Hi, good afternoon everyone.
This is Jenn Plasse-Puzey with the PayFlex team. And you are here listening to how your special interests initiative can boost engagement.
I, Jenn lead the PayFlex strategy and product development group, and I am very proud to serve as an executive sponsor to our veterans special interests. So, I wanna just thank you all for taking the time to come listen today.
And hopefully we'll have some value that we can lend to you in the conversation.
With me, I also have a member of my team, Kim Brown, who we brought in to help us stand up this initiative. So Kim, do you wanna just say hello and maybe give us a brief intro?
Yep, hi, my name is Kim Brown and I aside from my role here at PayFlex, am a caregiver to a wounded warrior.
My husband Chris Brown, he spent nine years active duty serving four deployments total overseas, and he came home with a couple injuries and that experience kind of shaped my desire to support and advocate for individuals like my spouse. And that's kinda what led me to my role here at PayFlex. Back to you Jenn.
Thank you, all right.
We're gonna kick right in. So, we'll start with the agenda as far as what we're planning to cover today. I'll share just a quick highlight on what a special interest is and why it's important. We'll touch on how embracing and supporting a special interest can advance your brand as well as your overall talent pool. And then we'll take you through how PayFlex is embracing and supporting the veteran community as it's special interests. And with this we hope that we'll be able to give you some inspiration that you can take back into your own organization. And then finally we'll show you how our special interests took an interesting turn. It actually took us beyond purpose and community an inspired in actual product development innovation as a proof point. And then finally we'll wrap things up with a little bit of Q&A. If you guys have questions throughout, feel free to submit those.
Alright. So, what is a special interest initiative? And actually, why is it important starting with a focus on a mutual interest or shared characteristic? To me, this is all about finding the heartbeat of your organization. If you think about a special interest, whether it's veterans - could be a minority group, maybe another affiliation, possibly category of philanthropy want to find something that people can relate to in one way or the other whether that’s directly or even indirectly. The same goes for when you see aligning business strategy to philanthropic initiatives, whether your business operates nationally or internationally. The truth is the people who drive your business forward - your employees, they live locally. And so, community mindset is something that really transcends the physical touch of your products and services, Engaging workforce to rally behind the common purpose and support one another.
This is where you're gonna find all those wonderful productivity impacts. The truth is, if you think about it. The amount of time we spend at work is more than we spend anywhere else, which is why it's critically important to find purpose - meaning where you spend most of your day.
So, in addition to your company's mission, having an interest that people can rally behind is really going to increase our inspiration levels.
It's gonna increase job satisfaction and ultimately collaboration. And then finally, just the last point on this page, it gets you out in the public. So perhaps it brings your services deeper relevance, or it serves to raise awareness for that gravitational centers gravitational of your interest group. So, really to me this last point is it's the actual difference you can make in the world. Now for a little bit of fun, we're gonna do a poll.
So hopefully you should see a question on your screen that says, how do you currently connect with our nation's military service veterans? And there are a few choices you could select.
So I'll just give it a second.
All right hopefully you've got your answers locked in. If I were better at singing, I'd do a little jeopardy for you. Alright. Just peeking at the results.
So this was just an experiment that did prove what I was hoping we would see. And this is a little how this went for PayFlex. So as we were first flirting with the idea of a special interest in trying to align around what would that life pumping initiative be, many members of the senior leadership team had a close connection to active duty military or a veteran. The reason I volunteered to be an executive sponsor is actually my own relationship with this group. So I, in military family, my brother who is currently serving our nation as a doctor in the Navy. And you know, my involvement in the initiative with PayFlex is really my way to feel closer to him and support him for the sacrifices I see him make every day.
Our other executive sponsor Paul, sorry, happens to be himself, a veteran. And so he uniquely understands these sacrifices and especially what goes into transition back into civilian life. And there were many others, there were many that if I rambled on would take up a lot of the time today. So we knew if we had more than half of the leadership team with a direct connection that would extrapolate quite well across our colleague employee base. So as you are experimenting with whether it's veterans or another special interest, another way you could do this as opposed to the top-down method we deployed is just what I did with you. Survey your own employees and see what causes matter most to them.
Alright, aligning your special interests to your brand. So a lot of what I just described as to how a special interest can advance your own culture is what you will then find emitting from your brand. There's actually been a lot of research around consumer loyalty to brands that aligned to values. One French company Mintel conduct their research every year around giving Tuesday. And they have found companies charitable giving affects nearly 75 percent of American purchasing decisions and majority of consumers that is not only important to them, but half suggested they would actually switch to a company that supports a cause they believe in. And when you look at the numbers for millennials and gen Z are actually spiked higher. So as you think about yourselves as consumers and the choices that you make, it's not uncommon that you would want to invest your hard earned money in supporting companies three on purchases, that do align with your values. And so you could definitely take the lessons learned from that and extrapolate it to your own businesses. So the root of your cause should also be something that your company purpose can comfortably support.
So, you know, really take stock in your company's vision statement, your mission, you know, what is it that you are trying to accomplish to better the world and how my special interest whether it fuels that or how will your mission fuel the interests. For PayFlex, our vision is to make it simple for people to plan, save, and pay for their personal wellbeing. Would you really give us a good starting point to think about in terms of the difference we're trying to make in the world and this fit really nicely with the unmet needs.
We know the veteran community has in terms of transition and overall vitality. Alright. And so would this with this slide, I would just say a few parting thoughts and you starting with, once you have essential interests in mind you begin to formulate your strategy. So you have your cause you're ready to support it. You have to get a good idea of what you wanna accomplish. So for us, there were three key areas of focus that Kim will elaborate on, but you at the root, nurture the diversity of your existing employee base attract and hire diverse talent. And third, if not least of which being, least of what's important is to support the overall health and vitality of our veteran community. And we do include active duty military in this definition as well. So from there, you have to get to know the population you're planning to serve. In the product world, we call this channeling the voice of the customer, and what are the unique challenges that you have the power to solve. Once you have a plan, you have a bit of a starting budget, you need to do more than just visualize next steps. You have to start to engage the right resources. And so for us, this started with a chance encounter.
So, I'm gonna tell you a little bit of a story about where my journey started in all of this and how Kim and I came to know one another. It was in the waiting room of my daughter's first dance class. I remember the day for what it was and at the time I didn't understand the significance of the moment but bringing my daughter to her first extracurricular activity was a little bit of apprehension for me. So, a lot of unknowns walking into new situation for the first time. And when I first entered the waiting room, my eyes settled on a couple that was trying to wrangle what I can best describe as a Shirley temple looking toddler amidst a group of very well put together moms and something just drew me to them.
It could have been that the man was dressed in his fatigues or could've also just been the visual chaos but they stood out as my tribe. And that woman happened to be Kim. After that first day, I spent my early Friday afternoons in the waiting room, just getting to know her. And she gave me firsthand accounts of her struggles. And I found myself getting an education on the permanent scars, working inflicting an entire family. And even in the darkest parts of 10 stories, she always expressed a desire to create hope. She shared her passion. She shared her desire to help others in similar situations. And she actually, each week came in with a new plan that she had, to whether it was start a support group, market it in a local Starbucks. I mean, these were the things Kim was doing just on her own for the love of making a difference.
And so, I got to hear about a lot of her early fits and starts on this journey to make a difference. I think it was the first support group she had only one person show up. And I remember her saying to me, you know Jen only one person showed up and to which I responded, yes, but one person showed up. Fast forward a year after knowing Kim, she had received national recognition for her efforts. So as you can imagine, she did eventually get scale. She got publicity, she had organizations leaping over one another to help her in her efforts. And she became an Elizabeth fellow. And she'll share all of this with you as well. So when PayFlex decided we would embrace veterans, as our special interest group, I knew exactly who to call to help us bring it to life. And so without further ado, I'm very excited to hand things over to Kim so she can share a little bit more about what she's been up to in the last year to really help offer some inspiration today.
Oh man, what a nice warm welcome, thanks. The last nine years of my life have really taught me a lot about the sacrifices our military makes and not just the men and women serving, but the families. And in my case, when my partner deployed to the Middle East I had really no idea how that was gonna affect me.
I soon realized that I too needed the support. And again, when he returned home injured, I was so focused on what happened to him and the care that he was going to need that I had forgotten that I too may need support. And I think that's one of the biggest strategies I've taken into my role here at PayFlex. My lived experiences allow me to consider a larger picture. The kids, the spouses, parents, that quietly grow through these injuries, these deployments and these transitions with the service member.
How can we make sure those individuals are seen and represented just as much as veterans we wish to serve.
Another key design to consider when we were creating our program was we needed to align with our other organizations already doing great work in the military and veterans space. And we wanted to help leverage our own voice and infrastructure help elevate the message. These organizations were already sharing. Most recently, we've done this by taking our industry skill and offering those tools to organizations, giving out grants to veterans who would not be able to receive health or wellness support for their health concerns.
So having someone who lived, with lived experiences to understand the new unique needs, makes programming like easy to identify and to create. So as Jen mentioned, we have three main areas where we were looking to really target and focus our attention and that was through nurture, attract, and support. And this happens through different hiring initiatives through engaging our local community of veterans. And given our own PayFlex colleagues are separated throughout the United States.
Where do we target and how do we do that?
And how do we support those different communities both internally and externally. And so, again, we're doing this through the diversity of our existing employee base we're hoping to hire more veterans. And we know not only does that hiring and adding to our existing pool, but retaining these individuals and catering to kind of the different disabilities or experience they may have. Being able to look at it from a different perspective rather than trying to find a carbon copy of yourself. And additionally, supporting the health and vitality of our current and former service members. And we've done that through many different programs which you'll hear about just here in a second. Some of the initiatives that we've done throughout the pandemic and from a mostly virtual space, because as soon as we launched this incredible initiative, we went right into working from our homes through a global pandemic.
So we've done this by engaging our current colleagues through R.E.D Fridays which stands for, Remember Everyone Deployed. We come together and share our selfies on our Yammer site and we've even engaged our family members here at home with us.
We also participated in a virtual Connecticut veterans legal center ride. We raised over $1,500 in service hours for homeless and at-risk veterans.
And finally, one of the other initiatives we participated in this year was Connecticut national guard back to school event. The need was greater than ever with more unemployment and families home. So we were able to donate some supplies. So there's definitely a wide array of ways that we're nurturing and supporting our military community both externally and internally. It isn't just about writing a check or donating supplies.
There's thousands of ways that you can think about this. Okay, so I think I skipped it. Alright, so our mission, one of the things that we wanted to focus on doing was increasing our veteran community whether that was through military spouses, caregivers, or veterans, we knew that we needed to have a larger community of military folks. And that means connecting our mission with our organization. And that comes from attracting and retaining veteran talent and educating our hiring managers and recruiters on the specific needs or skill sets that we're looking for within veterans. And some of the reasons why you should hire a military folk is hiring veterans is really a no brainer for PayFlex.
While they may not have the same skills as someone who did not serve, veterans typically are leaders dedicated and focused on completing the mission or task at hand. They are team players and take pride in the work that they do. And I firmly believe that bringing transition military into an organization can vastly change not only the stress that many feel leaving the military but also enrich the organization's community of colleagues. Veterans are fast learners. They are used to adapting to situations and overcoming challenges. Having more veteran colleagues can also help to give them a sense of community that once they leave the military, they typically lose.
As one of my close veteran friends said to me, she went from a “we” mentality to an “I”, and she had to learn to become a person again. Having colleagues to understand the challenges many military and women face post service can make all the difference. So thinking outside the box as you're looking to hire military can really make all the difference. So I'll just pause here.
I'm curious when we started our veterans initiative one of the first things that we did was we looked at who our existing population of military and their family members were. And I'm, so I'm curious to know what percentage of your work force are veterans. And I'll just pause and give you a second to answer.
Okay, hopefully everybody had a couple seconds here to think about it. Pretty, pretty interesting stuff. Everybody seems to have different percentages. We're still identifying our military community every day.
These initiatives that we've put into play have brought more and more colleagues out telling us they have a nephew deployed or a son-in-law or their partner served. So it's really interesting to see as conversations happen where these different folks are within the organization.
And I think the more you have these conversations and invite your population of colleagues to get engaged in these things, you'll identify them too.
These are some awesome stats on the veteran talent pool. And the one that really stood out to me in particular was 43% of individuals in the workforce have a service connected injury and our post-911 veterans.
And I find this very interesting because my own spouse is a 90% disabled veteran. And when I think about his own experience and the struggles that he had transitioning out and reentering the workforce, working a nine to five sitting at a desk, the challenges he felt just trying to acclimate and chat with civilians. I just think that there's a lot of things that we could be doing and that PayFlex is doing to support the transitioning military folks through platforms and different mentoring opportunities. And so, as you guys can imagine while we were developing our veterans initiative about two weeks into it, we went into a pandemic like I mentioned, and things kind of changed for us. We had to think from a virtual space all of the holiday drives or Friday meetings we were gonna have to support our internal team of veterans, that all kind of had to shift. We had to find a new way to support military and their families.
And so, one of the ways that we found we could do this was by looking at our own internal resources and what was already built that we could leverage to support the military community. What did we have that we could just position and give to this community of veterans that they might need.
And as the pandemic went on, we saw the need for emergency grants and funding and support with veterans bills and military families to really increase. And so one of the ways we found we could do that with through a veteran organization health care card. And that was by taking. we're a third party benefits administrator and leveraging some of our own debit cards system to create a way to support military families who need grants. So this will make it a lot easier. Before this, a lot of organizations were offering PayPal or cheque for their military families. So this will expedite the process and hopefully relieve some of the grant stress for military organization.
So thinking outside the box and being able to be creative around the way that you do things, it's possible even in a COVID environment to find ways to support the military family.
And this is how you connect with us. And I guess I'll toss it back over to Jen or Michelle. I'm not sure if Michelle can hear us.
Yeah, this is Janell at the risk of Michelle not being able to get in and I'm happy to happy to take it back. So just to reinforce what we were hoping to convey today, is just to give you a sense for - as you're thinking about the imprints that you wanna make either culturally or for your own employees and, or how you really find ways to connect your brand to the community.
We thought that we would just share our own experiences to help inspire some thinking around, how do you get started in identifying that interests?
And then what are the next steps to really kind of add as a strategy?
And then what does it look like then it starts to come to life?
And to also share for us, as we're thinking about hiring and really increasing diversity would that would the veteran group in particular you also wanna consider that you may need to change the job, right?
So to Kim's point that these are folks that are coming in with very different skillsets, having learned in different ways, you may need to kind of change the support that you give to people learning new jobs and, or just access to different tools.
So that's just something I wanted some color I'd like to add. And we can now go to a couple of questions that have popped in.
One of the first ones and Kim kind of touched on this is how has this all changed since the pandemic?
To Kim's point, we've really had to be a bit more creative in terms of what we could do, how we could do it, right?
So we had, you know, very intentional funding and budget. And as you can all appreciate with shifts in the world, we've had some financial constraints.
And so we've had to be really creative about how we deploy resources and the kind of stepping outside of traditional funding pools and looking at how can we really leverage our manpower to lend support and, or do things like virtual rides and races to earn funds versus just sitting on a pool and then events that we had planned externally that all shifted to.
And so we've been really leveraging virtual platforms to do things differently, including, getting really creative and hosting things like game nights. So, as we looked at how have unmet needs shifted in the wake of COVID, this idea of social isolation, how can we find ways to get ourselves out in the community whether that's bringing people to have a night of fun with us, kinda a virtual game platform, if you will. So these are just some of the things that had the pandemic not happened, we may not have been forced to think differently, certainly we would have had results.
They would have been different, but you know we’re really excited about what the team's been able to pull off even in spite of some of the constrictions we've had. We also have a question about what's different about implementing special interest groups in local government organizations. Are there specific concerns?
I think what I would say broadly about any special interests and we definitely encountered this ourselves with our own is just you wanna be very close with your compliance or your legal resources, anytime you're looking to do anything externally whether it's with a special interests or some type of charitable, philanthropic vibe, you wanna make sure that you have the right vetting of organizations you're gonna align yourself to that the way and means in which you're garnering funds or distributing funds that you have that you're doing that all by the book.
And if you don't have compliance law oversight, what are other ways you can seek that advice whether it's external consult. So that would be my recommendation is just get very close with your compliance partners on any external initiative.
So Kim we actually have another question that, I know we haven't talked about our roadmap today and the things that we're planning for the future, but one of the questions came in around the holiday season.
And so how we're thinking about charity and what are some of the things that we have planned maybe for the next month or two, between the holidays. That's something we could share with the group.
Yeah, one of the biggest hurdles that we had to overcome when thinking around holidays and whether it was a toy drive or a food drive or something of that nature supporting these different charities in the area we had to consider the risk of gathering and getting sick. And so, overcoming that hurdle and figuring out how we could still support in this holiday season, we came up with a virtual food drive where folks will be able to partner with us still to support this organization project new hope. They have a veterans food pantry and baby needs item closet.
And because of the pandemic, it's been pretty run through regularly. So we are gonna be using a virtual platform called “you give goods” and colleagues are invited to support that organization. They can shop online and everything gets sent directly to the organization. Aside from that, it was looking at organizations that we had planned to partner with before the COVID hit and turning that strategy to ventilating it to how can we still support them from a virtual space?
And we've partnered with them. Well, there'll be our organization will be able to adopt families and connect with them one-on-one and get those things mailed out.
But yeah, those are some of the things we have planned. It's really just looking for the opportunities in this pandemic where you can still make a great impact and still get that connection. And I think both of the types of holiday events we have coming up, allow us to both have that emotional connection with these families as well as provide some sort of service or resource to them.
That's great, and actually Kim, this isn't a question that has come up through the chat but it's one that I think I will ask you and I think the group will benefit because as you heard our story and especially, I mean fate kind of intervened a little bit for us here with the chance encounter I had in meeting Kim. But as you think about it, you may not be able to find Kim right away. So how can you really get close to voice of customer on this?
Kim, are there any recommendations you would have to somebody who just wanted to get started in their own community, whether it's following Elizabeth Dole foundation and getting access to resources there or do you have any sort of recommendations you could share with the group in terms of how they might an absence of a Kim find that connection that they might not already have.
Yeah, I think if we're speaking to veterans initiatives in particular the Elizabeth Dole foundation is a great resource. They have two fellows in every single state and they've been hidden heroes. The fellowship program has been running since 2011. So there's over 200 fellows total now out in the area doing the good work. But I think aside from that, if it's a different topic or even veteran's initiative I think starting to have those conversations with your colleagues and getting to know them the more I talk to my own PayFlex colleagues the more I realized there's military spouses in this mix and there's veterans and there's parents of deployed service members and there's these opportunities to connect with them.
It's very different than connecting with a civilian, that we understand things that nobody else can understand unless you've gone through them.
So identifying them and building a support resource there would be really, is really my other suggestion get to know your colleagues. I think for me as a new employee right when the pandemic hit, that has been the most helpful in furthering this initiative, even for myself.
Yeah. I mean, that's incredible. Definitely, one of the things Kim permitted me to do when she first had her established support group. is she actually allowed me to attend and kind of sit in and listen for an hour. And I think in that one hour, I learned more about the unique needs of our active duty military or care givers and veterans. In that one hour it's set off a whole different path of passion and kind of the ideas of what we needed to be thinking about if we were to really kind of support this special interest.
So that is, just take it from us if you're thinking about whether it's veterans or another group and you really wanna maybe sit alongside folks who've walked the walk and to Kim's point, the network effect here is pretty big too.
And you'll have all sorts of diversity sitting around you in any given day. And so really understanding your own people and what they see in the world and the connections they have and being able to leverage those is gonna take you a long way.
So Kim, there is a question about the PayFlex Card, so are not-for-profit card and how that really helps veterans and the difference between that and a traditional FSA, which FSAs - these are your notional accounts held by the employers. So, I think if you wanna really just have a quick compare of the product - what's different is it's the not for profit or the veteran grants organization that is the one owning and controlling the funds. And they are not taxed advantage the same way an FSA is.
But aside from that Kim, do you wanna offer a little bit more color on the product itself?
Yep, so the PayFlex Card, how it specifically connects to veterans and gives them an available resource. So for example, one of our clients that we're working with they typically have been giving through this pandemic funds for caregivers to have some reprieve.
This pandemic has been extremely hard on the caregiver community. Most of the veterans that are being cared for are high risk. And so these folks are stuck in their homes caring for these veterans on minimal supplies pretty much around the clock on limited funding. So being able to supply them with 20 hours-worth of funds for home health so that these caregivers can get a break and refresh and reset has been really crucial. And the way that they have been deploying these funds is through PayPal or sending cheques.
So there's a lack of communication back and forth. And these folks are really inundated with work trying to get these cards and these grants approved.
So being able to provide them with a debit card that they can simply have us mail out to the organizations. And as it gets used, these individuals will get these organizations will get reporting. They will know that the funds are being used.
So I think being able to provide them with this service is not only going to allow more follow through for these veterans, it's going to alleviate a lot of the burden of time and resources that these volunteers, that these organizations are putting in so that they can deploy those same, those same needs and skills to other veterans. I think that we've got something special here, being able to allow these different veteran organization volunteers to deploy these resources faster and with more confidence. I think it's really really, it's a really exciting tool to be able to offer.
Yeah, yeah, I really, really think it's a testament to how we were able to really get inspired by our efforts to move that into product development.
In terms of mobilizing as you're thinking about whether, again, whether it's the veterans initiative or you have another special interest and you're thinking about how you really mobilize that across your group, especially if you're, you have a national footprint maybe you have multiple sites Kim. Can you speak to some of the work we've done to really take your foundation and help scale that for PayFlex? So the linkages to site leaders and the guidance that you provide them. That model.
Yeah. Yeah, I think one of the first things we did after we surveyed our population of colleagues was really engaged with the folks that are already doing some colleague engagement type work at each site, and partnering with them to one, identify what are the organizations or the work streams that they might already be doing that we can encompass into our veterans initiative. One recently that comes to mind, one of our colleagues down at the Hagerstown office - they started a walk for suicide prevention for military and they were looking to raise funds something that wasn't on our initiative but because it was important to them and it aligned with what the greater cause that we’re working on, we helped elevate the message and look for ways to partner and get involved. And additionally, I think when we worked with different sites, one of the big things that we were trying to do was just work with them to help get these, sorry, my daughter, I think one of the things that we really worked to do was bring these different site leaders together that were already out there and have them help us echo the messages that we were trying to deploy. So whether it was getting folks involved in our R.E.D Friday or getting folks to get active and out at the beginning of the pandemic through different virtual rides or the virtual races we did.
So it's just leveraging what the systems and practices we already had in place to further our message and further our goals.
That's perfect, and I've noticed the questions have slowed down for us, from all of you.
So I just wanna at this point take the time to again, thank you for attending today. I hope you were able to get something to take away or take back or at a minimum of feel a little bit inspired. We know that's in short supply these days. And so sincere thanks for your time. I will now hopefully with success, although we'll see, kick it back over to our moderator, Michelle, for some closing logistical remarks. Alright, guys, can you hear me?
Alright, success. We are good here. I do apologize about that in the beginning. I'm sorry for the technical issues on my end. So again, I just wanna repeat what you both are saying. Thank you to everyone who joined us this afternoon. That was some great content that you shared. And I hope everyone in the audience enjoyed that as much as I did. It was great timing too on your part. So, thank you so much. I do wanna thank both of you as well for spending the afternoon with us and a special thanks to PayFlex for making this event possible.
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Alright everyone. One more time thank you all so much for joining us and thank you to PayFlex for making this session possible.
Thanks so much and enjoy the rest of your afternoon.