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How COCC launched a Lifestyle Spending Account program with 5x engagement and 50% utilization

Discover how and why COCC transformed its benefits program by including inclusive, equitable Lifestyle Spending Accounts (LSAs).

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Building inclusive Lifestyle Spending Accounts (LSAs) for COCC’s growing workforce

COCC is a leading technology solution provider for banks and credit unions with a team of 800. Lisa Jacobi, Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer at COCC, is responsible for shaping the company's people strategy and overall workplace experience for employees. Due to rapid growth and emerging workforce needs, the company set out to provide more equitable benefits for employees. We discussed how and why the organization transformed its benefits program by including inclusive Lifestyle Spending Accounts.

Listen to the full discussion on Lifestyle Spending Accounts: What Are They & How Are They Keeping Employees Engaged? featured in “Friends with Employee Benefits”.

Recognizing the need for LSAs

COCC invests deeply in the company’s workforce, focusing on how people come together, engage, and grow their careers. With workforce dynamics changing, the organization began to look more deeply at their benefits strategy. Market pressures from the tight labor market, looming recession, multiple generations with varied needs were factors driving the need for change. 

As the organization matured and experienced rapid growth, it became apparent that the workforce needs had evolved. Jacobi shared the org. experienced a significant dip in workplace benefit scores. And, coming out of the pandemic, people viewed benefits differently.

According to Jacobi, “We did some surveying from a DEIB, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging perspective, where we got a lot of feedback that basically said, I'm not sure the benefits are really meeting my needs. So we really wanted to come into January of '23, kind of blowing the doors off and saying, you know what, we're ready to really invest in something that we want everyone to have an opportunity to utilize.”

Mapping out plans for inclusive LSAs

Recognizing the need for change, COCC embarked on a journey to revamp their benefits strategy, aiming for more flexibility and greater inclusivity. Because LSAs are ultra-customizable and can cover broad needs, the benefit became the ideal solution to address the company’s objective to add more inclusive options for the workforce. After careful consideration, COCC began exploring ways to implement this change.

Jacobi shared, "Going into LSAs wasn't just predicated on who's currently enrolled in our medical plan. It was every employee, no matter how long they've been with us, no matter if they were in our benefits or not. They were going to get to be part of this program."

For over a decade, the company provided a fitness reimbursement of up to $40 for the gym. However, the program had lackluster performance with enrollment and usage hovering between 16 - 20%. The company decided to reallocate the dollars to fund a new LSA program.

“This was kind of the linchpin that got us to use Forma was taking our fitness reimbursement and really kind of opening the floodgates to saying we want to put equity in a benefit that we think is really important to everyone,” said Jacobi.

In addition to funds from the fitness reimbursement, Lisa and her team leveraged dollars from the company’s insurance provider. With a clear ROI behind the technology combined with the reusing fitness stipend and a wellness dollars helped push the initiative forward. What’s more, every employee could take advantage of the LSA program and use funds based on something meaningful to them.

According to Jacobi, "It would have taken us another year or two to budget. One of the reasons we were able to move on this was that we were able to get some wellness dollars to spend every year from our great insurance provider. The administrative costs for us to have a platform like Forma is really being funded by our insurance carrier, which is huge. Let's explain the ROI behind the technology, using those wellness dollars, and then being able to tell our workforce that we're using these wellness dollars so everybody can take advantage of it - that was huge for us."

Introducing COCC’s inclusive LSA program

After years of strategizing, COCC introduced three new Lifestyle Spending Accounts. Each LSA was designed with a specific use case and included a wide range of categories to address the expansive needs of the workforce. 

1. BeWell: $250 annually

Coverage: Fitness & Wellness +  Food & Nutrition 

2. BeYou: $250 annually

Coverage: All-inclusive Lifestyle

3. BeRewarded: Varied amount 

Coverage: Spot bonus used for above categories

“We're really excited about these LSAs. We talk about benefits during the recruiting phase. We explain how we have some special and unique benefits here. Talking about the LSA, it goes a long, long way,” said Jacobi.

The new LSA program checked the boxes for both COCC’s employees and the HR team. It provided more inclusive coverage for the varied needs of the company’s workforce. At the same time, it was a more efficient allocation of capital spend, leveraging existing funds from the previous fitness reimbursement and medical wellness funds. The success has opened the door for exploring additional ways to leverage LSA programs.

"As we strategize and invest more with our benefits, we will be getting more and more creative on how we can continue to use things like Forma for future recognition. So it's a great vehicle that we've started. And just the participation alone is music to my ears, kudos to our People Success team who've been working with Forma. They really have made this happen, and it's been a beautiful transition for us," said Jacobi.

Reaping the rewards of inclusive LSA benefits

A pivotal factor in COCC's successful benefits transformation was the ability to repurpose existing funds. With ample funds, the company could offer a more inclusive and accessible LSA program that appealed to a broader range of employees. The results have been remarkable - with a surge in enrollment, going from 22% to an impressive 92% activating Forma within the first 30-60 days. Over half of the employees actively utilized Forma within the first five months. The success of Forma was evident not only in participation rates but also in the positive feedback received during employee engagement surveys.

Jacobi shared, “I was impressed to see how many of our 1,300 comments referred to Forma and our Lifestyle Spending Account. Even just a year and a half ago, when we put an additional percent into our profit share, it was like crickets in the town hall because it's just, that doesn't matter. It's like, okay, great, you put an extra percent in my 401K, you're not gonna see it for so many years down the road. Seeing this, I can't even. If I was to take 13 years of [engagement survey] data and comments combined, it would probably still be at a fraction of the impact that the LSA has made to our workforce.”

“We went from roughly 16 to 22 percent enrollment to 92 percent of our staff opening up their Forma account in the first 30 to 60 days. We are almost five months into Forma and we have over half of our employees who've spent their money. Just those percentages alone tell you that this benefit is far more inclusive than where we have been.  I definitely see it as the next thing as far as organizations realizing that they need to make sure that they’re giving an inclusive benefit where everybody can kind of engage with it. To see the numbers of what has impacted us, with our ability to stand this up as a new benefit, our People Success team has been just over the moon about how much people have really leaned in and engaged, which is great. It really has been a game changer.”
- Lisa Jacobi, Chief HR Officer at COCC

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