May 19, 2020

Why Offering Less Benefits Sometimes Means More

business tips
Justyn Harkin
The Jellyvison Lab
Bizclik Editor
3 min
Why Offering Less Benefits Sometimes Means More

Written by Justyn Harkin

How many health insurance plans does your company offer its employees? Do you really need to offer three medical plans and two dental plans? Without a solid decision-support system (an online tool, special group sessions, or even one-on-one counseling), your company’s buffet of choices may be doing more harm than good.
When it comes to insurance benefits, having a choice might not be so great after all.
The concept isn’t that far-fetched. In fact, as a 2010 Commonwealth Fund study points out, an abundance of health insurance choices is something consumers don’t want…and it’s something they don’t need. The study’s author states, “consumers can be overwhelmed by too much choice, particularly when making complex, high-stakes decisions like buying health insurance.”
The study also notes that having too many choices can impair a person’s ability to make a rational decision. For instance, employees commonly pick health plans that are more expensive than what they might need. They do this because they feel safer and more secure with more coverage or because they just don’t trust the more affordable option. In their minds, the higher-cost plans are better because they cost more.
That’s bananas! Wait—let’s be professional. That’s nuts.
What people want is affordable insurance that provides good coverage, including some coverage for doctors outside the network. They want to know that they’ll be OK if they break their leg in a freak accident with a runaway tamale cart. If your company can provide that level of comfort with one plan, why complicate things? Besides, employees like to know the CEO gets the same plan they get.
This one-plan practice may be more common than you think. Plenty of big companies offer a single insurance plan to their employees. In fact, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s “Employer Health Benefits 2011 Annual Survey,” (a study which looked at the offerings of more than 3,000 randomly selected public and private firms), 84% of companies that offer health benefits offer only one type of plan.
Large companies, which the Kaiser survey categorizes as firms with more than 200 workers, are more likely to offer multiple plans than small firms, but many big guys also take the one-plan approach—62% of firms with 200 to 999 workers offer a single plan, as do 43% of firms with 1,000 to 4,999 workers, and 32% of firms with 5,000 workers or more.
And that makes sense.
While offering one plan does simplify the benefits communication process, a one-size-fits-all approach may not be the best way to serve the needs of every employee in a larger company (employees all over the US, for example). However, if multiple plans are offered, you can still apply the spirit of a one-plan approach by describing why your company’s plans are best for the employees they were chosen to serve.
You didn’t just pick these plans out of hat, so help employees visualize which of the offerings are best for them. The effect, you’ll find, can help highlight the one best choice from the pack of options.
About the Author: Justyn Harkin is a Communications Specialist at The Jellyvision Lab, providers of ALEX™, the Jellyvision Benefit Counselor, a virtual, cloud-based human resources personality that effectively eliminates mundane, and often confusing, benefit communications.

Share article

Jun 13, 2021

Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl

Kate Birch
5 min
Former CMO for IBM Americas Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for Kyndryl. Maria talks about her new role and her leadership style

Former Chief Marketing Officer for IBM Americas, and an IBM veteran of more than 25 years, Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for Kyndryl.

Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.

With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.

You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?

I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.

We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.

What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?

I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.

The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.

I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.

What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?

When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.

What does success look like to you?

I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.

What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?

I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.

Share article