Benefits Together: Sharing Experiences and Solutions During the Global Pandemic

The coronavirus has changed the world as we know it, and benefits professionals across the United States and Canada play a crucial role in shaping a new path forward. By standing together and sharing our hard-earned lessons, we can help each other and the millions of plan participants we serve.

It is in this spirit that the International Foundation launched the Benefits Together web page as a shared space and resource to help the benefits community navigate this unprecedented time.

Benefits Together: Sharing Experiences and Solutions During the Global Pandemic

Following are bite-sized samples of the pressing issues being shared by our community of experts. To see the full stories and learn from their solutions, visit Benefits Together.

COVID-19 has impacted everyone and everything in our organization—and I think in every organization that I know of. Where do you start? Your laptop is now ‘mission control,’ and everything is ‘mission critical.’ Nothing is the same, really, and nothing can be assumed to be the same tomorrow as it was today.”
Susan Bird, CEBS, ISCEBS-Fellow, ICD.D President, The McAteer Group of Companies in Markham, Ontario

We are leveraging virtual collaboration tools such as Zoom. Such approaches are critical to maintain client and plan member connectivity, momentum for our strategic projects and continued growth for our product and service offerings.”
Colleen Baker, Vice President Enterprise Benefit Solutions at People Corporation in Toronto, Ontario

The biggest challenges so far have been adjusting to meetings and supporting mental health services. As trustees, we have to review what worked for us—as well as what did not—and create more robust response plans for our plan members.”
Chris Camp, CEBS, MTMS Chair, HPFF Benefits Trust in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Many of our staff are parents and, with British Columbia schools moving to a virtual classroom program, they are also becoming teachers. As business owners, we need to ensure they have the mental bandwidth to fill all of the roles now required of them.”
Kandy Cantwell, CEBS, Partner, Montridge Advisory Group Ltd. in Vancouver, British Columbia

“The organization’s personnel have proven to be resilient and flexible in the face of significant social disruption. Sustained investment in remote-work best practices, internal communications, learning and development resources, and mental health support has kept both morale and productivity high throughout the pandemic. This will be an ongoing investment.”
Mike Neheli, President, Manion, Wilkins & Associates Ltd., GroupHEALTH Family of Companies in Toronto, Ontario

The biggest challenge has been keeping up with all of the local and state executive orders as well as the federal legislative changes impacting our operations.”
Thomas M. Bernstein, Administrative Manager, Midwest Operating Engineers Fringe Benefit Funds in Countryside, Illinois

[Upcoming Webcast: Managing Communication and Change During the COVID-19 Pandemic | May 7, 2020]

“Because we have suspended education fairs, in-person seminars and employer site visits, we’re increasing the use of our webinar capabilities to keep members informed.”
Mike Pramik, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System in Columbus, Ohio

Our biggest challenge has been staff morale. The additional stresses that come with people working remotely—such as dealing with younger children—and the mounting number of reported coronavirus cases and deaths have people concerned and struggling to focus on their work.”
Scott Price, Partner in Charge at WithumSmith + Brown, P.C. in Bethesda, Maryland

Plans are seldom perfect, but they are important in a crisis. We have relied on our pandemic plan, broader incident response and business continuity plans and risk management plans.”
Aaron Walker-Duncan ICD.D, Vice President, Board and Communication Services at BC Pension Corporation in Victoria, British Columbia

Help us come together as a benefits community by sharing your coronavirus story—what has worked for you and your organization as well as the challenges you still seek answers to—Visit Benefits Together.

Benefits Together

Coronavirus and the Workplace

Learn more:

How has your organization adapted during the pandemic? Share your story.

Robbie Hartman, CEBS
Editor, Publications, for the International Foundation

The latest from Word on Benefits:

Robbie Hartman, CEBS

Editor, Publications for the International Foundation Favorite Foundation Product: Face-to-face conferences—For the education, the speakers, the networking, the buzz of excitement, the buzz from the coffee stations and a buzz-illion other reasons, it’s hard to top our conferences. Favorite Conference Moment: Book signings with Captain Mike Abrashoff and attitude provocateur Alvin Law. It’s reaffirming to watch people command the stage and then earn even greater respect with the way they take time to interact and connect with individual audience members at book signings. Favorite Benefits Topics: Wellness, communication, work/life balance. Personal Insight: Robbie values time with family and friends. Traveling to a new region is a bonus, but skipping rocks in the neighborhood creek will also do just nicely. He may be many things, and has been called most of them, but he is not a sitter and will gladly find a reason to get up from his desk.

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