Empyrean Adds Sarah Seger to Growing Sales Team as Senior Director of Channel Enablement

Empyrean Adds Sarah Seger to Growing Sales Team as Senior Director of Channel Enablement

Houston, TX. [Nov. 2, 2023] Empyrean (www.goempyrean.com), a leading HR technology company focused on personalized people and benefit experiences, is excited to announce Sarah Seger as the new Senior Director of Channel Enablement. Seger will play a pivotal role in amplifying Empyrean’s operational excellence and innovative solutions delivery through strategic collaborations and alliances. 

Seger brings with her a wealth of experience, skills, and industry insights. She previously served as a key figure in Public Sector Sales at Clarity Benefit Solutions, where she demonstrated her aptitude in nurturing relationships, enhancing customer experiences, and driving sales growth.  

Before joining Empyrean, Seger also made notable contributions as the Director of Sales at Nayya. She was instrumental in designing and executing sales strategies that fostered relationships, enhanced client engagement, and accelerated growth. Seger’s innovative approach, coupled with her expertise in sales management and business development, facilitated market expansion opportunities. 

“We are thrilled to have Sarah join our team,” said Jim Priebe, Empyrean’s Chief Strategy Officer. “Her proven track record in enhancing client engagements and driving sales growth in the public sector will be instrumental as we continue to expand Empyrean’s reach and service offerings.” 

Seger is not just known for her strategic and operational acumen, but also for her ability to empower teams to excel in delivering exceptional client experiences. “Sarah’s passion and commitment to excellence, paired with her strategic foresight, align perfectly with our mission to provide innovative, life-enriching benefit solutions,” added Jim. 

Seger’s readiness for fostering collaborative relationships and driving organizational growth is evident. “I’m excited to be part of the Empyrean team,” said Seger. “I’m looking forward to leveraging my experiences and contributing to the team’s ongoing success in offering unrivaled benefit solutions backed by exemplary service.” 

Empyrean is in a phase of rapid expansion and innovation. The addition of Seger to the team highlights the company’s commitment to strengthening its position as a leader in the employee benefits administration space, enhancing client engagements and delivering cutting-edge solutions. 

Seger earned a B.S. from Illinois State University. 

About Empyrean 

We believe that everyone deserves a workplace culture that supports their total well-being through benefits.

Since 2006, Empyrean has provided employers of varying size, industry, and benefit plan complexity with the innovative technology, service-first approach, and focus on people experience to solve pain points and bring benefit strategies to life.

Empyrean delivers a total solution designed to create connected benefit and people experiences that enrich lives, strengthen employer brands, improve workplace cultures, and advance organizational goals.

Through our technology and service, we create scalable, tailored experiences that empower participants to better understand, access, and engage with their benefit programs not just at enrollment, but year-round.

Headquartered in Houston, Texas, Empyrean has additional office locations as well as remote teams located throughout the U.S. 

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

Empyrean’s Commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility 

Empyrean’s Commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility 

Empyrean’s mission is simple yet profound: “Connecting Benefits, Enriching Lives.” At the core of our existence is a commitment to helping our clients connect their employees and their families to the best benefit programs available. We believe that benefits are more than just perks; they are a tangible expression of a company’s culture, and they play a crucial role in enhancing the lives of employees both at work and in life.  

Our mission is the guiding star that influences every action we take as a company, from the smallest everyday decision to the most significant business strategies. “Connecting Benefits, Enriching Lives” embodies our dedication to driving positive outcomes for employees, their loved ones, and the organizations we serve.  


Our values, known as “The 5 BEs,” serve as guiding principles that shape how we lead, think, and collaborate within our organization. These values empower us to create a supportive, compassionate, inclusive, and energized workplace, allowing us to make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions every day. 

We understand the profound impact our actions have on the lives of our clients, their employees, and the wider communities we touch. It’s a responsibility we take seriously, and it drives us to support one another and the communities in which we live. 

Sustainability: A Healthy Planet Benefits Everyone

Empyrean is committed to reducing our environmental impact and carbon footprint. We’ve implemented a range of sustainability practices across our operations, including the establishment of our Green Team, an employee group dedicated to promoting sustainability initiatives and educating colleagues on environmental best practices. We also actively encourage our clients to transition to digital environments whenever possible, aiming to reduce paper usage and waste. 

Our transition to more efficient renewable energy cloud services and a hybrid work environment, which promotes virtual meetings and reduces business travel, further demonstrates our commitment to sustainability. We’ve also embraced comprehensive recycling programs and paperless office policies, focusing on digitizing processes to minimize paper usage and waste. Furthermore, our policies encourage reduced energy consumption while promoting environmental awareness. 

Working Together to Improve Our Communities 

Empyrean’s team is passionate about supporting the communities in which we live and work. Through our Empyrean Shares program, we provide our team members with paid time off to volunteer with organizations they are passionate about. We believe in being responsible corporate citizens and sponsor several programs and charitable causes throughout the year, contributing to local causes. 

Our commitment to community improvement extends to events like our bi-annual blood drive, which gives us an opportunity to come together and do good in our communities. We also invest in the future by offering opportunities to the next generation through our internship program and partnerships with local HBCUs. 

Ethical Business Practices: A Foundation of Trust 

We are committed to conducting business in an ethical and responsible manner. Every member of the Empyrean team abides by our code of conduct that outlines our dedication to ethical business practices. We also strive to work with suppliers that meet our rigorous selection criteria, including high sustainability and data security standards. Whenever possible, we engage with suppliers that are certified as minority-owned, women-owned, disability-owned, veteran-owned, or LGBTQ+-owned. 

Diversity, Equity + Inclusion 

We are committed to fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace where every employee has an equal opportunity to contribute to the effectiveness of our organization. Our initiatives include policies, procedures, and programs that support the unique needs of our team members, annual compliance training covering diversity, equity, and inclusion, and talent pipeline initiatives. 

We also ensure that inclusive language is used in all our materials and continuously assess our technologies and service approach to address diverse end-user needs and comply with WCAG standards. 

Supporting Total Well-being 

Empyrean prioritizes the health and safety of our workforce, recognizing their significance in ensuring the well-being of our people. Our comprehensive benefit programs, from medical, dental, and vision plans to 401(k) with a company match, are thoughtfully designed to support the physical and mental health, financial wellness, and overall safety of our team members and their families. 

Our commitment to employee well-being extends to disaster recovery and business continuity programs, demonstrating our dedication to sustaining our business and caring for our people.  
At Empyrean, we believe in doing the right thing by our clients – and it all starts with doing right by our people.  

Interested in learning more? Read our full corporate social responsibility brochure or reach out to a member of our Empyrean team.  

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, millions of participants across the U.S. rely on Empyrean to inform and guide their benefit enrollment and utilization decisions.  
Empyrean is a subsidiary of Securian Financial.  

Jen Peery Joins Empyrean as Senior Director of Product Strategy

Jen Peery Joins Empyrean as Senior Director of Product Strategy

Houston, TX. [Oct. 23, 2023] – Empyrean, (www.goempyrean.com), a leading HR technology company focused on personalized benefits and people experiences, is thrilled to welcome Jen Peery as the new Senior Director of Product Strategy. Peery will play a key role in advancing Empyrean’s product strategy to meet evolving client needs and market demands.

Peery brings a wealth of experience and a track record of success in the benefits and healthcare industry. Before joining Empyrean, she was with Benefitfocus for 16 years where she held various roles of increasing responsibility and fostered strong client relationships and optimal service delivery. Her extensive background in different roles will bring a unique perspective to the product team. 

“We’re excited to have Jen join us,” expressed Jim Priebe, Empyrean’s Chief Strategy Officer. “The blend of her vast industry knowledge, exemplary leadership abilities, and an established history of creating and implementing innovative strategies is priceless. She will be invaluable as we take our product offerings to the next level.” 

Peery’s primary focus at Empyrean will be to lead the product management team in developing innovative solutions that meet the diverse needs of our clients while enhancing the end-user experience. She will play a crucial role in ensuring that Empyrean continues to lead in combining top-tier technology with unparalleled service. 

“I am eager to contribute to a company that is as committed to innovation and excellence as Empyrean,” said Peery. “It is an exciting opportunity to work with a team that is dedicated to delivering exceptional solutions that not only meet but exceed the expectations of our clients and their employees.” 

Peery joins Empyrean during a pivotal growth period. The company is expanding quickly and is ready to set new standards in the industry. With increased offerings and enhancements on the roadmap, Peery’s leadership will be essential in guiding the product management team to achieve greater success. 

Jen earned a B.A. from Wofford College. 

About Empyrean 

We believe that everyone deserves a workplace culture that supports their total well-being through benefits.

Since 2006, Empyrean has provided employers of varying size, industry, and benefit plan complexity with the innovative technology, service-first approach, and focus on people experience to solve pain points and bring benefit strategies to life.

Empyrean delivers a total solution designed to create connected benefit and people experiences that enrich lives, strengthen employer brands, improve workplace cultures, and advance organizational goals.

Through our technology and service, we create scalable, tailored experiences that empower participants to better understand, access, and engage with their benefit programs not just at enrollment, but year-round.

Headquartered in Houston, Texas, Empyrean has additional office locations as well as remote teams located throughout the U.S. 

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

Empyrean Receives Aetna Workplace Well-being Inspiring Change Award

Empyrean Receives Aetna Workplace Well-being Inspiring Change Award

We are thrilled to share that Empyrean has been honored with the distinguished Aetna Workplace Well-being Inspiring Change Award. This remarkable recognition signifies our dedication to enhancing the well-being of our workforce and the impactful strides we have taken to ensure our team members feel supported at work and in life.  

The Significance of the Aetna Workplace Well-being Award 

This recognition from Aetna is the result of a meticulous evaluation of our well-being programs and the extent to which our team has actively participated in them. Empyrean stood out in a competitive field by demonstrating a strong commitment to nurturing a healthy and supportive workplace culture.  

To be considered for this award, organizations must provide a full year’s worth of data on their well-being programs which are thoroughly evaluated for their strategy and design, communications and organizational engagement, and program implementation and adoption.   

The evaluation was conducted by a panel of well-being professionals who meticulously reviewed and scored the effectiveness of each organization’s well-being programs based on pre-defined criteria, ensuring that this recognition is truly well-deserved. 

This accomplishment reflects Empyrean’s belief that everyone deserves a workplace culture that supports their total well-being through benefits. We could not be prouder of this achievement, and we could not be more grateful to every member of our team who not only recognizes the importance of their own well-being, but the well-being of the millions of people who rely on Empyrean to access and engage with their benefits and well-being programs year-round.  

At our core, Empyrean exists to help each of our clients connect their employees and their families to the best benefits programs available to them, building a workplace culture focused on employee well-being both in and outside of work. 

We believe that benefits are one of the most tangible expressions of company culture, and our mission is to connect employees to those life-enriching benefits while driving positive outcomes for employees, their loved ones, and our client organizations.  

As an organization, company culture is the single most important influencer of our individual and company success. We invite you to dive into Empyrean’s Culture Book, and take some time to explore our culture, our mission, and our values.

Empyrean Welcomes Ben Carey to Their Sales Team as Director of Channel Enablement

Empyrean Welcomes Ben Carey to Their Sales Team as Director of Channel Enablement

Houston, TX. [Oct. 18, 2023] – Empyrean (www.goempyrean.com), a leading HR technology company focused on personalized benefits and people experiences, is excited to announce the newest addition to their dynamic team, Ben Carey, as Director of Sales, Channel Enablement. Carey is set to bring his expansive experience, strategic insights, and proven track record in benefits administration to further bolster Empyrean’s growing market presence. 

Carey has had a long-standing career in the benefits administration space and understands the industry’s complex challenges and opportunities. In his last role at Corestream, Carey’s strategic approach to sales, coupled with an unwavering commitment to client satisfaction, consistently resulted in establishing and nurturing long-term client relationships.

“Ben’s arrival marks a significant milestone for Empyrean,” stated Jim Priebe, Empyrean’s Chief Strategy Officer. “His deep-rooted knowledge in BenAdmin, coupled with a remarkable acumen for sales, aligns seamlessly with our vision to expand and enhance our market footprint. We are confident that Ben’s contribution will be pivotal in gaining new partnerships.” 

In his new role, Carey will focus on driving Empyrean’s strategic sales initiatives, optimizing channel partnerships, and enhancing the overall client engagement experience. 

His adeptness in aligning sales strategies with client needs and market trends will be instrumental in fortifying Empyrean’s stature as the preferred partner for employee benefits administration solutions. 

“I am thrilled to be a part of the Empyrean team,” said Carey. “The opportunity to contribute to a growing company that operates with a service-first approach is great. I am looking forward to leveraging my experience to contribute to the team’s ongoing success.” 

Ben Carey’s arrival is timely, aligning with Empyrean’s strategic growth phase. The company is poised to unveil a series of innovative offerings, and Carey’s expertise will be instrumental in steering the sales team to new heights of success. 

Carey earned a B.S. from California Polytechnic State University. 

About Empyrean 

We believe that everyone deserves a workplace culture that supports their total well-being through benefits.

Since 2006, Empyrean has provided employers of varying size, industry, and benefit plan complexity with the innovative technology, service-first approach, and focus on people experience to solve pain points and bring benefit strategies to life.

Empyrean delivers a total solution designed to create connected benefit and people experiences that enrich lives, strengthen employer brands, improve workplace cultures, and advance organizational goals.

Through our technology and service, we create scalable, tailored experiences that empower participants to better understand, access, and engage with their benefit programs not just at enrollment, but year-round.

Headquartered in Houston, Texas, Empyrean has additional office locations as well as remote teams located throughout the U.S. 

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

Join Empyrean at HR Tech

Join Empyrean at HR Tech

Are you ready to experience benefits in a way you’ve never seen before? Visit Empyrean’s booth at HR Tech 2023 and get ready to discover how to drive success and engage your people with Precision Benefits.

Come see us in the Pitchfest Theater.

Join our experts on Wednesday, October 11th from 12:45 PM – 1:15 PM in the Pitchfest Theater to learn how leading organizations have partnered with Empyrean to personalize benefits adoption by leveraging claims data to create tailored experiences that meet employees where they are – at work and in life.

You Don’t Want to Miss This.

We’re ready to redefine reality. Are you? Visit us at booth 1732 to see for yourself.

Follow Empyrean on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook for live updates throughout the conference!

Technology Spotlight: Engage Your People, Drive Success  

Technology Spotlight: Engage Your People, Drive Success  

Benefits play a central role in advancing every people-related goal within your organization, ultimately driving your total success as a company. HR and benefit leaders spend countless hours and resources designing strategies to support their employees – but these programs are only as strong as an employee’s ability to leverage them.  

In other words, a benefits program is only as strong as an employee perceives it to be. No matter how robust your benefits program is, it won’t have the impact you expect if your people don’t know how or where to engage with these programs.  

Introducing Precision Benefits from Empyrean  

At Empyrean, we understand that your employees are at the heart of your organization’s success. That’s why we’ve meticulously built Precision Benefits to empower your workforce with improved ownership and control over their health, wellness, and financial futures.  

Our innovative platform goes beyond traditional benefits administration, providing your employees with personalized decision support, comprehensive plan reviews, and expense management insights on a year-round basis – not just at open enrollment time.   

By proactively engaging with their benefits, your workforce can confidently make the right choices for their unique situations and circumstances, minimizing unexpected financial burdens while optimizing their well-being.  

Empowering your people through Precision Benefits enhances their overall workplace satisfaction and loyalty, leading to a healthier and more productive workforce. As your employees take charge of their health and financial security, your organization will experience improved performance, reduced absenteeism, and increased employee retention. 

Download this guide to learn more about how Precision Benefits can empower your employees to choose and use the best benefits available.  

Attending HR Tech 2023? Come visit the Empyrean team at booth #1732 to explore a world made better by Precision Benefits.   

The Public Sector’s Unique Employer Value Proposition to Attract Gen Z Talent

The Public Sector’s Unique Employer Value Proposition to Attract Gen Z Talent

Over the last decade, the public sector has grappled with an aging workforce and creating an employer value proposition to create a strong and sustainable candidate pipeline.

While many experts advise public sector employers to invest in upskilling older workers, others still worry about their inability to attract young talent into public service.

Gen Z isn’t just looking for a paycheck. They’re in search of meaning.

Gen Z, which includes individuals born between 1997 and 2012, is entering the workforce with a set of values, expectations, and aspirations that are different than those of their predecessors. Their upbringing has been deeply intertwined with significant global and economic events, technological advances, and cultural shifts that have shaped their perspectives as to what defines an employer of choice and a rewarding career.

Many of the unique values held by this young generation are tied to purpose and meaning, and their intrinsic need to find work that advances the causes they believe in. Extensive studies have found that Gen Z-ers are drawn to mission-driven work and organizations that live up to the values portrayed through marketing and branding.

As Gen Z makes it clear that they are not willing to buy into hustle culture or sell out for a high paycheck alone, public sector employers are offered a unique opportunity to attract and develop this young talent by simply leveraging the public sector’s employer value proposition (EVP).

Leveraging a Strong EVP to Attract Gen Z

Public sector CHROs and HR teams have a unique advantage over private sector employers when it comes to attracting Gen Z talent. There is an organic alignment between what Gen Z-ers are seeking from work and what employment in the public sector can deliver.

Here are some ways that public sector employers can leverage their EVP to attract and retain young workers throughout the employee lifecycle.

#1 – Highlight Mission-Driven Work

Gen Z grew up in an era of profound change, ranging from social justice movements to economic uncertainty, to environmental action. They have also grown up as digital natives, with access to technology and platforms that provide greater visibility into the issues facing not just their immediate communities, but the world at large.

Research has documented Gen Z’s desire to not only work for an organization that is mission-driven, but to perform work that allows them to individually contribute to that greater purpose.

The public sector, by its very nature, is positioned to offer roles that directly influence communities, policy, and society. Public sector employers have a unique opportunity to appeal to this purpose-driven generation, highlighting the impact they can make in their immediate communities or world-wide through public service.

#2 – Showcase Your Commitment to DEIB Programs & Initiatives

Gen Z represents the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in U.S. history, much of which is attributed to a growing percentage of America’s young people being born into immigrant families. They are also the most diverse generation as it relates to identifying as LGBTQIA+, and are cited as the most formally educated population of Americans.

Gen Z-ers have grown to expect their workplaces to reflect America’s growing diversity and to provide workplace cultures that support inclusion and belonging efforts.

Public sector organizations are often ahead of the curve in ensuring diverse representation, with many public institutions prioritizing diversity training and other inclusivity programs. As the private sector quietly cuts back on promises made to foster diverse, inclusive workplaces, public sector employers that highlight their continued commitment to DEIB will have a leg up in attracting younger talent.

#3 – Emphasize a Commitment to Total Employee Health & Well-being

Gen Z has had a front row seat as the generations before them have burned out due to poor work-life balance and a failure to manage physical, mental, and financial health.

Beyond traditional benefits, Gen Z places immense importance on holistic well-being, has broken free from stigmas about seeking mental health support, and seeks roles that offer flexibility and autonomy.

The public sector has traditionally offered not only a rich benefits program, but also a workplace culture that better supports work-life balance than its private sector counterparts through more predictable work schedules.

And for a population that may stay on their parents’ medical plan until they age out at 26, supplementing a medical benefits program with highly desired voluntary and lifestyle benefits is critical to demonstrating a commitment to total employee well-being. Gen Z recognizes the many different components that contribute to overall well-being, and they expect their employer to support them in both work and in life.

The public sector’s ability to deliver benefits, programs, and resources that support an employee’s well-being – both in and outside of work – is critical to attracting Gen Z talent. The public sector’s ability to communicate the value of these programs on a year-round basis is also critical to success.

#4 – Leverage the Power of Your Benefits Program by Providing Personalized Benefits Experiences

While Gen Z values an employer with a commitment to their total health and wellness, a benefits program is only as strong as employees perceive it to be.

A rich benefits program is one of the public sector’s strongest attraction and retention tools, but it can be made even stronger when accompanied by technology that provides employees with individualized benefit experiences that help them choose and use the best benefits available for their unique situations.

Gen Z is a generation of digital nomads that have grown up in the age of technology and are high adopters of artificial intelligence to guide their decision-making. They also have an expectation that technology will serve them as the individuals they are and not as simply part of the masses.   Public sector benefit teams can help Gen Z talent better recognize the value their rich benefit programs offer by providing these tools, improving their ability to attract and retain Gen Z-ers using a strong EVP already in place.

#5 – Position Job Stability as a Competitive Advantage

While often overlooked by Millennials in favor of startup culture, the attractiveness of job stability is making a comeback.

Throughout their lives, Gen Z has seen rampant economic uncertainty, including watching parents experience joblessness during the Great Recession. They also have experienced exceptionally high rates of childhood poverty, with a peak of 23% in 2011 and 2012, and falling to 17% in 2021. Even for those from households above the poverty line, Gen Z-ers are much more likely to come from low-income households than prior generations.

As adults, Gen Z-ers hold high levels of student loan debt and are facing rising housing costs and inflation. Seventy-five percent of Gen Z-ers report that they can’t pay their bills on time, and have increased their levels of non-mortgage debt more than any generation in recent years.

While Millennials made a name for themselves as job hoppers, the Gen Z population will likely value workplace stability and job security. The average tenure for a public sector employee is 6.7 years, which is significantly higher than 3.8 years in the private sector.

Gen Z, having witnessed economic downturns and the uncertainties of gig economy jobs, values the stability offered by the public sector. Gen Z-ers are positioned to see the promise of consistent benefits, job security, and structured progression. Public sector employers that empower candidates to recognize job stability does not stifle career growth and is a strong EVP will do well in attracting Gen Z workers.

#6 – Place Value on Professional Development, Continuous Learning & Opportunities for Advancement

While job security is a key EVP to attract Gen Z talent, it is important to demonstrate that this stability does not come at the expense of opportunities for growth.

According to recent research, Gen Z employees view career advancement and professional development opportunities as clear indicators of a healthy workplace culture, and are one of the highest offerings young talent values when considering a role.

Contrary to the belief that the public sector lags in professional development, many government bodies invest heavily in training their workforce. The public sector often offers opportunities for further studies, workshops, and certifications, ensuring employees stay updated, relevant, and positioned for growth.

While the public sector might not offer the rapid vertical growth seen in startups, its vastness provides diverse opportunities that Gen Z highly values. Public sector employers need to showcase transparent growth pathways that clearly outline career progression paths and the skills required for advancement.

Gen Z is also a group that values horizontal growth opportunities as they diversify their skillset, and the public sector offers a variety of role types young workers can explore. They also expect clarity into objectives and the immediate impact of their work. The structured nature of public sector projects can provide this clarity, and create clear timelines for when and how horizontal advancement could work to Gen Z’s advantage.

The public sector is also well positioned to offer mentorship programs, creating an opportunity to not only engage and develop younger workers, but their more tenured counterparts as well.

Gen Z talent expects their employer to invest in their growth and development, with clear career pathing and opportunities for growth. By leveraging the talent of older generations and showing clear paths for advancement, the public sector can attract new and diverse talent that may have otherwise overlooked the value of their EVP.


The public sector has a unique opportunity to leverage EVPs already in place to attract younger talent and improve the employee experience for all members of its workforce.

With its mission-focused roles and growth opportunities, traditionally rich benefit programs, and ability to provide strong workplace cultures that support total well-being, the public sector is strongly aligned with the values of our youngest generation of workers.  

Learn more about how Empyrean can help your public sector organization build a better culture through benefits. 

Innovating With Intelligence: How Empyrean Leverages AI for Superior Service 

Innovating With Intelligence: How Empyrean Leverages AI for Superior Service 

Artificial Intelligence is shaping and changing the future of work as we know it. From virtual assistants to chatbots and facial recognition, the world is officially entering the peak era of AI – and so is Empyrean. As part of our most recent product enhancements, we’ve integrated AI technology into our Service Center operations to empower our team members and improve efficiency to deliver unparalleled service and unwavering support to our clients and their employees.  

We interviewed Empyrean’s Vice President of Member Service & Service Center Strategy, Freddie Berberena, to delve into the strategic rationale behind Empyrean’s AI Service Center adoption and the recent breakthroughs that have propelled AI from being a tool that once required extensive management to a self-learning marvel.

Why did Empyrean decide to leverage AI for our Service Center? 

We’ve been watching the AI space for many years and were early adopters of some of its elementary capabilities. Unfortunately, it wasn’t so easy to add or update information back then, and these tools required a lot of teaching and management since they couldn’t learn by themselves…until recently!  

Of course, you’ve probably heard a lot about ChatGPT and how it’s capable of imitating human thinking and tone. What’s really changing the game is the method behind it, called the Large Language Model (LLM). In the past, you had to teach the technology what words to listen for and then build out a repository of answers for it to learn and replicate. Now we can expose AI to a much broader set of information. 

With improved Natural Language engines, AI understands different words that have the same meaning and can now teach itself answers to questions based on the information it’s fed. Essentially, we’re teaching AI in a similar way to how we teach humans to assist customers.  

Wait…we’re not replacing our highly trained Service Center team with AI, right?  

Never! AI is going to make our Service Center support more automated and easier for employees to use on their own. One of the biggest benefits is that employees will be able to get answers to their questions 24/7 without having to call our support line. This will be hugely beneficial, especially for people who prefer not to speak with a live agent.  

That said, there are a myriad of complex and sensitive situations that will always require human empathy and support from a trained agent. AI will be most helpful in solving simple tasks such as password resets and providing general plan information, which will allow our Service Center agents to focus on more complex scenarios and questions.

We know that not everyone will be open to AI assistance – and that’s ok! Employees calling in to our Service Center will always have the option to talk to a live representative, no matter their reason for calling.  

How is this going to improve the Service Center experience for our clients and their employees? 

As we touched on earlier, the two main benefits that members will experience are access to 24/7 support and getting that support through whichever channel they prefer. Customers want efficient, user-friendly service, and we’re finding that more and more people prefer not to talk to a live agent.

We’re also leveraging tools that members can’t see, but will benefit from. Thanks to AI, our Quality Program is now able to review 100% of the calls that come into our Empyrean Service Center. Better yet, it can look for and report on behaviors we find important and notify managers in real time if the tool identifies an issue with a call (such as an upset caller).  

Since the tool can listen to calls as they come in, it also helps our Service Center team by providing them with information about the caller’s request. For example, if an employee calls in with questions about HSA contribution maximums for the year, our tool will automatically pull out that information and provide it to the agent, so they don’t have to spend time searching for the answer and putting the caller on hold. It’s a win-win!  

How are we going to measure the success of this new functionality? 

We’ll measure the success of our AI capabilities based on how much our callers like, use, and engage with our tools. If employees can get the information they need when they need it, it will be a great experience for them – and that is what matters most to us. We’ll also see this functionality reduce the amount of time callers need to spend on a call or chat with us, allowing them to get on with the rest of their busy day.

I recently read a Forbes article that said “47% of Gen Z will walk away from a brand after a single bad customer service experience, so every interaction matters.” This hit home for me, and is exactly why Empyrean will always operate with a service-first and people-first approach. We have trained our Service Center agents to harness the power of our AI tools with the understanding that they are responsible for creating a phenomenal customer experience every time.  

As AI continues to usher in a new era of possibilities, Empyrean has seamlessly integrated its capabilities into our Service Center to better support our clients and their employees. By embracing the dynamic power of AI, we remain committed to elevating customer experiences, ensuring access to top tier support, and prioritizing a service-first approach where innovation and empathy coincide for an exceptional people experience every time.  

Interested in learning more about our latest product enhancements? Check out our full 2023 Summer Release Notes here


Women’s Equality Day 2023: Celebrating the Women of Empyrean

Women’s Equality Day 2023: Celebrating the Women of Empyrean

National Women’s Equality Day commemorates the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which prevents the federal government or states from denying the right to vote based on sex. August 26, 1920 is considered a major turning point in the fight for women’s rights in the United States.

Today and every day, we recognize the fight of the trailblazers who came before us, and celebrate the many women who make Empyrean great. We asked some of these amazing women to reflect on what workplace gender equality means to them and to share their experiences, inspirations, and career advice.

Sarah Hotze
Vice President of Client Solutions
Empyrean Team Member Since 2013

What does Women’s Equality Day mean to you?

Women’s equality is important to me all year round, but formal holidays such as Women’s Equality Day are a great chance to step back and take stock – reflect on successes, but also think about the work we still have left to do.

I think it’s a good chance to ask myself what I personally can do to contribute, with a renewed sense of energy.

Is workplace equity important in the work you do?

It’s critical! Everyone performs best when they feel their whole selves are valued and included – and people stay at organizations where they feel like they can perform their best.  

The link between engagement and equity is so clear.  And, we have to show clients that we can support their entire workforce – that our services and solutions are designed for all.

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

I am always proud to show prospective clients the diversity of our employee population – since I started at Empyrean, women have always made up about half of our workforce. That’s not to say we don’t have more work to do.

I also vividly recall the first sales meeting I attended where every person in the room (Empyrean and the client) was a woman. That used to be rare, now it is not!

What does workplace gender equality mean to you?

It means that all gender identities are supported, valued, recognized, and rewarded appropriately at every level of an organization.

What’s something that makes you feel empowered?

I get a lot of energy from connecting with other professional women, whether work or personal connections, and sharing our experiences. It feels great to celebrate successes but also share challenges.

Brandy Potter
DEI, Culture & Employee Engagement Manager
Empyrean Team Member Since 2018

As our head of DEI, is workplace equity important in the work that you do?

Workplace equity is important and fundamental to our mission and core values. It is also key for our DEI initiatives.  It is crucial in what I do and what we aim to achieve: 

  1.  Foundation of Inclusion: To create an inclusive workplace, we must ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to participate, contribute, and succeed.
  2. Fosters Diversity: When individuals from all backgrounds and experiences are treated fairly, it encourages a broader range of people to join our organization and contribute their unique perspectives.
  3. Nurtures Belonging: When employees know they are treated equitably, they are more likely to engage, speak up, and bring their authentic selves to work.
  4. Strenghtens Organizational Culture: Contributes to a positive culture where fairness, respect, and opportunity are not just ideals but lived values.
  5. Attracts Top Talent: Talented individuals seek organizations that value diversity and offer equitable opportunities.
  6. Drives Sustainable Change: It’s about creating lasting change benefits current and future generations.  

It is about a journey we are on. We will continue to evaluate and improve our DEI strategies, programs, and policies to ensure that everyone within our organization has an opportunity to thrive and excel.

Who are some who have inspired you – both personally and professionally?

Most of my career has been in the financial industry, where I had the opportunity to work for some inspiring women leaders. They were all unique in their own way, but one in particular was very tough in terms of expectations.  While at the time it was challenging, reflecting back on what I learned the most from her especially was in terms of positioning myself to be heard, continue to persevere, take risks, be clear in communication, pay attention to the details, and lastly what women can achieve in (what was at the time) predominantly male industry.

From a personal aspect, my daughter inspires me to be a better mom and person overall.  While one could say we have similar personalities, our views can be very different.  At times, this may be generational, but she challenges me to actively listen, be open-minded, and understand her perspectives as a young adult.    

Do you have a special message you would like to share?

I encourage everyone to take an active role in promoting workplace equity. Together, we can build a workplace culture where diversity is celebrated, inclusion is the norm, and equity is the foundation upon which we build our shared success. 

Lisbeth Ruiz
Front End Engineering Manager
Empyrean Team Member Since 2020

What does Women’s Equality Day mean to you?

For me, it means several things. It means recognizing and appreciating having the same rights as everyone, regardless of gender. It means showing respect towards history, sacrifices, and all the events that occurred to make it possible. 

It means appreciating our contributions, whether big or small, to our jobs, our society, our personal lives. 

It means celebrating our abilities, strength, resilience, even acknowledging our weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and mistakes. 

It means even more a responsibility to inspire and help other women, a commitment to support each other so we can move forward together. 

Is workplace equity important in the work you do?

Definitely. I think we should all be provided with the same opportunities and resources to demonstrate our abilities, perform our work, and grow in the workplace. Treating everyone equitably enhances collaboration and engagement on the team. 

I believe all contributions are valuable and must be considered. Everyone has unique skills, ideas, strengths, needs, and experiences – each of which are fundamental to having more robust solutions and outcomes.

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

In my personal life, my mother and my sisters have been my greatest inspiration. Seeing how they faced challenges with resilience, they always showed and demonstrated that mutual support is essential to move forward.

With them, I learned that when we work together, we do more and better than when we stand alone. 

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

There have been several moments in which I have felt very proud to be a woman since I have been at Empyrean.

If I were to highlight one, it would be the moment when I was informed that I was being considered for the position of Front-end Engineering Manager. This was unexpected, as an engineer and working in the IT field my working life has been mostly surrounded by men.

Being considered for a manager as a woman felt that my experience, my skills, and my efforts were truly valued. In addition to that, I felt a greater sense of responsibility to give my best and meet the expectations of the position. 

What does workplace gender equality mean to you?

I think that workplace gender equality means that everyone in the workplace is subject to the same opportunities, respect, and responsibilities; and your contributions are valued regardless of your gender, background, or identity. 

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

Whenever you are presented with an opportunity to help others, take it. We are stronger together. 

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

For me, it’s acquiring knowledge and practicing mentoring. Whenever I learn something new or gain a new skill, I feel like any goal is achievable. It gets more rewarding when I pass my knowledge to others, and see them putting it into practice. 

Arlinda Williams
Client Service Manager
Empyrean Team Member Since 2022

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.

Darcy Potter
Team Manager, BPSS
Empyrean Team Member Since 2016

What does Women’s Equality Day mean to you? 

It’s a day to remember and be grateful for the work of the individuals who advocated and continue to advocate for change and equal treatment.  

Is workplace equity important in the work you do? If so, why?  

Absolutely! Equity can assist with building team unity, contribute to employee happiness and buy-in, as well as reduce turnover. 

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

Both my mom and my grandma have been inspirational. My grandpa worked in construction and was frequently working out of town and out of state. During that time, my grandma raised 2 children while running their family hotel, bar, and restaurant and then later a standalone restaurant. She was able to successfully run businesses and raise her children. She was also a pillar for the family and assisted anyone in need.         

My mom was a young, single mother who put herself through college. I watched her work her way up different companies throughout my life, always resulting in positions of management, sometimes working multiple jobs to support us. They’ve both supported and encouraged me during my life. 

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

There isn’t just one specific moment. I’m proud to work for a company that has multiple women in positions of leadership.  

What does workplace gender equality mean to you?  

All employees are treated equally, especially in regard to opportunities for growth, workplace responsibilities, and rights.  

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

Knowledge. Learning new things or taking on new tasks is a rewarding feeling. Being able to master those and then teach someone else, helps empower them as well.  

What is the most important piece of advice you have been given about your career?  

To go outside my comfort zone. It’s the only way to learn new skills and grow both personally and professionally.  

Kelly Knick
Director, Channel Enablement
Empyrean Team Member Since 2022

What does Women’s Equality Day mean to you? 

To me, Women’s Equality Day is a day to reflect on all the different accomplishments of the many women before me, and the ones that stand beside me today. So many of my mentors have been women in leadership and I aspire to find ways to do this for the generations that will come after me.

It’s so important to have the opportunity for advancement and to see other women in these positions – this creates a goal to work towards. 

It’s also important to see different perspectives, understand different thought-leadership processes, and get rid of the idea that there are ‘traditional gender roles’ in the workplace. Regardless of your gender, there is a place for you to make a difference.

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

Easy – my sister has inspired me both personally and professionally! 

She has worked her way up the corporate ladder for the past 10 years while maintaining the balance of being a mother and a Lead Financial Consultant. This has meant a lot of long nights, working weekends, and facing the constant internal struggle many working parents feel when being judged for putting their families before their careers.  

I think she’s done an amazing job at balancing both, and she will forever be my role model.

What’s something at work that makes you feel empowered?  

When I am in a meeting with colleagues and they ask my opinion, whether it is how best to overcome a challenge or how best to excel at a task, I always feel my thoughts are valued. 

There is no hierarchy of ‘my way is the best way’ – we are all just people who represent different backgrounds, role types, and levels of experience collaborating together because we all have something of value to share.

What is the most important piece of advice you have been given about your career?  

Listen and understand the why.  In most of our day-to-day tasks, whether internally or externally, a person just wants to be heard. 

When you can understand the reasoning behind a task, a change, or a way of thought, you can be a more effective teammate.   

Sarah Haslam
Client Service Manager

Empyrean Team Member Since 2022

Is workplace equity important in the work you do? If so, why?

Yes. As employees, we all should have the opportunity to access the same resources as one another and be treated fairly with respect like any human being. Equity plays a huge role in how an employee sees themselves as valuable due to their ability, knowledge, and experience.

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

I feel fortunate that I have had several women who have and continue to inspire me. My Mother for her strength, both of my grandmothers for their will and determination, and my Mother-in-law for her perpetual ‘can do’ attitude. 

I’ve had strong women behind me all these years and it inspires me each and every day to show up and do my best. I always carry this attitude/mindset with me at work and in my personal life. 

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

I love to see we have women in leadership; this is HUGE and a wonderful representation!

I also appreciate the fact I get to collaborate with so many different people and all walks of life and when it boils down to it, I don’t feel like one individual treats me differently because I’m a woman and I appreciate that most of all.

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

Only YOU can decide if today is going to be a good day to have a GREAT day and don’t sweat the small stuff!

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

My family keeps me going, they are my number one fans, and I know I weather all the seasons much better at work, in life, and especially at home with them close by for all the cheers, hugs, tissues, and most importantly their motivation! They are my WHY.

What is the most important piece of advice you have been given about your career?

Do not take things too personally. At the end of the day, we are all humans and NOT robots – remember to give one another and most importantly ourselves some grace.  Always check in with your team, you never know what someone might be going through, and talking to them for 5 -10 minutes to see how they are will forever be a game changer! 

Happy Women’s Equality Day!

Does Your WorkTech Stack Support Your DEIB Efforts?  

Does Your WorkTech Stack Support Your DEIB Efforts?  

Why Workplace Accessibility is About So Much More than the ADA     

When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990, it was a landmark civil rights law prohibiting discrimination “against individuals with disability in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.” This included ensuring that people with disabilities – permanent and temporary – are given access to the same opportunities as everybody else through reasonable accommodations to a job or work environment.  

While the ADA has set important standards for accommodating employees with disabilities, going beyond the ADA to create an inclusive workplace requires a shift in mindset from one of mere compliance to one of inclusivity and belonging. Building a truly inclusive workplace means considering more than just legal requirements, and fostering a workplace culture where people feel truly valued.  

An inclusive workplace acknowledges and respects the entire spectrum of human abilities, recognizing that everyone brings unique strengths and perspectives to the table, regardless of physical ability, learning style, or sensory perception.

The positive organizational outcomes driven by diverse and inclusive organizations are well documented. In fact, 87 percent of the time diverse teams make better decisions than non-diverse teams, inclusive teams are shown to be over 35 percent more productive, and inclusivity is known to be a key aspect of a healthy workplace culture. 

However, even if an organization is committed to its DEI efforts, if the technology it uses is not accessible, it limits its potential to create a fully inclusive workplace where all team members feel like they belong. 

Tech Accessibility is Workplace Accessibility  

The workplace has changed significantly in the 30 years since the ADA was signed into law. As reliance on technology continues to grow across U.S. workplaces, so too does the need to ensure that everyone can access and benefit from digital advancements. 

According to a recent Gartner report, the average desk worker uses more than 11 applications each workday, up from just six in 2019. The pandemic also created a shift towards organizations expanding their WorkTech stack to include new collaboration, productivity, and HR tools. HR technologies that include self-service capabilities have also grown in popularity, including benefits administration technology.

The digitization of the modern workplace has dramatically shifted the way people work. As this evolution continues, ensuring the accessibility of workplace technology and the tech used to support employees becomes even more critical. 

Tech accessibility is at the heart of workplace inclusivity. It ensures that individuals with disabilities can participate fully and meaningfully in all aspects of work. It also acknowledges the variety of ways that people interact with technology, be it due to physical disability, age-related limitations, or other factors like neurodiversity.

Empyrean’s User Experience Team is led by Belinda McCall, Director of UX, who has a clear and unwavering passion for ensuring that our technology is designed to be accessible to everyone, regardless of ability. 

We sat down with Belinda to learn more about Empyrean’s approach to accessible tech, how and why it’s important, and the passions that drive her on her quest to ensure everyone can use the Empyrean platform to make better benefits decisions for themselves and their families.

Hi Belinda, we are excited to sit down with you today. To start, how do you define tech accessibility and what does it mean to you?  

Thank you. I am excited to share my passion for accessibility and our approach to it here at Empyrean.  

I have a holistic view of what it means for something to be accessible. For me, it’s about people being able to have an experience. That doesn’t mean that everyone has to have the exact same experience, because we all interact with the world differently. But everyone should be able to have an experience that allows them to complete a task or reach a goal. In other words, everyone must be able to participate in an experience. 

Technology plays a significant role in our work lives. It helps us manage our tasks and enables us to communicate, collaborate, and create in incredibly efficient ways. If an employee cannot interact with their organization’s technology because it’s not designed with accessibility in mind, they are unable to participate, complete their job responsibilities, or reach their goals.  

They will never be able to fully connect with their organization, or fully feel like they belong.

Why are you so passionate about creating user experiences that are accessible to everyone?

For me, accessibility is synonymous with inclusivity. We all want to feel like we are a valuable part of something and that we belong. The feeling of belonging, or not belonging, can have a tremendous impact on how one experiences the world.

As a deeply empathic child, and now adult, I always remember the feeling of being “the new kid in school.” The feeling of not belonging, of feeling forgotten or ignored, always stuck with me – that feeling that you’re not part of the group or not part of the community. It’s a terrible way to feel for any stretch of time as a child or an adult.  

My goal is to remove any barrier that I can to ensure that the people who rely on Empyrean never feel forgotten, ignored, or like they don’t belong. Nobody should have to face any more difficulties than they’re already navigating. 

Helping people feel like they belong goes way beyond digital accessibility and I feel lucky that I get to lead a team that makes sure each person using the Empyrean platform has a great experience and feels like they belong.  

What shaped your passion for tech accessibility?  

Earlier in my career, I supported the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) that was a part of the Department of Defense (DoD). The work I performed in this role opened my eyes to all the different ways people need technology to be accessible and how we play an important role in ensuring that accessibility. 

CAP provides assistive technology (AT) and devices as reasonable accommodations (RA) to support individuals with disabilities and wounded, ill, and injured Service members throughout the Department of Defense in accessing information and communication technology. 

As a part of my support to CAP, I worked with stakeholders and software engineers to manage the development and accessibility of their public-facing website and their internal request and procurement system. Additionally, every deliverable I created – every email, prototype, PDF, and document – all had to be accessible. The steps it took to ensure accessibility looked different for each deliverable provided. 

My work took on a new meaning and the experience prompted significant and lasting shifts to my own behavior. One of the first things I learned was that my presentation style had to change. A great example of this was during one of my first stakeholder presentations, where one of the people in the room was unable to see and another was unable to hear.  

I quickly realized that I needed to properly describe any visuals so that everyone in the room could follow. I needed to talk at a slower rate so that the sign language interpreter could translate what I was saying. Finally, I realized that I needed to present concepts in bite-sized chunks and pause to answer any questions before moving to the next concept or idea. 

By presenting in this way, it made my presentation easier to comprehend for everyone, not just a few select stakeholders. Again, it comes down to making people feel like they belong and that they can actively participate. As the presenter, it was my responsibility to set that standard and uphold it. Everyone in that room needed to understand what I was presenting because their feedback and participation is valuable. People are valuable.

Additionally in that role, I learned about the technical aspects and laws related to accessibility such as web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Section 508 compliance. But underneath all those legal requirements – at the root of everything – what I was really learning was how to empower people to have a meaningful and positive experience regardless of their abilities. 

Why should everyone care about accessibility?  

I truly believe that an accessible work environment is better for everyone. Not only does having an accessible workplace signal that your employer cares about your well-being, but you truly never know when you yourself will benefit from it directly.  

Accessibility isn’t only important for people with permanent disabilities, it’s for every person of every ability. When you design an experience with accessibility in mind from the beginning, it can create an improved experience for all of us.  

When we think about disability, we oftentimes just think about permanent mental or physical limitations. But there are temporary disabilities, like injuries. For example, I had a recurring wrist injury years ago and was unable to use the hand that moves my computer mouse – that is a temporary disability where I benefited from tech accessibility.

There are also situational disabilities. Consider the new mother who has a sick baby crying loudly next to her, but today is the deadline for her to register for her health benefits. Her deadline is looming but she’s unsure of what benefits she needs, so she’s trying to watch a video that tells her what a certain benefit is or about the coverage it provides. If the video has closed caption capabilities it is accessible to her in her moment of need. And that matters.  

How does Empyrean’s shared passion for tech accessibility set us apart?  

Our commitment to building accessible experiences means that accessibility is at the forefront of our minds and not an afterthought.  

Many organizations design things and then figure out how to make them accessible. Our team makes sure our platform is accessible from the start.  

Designing with accessibility in mind is built in to our everyday processes. And that culture of inclusivity filters throughout the Empyrean organization to our developers, our designers, executive leadership, and everywhere else.  

For us, technological innovation isn’t solely about creating new gadgets or systems—it’s also about enabling more people to use them. 

Our UX team is also constantly learning and advancing our skill sets. We are all enrolled in online coursework at Deque University, which specializes in training in every area of digital accessibility. 

We’ve come a long way to recognize the different types of accommodations someone might need – whether it be at home, in the classroom, or at work. We keep all categories and types of disabilities in mind when we are designing Empyrean’s user experience.  

In addition to our developers following best practices for writing accessible code, we frequently consider the wording or instructions we provide on screen. We know that in this country there is already a knowledge gap when it comes to employee benefits, so we take care to be as concise and clear as possible with our language.  

Some of the other aspects of design we consider are font, icon, and component styles that are all tied to a design system created with accessibility in mind.

We are proud that we play such an important role in building positive people and benefit experiences that help everyone – regardless of their abilities – thrive and succeed in the workplace.  

By actively creating a more inclusive workplace, we not only help those with disabilities to thrive, but we also foster a healthier, more creative, and more productive environment for all. In the end, a truly inclusive workplace isn’t just about compliance – it’s about demonstrating our commitment to dignity, respect, and equity for all.  

Editor’s Note: Belinda’s passion for tech accessibility extends beyond the Empyrean platform. She will also be leading the charge in ensuring the accessibility of all Empyrean market-facing assets, including the upcoming redesign of the Empyrean corporate website.

Elevate Your BenAdmin RFP to Drive Improved People & Benefits Experiences

Elevate Your BenAdmin RFP to Drive Improved People & Benefits Experiences

Employer-sponsored benefits play a key role in any organization’s ability to achieve its people-related goals, whether it be through building a positive workplace culture, better attracting and retaining talent, supporting diversity and inclusion, or improving employee health and wellness.

But the success of your benefits program is about far more than plan design. To be truly successful, your people need to be able to recognize the value of their benefits, understand how to choose and use the best benefits available for their unique situation, and then make the connection between these benefits and your company culture.

Research has shown that employees cite the need for better benefits as a top driver for finding a new role. However, 58% of U.S. workers who quit their job in 2021 said the benefits offered by their new employer were the same or worse than at their last job.

This raises an important question: If your employees understood the value of the benefits program they already had, would they have jumped ship?

This data and many similar studies make it clear that employees need help understanding the value and impact of their HR and benefits programs.

HR and benefits leaders also need support in the form of a strategic partner to help them leverage the value of their benefits to help them meet their people-related goals and the goals of their overall organization.

Finding the right strategic partner starts with your RFP.

As the impact of your benefits program continues to broaden, so does the influence of your benefits administration technology and service partner.

To help you take a more strategic approach to evaluating a potential BenAdmin vendor, we have developed key RFP questions and prompts designed to help you find a partner that can improve your people and benefits experience, and ultimately, your bottom-line results.

Download our strategic guide for insight into how you can expand the breadth of your BenAdmin RFP to find a partner that can holistically support the organization you are today and the one you strive to become in the future. 

Using Positive Benefit & People Experiences to Combat K-12 Educator Burnout

Using Positive Benefit & People Experiences to Combat K-12 Educator Burnout

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, and If you’re a caregiver to a school-aged child, you may have attended a celebratory breakfast or contributed to a classroom gift in honor of the millions of educators across this nation who are shaping future generations.

Teaching is consistently cited as one of the most rewarding paid professions in the U.S., and the gratitude shown towards educators during events like Teacher Appreciation Week undoubtedly helps teachers feel recognized, reinforcing the meaning of their work. However, the cost-reward balance of a career in education has reached a critical tipping point, and many educators say that they continue to feel that their well-being is not prioritized by their employers.

In fact, research conducted by McKinsey & Company found that 75 percent of educators say they put more into their job than they receive, and 69 percent say that their total compensation does not reflect their qualifications, efforts, value, or output.

Unfortunately, many educators do not recognize the true value of their total compensation, whether it be in the form of healthcare benefits, mental health resources, pensions or retirement plans, or other wellness programs.

Additionally, communication challenges can plague this unique, deskless workforce, making it all the more critical that districts ensure that their people understand and leverage the support available to them.

K-12 Educators are Leaving Their Posts at an Alarming Rate

Unfortunately, the number of K-12 educators is dwindling at an alarming rate, a trend that began even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. After 2020, new issues emerged and existing ones were amplified, driving an estimated 55 percent of educators to consider leaving the profession earlier than they had planned.

The same study, conducted by the National Education Association, also found that a disproportionate number of those looking to leave the education field “are Black (62%) and Hispanic/Latino (59%) educators, already underrepresented in the teaching profession.”

Not only is teacher turnover high, but the pipeline to replace those teachers is in jeopardy as well. The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) says that enrollment in colleges of education has been steadily declining for the past decade. The AACTE says that concerns about pay and working conditions have been a long-standing contributor to the decline, but recent increases in educator-reported stress, legislative pressures and public scrutiny on curriculum, and increased shortages driving unsustainable classroom sizes are predicted to continue to drive a recurring cycle of teacher shortages and exits from the field.

Those considering leaving the field represent just one piece of an alarming cycle of staff shortages, workplace stress and burnout, and eventual turnover that is expected to impact educators and students for years to come.  

The Impact of Educator Burnout & Turnover on Student Learning

A recent data analysis conducted by Chalkbeat shows that more teachers than ever left their posts last year. Their analysis also saw a troubling uptick in teachers leaving their classrooms mid-school year, making it even more challenging to replace them, and creating additional stressors for educators forced to absorb the workloads of exiting teachers.

While employee turnover also skyrocketed across the private sector during The Great Resignation, experts say that turnover in public education is much more meaningful and detrimental to a district’s ability to make up for pandemic-era learning loss and build a strong sense of community across its students.

“Teacher attrition can be destabilizing for schools,” said Kevin Bastian, a researcher at the University of North Carolina. Bastian’s research found that successful, effective teachers were increasingly leaving their positions as well, leaving an even greater void across many districts already struggling with limited resources.

Research conducted by Stanford University has cited the negative impacts of teacher turnover on student achievement, most negatively impacting underfunded districts and those with high proportions of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch. Learning loss is cited to be fueled by issues like losing relationships with trusted educators, an influx of early career or inexperienced teachers, and in many cases – no replacement teachers at all.

What is Driving Educator Turnover?

Data across time and different survey groups show that workplace stress is the most common reason cited for leaving public education before retirement.

While high rates of workplace stress and burnout are impacting American workers across all professions, the impact is disproportionately high amongst those in education. A 2021 study conducted by RAND Corp. found that 25 percent of teachers reported symptoms of depression. Declining mental health was not just concentrated to teachers – school administrators are also experiencing not only their own workplace stress, but also the stress of supporting the mental health and well-being of their teachers.

A 2022 Gallup Poll on occupational burnout listed teachers as one of the top two roles experiencing ongoing workplace stress and burnout, and 44 percent of K-12 teachers say they very often or always feel burned out at work. Female teachers are disproportionately represented as experiencing constant workplace burnout at 55 percent.

McKinsey & Company research compared the top reasons educators reported wanting to leave their current role or the profession altogether against those looking to stay in their roles.

The top factors driving teachers to leave include:

  1. Compensation
  2. Expectations
  3. Well-being
  4. Leadership
  5. Workplace Flexibility

Research also shows that “the quality of a teacher’s work environment plays a major role in determining teacher retention, satisfaction, and effectiveness.” Teachers who do not feel supported in their work are not only more likely to leave the profession, but to isolate from their school community.

How Can You Improve District & Educator Outcomes Through a Positive People Experience?

McKinsey & Company found that the top factors that would drive educators to stay in their current roles are meaningful work, colleagues, compensation, and community.

So, how can districts retain their workforce – especially those who cite compensation, unreasonable expectations, and an inability to protect their well-being as top motivators to vacate their role? Even with limited budgets and resources, there are ways districts can support their people and improve educator outcomes through positive people and benefit experiences.

1. Make it easier to understand and access the mental health resources you already offer.

Data shows that employer-sponsored mental health support improves teacher resiliency and decreases feelings of workplace stress. However, the National Education Association says that nearly 35 percent of educators report not knowing what mental health resources are available to them or how to access them.

This is not an issue exclusive to education. Benefit education gaps persist across the private sector as well. Only 49 percent of employees say they can accurately recall their benefit elections, making it critical that all employers make it as easy as possible to understand, access, and engage with the benefits available to them.

Executing a strong, year-round benefits communication plan will draw attention to the programs you already offer, driving improved adoption, ease of access, and improved well-being.  

2. Build a strong community.

Districts that build strong communities across teachers, administrators, students, and parents will go far in being able to retain their educators and drive positive outcomes for their workforce. Among those educators who say their school community has influenced them to stay in their role, 87 percent attribute their longevity to colleagues who show genuine concern and support for one another.

Experts also encourage districts to increase teacher connection points not only with students, parents, and each other, but also with leadership. Studies point to the positive impact on satisfaction and sense of purpose when leaders connect with their teachers and students through coaching, feedback, and mentorship programs. Experts also recommend removing administrative burdens often placed on teachers wherever possible.

3. Leverage technology and individualized health data to drive centralized and personalized benefit experiences.

Educators are susceptible to the same communication overload as any other American worker, but they spend the vast majority of their contracted workday in front of a classroom, not in front of a screen engaging with email or other types of online communication.  

Additionally, K-12 educators have decentralized communication channels – especially as it relates to email communication. Separate email addresses often exist for district or city communications and touchpoints with parents, closed communications with students, and personal email addresses for union communications make it even harder to keep track of important messages. This is in addition to other decentralized, online communication channels for things like school closures due to weather. This can lead to communication fatigue, and can cause educators to ignore channels not dedicated exclusively to their work output.

Personalized benefit communications from one centralized access point increases benefits communication engagement, which has a positive correlation to improved benefits adoption and engagement.

Additionally, leveraging technology that uses individualized health data can support the delivery of messages that are personalized for that individual. This makes it possible to send tailored communications, whether tied to diabetes management or pre-natal care, helping your people to better navigate their individual healthcare journey in ways that lead to improved employer and employee outcomes through increased health and wellness.

4. Make it easier for educators to understand the value of their benefits as part of their total compensation.

While many teachers cite compensation as a reason they have left or are considering leaving education, for many, this refers to salary alone. As the cost of living rises and financial uncertainty looms, it is clear why teachers are focused on take-home pay as a standalone metric of compensation.  

Experts encourage districts to emphasize the value of the total compensation offered to K-12 educators. While pensions and other long-term retirement plans are a strong incentive for many teachers to remain in their roles, for younger generations it can be hard to prioritize long-term financial health against the need to care for themselves and their families today.

This makes it critical for districts to communicate the value of their total benefits offering. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the value of a teacher’s benefits program is on average equal to 45 percent of their annual wages. That compares to just 19 percent in the private sector. As healthcare spending continues to climb (even more quickly than the rate of inflation) the monetary value and impact of a rich healthcare program can quickly outpace a wage bump gained by leaving their current role.

Providing total compensation statements can help provide greater visibility into your employer value proposition. Additionally, providing year-round insight into the performance of their health plan, incurred savings, and even access to preventative care and resources also makes it easier for your people to understand the full impact of their benefits coverage.

Let’s appreciate our teachers beyond Teacher Appreciation Week.

The negative impacts of workplace stress on mental and physical health are widely documented, and perhaps nowhere more clearly than when it comes to our educators. Supporting our teachers through benefits and positive people experiences will go far to better support the well-being of this critical workforce.

A Behind the Scenes Look at Empyrean’s Annual Conference

A Behind the Scenes Look at Empyrean’s Annual Conference

Last week, Empyrean welcomed over 150 attendees to EVOLVE23, its annual invitation-only conference. This year’s event was held at the Hyatt Regency Downtown Savannah along the city’s famed waterfront.

The theme for EVOLVE23 was “Connecting Benefits, Enriching Lives”, which aligns with the organization’s corporate mission. Educational programming presented throughout the conference was centered around the critical connections between people experience, benefits, and positive HR and organizational outcomes.

The clients, prospects, partners, and sponsors in attendance were also provided with insights from Empyrean CEO Rich Wolfe about the future of Empyrean, and how the organization’s recent acquisition of Enspire has played a part in Empyrean’s go-forward vision. Wolfe also shared his own passion for connecting benefits and enriching lives, and why engaging, personalized benefits and people experiences are critical to overall organizational success.

Educational Programming

The event featured many dynamic, industry experts presenting on topics designed to provide strategies and techniques needed to effectively leverage benefits to improve and ensure employee trust, psychological safety, and physical wellness – all of which lead to happy, energized teams and successful organizations.

EVOLVE’s conference content also delivered key insights into finding HR, benefits, and organizational success while addressing the needs of their populations with economic efficiency.

The educational content covered at EVOLVE23 was delivered by both individual speakers and through expert panels featuring Empyrean’s clients, internal subject matter experts, and partners.

Featured speakers at EVOLVE23 included:

For a full list of conference educational programming and session descriptions, please click here.

EVOLVE23 in Review

In addition to a jam-packed slate of educational programming, EVOLVE23 also offered many opportunities for networking and fun, including a client reception at the Georgia State Railroad Museum and time spent along Savannah’s famed riverfront.

More information about EVOLVE24 will be released Summer 2023.

Learn more about how Empyrean can help you connect benefits and enrich lives at your own organization.

About Empyrean
We believe that everybody deserves a workplace culture that supports their total well-being through benefits. Since 2006, Empyrean has provided hundreds of 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 benefits programs to life. Empyrean’s platform and services are designed to create connected employee benefit experiences that enrich lives, strengthen employer brands, and improve workplace cultures for over 5 million people. With our +YOU solution, clients can deliver a holistic employee experience to help HR and benefit leaders simplify the work technology stack for all of the HR initiatives designed to improve employee productivity, well-being, and retention. Visit us at goempyrean.com.

Empyrean Releases Full Agenda for EVOLVE\23

Empyrean Releases Full Agenda for EVOLVE\23

Connecting Benefits, Enriching Lives

Empyrean has released its full conference agenda and speaker lineup for EVOLVE\23, which will feature some of the industry’s top thought leaders and HR and benefits experts.

DATE: April 12-14, 2023

LOCATION: The Hyatt Regency Savannah

The theme for this year’s event is “Connecting Benefits, Enriching Lives”, which is also Empyrean’s corporate mission. Thought leadership content covered during the conference will explore the connection between people experience, benefits, and positive HR and organizational outcomes.

The event will feature two dynamic, high-energy keynotes as well as several expert panels. These sessions are designed to provide the strategies and tools needed to effectively lead the charge in using benefits to improve and ensure employee trust, psychological safety, and physical wellness – all of which lead to happy, energized teams and successful organizations.

Conference speakers will also provide actionable insights and strategies that will empower attendees to create personalized, connected, life-enriching benefits experiences that address the needs of the individual while also addressing populations with economic efficiency.

Platinum event sponsors Securian and LifeLock will also share critical information about how to improve people experience through benefits.

Conference Keynotes: EVOLVE\23

Opening Keynote: From Populations to People – Creating Remarkable Experiences One Individual at a Time 

Joey Coleman
Customer & Employee Engagement Expert

The opening keynote will be delivered by Joey Coleman, an employee engagement and customer experience expert who has worked with organizations like Whirlpool, NASA, Volkswagen Australia, and Zappos to design and implement their internal and external brand experiences.

Content covered will include:  

  • Why your employees are your most important customers.
  • How to improve employee experiences to reduce churn and increase engagement. 
  • Delivering personalized interactions at scale.
  • The three elements of long-term employee engagement.  
  • Becoming a more strategic organizational contributor by focusing on people experience and engagement.

Closing Keynote: The Power of a People-First Approach: Aligning HR, Benefit, and Organizational Success 

Mark Stelzner
Founder / Managing Principal at IA HR

While the insights shared at EVOLVE\23 will help attendees better leverage benefit programs for organizational success, it is critical for benefit and HR leaders to understand how to communicate this value up to the C-Suite.

As the role of strategic HR and benefits leaders continues to evolve, so do the demands on those in these positions. HR and benefit leaders are not only responsible for ensuring that their people understand how to choose and use their benefits, but that they also recognize the importance of these programs and how they support every individual’s total health and wellbeing – at work and in life.

This session will examine how HR leaders can survive and thrive during times of unprecedented change, all while continuing to provide essential physical, mental, and emotional support for their people. It will also dive into the many ways that this support advances every aspect of their organizational success, leveraging outcomes that speak to leadership and the C-Suite. 

Expert Panels

Advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Through Financial Wellness Strategies 

Across the US, people are feeling financially insecure. Whether they’re having difficulty saving, paying off debt, planning for future expenses, or simply managing the cost of everyday life – financial wellness plays a huge role in the mental, emotional, and even physical well-being of today’s workforce.  

A recent survey conducted by PwC found that 56% of employees are stressed about their finances, 49% of which said that money concerns have had a major impact on their mental health in the past year. Financial instability causes widespread uncertainty, and financially strained employees are twice as likely to look for employment elsewhere.

As organizations look to provide resources, programs, and aid for their employees, it is critical to recognize that traditional financial wellness programs are not always inclusive, and may not properly support employees across different backgrounds, incomes, and geographies.  

This session will cover:  

  • An exploration of the growing scope of financial wellness programs, including student loan, home buyer, and caregiver assistance.  
  • Programs and educational resources valuable to employees throughout varying life stages.  
  • How to better support under-represented populations.  
  • Empowering low-wage workers with tools that meet them where they are. 
  • Tax-advantaged accounts and programs.   
  • Promoting financial wellness programs to help candidates and employees understand how to leverage them to their benefit.  

Lifestyles + Life Stages: Optimizing Benefits Value by Meeting Your People Where They Are  

Each member of any given workforce approaches their health, wellness, and financial planning goals differently, depending on what matters to them at that moment. Throughout any employee population, there are also different styles and preferences tied to communication, especially for those working outside of a traditional office environment.  

This session will take a deep dive into how HR and benefit teams can help their team members see the value of their benefits at their unique life stage – whether they are just entering the workforce, expanding their family, or approaching retirement – through targeted, meaningful employee communication and education.  

This session will cover: 

  • Strategies to better understand employee populations, including what they value, how they prefer to communicate, and how and when they absorb information.  
  • Why benefits personalization matters, and the science behind engagement with individualized messages and prompts.  
  • How to position benefits by life stage, including how a particular benefit could have different advantages depending on the age of the participant.  
  • Strategies to promote benefits to ensure everyone at every life stage understands how to enroll in and use the best benefits available to them.  
  • Communication preferences across the generations and how to flex to each style. 
  • How to improve benefits education and fluency across your populations.  
  • Reaching “deskless” and frontline workers in non-traditional office environments.  
  • How benefits personalization can support a DEIB strategy.   

Creating Connected People & Benefit Experiences Across a Dispersed Workforce: A Client Case Study with NexTier  

Learn how NexTier Oilfield Solutions was able to significantly improve their people engagement and retention rates across their dispersed, deskless workforce by using personalized benefits and communication experiences.

The Future is Now: How Empyrean’s Vision Aligns with the Future of Benefits  

During this session, Empyrean’s Chief Strategy Officer, Jim Priebe, and Chief Information & Technology Officer, Kelly Clark, will share Empyrean’s go forward vision as we advance our mission to connect benefits and enrich lives.

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, security, infrastructure, and services to solve for the evolving challenges impacting Empyrean’s clients.

*Wagmo Pet Insurance is also a Bronze sponsor of EVOLVE\23.

Please contact our events team for more information about this invitation-only conference.