keynote all the way through our closing session, our dynamic speakers will explore the strong connections between employee benefits, company culture, and positive organizational outcomes gained from employee health and wellness.

Our conference agenda is designed to challenge participants to think differently about benefits and their own role in sparking change within their workplaces.

Conference Agenda & Speaker Information

April 7, 2022

Opening Keynote: Culture That Rocks! How to Amp Up & Rev Up Company Culture

Presented by:

Jim Knight
Owner & Founder
Knight Speaker

  • Strategies for defining company culture, including understanding the differences between your organization’s “heritage” and your current workplace environment.
  • Why your benefits strategy is the foundation for a strong company culture.
  • Approaches to “amp up” employee communications to drive improved outcomes.
  • Methods for managing through organizational change.
  • Tactics for creating employee brand ambassadors.
  • Techniques for building resilient teams.  

Regardless of your company’s cultural history or status, this program will provide you with the insights and tools necessary to build positive workplace cultures within your own organization.

Diversity & Equity in Benefits

Presented by:

Dede Orraca-Cecil
US Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Egon Zehnder

Antoine Carter
Sr. Director, Client Services
Empyrean

Diversity, equity, and inclusion have been long recognized as critical to any healthy workplace culture, but have these pillars made their way into your benefits strategy?

While your benefits program may be designed to support your different employee populations, your team members may not understand how certain programs or benefits are advantageous for someone in their unique situation or circumstance.

This session will explore the importance of diversity and equity in benefits, including:

  • Positive correlations between diversity and favorable organizational outcomes.
  • Impacts of equity and inclusion on employee and organizational performance.
  • Employing a benefits strategy that is inclusive and supportive of employees of all backgrounds.
  • Employee communication approaches that meet employees where they are and fuel a stronger understanding of how each benefit offering in your program can support their own unique needs and that of their family.
  • How to use the Empyrean platform to fuel your DEI benefits strategy.

You will leave this session with the insights, strategies and techniques needed to improve benefit inclusivity across all employee populations, creating a more equitable workplace.

Fueling Improved Employee Experiences Through Decision Support Technology: A Pilot+ Case Study

Presented by:

Tammy Kaplan
Product Manager, Employer Strategy Enablement
Empyrean

Desta Millner
Strategic Account Advisor
Empyrean

This micro-session will explore how Pilot+, Empyrean’s claims-based decision support and personalized healthcare navigation tool, has driven positive employee experiences.

This quick-moving discussion will provide real-world insights and direction on how to:

  • Leverage decision support technology to fuel a better employee experience.
  • Utilize predictive analytics to help employees understand future health risks and corresponding costs.
  • Influence improved enrollment and utilization decisions using claims-based data.

You will be left with the actionable data and insights necessary to improve the experiences and health and wellness outcomes of your own employees and organization.

Creating a Culture of Benefits: Supporting & Engaging the Whole Employee

Moderated by:

Elizabeth Rennie
HR Technology & Services Research Director
NelsonHall

Panelists:

Michelle Latham
Senior Director, Benefits
Dollar General

Shaun Snyder
Sr. Director of Benefits, Wellbeing & Shared Services
The Aaron’s Company, Inc.

Scott Kline
Director, US Benefits
Sanofi US

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting changes to our everyday lives have created physical, mental, and financial challenges that American workers had never faced before, causing employers to pivot towards benefit strategies that support total employee health and wellness.

Empyrean’s recent study of 2022 benefit enrollment trends shows that this shift is expected to continue, driven in part by employee demand and increased enrollment in supplemental benefits.

Join our expert client panel with representatives from Dollar General, The Aaron’s Company, and Sanofi US as they discuss why benefits that support total employee heath, wealth, and wellness are a critical part of any employer’s ongoing employee benefits strategy, including:

  • What total employee wellness means at their organization.
  • Connections between health, wealth, and company success.
  • How their support of the total employee has impacted employee attraction, retention, and diversity and inclusion efforts.
  • Shifting employee expectations and demands related to benefit offerings.
  • Why total employee wellness drives positive employee experiences and positive workplace cultures.

Participants will learn the strategies and approaches needed to build and execute a benefits strategy that supports the whole employee, including how to drive their employees towards offerings that support them in their life at work and outside the office.

Emerging Risk & New Compliance Standards

Moderated by:

Colleen Waymel
Chief Operating Officer
Empyrean

Panelists:

Chris Condeluci
Principal
CC Law & Policy

Rocco Muratore
Director, Strategic Partnerships
Equifax
Event Gold Sponsor

The past several years have been filled with new regulatory compliance standards at the local, state, and federal level, as well as emerging areas of consumer risk in our increasingly digitized world.

This session will feature our panel of compliance experts as they explore emerging legislation impacting the benefits space as well as new areas of risk to the consumer which employers can hedge against through voluntary benefit offerings.

The Hidden Paycheck: Using Benefits to Attract & Retain Employees

Moderated by:

Angel Seufert
Executive Vice President, Human Resources
Empyrean

Panelists:

Bob Murray
Executive Leader, Benefits and Wellness Strategy
Whole Foods Market

Jeff Streeper
HR COE Director, Benefits and HR Service Center
Securian
Platinum Event Sponsor

Whether you call it The Great Resignation or The Big Quit, employees continue to leave their jobs at the highest rates ever recorded. These employees are seeking greener pastures, whether it be the ability to work from home, improved flexibility and a better work environment, increased pay, or better benefits, employers have been left struggling to backfill positions while also recruiting to fill newly created roles.

Benefits are often viewed as “The Hidden Paycheck”, since many employers fail to demonstrate the true value of their benefits offering to both candidates and existing employees. This is a major miss when it comes to employer branding and employee experience opportunities.

Employers who neglect to properly educate future and current employees about their benefits offering leave it up to the individual to acclimate themselves, demonstrating both a lack of employee support and an uncaring company culture, no matter how generous an employee benefits plan may actually be.

This session will explore:

  • How to improve your benefits strategy to focus on the programs your employees care about most.
  • Strategies to fuel improved employee attraction and retention through enhanced candidate and employee communications.
  • Approaches for benefits leaders to be a stronger partner for talent acquisition and HR teams to improve attraction and retention outcomes.

This session will provide strategies and techniques needed to better leverage your benefits offering to attract and retain the talent your organization needs to be successful.

April 8, 2022

The Future is Now: Our Forward-Looking Product & Partner Vision

Presented by:

Jim Priebe
Chief Strategy Officer
Empyrean

Kelly L. Clark
Chief Information & Technology Officer
Empyrean

During this session, Empyrean’s Chief Strategy Officer, Jim Priebe, and Chief Information & Technology Officer, Kelly Clark, will provide our audience with an overview of Empyrean’s go-forward brand vision.

Throughout the discussion, Jim and Kelly will talk through the various macro and micro factors influencing the space, including areas where Empyrean will make a concentrated investment in using our technology and services to solve for the evolving challenges impacting our clients. 

Removing the HDHP Stigma Through Year-Round HSA Engagement

Moderated by:

Desta Millner
Strategic Account Advisor
Empyrean

Panelists:

Scott MacDonald
SVP, Regional Sales Manager
HSA Bank
Event Gold Sponsor 

Crystal Thomas
Benefits Manager
Hearst Media

High deductible health plans (HDHPs) often have a bad rep, with many employees failing to see their value – and consequently fueling a narrative that organizations that offer them are looking for cost savings at the expense of their employees.

Benefits leaders know that HDHPs are a strategic choice that not only save employees money through lower premium payments, but also offer the opportunity for employees to divert pre-tax earnings into a health savings account (HSA) that builds financial health.

This session will explore ways to remove the stigma of your HDHPs and change the negative narrative. Content covered will include:

  • Approaches for creating a communication strategy that educates employees on the benefits of HSAs as a financial wellness tool.
  • Methods for improving employee HSA contributions and utilization.
  • Strategies for demonstrating the savings offered through HDHPs especially when complemented by HSAs, including the costs of being over-insured.

You will leave this session with proven strategies to remove the stigma around your own HDHP and demonstrate the true value of your benefits offering.

Closing Keynote: The Changing Role of the Strategic Benefits Leader

Presented by:

Elizabeth Rennie
HR Technology & Services Research Director
NelsonHall

In our closing keynote, we will share the findings of a proprietary research study of more than 100 HR and benefits leaders, co-commissioned by Empyrean and HR analyst firm, NelsonHall.

This qualitative study explores the changing role of benefits leaders and uncovers the insights, tools, and education needed to become a successful member of your broader HR organization while overcoming challenges presented by the ever-changing business landscape.

Content covered will include:

  • The many roles played by today’s benefits team that go beyond the oversimplified label of “benefits administration”.
  • The strategic role benefit teams play within their organization to build successful business outcomes through the deployment of wellness programs and enhanced employee experiences.
  • The evolving demands on the providers of benefits administration platforms, uncovering how these technologies must evolve to support the increasingly strategic role that benefits programs play within HR strategy.

Findings will also uncover how benefits leaders are key contributors to the success of your HR team, overall business, and the employees who make up your organization. You will leave this session with actionable insights to adopt and implement within your own business as you enable a benefits strategy that serves to build positive employee experiences and strong company cultures.

Evening Events & Musical Performances

Beyond our daytime programming, our team has made sure to leave ample time for networking opportunities, evening fun at exciting venues, and performances by some of Music City’s hottest performers!

With musical performances by:

  • High Fidelity
  • George Shingleton
  • Gwen Levy Duo

The sweet sounds of Nashville and our culture-focused educational sessions will inspire our attendees to spark change within their own organization by building culture through benefits.

Please contact info@goempyrean.com for more information about this invitation-only client conference.

Empyrean Adds Randy Alvarez to Expanding Sales Team as Director of Business Development in the Northeast Region

Empyrean Adds Randy Alvarez to Expanding Sales Team as Director of Business Development in the Northeast Region

Houston, TX. [March 18, 2022] Empyrean, (www.goempyrean.com), a leading technology and service-centric employee benefits administration provider, has announced that Randy Alvarez has joined the organization as Director of Business Development. In this role, Alvarez will concentrate on the continued expansion of Empyrean’s presence in the Northeast, developing employer and broker relationships in this region focusing on groups above 5,000 benefits eligible employees.

“Randy joins Empyrean at a time of substantial growth, and we are thrilled to kick off 2022 with the expansion of our sales team on the East Coast,” said Chris Rossi, Empyrean’s VP of Sales. “With an exceptional 20 year track record as a top sales performer, Randy not only brings experience, but an extensive understanding of the employee benefits and HR technology sector. We are eager to leverage his expertise as we continue to strengthen Empyrean’s presence across the Northeast.”

Alvarez has spent the last decade of his career at ADP in the PEO division in New England, where he worked as both a District Manager and Sales Lead. There, he helped businesses evaluate their HRIS technology and employee benefits strategy. Prior to that, he was a vital member of the sales team at Quadrant Software and WorkHuman.

“Having worked closely with clients in the HR technology and benefits space for over a decade, I understand what an important role technology and service play in creating positive employee experiences,” said Alvarez. “With our innovative benefits administration technology and service-first approach, I’m excited to show employers the value of Empyrean’s platform and partnership.”

Alvarez joins Empyrean during a time of accelerated growth, as the organization continues to add new clients in the Northeast and across all U.S. markets. Amidst this growth, Empyrean has developed new benefits administration technology, including COVID-19 vaccination tracking and attestation capabilities, enhanced ACA reporting functionality, and Pilot+, Empyrean’s claims-based decision support and personalized healthcare navigation product.

In late 2021, Empyrean also launched its new website, reflecting the organization’s mission to help employers create positive workplace cultures by connecting their employees to life-enriching benefits.

Alvarez attended Rutgers University, and resides in Swansea, Massachusetts. He stays involved in his local community by coaching youth sports and supporting local charities.

About Empyrean

Since 2006, Empyrean has provided employers of varying size, industry, and benefit plan complexity with the innovative technology and best in class service necessary to accelerate their benefits strategies and bring their benefit programs to life. Empyrean’s platform and services were designed to create connected employee benefit experiences that enrich lives, strengthen employer brands, and improve workplace cultures.

Today, more than 4.6 million participants across the U.S. rely on Empyrean’s cutting-edge systems and best in class support teams to inform and guide their benefit enrollment and utilization decisions. Focused on total employee health and wellness, Empyrean is dedicated to delivering a scalable and tailored benefits experience for all employees and their families by combining innovative technology with employee-centric services to empower participants to better understand, access, and engage with their benefit programs not just at enrollment time, but on a year-round basis.

Empyrean’s platforms and services empower employees to not only better understand the value of the benefit programs offered to them, but to then connect with these benefits in a way that drives better outcomes from themselves, their families, and their organization.

Headquartered in Houston, TX, Empyrean has additional office locations in Minneapolis, MN and Nashville, TN, as well as remote teams located throughout the U.S.

Empyrean is a subsidiary of Securian Financial (www.securian.com).

MEDIA CONTACT:
Brienne Driscoll
Head of Content & Communications
Empyrean
bdriscoll@goempyrean.com

Empyrean’s 2022 Benefit Trends Report

Empyrean’s 2022 Benefit Trends Report

As we enter the third year of pandemic-era life, it is clear that the way American workers view their employers, benefit programs, and overall workplaces has changed, creating both a significant and lasting impact on the HR and benefits space.

Our 2022 Benefit Trends Report uncovers the year’s top five trends influencing the state of employee benefits, sharing both quantitative data and expert insights that demonstrate how the many reactionary shifts, once thought to be temporary, in all likelihood may be permanent as the workplace continues to be forever reshaped by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are some of the key insights and takeaways from our full report.

1. Total Wellbeing is the New Normal

Benefit election data and employee behavior show that today’s employees have come to both expect and demand a broader range of supplemental benefit offerings from their employer, making an increased focus on total employee wellness a significant benefit trend again this year.

Enrollment data collected from the over 4.6 million participants accessing their benefits through the Empyrean platform shows that employees continue to gravitate towards supplemental offerings, selecting benefits that align with the changes they have experienced in their own lives. Some notable shifts include:

  • Shifts away from office-centric benefit enrollments, including a 16.58% decrease in commuter benefit participation
  • Enrollments that reflect remote and hybrid work arrangements
  • 56.37% increase in pet care benefit enrollments

As our report explains in further detail, Empyrean’s experts forecast that employers will continue to trend towards taking a more holistic approach to their benefit offerings due to employee and market pressure to do so.

2. Improved Consumer Education is Driving Adoption, Employee Vulnerability is Accelerating the Trend

Since the introduction of the HDHP, employers have leaned on supplemental benefits as a way to round out traditional programs, and plan sponsors have spent significant resources educating their employees on why enrollment in these supplemental programs can be advantageous.

Data suggests that this education has started to take hold. Whether employees are looking for a better work-life balance, financial planning support, or new ways to cope with stress, the adoption of voluntary benefits is improving.

Some of the enrollment increases discussed in our report include:

  • Hospital Indemnity (9.8% increase)
  • Accident Benefit (6.95% increase)
  • Critical Illness (5.85% increase)

After two years of pandemic life, it may come as no surprise that more employees are enrolling in benefits that insure for catastrophic events, perhaps recognizing their own physical and financial vulnerabilities during the public health crisis.

Download our full report to learn more about both continued and emerging trends related to mental health and employee burnout, and predictions that employees will continue to lean towards benefits that round out their traditional medical benefit programs.

3. Increased Focus on Using Benefits to Attract & Retain Talent

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a record 47.4 million U.S. employees voluntarily left their jobs in 2021, making the need for improved attraction and retention through benefits an emerging trend in 2022.

The volume of quits this year has made it clear that employers who do not meet the evolving demands of employees can expect to see high levels of turnover. The Great Resignation has had a tremendous impact on health and welfare benefits, increasing the need for employers to rethink their benefits strategy and better demonstrate the value of their benefits program to both future and existing employees.

As described in our report, we predict that as the war for talent continues, HR teams will need to work together to better understand what their employees’ benefits needs actually are, and create a positive journey throughout the employee lifecycle, starting with the candidate experience and communications.

Traditional, supplemental, and non-monetary benefits will play a starring role in an employer’s ability to differentiate themselves against the rest of the market. Delivery of a positive employee experience, from candidacy through termination, will be a key driver in an employer’s ability to attract and retain talent.

4. Increased Need to Deliver & Communicate a Positive Benefits Experience 

While employers are working hard to develop a strong benefits strategy that combats attrition and contributes to positive company cultures, equal effort must be made to ensure employees have positive experiences when enrolling in and utilizing these benefits, as research has shown employees will leave an organization for a role offering a more competitive benefits package.

The problem for many employers, however, is demonstrating that their benefits program is in fact valuable.

In a 2021 Voya consumer survey, one-third of respondents reported that they did not fully understand any of the employee benefits they enrolled in during their most recent open enrollment period. Despite materials and support available during open enrollment and throughout the year, many employees lack a full understanding of their benefit coverage and how to make cost-effective selections that are sized appropriately for their unique needs.

Providing employees with meaningful, year-round benefits education continues to be a major challenge for employers. Only 19 percent of organizations report that they believe their employees have a high-level understanding of their benefit options and elections, and 88 percent of employers from the same study say their main employee communications goal is to help participants better understand and utilize their benefit offerings.

More and more employers are relying on decision support technology to help employees navigate employer-sponsored health and wellness benefit offerings through an individualized lens, enabling better education, selection, and utilization outcomes.

As described in our report, going forward we expect technology to play an even bigger role in the employee benefits experience, with employers leveraging predictive analytics and real-life claims data to drive benefits engagement. These platforms provide enrollment recommendation intelligence tied directly to the claims data of the individual enrollee, creating entirely customized forecasts based on real-life prior events.

Since the enrollment recommendations are tailored specifically for the employee, it is clear that the employer is not trying to drive them towards a lower cost plan that will save company dollars. Instead, the employer is able to demonstrate their commitment to providing the employee with benefit programs that meet the employee where they are in support of their total health and wellness.

5. Continued Developments Surrounding Benefits Regulatory Compliance

Employer-sponsored benefit plans have been historically subject to a significant and ever-changing list of regulatory compliance standards, however, the sheer volume and complexity of legislation governing the employment law space has been a continued trend since the start of the pandemic – and one that can be expected for years to come.

Our report outlines some of the most critical new and shifting regulations employers need to know, including trends that go beyond compliance standards to ensure positive employee experiences.

Looking Forward

It is critical that employers and benefit leaders take a step back from the “survival” modes employed since 2020 to understand the future of benefits and how to shift go-forward benefits strategies for both organizational and employee success.

Benefit leaders can conclude that the majority of benefits-related changes made by organizations in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic are here to stay. Employer-sponsored health and welfare programs have been forever redefined to focus on mental and financial wellness benefits that support the whole employee in all facets of life, both inside and outside of work.

This year, employers have the opportunity to think differently about their benefit strategies to drive healthy and happy workplace cultures. As more businesses recognize the connections between benefits, employee experience, and positive organizational outcomes, leaders will continue to level up their benefits offering to build culture through benefits.

For additional data and insights tied to this year’s benefit trends, download your copy of Empyrean’s 2022 Benefit Trends Report today.

The Critical Role of Supplemental Benefits in a Go-Forward Benefits Strategy

The Critical Role of Supplemental Benefits in a Go-Forward Benefits Strategy

Webinar presented by Dr. Kristin Tugman, VP Health + Productivity, Prudential | Desta Millner, Empyrean | Melanie Haniph, HR Consultant. The COVID-19 pandemic has created physical, mental, and financial challenges that American workers have never faced before, causing employers to quickly shift their benefit strategies to one in support of total employee wellness. A recent study conducted by Empyrean shows that this is a trend that is expected to continue, driven in part by employee demand. Join our expert panel as they discuss why supplemental benefits will be a critical part of any employer’s post-pandemic employee benefits strategy. 

HR’s Growing Role in Data Privacy & Protection

HR’s Growing Role in Data Privacy & Protection

Insights and Advice from an Empyrean Expert

The role of our HR and benefits leaders continues to evolve and expand, and now our human resources teams are at the forefront of the battle to ensure both company and employee data remains protected and secure in our increasingly digitized world.

Gone are the days when only certain subgroups of an employee population relied on technology to perform their jobs. Today, nearly every American worker touches technology in some form on a daily basis, putting an increasing burden on HR teams to manage and train our evolving workforce on the best practices for ensuring data protection and security.

HR professionals are tasked with ensuring that employees follow IT and security policies and protocols to protect not only the company they work for and the customers they serve, but also themselves. Following the trend of supporting total employee health and wellness, more and more employers are offering identity theft protection as a voluntary benefit. However, an analysis of Empyrean’s enrollment data shows that only 13.8% of those employees offered the benefit enroll.

While we may tend to focus on highly-publicized and wide-spread security and data breaches impacting huge numbers of consumers, a study conducted by the Ponemon Institute found that just eight percent of all data breaches are caused by external cyber-attacks. Instead, the overwhelming majority of data breaches are caused by human error.

While experts recognize that it is a huge undertaking, they caution that HR professionals need to partner with IT to concentrate efforts on building a workplace culture where all employees are playing an active role in keeping data safe and secure, including instilling a sense of accountability across teams to ensure that data security needs are a priority.

In recognition of Data Privacy Day, we sat down with our Senior Security Analyst, Joel Tristani, to discuss the importance of data privacy and protection, including how we protect our own client data here at Empyrean.

Let’s start with the basics. Why is data privacy so crucial, and what should employees and organizations know about it?

Organizations are entrusted with handling personal data, and must take all necessary precautions to ensure it remains protected while in their care, including while it is being stored, processed, or is in transit to another authorized party.

There are many reasons why an employee might want to keep data about their identity, health, finances, or other matters private, and it is every person’s right to decide who has access to their personal data, and how it should and should not be used.

How can employers help employees safeguard data privacy?

There are a myriad of ways that employers can support safe and effective cyber hygiene. At Empyrean, we provide security awareness training to all of our employees, which includes important tips and tricks on how to look out for various red flags when using email, browsing websites, and operating computers and other devices.

We encourage all employers to ensure your employees are equipped with the proper tools, resources, and guides to help them handle their own data, and their clients’ data, in the safest, most secure way possible.

How does Empyrean protect our own client data?

At Empyrean, the protection of client data is a top priority.

Client data is always encrypted while at rest within our systems and during transfer in from a client or out to an authorized partner. In addition, before it’s transferred through an encrypted pathway, data is further encrypted at the file level to ensure that only the owner of that data can decrypt and access it, even after it reaches its final destination.

Access to client data while in our care is limited to only the client team members that require access in order to service the account. Beyond secure data handling practices, we maintain a robust security control environment and multi-layered defense strategy to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of our own and our clients’ information assets.

What’s your best advice for everyday data privacy protection?

A quick tip for everyday data privacy protection is to enable multi-factor or two-factor authentication for bank, insurance, and other websites that store your personal data.

And please – I cannot stress this enough – do not re-use passwords! If one of your accounts is compromised, all of your accounts with the same email and password combination will also be at risk. Multi/two-factor authentication mitigates this to some extent, but your best bet is to create different, strong passwords that will help protect you against cyber threats. Establish your own multi-layered defense, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Whether you’re an employee trying to protect your own personal data, or an organization safeguarding client information, everyone has a responsibility to ensure sensitive data is sent, stored, used, and viewed safely and appropriately.

About Joel Tristani, Senior Security Analyst at Empyrean

Joel joined the Empyrean team in 2021, and plays a pivotal role as a member of the organization’s IT and security teams. His decades-long IT career includes time spent at corporations like Widespread Technologies and BCI, as well as time spent at municipalities and within the private consulting space.

Joel earned a B.S. from Hodges University, as well as a M.S. in Cybersecurity from DePaul University. He resides in Tucson, Arizona.

How Decision Support Technology Can Fuel a Better Employee Experience

How Decision Support Technology Can Fuel a Better Employee Experience

Read our Decision Support Guide to learn about the top 5 factors to consider when evaluating recommendation engine platforms. Understand how predictive analytics can help employees understand future risks and costs, and what to look out for when comparing platforms to ensure you get the best fit for your needs.

The Changing Role of the Strategic Benefits Leader

The Changing Role of the Strategic Benefits Leader

Since the start of the pandemic, company benefits have played an increasingly important role in helping organizations protect the safety, wellness, and health of their employees. This is increasingly the case, not only for physical wellness, but organizations now have greater awareness of mental health and financial wellness impacts on their staff given recent challenges and mass resignations.

2022: a perfect storm for benefits

The dominance of remote/hybrid work environments also opens up new opportunities for benefits functions to offer new benefit types that could be seen as tangible expressions of a company’s culture. Therefore, If employee welfare, attraction, and retention are not top of the list of your key strategic priorities for 2022, they should be. Not only are organizations and HR functions adapting to new ways of working and changing business environments, they are also facing the fact that employees have started to “vote with their feet”, demanding a better work-life balance. We are experiencing the largest wave of mass resignations seen in most of our lifetimes. This is also not helped by the retirement of baby boomers and an aging workforce. 2022 is the year to act, and these challenges also offer a great opportunity for benefits teams to relook at the role they can play in strengthening the resilience of companies and their workforce.

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