Crossroads of benefit brokerage excellence and service

After my first 100 days as the new editor-in-chief of the Employee Benefits Group, I find it fitting to mark the occasion with our annual EBN Benny Awards and EBA Adviser of the Year Awards.

Facebook’s senior benefits director, Renee Albert, is Employee Benefit News’ 2018 Benefits Professional of the Year for her impressive work on the social media giant’s traditional 401(k) match, medical and life insurance benefits. Perhaps even more impressively, she is calling on other employers to reimagine their benefits programs as well, with a particular focus on quality of life and family benefits including caregiving, fertility benefits, paid leave and bereavement policies.

“When we launch a benefit and it works, we want to share it with other employers and have them come along with us on this journey,” she says.

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The other winners of EBN’s Benny Awards, which recognize individuals for excellence in the employee benefits/human resources field, are Purdue University’s Candace Shaffer, Optanix’s Jodi Budnick and Activision Blizzard’s Milt Ezzard.

This year’s overall Employee Benefit Adviser award winner is David Sokol, a former Army captain who served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm as an artillery officer.

In this month’s EBA cover feature, Executive Editor Phil Albinus writes about the formative experiences that established the foundation for Sokol’s work today as president at Wilshire Benefits Group.

Our other four Adviser of the Year Award honorees are Gregg Fine, Howard Labow, Bret Brummitt and Ali Payne — who we recognize for their work in retirement planning, voluntary benefits, wellness and technology.

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Elsewhere in our September issue, contributing writer Elizabeth Galentine interviews USI Insurance Services’ Jim McCauley, who is promoting cost-containment strategies to deal with rising insurance claims and healthcare costs.

In our Technology feature, Employee Benefit News Editor-In-Chief Kathryn Mayer takes a look at why HR professionals are slow to adopt the very technology that may help them — via an all-in-one human capital management system, or HCM.

In today’s business world, “a single HCM system has become the new iPhone,” the must-have tech that combines functions including payroll, HR tasks and benefits management, according to Joe Markland, president of consulting firm HR Technology Advisors. He spoke to Kathryn at EBA’s Workplace Benefits Mania conference, held recently in Phoenix.

Speaking of conferences, our editors are excited to be meeting many of our EBN and EBA honorees in person. There’s a lot to learn from these winners. And readers can hear from many of them firsthand Sept. 24-26 at our Benefits Forum and Expo conference in New Orleans. I look forward to meeting many of you who attend.

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