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Listening to Workers and Meeting Their Needs

Julissa Chavez Employee Benefits
April 18, 2021 at 6:00 p.m.

RCS Influencer Julissa Chavez says that the corporate office needs to work for the field workers, not the other way around.  

Editor’s note: Listen to the full interview to hear how SRS Distribution supports their employees through healthcare, mental health support, scholarships and creating an open work environment. 

 

Megan Ellsworth: Hello. Welcome back to our monthly influencer topic responses. My name is Megan Ellsworth here at RoofersCoffeeShop®, and today I have Julissa Chavez. How are you? What's going on? 

Julissa Chavez: Wonderful, Megan. How about yourself? Spring is in the air. Super excited. 

Megan Ellsworth: So good to be here. Glad to be chatting with you again. Let's talk about the topic today. It is what unique or different benefits do you offer your employees. What do you guys do differently over there at SRS

Julissa Chavez: This is a great topic. I am so excited to share what makes our company unique. A lot of the things that make us unique in the distribution industry is our benefits and how that sets us apart. I am going to go ahead and dive into it. All of this continent does not come from me. It does come from our HR benefits specialist, so I will take her place in sharing with you all what makes us SRS unique. 

Megan Ellsworth: Perfect. 

Julissa Chavez: All right. Many of our decisions, whether for benefits or business operation, stem from employee feedback. We obtained feedback in various forms, whether directly through in-person discussions, or through anonymous surveys administered by CultureIQ. We also utilize our insurance broker to detail employer costs and statistical data that would be useful in choosing our plans for our employee population. We are continually adjusting our voluntary benefits to assist the needs of our employees based on an accumulation of these practices. 

Recent changes include: FSA employer contribution, HSA employer contributions, employer paid short-term disability, removing a mid-tier PPO plan, and offering the choice of either a premium PPO plan or a high deductible insurance plan. Finally, as the majority of our employees work in labor intensive environment, we have also included in this year voluntary accident insurance, hospital indemnity, and critical illness. 

While the cost of healthcare is continually on the rise and rates for our employees continue to rise, we hope to subsidize some of the burden by offering employer contributions to a few of our voluntary benefits. Our voluntary benefits must be able to not only address the needs of our employees, but can also be easily implemented and accessible to anyone across the country, since we have branches across the United States, including Hawaii, employing over 5,000 people. Our voluntary benefits must also be competitive and portable, as we are committed to acquiring businesses every year. 

In an effort to make a seamless transition during the acquisition, we researched what competitors may offer and ensure that we have benefits in place that will be comparable, if not better than the previous company's benefit. The greatest challenge in managing our benefits program is educating our employees in choosing the best plans for their selves and their dependents. We find that a large portion of our employees in the field have never had exposure to fundamentals of benefits. Understanding deductibles, copays, out-of-pocket maximums, et cetera, is foreign to many people. 

This, of course, no fault of their own. The subject matter is vast and dense. I do believe though that some people would rather opt out of coverages because they're uncomfortable with choosing what benefits fits their selves and their families. Not understanding the terminology and services provided can be very intimidating for many of us and they would rather not enroll at all as a result. We take field calls and questions concerning our plans and create informative videos and documents to help educate our employees about healthcare and benefits in Spanish and English. 

But it is a challenge to get the information to those who need it the most. We see dependent care as a trending benefit, whether it includes company subsidies or dependent care, onsite daycare, or FSA employer contributions. Dependent care along with implementing parental leave have been repeated requests from the field. We are thrilled to be offering both this year in 2021. Trending as well are requests for well-being programs that provide opportunities to improve physical, mental, and emotional health. 

We have seen numerous requests for stress reduction programs, smoking cessation programs, and other incentives for many healthy choices. I believe employers are ramping their benefit plans to include total reward packages that focus on holistic well-being. 

Megan Ellsworth: Wow! That's great. I love that you guys are focusing on mental and emotional health too for your employees. That's so important. 

Julissa Chavez: Especially in the year of pandemic that everybody's been very stressed out, everybody's going through a really hard time. So that's very much a trending topic that most of us have experienced and gone through. It is important to take a step and understand we need to put the resources together for mental health and getting everybody back to some sort of normalcy with their mental health. 

Megan Ellsworth: Yes, precisely. You said childcare options, that's just great too, especially if we are working from home or anything like that. I just love that you guys are making a priority on all sides of health for your employees. That's what's so important. It's great. 

Julissa Chavez: It's great. The new thing for us is having paid short-term disability, which I as a consumer of benefits on health products, that's one of the things that I always opt for is my short-term disability and long-term disability. So just to be able to have a company support me and take care of my short-term disability time and stance and they're going to take care of that cost for me is tremendous. So excited about that being new for us this year. 

Megan Ellsworth: That's great. That's great. Well, do you have anything else to say on the importance of benefits, what you guys are doing over there, or anything to share? 

Julissa Chavez: I know most of the topic was regarding healthcare benefits and most of the things that are important for all of us, but I will say that from our last Latino focus group, one of the ideas that came out of that focus group was establishing a scholarship for SRS employees, because many of us have had a parent that had an opportunity to apply for a scholarship at their employer and many of them benefited from that privilege to be given an opportunity to have college money. 

I am also happy to say that not related to the healthcare, there's also an SRS scholarship opportunity for SRS employees to apply and get to earn money for their children's school expenses. That's another... 

Megan Ellsworth: Wow! 

Julissa Chavez: Of SRS. 

Megan Ellsworth: That's great. Wow! I love that, especially I've seen that so much in the roofing industry how so many companies and a lot of the foundations primarily have these great scholarships for people wanting to go into the trades. And what's great about this is that any of the kids of your employees could apply and they wouldn't have to be going into the trades. They could be studying whatever they want and have the support from SRS. That's beautiful. 

Julissa Chavez: Absolutely. That is such an important need. I think it's just kind of says who we are, a people company. We're very excited for people to be able to have an opportunity to earn money or have their children have some sort of financial assistance when it comes to collegiate expenditures. 

Megan Ellsworth: Yes. I love it. Well, Julissa, thank you so much. This has been a great topic discussion, and I will chat with you again in May. Any last words? 

Julissa Chavez: No. Just keep doing what you're doing and super excited to be able to be here with you today speaking on such an important topic for all of us. 

Megan Ellsworth: Thank you and I'll see you next month. 

Julissa Chavez: Thank you, Megan. Have a wonderful day. 

Julissa Chavez is the program manager, Latin X Marketing and Sales at SRS DistributionSee her full bio here



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