Slideshow Reasons to be thankful this holiday season

  • November 24 2014, 3:12am EST
18 Images Total

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Jennifer Weinstein, director, health and benefits strategy, McKesson

On LinkedIn: "It's great to work in benefits because it's an opportunity to touch every aspect of business -- sales, finance, legal, communications, HR, compliance, etc. -- a benefits professional uses tools from all of these areas to develop strategy, drive engagement, and create programs for a healthy and productive workforce."

For an in-depth profile of Jennifer Weinstein, EBN's 2013 Benefits Professional of the Year, read Bold moves in the September 15, 2013 issue.

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Fran Melmed, founder, context

"I'm grateful for experiencing firsthand the difficulties of balancing the dual roles of caregiver and breadwinner. It may seem curious to say I'm grateful, but it's brought the research into caregiving's impact on employees’, particularly female employees’, health and well-being into stark relief. My experience has made painfully obvious the need for employer-directed support and resources for the employees juggling these dual roles today and the many more soon to be doing so."

Also see: Helping employees navigate a world without boundaries

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Ed Bray, senior vice president, compliance, Ascension Insurance, Inc.

"I am thankful that benefit managers have recognized that there is now a massive government magnifying glass over their employee benefits program due to ACA W-2 and IRS reporting requirements, and are taking necessary action to complete the benefits compliance projects that have been in their to-do queue for years -- ERISA documentation, notices, and reporting, Section 125 documentation, ACA documentation, nondiscrimination testing, HIPAA privacy and security, etc."

Also see: 5 cost-saving tactics for ACA compliance

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Robert C. Lawton, president, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

"We all should be thankful that we can save and invest for our retirement with a tremendous amount of control over the outcome. How much we contribute, when and where we can invest, are mostly left up to us. The future has never looked brighter for 401(k) plan participants. Costs have never been lower. Very good investment options exist in nearly every plan. Employers are engaged with their plans and participants to a very high degree and online educational tools abound."

Also see: 5 low-cost ways to make your 401(k) plan better

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Henry Albrecht, CEO, Limeade

"I am grateful that the silos of health care and human capital are breaking down. This is great because people are not made in silos, so why should their companies? I am grateful every day to wake up with an obsession, mission and purpose. And to serve HR execs who feel the same way. I am grateful for people who push me to be my best self. And to those who like to be pushed back. I am grateful for bottom-up innovation in top-down companies."

Also see: Medical center, unions collaborate on wellness

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Brian Levine, innovation leader for Mercer's North America workforce strategy & analytics consulting business

"We are thankful that there are organizations leading the charge to promote utilization of women through holistic talent strategies and innovative benefit programs."

Also see: Analytics alone won't foster workforce diversity

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Don Powell, president & CEO, American Institute for Preventive Medicine

"I am thankful that the ACA has differentiated between wellness programs that simply involve participation versus those that attempt to achieve a particular health outcome. Our worksite wellness goals should not just be participation, but rather actual health behavior changes."

Also see: 20 characteristics of a successful worksite wellness program

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Robyn Credico, North America director, defined contribution consulting, Towers Watson

"I am very appreciative for all the committed employers that continue to evolve their retirement plans in order to improve the retirement readiness of their workers. It's clear to me that employers want to help their employees save for a financially secure retirement. The challenge is having the right programs and tools in place to make that a reality."

Also see: Employers see role for more tech in retirement plan communications

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Mike Thompson, principal, PricewaterhouseCoopers

"As our worlds become increasingly complex and intertwined, I am grateful that leading companies value and promote the well-being of their workforces. I am particularly thankful when companies see mental health as integral to total well-being by taking positive steps to promote greater awareness and acceptance of mental illness and demanding improved accountability for access to mental health services. I am particularly thankful to the Northeast Business Group on Health and NAMI-New York City for their leadership in these efforts."

Also see: Mental health focus of new workplace campaign

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Laurie S. Miller, MBA, area senior vice president, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.

"As an employee benefits consultant, I am deeply grateful for the depth of knowledge and rapid response our dedicated compliance attorneys provide regarding the constantly evolving Affordable Care Act."

Also see: Top 50 large-group employee benefit brokers in the U.S.

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Pat Milligan, president of Mercer's North America region

"We are thankful organizations are coming out of the closet with their diversity data, driving change through transparency."

Also see: Female-focused benefits education can transform women's health, retirement outcomes

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Brian Marcotte, president & CEO, National Business Group on Health

"I am thankful for the commitment and dedication that employers are giving to providing cost-effective, high quality health care for their employees. A healthy, productive workforce benefits everyone."

Also see: Employers still focused on health care costs, despite 'distraction' of ACA

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Donna Levin, VP of policy, CSR, and Workplace Solutions,

"I’m thankful for the attention being paid to work-family issues on a national level, as evidenced by the White House Summit on Working Families, which we were fortunate enough to participate in earlier this year. And I’m grateful for the business leaders who are supporting employees holistically through lifestyle benefits, like parental leave, wellness programs or flex work arrangements."

Also see: Redefining work-life balance

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Kevin Crain, senior relationship manager for Bank of America Merrill Lynch

"I am grateful companies are increasingly working to help employees improve their financial literacy and overall wellness through active education and advice programs."

Also see: IRS increases allowable 401(k) contribution levels

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Chris Boyce, CEO, Virgin Pulse

"Making positive behavior changes and creating workforces that are healthy, productive and thriving is no easy task, so I'm incredibly thankful to those people who allow us to serve them in those endeavors. I'm also tremendously appreciative of the amazing team we've got here at Virgin Pulse -- the people who've chosen to join us in carrying out our mission to change lives for good and make companies better."

Also see: Employers reluctant to use ACA wellness incentives

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Readers respond on social media

On Twitter:


"We're grateful we get to help millions of Americans see so many wonderful things in life."

"We're grateful to be in benefits biz b/c of the opportunities to educate & connect w/ clients who need our help."

"We're grateful to be in the benefits biz b/c we love saving Americans $$$ on health care products/services."

On Facebook:

Blue Back, LLC: "This #EBNthanksgiving, we're grateful for a lot. Mostly we’re grateful that we can make a difference in the well-being of families by designing benefit programs that both bring value to employers & employees and educate on ways to preserve health and how to be a savvy healthcare consumer."

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Steve Wojcik, vice president, public policy, National Business Group on Health

"I am thankful that employees are increasingly engaged in their own health and well-being and in decisions about their health care. They are not only improving their health, but also helping to improve health care delivery."

Also see: Expert roundtable sounds off on health care reform

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