Transforming Your Business and Employee Experience with Precision Benefits 

Transforming Your Business and Employee Experience with Precision Benefits 

On Tuesday, March 5th Empyrean will attend the LIMRA Enrollment Technology Strategy Seminar. Tammy Kaplan, a Strategic Account Advisor at Empyrean will be participating in a panel discussion sharing insights and a case study about the impact Precision Benefits has had for a client and their employees. Precision Benefits is our AI enabled technology that empowers employees with personalized benefits recommendations fueled by their individual health data. 

Tammy has a strong passion for delivering positive benefit experiences and lives the Empyrean mission to connect benefits and enrich lives. As Product Consultant within Empyrean’s Strategic Account Advisor team, Tammy consults with clients on best practices in using our data-driven benefits engagement tools. She also leads the client governance program for these capabilities, including oversight of medical and carrier engagement, communication planning, optimizing configuration of communication tools, delivery of reporting and insights, and continued servicing of the program with year-to-year changes in benefits strategy and workplace programs. 

CLIENT 

 A Professional Services Firm with more than 16,000 employees located across the U.S. was having service issues with their previous benefits administration vendor and their health plan costs were over-budget. They wanted to maintain the same level of choice for employees while driving them to right-sized plans through a powerful and engaging benefits experience and needed a partner to help them accomplish these goals.  

CHALLENGE  

It was important to the client that their new platform would make it possible for employees to understand the value of the benefits offered, leading to better enrollment and utilization decisions and a stronger connection to their company culture. It was also important to the client that their new benefits platform could create a positive employee benefits experience through convenient and trustworthy benefits decision-making and healthcare navigation tools. They found it critical that their new solution could educate employees on the best plan options for their individual lifestyles while offering a data-driven benefits shopping experience that would drive better enrollment and utilization decisions, and ultimately better outcomes for both their employees and overall organization 

SOLUTION 

Precision Benefits empowered the client’s employees to use their own health data to help predict their out-of-pocket costs. It also helped them evaluate how other benefits such as an HSA, Healthcare FSA, hospital indemnity, accident and critical illness plans could help offset their medical plan costs. Once enrollment was done, Empyrean provided one platform for employees to access and engage with their benefits while connecting them to programs that support their wellbeing. Empyrean also partnered with the client to deliver robust communications and education to help improve year-round benefit decisions. 

Learn more about how Precision Benefits can elevate the lives of your employees. 

Empyrean Announces an Expansion of Solutions That Champion a Connected Culture Across the Employee Journey

Empyrean Announces an Expansion of Solutions That Champion a Connected Culture Across the Employee Journey

Empyrean expands its business model, offering two solutions that work independently or in concert to help organizations build a connected culture—increasing employee productivity, wellbeing and retention.

HOUSTON — (Feb. 22, 2024) — Empyrean, a company committed to building better corporate cultures, today unveils a business expansion to help organizations build a connected culture by supporting the entirety of the employee experience through two solutions: Empyrean Benefits and Empyrean Connect. 

Empyrean’s move comes in response to the critical market need for more integrated and connected work cultures. Numerous workplace research studies show that employees want to work at organizations where they feel connected to the company purpose and the C-Suite has recognized that a cohesive employee experience leads to higher employee engagement, productivity, and ultimately retention.

“We’re living in a new employment era where it is more important than ever for employers to connect employees with their brand, culture, and employer-provided resources that exist to support the entire employee lifecycle,” said Rich Wolfe, CEO of Empyrean. “The focus of Empyrean’s solutions on creating a connected culture is the answer organizations need to bring their employee value proposition to life; whether it is through recruiting, life events, day to day productivity, or communications.”

Empyrean Benefits is a full-service benefits administration, integrated ancillary services and benefits guidance solution. Empyrean Connect is a robust employee engagement solution that transforms the way organizations create, deliver, and measure internal communications, employee productivity tools and programs, and wellbeing initiatives. While Empyrean Connect offers deeper levels of customization, both solutions can be client-branded and configured to meet the unique needs of an organization.

Empyrean’s expanded market position brings together their innovative technology, a service-first approach, and a deep focus on employee experience. Though Empyrean Connect can be sold independently of Empyrean Benefits, when paired together, Empyrean clients gain a comprehensive support system for the entire employee journey, reinforcing Empyrean’s vision of building a connected culture and helping clients to retain talent.

“More than just robust technologies and great capabilities, companies want a partner that can support the well-being of every one of their employees and create a more connected and accessible employee experience across every touchpoint,” said Jim Priebe, Chief Strategy Officer of Empyrean.

Empyrean customers are already seeing success in the new approach to building a connected culture:

“We have seen a tremendous increase in benefits adoption and overall employee engagement from our highly dispersed workforce. We attribute that change to the power of having a single company app with integrated BenAdmin, all powered by Empyrean,” said Felecia May, benefits director at NextTier Oilfield Solutions.

Learn more about Empyrean Connect: click here.

Learn more about recent enhancements to Empyrean Benefits: click here.

About Empyrean

Established in 2006, Empyrean is a leading technology SaaS company empowering organizations with innovative technology and a service-first approach that accelerates employers’ benefits and employee retention strategies. Empyrean’s platform and services enhances the wellbeing and workplace engagement of over 6.5 million people, fostering stronger connections between employees and employers. By enriching employee experiences, Empyrean not only strengthens employer brands but also cultivates vibrant workplace cultures for organizational success. Visit us at goempyrean.com.

Empyrean Launches the Experience Lab – Transforming Client Engagement Through Customized Content 

Empyrean Launches the Experience Lab – Transforming Client Engagement Through Customized Content 

Empyrean is announcing a new strategic creative communications and content service called The Experience Lab. This service is seamlessly integrated with the Empyrean Platform, providing a comprehensive suite of services to enhance client support. These services include consulting, strategy development, custom content creation, campaign execution, and detailed performance analysis and reporting.   

With The Experience Lab, you can unlock the full potential of your benefits program, creating a more fulfilled and motivated workforce. 

Strategy 

Crafting a benefits strategy is only effective if your employees are aware and engaged with what’s offered. Empyrean’s solution addresses this by delivering a tailored, omnichannel communication strategy to meet your organization’s unique needs. This approach not only enhances the visibility and impact of your benefits but also strengthens your organizational culture by demonstrating your commitment to your workforce. 

By leveraging our tailored communication methods, your organization can enhance its culture through a deeper, more meaningful engagement with benefits. 

The Workshop 

The journey with Empyrean begins with an engaging strategy workshop, a crucial step in comprehending your specific challenges and goals. Our primary focus is to align our strategies closely with your objectives, undertaken with precision and attention. 

The structure of the workshop is crafted to encourage clear and effective communication. It’s a way for both Empyrean and your team to exchange ideas and viewpoints openly. This interactive session sets the stage for constructive dialogue, helping us to establish key analytical benchmarks that will steer the creation of a tailor-made plan. 

This plan, born out of the insights gained during the workshop, will be specifically designed to tackle your identified needs, ensuring a smooth transition into a solid partnership. 

Insight Report 

Following the workshop, Empyrean will present a detailed insight report. This document will highlight crucial findings, offer strategic advice, and present a customized roadmap designed specifically for your needs. The insights from the workshop will be converted into an actionable plan that aligns with your corporate objectives. 

Empyrean understands that the effectiveness of a benefits strategy is measured not just in its creation but in its ongoing management. To this end, we provide structured, regular reporting. Expect quarterly updates, which will give a clear view of the progress made towards the established goals. These reports are essential for monitoring real-world results and making timely adjustments to adapt to any changing needs or circumstances. 

Enabling Your Strategy 

Our dedicated benefits communication team is poised to develop and implement a comprehensive year-long strategy that will enhance your benefits program and actively engage your workforce. We specialize in creating custom campaigns tailored to meet your organizational goals, complete with all the necessary assets to bring each campaign to life.  

The Experience Lab is not just about creating content; it’s about forging strong partnerships. We collaborate closely with employers, consultants, and brokers to support all facets of custom content and communication strategy needs.  

In fact, one of the first brands to work with Empyrean’s Experience Lab was able to reduce the portion of employees who declined health benefits coverage in 2024 by 7%, compared with the previous year. At the same time, the company encouraged 44% of employees to enroll in a newly offered PPO. 

Our aim is to be your trusted partner, working together to enhance the way you connect with your people. With The Experience Lab, Empyrean is set to redefine client engagement, offering an unmatched level of service and expertise in the realm of communication strategies. 

Empyrean Launches Enhanced Benefits Capabilities to Support a Richer, More Connected Employee Experience

Empyrean Launches Enhanced Benefits Capabilities to Support a Richer, More Connected Employee Experience

Enhancements to benefits and engagement technology as well as the launch of in-house content and strategy services are all designed to create a better benefits experience for employers and employees.

HOUSTON — Feb. 1, 2024 — Empyrean, the company committed to building better corporate cultures through benefits, today announced the launch of enhanced benefits technologies as well as an in-house content and strategy service to create a more connected experience for employees and their benefits.

The moves reflect Empyrean’s continuous innovation, dedication and focus on addressing the needs of employers, HR teams and end-users.

“Empyrean is already known for its powerful platform for ben-admin, and this is just the next evolution of our commitment to innovating the technologies and services that help employers elevate benefits in the employee experience,” said Rich Wolfe, CEO of Empyrean. 

To further advance a connected employee experience, in response to evolving market demands, Empyrean has made significant updates to its mobile app and desktop experience.

Together, the mobile and desktop experiences emphasize personalized engagement and now include access to a robust library of educational content and ready-to-deploy campaigns.

Unlike other benefit administration experiences, the app and desktop solutions provide seamless and consistent user experiences. Further, to build trust and increase employer affiliation, the app icon and overall mobile experience will automatically update to match the client’s branded desktop experience after login. Empyrean’s market-leading approach to the employee experience offers its clients a unique way to deepen brand loyalty and increase employee engagement.

The enhanced technologies also integrate new approaches to AI that are more personalized and human-centric. Empyrean’s conversational AI chat has been enhanced to now include automated tasks, enabling immediate and accurate responses to employee queries and requests. The company is also making substantial AI updates to its service center operations, focused on enhancing the quality and efficiency of customer interactions. 

“Empyrean is committed to AI that augments human interactions to bring a personal touch as well as positioning AI as a collaborative partner to HR. We believe employees need a more connected experience with employer-provided benefits, and AI can play a critical role in improving that experience across the board,” said Colleen Waymel, COO of Empyrean.

Empyrean is announcing a new creative communications and content service — The Experience Lab — to provide support for multi-media campaigns, educational content development and related collateral. Clients can now leverage Empyrean’s expertise in benefits communications to support their annual benefits program objectives and connect more effectively with employees in multiple mediums.

One of the first brands to work with Empyrean’s Experience Lab was able to reduce the portion of employees who declined health benefits coverage in 2024 by 7%, compared with the previous year. At the same time, the company encouraged 44% of employees to enroll in a newly offered PPO.

To learn more about similar success stories and Empyrean’s enhancements, visit our blog.

About Empyrean

We believe 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 6 million people. Visit us at http://goempyrean.com.

Empyrean’s Approach to the AI Revolution

Empyrean’s Approach to the AI Revolution

In an era where Artificial Intelligence is evolving at an unparalleled pace, and where innovative products are emerging daily, defining an AI strategy is imperative for organizations in benefits administration and healthcare. AI is more than just a trend; it’s the future unfolding now.

As these technological advancements promise to transform healthcare and benefits, it’s crucial for tech companies to develop a framework guiding the adoption and use of AI. This ensures not only seamless integration into daily operations and tech stacks, but also provides essential support to all teams and employees. It’s about making the most of AI’s capabilities in a way that’s effective and ethically responsible.

We must acknowledge that rapid change is not only the new normal, but that it is only going to accelerate.

Empyrean understands this shift. We’re enhancing every interaction with intelligent technology, ensuring our clients and their people are supported by sophisticated AI.

We’re not replacing the human element; we’re amplifying it.

We believe AI’s true potential lies in its ability to augment human service, bringing a personal touch to technology.

At Empyrean, our commitment goes beyond technology – we’re dedicated to enhancing the human aspect of Human Resources with AI. We partner with our clients on their journey, constantly evolving our technology to create a future-ready business.

Personalization Beyond Prediction

Empyrean goes beyond using AI for decision-making and efficiency, our focus is to personalize the employee experience.

Our AI doesn’t just automate; it understands and adapts, providing a unique experience for each user, whether it’s an employee selecting benefits or an HR professional looking for insights.

At Empyrean, AI means personalized interaction at scale. Our AI listens and learns, tailoring each interaction to meet individual needs and preferences.

It’s not about replacing the human element—it’s about amplifying it.

Partnership Alongside Performance

While many technology platforms emphasize AI’s role in driving results, Empyrean sees AI as a collaborative partner. Our AI works alongside Empyrean team members and HR and Benefits teams, enhancing their skills and amplifying their efforts, without overshadowing the human expertise.

Empyrean’s AI is more than a tool for performance, it’s a collaborative partner in progress. It works with your team, providing insights and support that complement and enhance human capabilities, never replacing them.

Progression Ahead of Automation

In a market often focused on automation, Empyrean prioritizes AI’s role in fostering progressive learning and evolving intelligence. Our AI isn’t a static tool but a dynamic learner, continuously improving and pushing boundaries to keep our clients at the forefront of innovation.

With Empyrean, AI is about constant movement forward. Our technology is a beacon of progression, constantly advancing to not just keep pace, but setting the standard in benefits administration technology.


Empyrean’s AI in Action: Elevating Every Interaction

1. Enhanced Participant Experience

  • Personalized Support
    Through advanced API connections and our continued advancements in Learning and Language Modules (LLM), we provide support tailored to each individual, ensuring every digital or telephonic engagement is personalized. Our AI assistant knows each of your employees and can provide real and impactful support. Plus, our 24/7 AI assistant is always available, ensuring employees have the support when they need it.
  • Personalized Recommendations
    Precision Benefits is our AI-enabled technology that empowers your employees with personalized benefits recommendations fueled by their individual health data. It provides year-round guidance and personalized communications, helping employees make the most of their benefits for themselves and their loved ones.

2. Client Support Operations

  • Smart Assistance for HR
    Our 24/7 AI assistant guides HR administrators through our platform and provides training and support to access relevant insights and reports.
  • Streamlined Implementation
    AI-driven configurations ensure quick, precise platform setup, reducing the need for extended meetings and accelerating implementation, all tailored to client needs.

3. Internal Efficiency

With AI-enhanced support, our service team is equipped with tools to provide unmatched service. This means faster response times, more personalized assistance, and an overall smoother experience for our clients and their employees. Our AI-powered systems work constantly in the background, allowing our team to focus on what they do best – understanding an organization’s unique needs and delivering top-notch service.

  • Call Review
    We use AI to review 100% of service calls in real-time to ensure we are staying true to our Service First mission.
  • Auto-Generated Call Summary
    AI-generated case notes streamline our service operations, reducing wait times on calls.
  • Intelligent Listening
    Our AI-driven listening delivers faster, high-quality customer support.

4. Product Development Innovation

  • Quality at Speed
    AI assists in quality assurance, code stability, and security to bring our clients features that are not only advanced but reliable.
  • Forward-thinking Development
    Our AI-driven code generation accelerates innovation, keeping our clients ahead of the curve.
  • Cybersecurity
    AI-driven anomaly detection and behavioral analysis strengthen our cybersecurity, proactively identifying and mitigating threats.


Conclusion

At Empyrean, AI is the powerhouse behind our team, enhancing — not replacing — human expertise. It’s about support, not substitution.

AI sharpens our work, making the complex simple and the routine rapid.

We harness AI to fortify your decisions, elevate your operations, and enrich your workforce’s experience. Because in the business of benefits, it’s human insight paired with intelligent technology that creates enduring value.

At Empyrean, we bring together cutting-edge technology with a Service First approach. We understand that exceptional service and innovative technology go hand in hand.

It’s the balance that helps you foster a healthy and supportive workplace culture and connect your people to life-enriching benefits year-round.


About Katie Carroll

Katie Carroll is Empyrean’s Director of Product Marketing. She serves as the voice of our clients and their employees, bringing new technologies and services to market in ways that build workplace cultures, strengthen employer brands, and improve employee outcomes both in and outside of work.

With over 15 years of diverse industry experience, Katie’s consumer-focused background brings a unique perspective to redefine how people choose and use the best benefits available to them as individuals to support their daily lives.

Katie is a key contributor in driving Empyrean’s product strategies and messaging to help organizations deliver the personalized benefit journeys and people experiences needed to holistically support their employees and reach their company goals.

Protecting Your Digital Presence: Cyber Safety for the Holiday Season and Beyond

Protecting Your Digital Presence: Cyber Safety for the Holiday Season and Beyond

Digital interactions play a huge role in our daily personal and professional lives. Employers and employees alike are vulnerable to cyberattacks and scams, making everyone susceptible to potential cybersecurity threats.

In this informational session, Empyrean and NortonLifeLock show you how to best protect your digital presence during the holiday season and throughout the year. From phishing scams to fake websites and malicious links, it’s critical to safeguard your personal and financial information – especially if you plan to take advantage of all those Cyber Monday deals!

Overcoming the Top 5 Benefits Service Challenges

Overcoming the Top 5 Benefits Service Challenges

Navigating the world of employee benefits is no small feat for HR professionals. Ensuring their employees are receiving the best possible service and support from their benefits administration partner is critical to the well-being and satisfaction of their entire workforce.

Among the myriad of benefits service challenges faced by employees, five stand out the most: 

  1. Accessibility Challenges: Reaching a service representative shouldn’t feel like a marathon. Yet, for many employees, inconvenient service center hours and prolonged hold times lead to frustration and delayed resolutions. This could force employees to seek direct support from their HR team.
  2. Inconsistency in Service: When service teams aren’t adequately trained, it leads to inconsistent and sometimes incorrect information reaching employees. This creates confusion and erodes trust. In the worst cases, employees make critical health and wealth decisions based on misleading information.
  3. Technological Hurdles: A clunky website interface and malfunctioning systems can turn simple tasks like password changes into a daunting ordeal. This hinders employees’ access to vital information and services.
  4. Impersonal Interactions: Employees need personalized, empathetic service. Feeling undervalued and unsupported negatively impacts engagement and productivity.
  5. Lack of Proactive Support: Without proactive guidance, employees are left to navigate complex benefits alone. This leads to confusion and underutilization of available benefits.

In the dynamic ecosystem of employee benefits, aligning with a strategic partner is not just an option – it’s a necessity. Benefits administration is a complex terrain with potential pitfalls that can disrupt the well-being of any workforce. A dedicated partner understands that swift responses, precise guidance, and prompt resolutions are paramount. When selecting a benefits administration partner, employers must consider the following criteria when it comes to service and support.

Response Time: Employers need a partner who can swiftly address questions and resolve issues to ensure employees get the support they need exactly when they need it.

Expertise: Benefits administration is intricate, with evolving regulations, varying plan designs, and industry-specific complexities. A partner with comprehensive expertise and a focus on service excellence can help HR and benefits leaders navigate hurdles and anticipate employee needs.

Customization: Every organization has a unique culture, goals, and workforce demographic. Creating personalized benefit experiences for employees is essential for meeting them where they are at work and in life.

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.

This means it’s critical that your benefits administration technology and service partner can deliver positive people and benefit experiences through its platform and service model. 

Empyrean blends innovative technology with a service-first approach to empower your workforce, fostering a sense of ownership and control over their health and financial futures. Precision Benefits, our proprietary AI-powered decision support tool, provides employees with personalized recommendations and guidance based on their own health data.

Find out how Empyrean can help you overcome your benefits service challenges and any obstacle that stands in the way of the well-being of your workforce.

Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity: Empyrean’s Resiliency Program

Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity: Empyrean’s Resiliency Program

As the risk of disruptions to business operations mounts in the face of severe weather, cybersecurity breaches, global pandemics, terrorism, and even war, many organizations have found themselves struggling to protect themselves from evolving threats.

Unfortunately, it is often not until businesses find themselves at immediate risk that they take action to prepare for the worst. As natural and human-made disasters continue to rise in both volume and severity, a proactive, formalized, and well-practiced approach to business continuity and disaster recovery has become even more critical.

At Empyrean, we’ve seen first-hand how crucial thoughtfully designed disaster recovery and business continuity programs are for corporate resiliency. Our headquarters is located in Houston, Texas, which has a climate prone to extreme weather events. Over the last few years, the Houston area has experienced severe natural disasters that have included hurricanes, flooding, extreme heat, power outages, and even freeze events.

But even through these states of emergency, we have had little to no disruption to our regular business operations. The redundancies, controls, technologies, and training we have provided to our teams have made us well-positioned to weather any type of storm – be it a hurricane, power crisis, or even a global pandemic.

Corporate Resiliency at Empyrean

Empyrean’s resiliency program is a framework of policies, procedures, and controls that are designed to protect our organization from a large range of threats, including those of natural, technological, biological, adversarial, incidental, or human-caused origin. 

Our commitment to corporate resiliency is a year-round, ongoing effort that allows us to comprehensively avoid or reduce the impact of these potential threats by predicting, preparing for, and practicing our response to crises.

Our standards and guidelines apply not only to Empyrean team members, but to contractors, sub-contractors, and their respective facilities supporting Empyrean business operations, wherever Empyrean data is stored or processed, including any third-party contracted by Empyrean to handle, process, transmit, store, or dispose of Empyrean data.

The strict framework we follow maintains Empyrean’s compliance with our SOC1, SOC2, and ISO 27001 requirements, and helps to ensure the integrity and availability of our critical systems. This type of protection and oversight is essential for maintaining the trust of our stakeholders, partners, and (most importantly) our clients and their employees.

Here are some of the key features of our own resiliency framework, which includes best practice standards that are key pillars for any business continuity and disaster recovery roadmap.

Business Impact Analysis (BIA)

A business impact analysis (BIA) predicts the consequences of a disruption to your business and gathers information needed to develop recovery strategies. Through this systematic process, organizations can evaluate the potential effects of an interruption to critical business operations resulting from a disaster or other emergency and explore vulnerabilities and potential threats.  

Our business impact analysis (BIA) is the core of our resiliency program and contains the key information and data we use to make decisions that pertain to our continuity, response, and recovery. Through this annual detailed analysis, we take action to guard against any identified vulnerabilities and develop plans to reduce any risks tied to the potential threat. Our BIAs also allow us to proactively prioritize all critical function areas based on their potential impact and likelihood of occurrence and implement or identify existing controls to mitigate downtime.

Some of the plans that we’ve built through our BIA include our Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery, Application Recovery, Technical Recovery, and Crisis Management Plans.

Training & Plan Execution

A plan is only as good as a team member’s ability to understand their role and respond in the event of a crisis. Our standard operating procedures (SOPs) provide detailed, step-by-step guidance to execute our response plans in a detailed, systematic, and effective manner.

Responding to a disaster or emergency event requires the involvement of multiple stakeholders and careful coordination to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of sensitive company information. We carefully train our teams responsible for implementing controls, providing clear instructions, guidance, and training materials to ensure each team member understands how to execute a response plan should the need arise.

To do this, our SOPs include clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and redundancies. In addition to weekly meetings of our Resiliency and Crisis Management Teams, we conduct regular drills and practice exercises on an ongoing basis.

We also conduct an annual resiliency program review to assess the current state of our BIA and associated plans to ensure we consistently re-evaluate potential issues that could threaten Empyrean’s ongoing operations while addressing gaps and lessons learned from our ongoing exercises and/or actual real-life events.

Resiliency training is offered both as part of our annual compliance training and our ongoing quarterly response simulations. Through these training events, our team practices executing our SOPs, using our Mass / Emergency Notification System (M/ENS), and utilizing other tools incorporated into our disaster response programs. These drills also give us the opportunity to monitor controls to ensure they are functioning as intended.

Through this training, we provide our employees with valuable experience to ensure that any real-life events can be executed thoughtfully and in accordance with our resiliency planning. These exercises also help identify and evaluate potential gaps in our plans so that we can take the necessary steps to begin resolving and mitigating additional risks.

Internal Auditing & Corrective and Preventative Actions

In addition to our practical training programs, we also maintain strict processes for identifying and addressing nonconformities and areas for improvement identified through internal audits, management reviews, and other monitoring activities. These practices ensure that nonconformities are quickly corrected and that preventive actions are taken to prevent their recurrence.

These internal audits include the quarterly assessment of any changes to our business environment, shifts in tools and technologies used throughout the business, changes to regulations and standards, incidents and near-misses, and feedback from our key stakeholders.

If any nonconformities are identified through our team’s audits, we conduct a root cause analysis to identify the underlying cause(s), take swift correct actions based on our findings, put preventative actions in place to ensure the issue does not arise again, and then conduct careful monitoring to verify the effectiveness of measures taken.

Third-Party Auditing and Reviews

While we conduct internal audits on an ongoing basis, we also rely on annual third-party audits to review the overall effectiveness of our processes and related controls. Through these ongoing reviews, our third-party partners can identify potential areas for improvement and ensure that Empyrean remains compliant with or exceeds all required standards.

We also participate in annual third-party audits to maintain compliance with our SOC1/SOC2 and ISO 27001 certifications. Our annual SOC1/SOC2 audits and ISO 27001 surveillance review include an extensive examination of functions across a wide range of criteria to identify any gaps or non-conformance.

Empyrean also undergoes an intensive IS 270001 recertification audit every three years.

Continuous Improvement

Threats evolve at a rapid pace, so we maintain a process of continuous improvement to ensure all of our business continuity and disaster recovery programs remain effective and aligned with our strategic goals.

To do this, we maintain a strict schedule that includes:

  • Identifying opportunities for improvement that may include changes in the organization’s context, new or updated regulatory requirements, or changes in technology.
  • Evaluating (and re-evaluating) best practice standards, includingexternal benchmarking, industry standards, or guidance from professional associations.
  • Adopting new technologies in alignment with industry standards and our resiliency posture.
  • Implementing changes to procedures, tools, and ownership, including updating SOPs, controls, and any policies as needed.
  • Ongoing internal and external monitoring of the effectiveness of changes made as part of Empyrean’s continuous improvement process.

A strong corporate resiliency posture is critical in today’s business environment. While it may feel daunting to shift to a proactive approach, a thoughtful and well-tested business continuity and disaster recovery program will provide your organization’s stakeholders with the peace of mind and protection necessary to be successful.

Trust us, we’ve seen it firsthand.

We’re not Just Surviving, We’re Thriving. 


ABOUT RICK MILLER

Rick Miller is Empyrean’s Vice President, Information Technology and has been with Empyrean since 2010. Rick has overseen Empyrean infrastructure, security practice, and business continuity and disaster growth since joining the company. Rick continues to lead the organization’s security, BCP/DR, audit, and procurement practices.

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.

Empyrean Announces EVOLVE\23 – April 12 – 14 in Savannah, GA

Empyrean Announces EVOLVE\23 – April 12 – 14 in Savannah, GA

Connecting Benefits, Enriching Lives

Empyrean is excited to announce that EVOLVE\23 will be held from April 12-14 at Savannah’s Hyatt Regency along the city’s historical riverfront.

The theme for our upcoming EVOLVE conference is “Connecting Benefits, Enriching Lives”, a topic closely aligned with our mission to deliver optimized and connected benefit experiences to the over 4.6 million people who rely on the Empyrean platform every day.

Conference programming will be developed and presented by HR and benefits industry experts, with content anchored around the realities that employee populations are made up of real people, each with a unique background and personal story. These stories determine what employees need from their benefits program to thrive both inside and outside of work.

Our dynamic sessions will provide participants with the strategies and insights they need to tackle the ongoing challenges tied to supporting individual benefit needs while also addressing populations with economic efficiency.

EVOLVE\23 will also explore how to ensure employees understand how to choose and use their benefits, including how to create personalized, connected, life-enriching benefit experiences that result in high levels of employee trust, psychological safety, and physical wellness, all leading to happy, energized employees and successful organizations. 

DATE: April 12-14, 2023
LOCATION:
Hyatt Regency – Savannah, GA

Event registration will open in Fall 2022, and additional conference details will be shared at that time. For now, we invite our clients to mark your calendars for this engaging event!

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