For all the HR leaders reading this, we know that 2021 went by in the blink of an eye — a very complicated blink, narrowly avoiding several curveballs zooming past. But coming out the other side in one piece is something to celebrate... and if anybody deserves celebrating right now, it's HR.
We don't want to jinx it, but we're ready to turn the page on a new chapter in 2022 armed with the lessons of the last year. Who better to guide us than our Nava Benefits Advisory Board?
Our team of benefits experts from America's most admired companies shared their reflections, predictions, and plans for the new year. Read on for the most impactful quotes.
What was the biggest lesson you learned this year that you'll be carrying into 2022?
"The pandemic has been a sort of great awakening in the benefits realm. It's no longer acceptable to just provide insurance and expect people to utilize it. The rise of mental health services, fringe benefits, and flexibility has been a silver lining to the past 18 months. The status quo never did work, but now it's super clear: employers have to be very intentional about what they provide and promote." — Lori McAdams, Former Vice President of Human Resources and Administration at Pixar
"You can make your plans, but in today’s world we need to more flexible and plan for more contingencies than ever. This is not a time to sit still and let things just happen, but be proactive and optimize the chances to control your (and you healthcare plan’s) destiny." — Todd Bisping, Global Benefits & Health Manager at Caterpillar Inc.
"In both my personal and professional life, I recognized that grace and kindness go a long way. When you're working on important tasks and need others' support, stepping back when things go awry (as they tend to do, especially during Open Enrollment season and year end), assuming the best of someone and offering kindness makes a huge difference in everyone's ability to be successful." — Ellen Meza, Director of Global Benefits, Well-being, & Mobility at DocuSign
"The biggest lesson I learned is one I’ve known for a while, but I think got massively reinforced this year. If your members/customers aren’t engaging, it isn’t them — it’s you (it’s the system)... The solutions being put forward often aren’t designed around the needs of the consumer and are instead built around the needs of the plans or the providers. If you want people to engage, you cannot just build things and hope they come. If you design solutions based fully around the needs of the consumer, they will engage." — Marcus Osborne, Former Senior Vice President at Walmart Health
When you look forward to next year, how would you describe your outlook on healthcare and employee benefits in one word or phrase?
"I'm hopeful! I think HR professionals have more of an open door now. Between the Great Resignation and the all-too-common burnout, there's more of a willingness to listen to our suggestions for programs to help revitalize and rejuvenate employees, while also attracting new talent." — Lori McAdams
"Hopeful. All of these new solutions in the benefits marketplace are getting me excited about the world to come where bespoke offerings to solve niche problems are actually accessible by companies, large and small." — Ellen Meza
"Rough. I think there are potentially a number of forces coming together that could massively drive up cost in our healthcare system in the next 2-3 years. The worries about inflation in the retail sector may get surpassed by the inflation I think could arise in healthcare." — Marcus Osborne
As HR leaders prepare for 2022, what's your biggest piece of advice?
"Don’t wait too long to begin preparing for 2023, especially if you are planning to try to do innovative things to optimize your healthcare spend and outcomes. The time to act is now." — Todd Bisping
"Depending on your industry, you and your teams may have been through the wringer in 2020 and 2021. You may not have had down time during the pandemic to spend time with your family given all that you had on your plate. Remember this as you make plans and move into 2022. You may be tired and need some room to recharge. Make sure to give yourself and your teams this grace." — Kelley Elliott, Vice President, Total Rewards, Delta Air Lines
"There's a very awkward situation that many Americans are in now, that they might have a concern or a reason about either the [COVID-19] vaccine, or the virus, or the workplace in general... Given how skittish some people are around this issue and how sensitive it is, the more we can listen to people, be polite, be respectful, be courteous, use civility, the better." — Dr. Marty Makary, Johns Hopkins Surgeon & Professor of Public Health, Chief Medical Advisor at Nava
Looking for more guidance heading into 2022, on benefits and beyond? Our team can help.