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Leadership Spotlight

Spotlight Series: Leadership in Benefits - Featuring Shawn Ferguson

by Caroline Boyland April 19, 2022

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If there's ever been a time of significant change in the field of employee benefits, it's now. From the pandemic, to the great resignation, to the nationwide healthcare crisis (think: inflation, rising medical debt, a need for mental health support, and more), employers, brokers, and carriers across America are rethinking their approach to benefits and open enrollment.

As a part of our Leadership in Benefits series, we spoke with Shawn Ferguson, National SVP of Voluntary Benefits at Acrisure, to understand how industry leaders are thinking about benefits, technology, AI, and more. Watch our full conversation here:

Don't have time to watch? Here are two major takeaways from our chat:

Takeaway 1: Employers and brokers need to focus on both pre-communication and post-communication when it comes to benefits enrollment.

A key factor in achieving employee engagement through benefits is having the right communication strategy— and in today’s world, that strategy can no longer be limited to sending out a benefits brochure during open enrollment.

  • Pre-communication means letting people know what's coming before they start enrollment.This could come in many forms, and can even be as simple as providing screenshots or messaging around what they can expect during enrollment and what the process will look like. Walking employees through the process ahead of time helps build up familiarity and diminishes the fear of something new. It increases confidence in the process as they can see what the online experience will look and feel like before they even start. Building confidence and eliminating fear critical for increasing employee engagement.
  • Post-communication is vital in order to deliver the most value to your employees. While helping employees choose the best benefits for them is critical, it’s also key to continue educating and guiding employees on how to use their benefits year-round. Ongoing post-communication is key to ensuring that employees have full awareness of all of the options available to them so that they can get the most value out of benefits.

Takeaway 2: AI can create better health experiences for consumers

Artificial Intelligence is everywhere, from our personal lives, to our workplace, and everything in between. When it comes to benefits enrollment, using AI can take the emotions out of the decision-making process and make a data-driven recommendation on the best benefits for unique needs.

But as Shawn highlights, people still want to talk to people, and we still want that human touch. The trick is to find the balance between the two and how they work together. On what we need more of, AI vs. human connection, Shawn said:

"I'd say really more of both. I think we need to be more compassionate humans and really have that emotion show and be able to communicate well with our clients as well as our peers. But I think the more analytics and the more data we have, is just going to optimize the experience for everyone and the end results."

But what it all really comes down to… Benefits selection is often the single most important financial decision facing Americans each year. A tool like Nayya can empower employers, brokers, and carriers to help employees choose the best possible benefits for their health and finances. By improving communication (both pre and post) and using AI to offer hyper-personalized benefits recommendations, teams can drive up benefits engagement while also helping bring peace and confidence to employees. Be sure to watch our full conversation with Shawn to understand how the team at Acrisure is creating an incredible employee benefits experience.

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