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Episode details

The ongoing pandemic has left a huge impact on the public sector, from budget cuts to complex operational needs in state, local and municipality governments, public agencies and schools. Employee benefits has become a critical retention strategy, but also an added challenge. We talk to two benefits experts with vast experience in the public sector: Donna Nixon, Vice President of Pierce Group Benefits, and Steven Vermette, Vice President at Colonial Life, about the trends and best practices they’re seeing in public sector employee benefits.  

  • Employee benefits is key to public sector’s competition for talent: Employee benefits are vital to a recruitment and retention strategy, as public sector employers compete against private sector jobs amid a wave of Baby Boomer generation retirements. [03.45]
  • Time to catch up: Public sector employers have been slower to adopt the hardware and software that other industries have utilized – that offered a way to quickly pivot to remote or virtual work. However, public entities are now putting a lot of time and effort to implement and utilize this technology. [05:32]
  • Going digital for virtual enrollment: The pandemic has been a rapid accelerant for the public sector to shift to virtual enrollments of benefits, including moving from paper-based methods to digital methods. [07:08]
  • Importance of benefits education: Now more than ever, employees are paying attention to the benefits coverage they have and the coverage they need. Take the time to allow employees to understand what they’re being offered. This will cause employees to be better protected and more fully appreciate what your organization is doing for them. [09:18]
  • Additional public sector resources: SHRM webinar on Public Sector BenefitsGoverning, International Public Managers Association for Human Resources, Center for State and Local Government Excellence, and Colonial Life’s Public Sector Virtual Enrollment Guide.

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Donna Nixon headshot

Donna Nixon

Pierce Group Benefits, Vice President

Donna Nixon is vice president of Pierce Group Benefits. She has 26 years of experience in public and private insurance, third party administration and benefit consulting. Most of Nixon's work has focused on local governments, providing her with the expertise to provide specialized service to this industry group. The scope of her experience spans virtually all aspects of benefit administration, including marketing, customer relations, claims, market trends and underwriting. Nixon provides strategic analysis to assist clients with design and development of benefit programs, controlling costs, compliance and employee communication solutions. She has organized and led team building and leadership development sessions and has worked with several forms of governing bodies.
Steve Vermette headshot

Steven Vermette

 National Sales Leader, Public Sector, Colonial Life

Steven Vermette is the National Sales Leader, Public Sector at Colonial Life. He has over three decades of experience in the benefits industry and now serves as National Public Sector Sales Leader for Colonial Life. His vision and ability to identify trends has allowed Colonial Life and its clients to adapt to the ever-changing landscape. From technology to enrollment, Vermette has an acute understanding of how voluntary benefits both protect employees and empower employers to thrive.

About the host

Clare Morin headshot

Clare Morin

Unum Content Marketing Manager

Clare Morin is the Content Marketing Manager at Unum and a journalist who’s spent the last 20 years interviewing hundreds of thought leaders on topics ranging from wellness to culture, finance, human resources and technology. Born in the UK, raised in Hong Kong and based in the U.S. since 2009, she brings a global outlook to the HR Trends studio.

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