Welcome to our partner profile series. Each month, we'll feature insights and perspectives from HR professionals and consultants working with a wide variety of clients addressing today's most pressing issues.
This month: Buck, an integrated HR, benefits consulting, technology and administration firm.
Interview conducted by David Sherman, Director of Channel Partnerships and Strategic Alliances at PTO Exchange.
A Conversation with Mary Armstrong-Flippo of Buck
Mary is a Principal and co-leader of Buck’s Time Away practice responsible for driving revenue, building client relationships, and acting as a technical expert for all things “time away.”
She's been advising employers in the areas of absence and health benefit design, program administration, compliance, and product development for over 25 years. See her full bio below.
Within the realm of Financial Wellness, what are some of the main challenges your clients are facing?
The disconnect and the need for financial stability are main challenges facing employers today. Buck’s 2022 Wellbeing and Voluntary Benefits Survey highlights the significant disconnect between employers’ estimate of employees’ overall wellbeing, such as mental/emotional, physical, financial, and social, compared to where employees rate their own wellbeing.
This is particularly evident as employers rated their employees’ financial wellbeing at 66% while employees rated their actual financial wellness at 43%. A 23-point gap in perception!
The survey also showed that employees expect more support in these areas from employers. Click here to download the survey.
We know a lot of Buck’s focus has been on tying Financial Wellbeing to employee loyalty. How are you able to make that connection for your clients and do have any specific insights you can share?
At Buck, one of the ways we assist our clients is to look at the Engagement Pyramid that starts with meeting the basic employee needs associated with 'Wallet,’ then addressing needs related to the ‘Head,’ and topped with ‘Heart.’
When employees feel provided for (Wallet), believed in (Head), and cared about (Heart) they remain committed to a company that has shown a commitment to them. For example, most employers responded to the survey that they plan to invest most in the physical wellbeing of their employees, yet financial health was the #1 need cited by employees in the survey, followed closely by mental health and social health.
With 54% of employees responding that they are “living paycheck to paycheck,” an employer who provides tools for financial freedom is an employer who gains loyalty through enhancing the lives of employees and their families.
With some of the external challenges that are outside of our control – instability in Ukraine, higher-than-average turnover due to the Great Resignation, slower than anticipated “return to normalcy” due to COVID – has this changed your approach towards how you support clients?
People are looking for purpose, growth, and meaning in their jobs because we’ve been acutely reminded that life is precious - we no longer want to spend our precious time sitting in an office for eight or more hours a day, five days per week until we retire.
As such, we’re helping employers find creative ways to address this positive change, while managing costs and improving productivity. Approaches include a shift from traditional benefits to “cafeteria-style” programs and ancillary coverages that offer flexibility of choice to meet employees’ specific needs, work flexibility, and leveraging a broader understanding and acceptance of people and the definition of “family” which translates to more inclusive health benefits and time away policies.
Employees ranked Time Away Policies in the top five things employers can do to support wellbeing and reduce stress and burnout.
What sort of new technology platforms or innovative solutions has Buck found that can make a tangible difference in a company’s Financial Wellness initiatives?
Lifestyle Planning Accounts (LPAs) are really taking off as an employer strategy to offer employees choice and manage benefit costs. Employers are rethinking the blanket approach of offering several programs to all employees on a PEPM cost basis and hoping for an ROI.
Employers are assessing which programs are most utilized by the total population and ceasing the underutilized programs - those savings can be reinvested in LPAs which provide each employee the choice of spending employer dollars exactly where they want them, based on categories chosen by the employer: Mental, Physical, Social, Financial. LPAs can be funded on a debit card with a specific amount, or employees can seek reimbursement for approved expenses such as gym equipment, social media apps, virtual learning, and financial coaching, for example.
"I’d be remiss not to mention how much our clients value these services which PTO Exchange provides."
Additionally, we see more employers offering employees the option to trade PTO to pay down student loans, contribute to their 401(k), donate time to charitable organizations or to colleagues in need, to name a few. I’d be remiss not to mention how much our clients value these services which PTO Exchange provides.
About Buck Global LLC
Buck is an integrated HR, pensions, and employee benefits consulting, technology, and administration services firm. Founded more than 100 years ago as an actuarial consultancy, we’ve evolved to serve organizations and trustees across the health, wealth, and career spectrum. Buck has more than 2300 HR professionals and serves clients worldwide.
About Mary Armstrong-Flippo, CLMS
Mary is Principal and co-leader of Buck’s national Time off, Disability, and Life practice. Having worked at a large employer, in the TPA space, and as a consultant, the breadth of Mary’s work experience lends a unique point of view, allowing her to integrate wellness concepts and healthcare trends into a comprehensive, innovative time away portfolio. She specializes in identifying the cost drivers of absence, developing compliant time-off programs that attract, retain, and engage diverse populations for optimal productivity and alignment with corporate financial goals.
Mary has developed time-off programs that have been recognized by the National Partnership for Women and Families organization and cited in several leading industry magazines. She frequently presents, including a recent webinar highlighting the positive impact of flexible working and unlimited PTO policies on productivity and engagement. She has newly caught the bug for blogging about relevant topics, such as supporting women in the workforce.
As a member of the national society, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), and resident Philadelphian, Mary actively participates in the preservation and tourist education of Philadelphia’s rich and historic role in our Nation’s independence. Look for her around Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where she may be giving a tour!
Use PTO to Enhance Financial Wellness
PTO Exchange developed the first flexible benefits platform that allows employees to self-direct the value of their unused paid time off (PTO) for other needs and causes. The platform caters to employees’ individualized needs and different transitions in life (retirement accounts, student loan repayments, charitable donations, and more) – offering a choice and flexibility to control the value of their unused vacsation. PTO Exchange helps companies stand out in a competitive job market, increase employee engagement, build loyalty, reduce balance sheet liabilities, and strengthen culture.
Learn more how PTO Exchange can help with financial wellness - download our free data sheet below.
- It's Time to Rethink Paid Leave (free research report)