As a big-time chocolate lover, Valentine's Day is among my favorite holidays. Although it's delicious year-round, there's something about chocolate in the shape of a rose or nestled in a heart-shaped box that makes it extra special.

But I must admit that, despite dark chocolate's proven heart-health benefits, chocolate probably isn't the best way to show your love in this age of increased focus on fitness - not to mention on the heels of last month's editorial calling for wellness success stories.

So this year, rather than offering your valentine chocolate, invite someone to be your Benny-tine instead. Just in time for Valentine's Day, I invite you to nominate yourself, a colleague or client for the 2011 Benny Awards.

The Bennys, now in their 21st year, are presented by Employee Benefit News and sponsored by VSP Vision Care to recognize excellence and innovation in the employee benefits/human resources field. Awards are granted to employee benefit, human resource or other practitioners directly involved in the management of employee benefit programs.

Benefits professionals may nominate themselves, teams or coworkers, and benefit suppliers or consultants may nominate their clients. Only one person per company may be nominated.

The awards are organized into five categories:

* Benefits Professional of the Year

* Benefits Leadership in Health Care

* Benefits Leadership in Retirement Planning

* Benefits Leadership - Judges' Choice

* The VSP GetFit Award

The Benefits Professional of the Year is presented to the candidate who has demonstrated a consistent pattern of creativity and achievement in benefit plan design, administration, communication and/or staff management, as well as contributions to the benefits profession overall.

The Leadership Awards in Health Care and Retirement Planning go to professionals who have demonstrated excellence in developing and managing programs yielding measurable impacts on the cost and/or quality of these benefits.

The VSP GetFit Award recognizes the benefits professional who has led the adoption of an innovative program or approach that best exemplifies a "GetFit" organizational commitment. The program or approach should specifically promote work-life balance among employees, focus attention on superior service at every level, and generate opportunities for employees to support each other and the communities in which they live.

The Judges' Choice Award is a "wild card" category covering a wide spectrum of benefit programs and areas of specialty.

A panel of EBN editors, current Benny award winners and the program's corporate sponsor will evaluate nominees. Judging criteria include recent achievements involving innovative multiyear projects, professional recognition and depth of experience.

The Benny Awards will be presented at EBN's 24th annual Benefits Forum & Expo, to be held Sept. 25-27 at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas. The Benefits Professional of the Year receives a cash award of $3,000 and $1,000 in travel expenses to attend the event. The other four honorees will each receive a $1,000 cash prize and $750 in travel expenses. Additionally, the award winners will be profiled in the Sept. 15 EBN.

All nominations must be submitted using our online nomination form, available at

Submitted material need not be limited to the nomination form. Supporting information - such as documentation of achievements, letters of support or video testimonials from other colleagues/business contacts - is welcome and encouraged, and may be submitted on EBN's website, sent to me at, or mailed to me at EBN's offices:

Employee Benefit News
c/o SourceMedia Inc.
4401 Wilson Blvd., Ste. 910
Arlington, Va. 22203

The deadline for nominations is Friday, July 1. Winners will be notified by July 15.

Meanwhile, please feel free to contact me with questions or concerns about the Awards, and learn more about this year's BF&E at our conference website,

I look forward to reading this year's submissions, and wish all of you good luck and a happy Valentine's Day. Send queries, letters and story ideas to Editor-in-Chief Kelley M. Butler at

Follow EBN on: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Podcasts

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Employee Benefit News becomes archived within a week of it being published

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access