Benefits that not only change a company, but an entire industry

I already knew we had chosen the right person as EBN’s 2018 Benefits Professional of the Year, but Facebook’s senior director of benefits, Renee Albert, reinforced my belief after I emailed her with the news.

“Candidly, I feel so very blessed to be able to be a part of a community here at Facebook that allows me to show my passion and love for benefits through the benefit programs we can develop for our people,” she wrote in an email to me. “I was excited just to share our story with you around the work we’ve been able to do so far. We are only 1% done.”

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I’ve spoken to Renee a handful of times over the past several weeks, and she’s filled me in on the social media giant’s game-changing caregiving, bereavement and parental leave policies, as well as its sabbatical program, fertility benefits and mental health initiatives.

See also: Facebook raised the bar on employee benefits. Now it’s hoping to start a workplace revolution

What makes me so excited about Renee isn’t just what she’s done at Facebook, but what she’s trying to do to move the entire industry. Through conversations, research and her work at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, she is working to encourage other employers to revolutionize their benefits.

“Facebook is really, really open because we are a mission-driven company,” she told me. “And that’s how we are with benefits. When we launch benefits and it works, we want to share it with other employers and have them come along with us on this journey.”

Choosing the winners of the Benny Awards — which recognize four individuals for excellence and innovation in the employee benefits/human resources field — each September is one of my favorite parts of the job. It’s also one of the hardest — there are too many great people to choose from. (To everyone who nominated or introduced me to amazing benefits managers to consider, thank you. And please, nominate again next year!)

You can read about our other Benny Award winners:

· Candace Shaffer, director of benefits at Purdue University (Benefits Leadership in Healthcare winner)
· Jodi Budnick, senior vice president of talent at Optanix (Benefits Leadership in Retirement winner)
· Milt Ezzard, vice president of global benefits at Activision Blizzard (Judges’ Choice winner)

Our annual Benny Awards give me a chance to meet and talk to people committed to improving employees’ health and finances while helping them deal with personal challenges — simply put, making lives better. These awards are a reminder that the work each of you do — not only the four people we have chosen to recognize as winners — is so important.

Speaking of talking to benefits professionals, I hope to meet some of you at our upcoming Benefits Expo and Forum Sept. 24-26 in New Orleans. I’m so excited that both Renee and Milt will be speaking during the event, joining a number of benefits professionals who are passionate about their business and the industry in general. I hope you can join us.

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