Year of Change
For Your Benefit - November 2022

Internal Links Laurie Milligan

When our team met in January to determine our benefits strategic plan initiatives for the year, we were very optimistic that 2022 was going to be the year we would get back to “normal” after two years of uncertainty due to the pandemic.  We made plans to rebuild our team cohesiveness with our new hybrid work schedule, stay on top of COVID-related legislation, and understand how certain provisions affected our employee benefit programs and how our members accessed them.  We also agreed to use 2022 as a transition year with bswift, our benefit administration system vendor, so that we could take a more active role in configuring the system and troubleshooting for Open Enrollment and ACA reporting.  By doing so, we’d be nimbler to meet our member banks’ needs.  It felt good to be looking forward!

But that all changed in early March, when our beloved teammate Suzie Allen became ill, drastically changing our team dynamic. Members who contacted our team with questions about their benefits more than likely spoke to Suzie, who was consummate at customer service.  She had a gift for making people feel like they were important and she was diligent in making sure that their problems were resolved as quickly as possible.  Her commitment to our members’ needs allowed the rest of us to focus on project-based work because we knew she was taking care of our clients. With Suzie’s very sad passing in early May, it became even more obvious how much she did as a valued member of our team, and we knew it was time to regroup.

Not only were we mourning the loss of our friend and teammate, but we had to determine a new path for how to best serve our members and fill the big hole that Suzie left. We had major projects that required attention and time in addition to addressing members’ concerns and questions. 

Our bank HR administrators were so gracious and understanding as we worked through our processes and fully embraced a general benefits mailbox in which our entire team is assigned to HR administrator inquiries/issues and respond to participants’ questions as quickly as possible.  We became subject matter experts at all things benefits and took opportunities to learn things that we otherwise wouldn’t have if Suzie were still with us. 

As we are in the midst of 2023 Open Enrollment this month, we have more than 7,500 employees who will enroll in the bswift system to select their benefits for the next year and I feel optimistic again, just as I did when the year started. We still miss Suzie every day, but I know she would be proud of the team and what we have accomplished and continue to accomplish in her honor.