Because voluntary employee turnover costs Vi Living more than $4 million annually, the company continually looks for areas in which corporate leaders can improve employee engagement and retention.
In 2014, Vi’s HR and Learning and Organizational Development teams partnered to create a multi-faceted learning strategy focused on increasing employee understanding of benefits as well as participation. It is for this effort – the Open Enrollment Benefits Education Program – that Vi has been named a Learning! 100 champion in the area of corporate culture.
Even though Vi spends in excess of $23 million dollars annually on benefits (7.5 percent of the company’s expenses excluding taxes), and offers a highly competitive benefit program, it has had less than desirable participation. Nor were perceptions and understanding of its benefits strong. So the Open Enrollment Benefits Program was implemented to increase overall participation.
“We didn’t have strong participation in the flexible spending and 401(k) programs, so we applied the practices and principles we use in organizational L&D,” notes Vi’s Judy Whitcomb. “To that end, we rolled out an interactive online training tool. Within three weeks, 45 percent of our employees took advantage it.”
The results played out last year with a 69 percent increase in flex spending account participation, a 40 percent increase in the enhanced vision program, a 7 percent increase in the medical plan, and a 9 percent increase in 401(k) program participation.
“And employee satisfaction grew along with participation,” Whitcomb notes. “A follow-up employee survey determined that 90 percent of employees had a good understanding of company benefits compared to 83 percent from the prior survey.”
The education strategy included the following components:
Pre-launch communications and marketing campaign
Training and engagement of managers
Utilizing Management Development Program participants as education champions
Pre-launch in-person and webinar sessions to help managers understand goals of the program as well engaging them in promoting use of a new interactive training tool to help employees learn about and select their benefits
Launch of “Alex”, a new interactive education benefits portal. This self service portal acted as an education tool as well helped employee select and understand their benefits.
Whitcomb also took an active role in increasing participation by regularly visiting 10 employee communities in six states that include more than 600 employees who have participated in a one-year management development program.
“It’s a local, community-run program with corporate L&D support,” she observes. “Employees get to participate in webinars and face-to-face meetings with corporate leaders, on top of all the learning programs we offer them. So at the local levels, they get a very customized program that is unique to their learning needs, but they also have the opportunity to participate in organizational programs that enhance their business knowledge skills and exposure to other leaders and employees in the organization.”
Along with Whitcomb and department heads (Beverage, Nursing, Sales, etc.), Jill Denman – Vi’s assistant vice president of learning and development — human relations teams at each community, and functional level support were all keys to the continuing L&D successes that have resulted in the company being named to the Learning! 100 for the second consecutive year.
Vi is a five-time Learning! 100 winner.