SOURCE: New England Employee Benefits Council

New England Employee Benefits Council

December 19, 2011 11:18 ET

Award-Winning Employers Share Employee Benefits Success Stories at New England Employee Benefits Council's Best Practices Conference

Innovation in 401(k), Healthcare and Wellness

WALTHAM, MA--(Marketwire - Dec 19, 2011) - Can vampires help sell employees on contributing to their 401(k) plan? Sure, if you're Staples.

Staples -- one of six winners of the Best Benefits Practices of 2011 awards from the New England Employee Benefits Council (NEEBC) -- uses computer games to make saving for retirement, budgeting and planning fun for the office-supply giant's young associates. One is "Bite Club," which shows a toothy vampire with the slogan, "When you're immortal, retirement is eternal."

Other award-winners take more traditional but equally effective approaches.

  • The Massachusetts Group Insurance Commission, provider of health insurance to Massachusetts state employees, conducted a spring 2011 reenrollment and premium-incentive drive. By offering employees and retirees incentives to choose limited-network plans, the drive will save employees an average of $1,400 for family coverage and the Commonwealth more than $20 million a year.

  • City Year, a nonprofit that partners with schools to keep kids on the graduation track, uses a self-funded health plan that both enhances benefits for its young 1900-plus Corps members and saves money. It designed a health plan for the unique needs of 17- to 24-year-old Corps members.

  • Eastern Bank's "birthday as paid time off" program uses incentives to get employees exercising and living a healthy lifestyle. The super-community bank's employees were taking care of their families, not always themselves. Early results show greater engagement in wellness.

  • Ocean's Spray's comprehensive Moms at Work program helps new mothers be more comfortable and productive. The iconic company's "journey through kids and career" provides a week of paid parental leave for new moms and dads and flexibility around return-to-work options, winning kudos from managers and employees.

  • Vicor, a manufacturer with many nonnative English speakers among its employees in New England and California, ramped up 401(k) features and communication to boost participation by 20% and the deferral rate by 54%, and improve employees' asset allocation. The campaign includes mailings, one-on-one meetings, group seminars, flyers, and emails.

A panel on cost-management strategies in the era of healthcare reform was moderated by Dolores Mitchell from the Massachusetts Group Insurance Commission. Speakers included Tim Gens, of the Massachusetts Hospital Association, who discussed the importance of thoughtful limitations in cutting cost. Rob Hockmuth, M.D., representing CIGNA, advocated a holistic approach, while Michael Vittoria, of the Rhode Island Business Group on Health, emphasized preventative wellness programs. Lynda Young, M.D., from the Massachusetts Medical Society, discussed the inefficiencies of our current healthcare.

The daylong conference in Waltham, Mass., attracted about 200 participants.

NEEBC, Waltham, Mass., is a nonprofit with 1,400 members, including employers and providers of benefits consulting and services throughout New England. NEEBC's monthly educational programs include presentations by guest speakers on topics of interest to the benefits community. Members have opportunities to discuss ideas, become informed about new developments in the field and network with peers. Web: www.neebc.org.

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