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BlueCross BlueShield Massachusetts Emphasizes Employee Wellness in their Benefits

Analysis  |  By Jasmyne Ray  
   June 23, 2022

Attracting and retaining talent is a struggle for many organizations, so strengthening benefit offerings can make an organization stand out.

In today’s competitive job market, it's crucial that organizations differentiate themselves from others, but also that they cater their benefits to the needs of their employees.

“So much has changed in the workforce, even just with the hybrid working arrangements. Everybody had to rethink their offerings to associates to attract and retain,” Lesley Delaney, director of benefits at BlueCross BlueShield Massachusetts (BCBSMA) said.

Changes like these, Delaney said, are the future of employee benefits. Organizations can’t just think of their employees' needs; they must consider their families' needs as well.

BCBSMA has made changes within their own offerings that emphasize wellness and employee well-being. This change came after seeing how the stress and strain of the pandemic affected associates.

“It’s not just your traditional medical, dental, vision, 401(k) plans,” Delaney said. “It’s asking what other benefits we can offer associates to meet them where they are. How do we take care of working parents? How do we take care of associates who may have caregiving responsibilities? How do we take care of associates who are nearing retirement and not sure where to start?”

In the past few years, BCBSMA made the decision to rebrand associate sick time, now referring to it as “wellness time.”

It was no-cost change that went a long way, Delaney said.

“I think when we rebranded [sick days], the message really had to come from leadership, because we were finding that people weren’t taking time off or that they felt guilty or weren’t sure how to tell their manager that they were taking a ‘sick day,’” she explained. “This takes away that stigma, that this time is there for you to take, and we expect people to take their earned time off.”

BCBSMA also offers a financial well-being benefit, which offers free coaching for associates on several topics, including buying a house, retirement options, and paying down student loan debt. For student loans specifically, the organization has a repayment benefit, which Delaney said is attractive to talent just entering the workforce.

For family care, BCBCMA added virtual tutoring as part of its backup childcare benefits, which has taken off with many associates' children learning virtually during the pandemic. Before the pandemic, there was a 20-day cap on backup care but is now unlimited.

“We’re really promoting all the well-being offerings that we’re offering to our associates and just acknowledging that people have priorities outside of work,” Delaney said. “[We want to] help them care for those priorities in order to make them more productive at work.”

Other well-being benefits include reimbursements for gym memberships and home workout equipment, massages and acupuncture treatments, and subscriptions to a [mental health] app. Associates who work remotely can even be reimbursed for purchasing ergonomic or standing desks.

“I think for BlueCross, we’ve always but our members first. We put our associates first as well,” Delaney said. “So, we’re always looking for ways to take care of our own.”

“We’re really promoting all the well-being offerings that we’re offering to our associates and just acknowledging that people have priorities outside of work.”


KEY TAKEAWAYS

Employers can stand out in the competitive job market by strengthening employee benefits.

Employers should consider the unique needs of an employee and their family to tailor benefits.

Benefits such as student loan repayment, gym memberships, or standing desks are also attractive to potential employees.


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