2019 Optimas Award Winners for Benefits

By Andie Burjek

Oct. 28, 2019

The Benefits award recognizes organizations that designed, developed or implemented innovative benefit programs that achieved organizational goals. Here are the winners for 2019:

Gold: O.C. Tanner

Employers don’t need to choose between strong traditional benefits like health care and more innovative perks.

At O.C. Tanner, the nontraditional perks are just as important as the traditional. Company leadership asks employees directly what they needed to be successful, both at work and at home. The organization’s benefits package reflects this mission to offer more thoughtful benefits offerings that could “genuinely improve employee well-being,” spokesman Kameron Baetge stated in the Optimas Award application.

These offerings include pet insurance, tuition reimbursement and adoption benefits. The company supports health through a variety of means, including hosting onsite dental and mammogram services, sponsoring health fairs and hosting monthly lunch and learns geared toward physical, mental, emotional and financial well-being.

O.C. Tanner has also partnered with organizations like One Refugee and The Refugee Education Initiative to further their decades-long priority of employing refugees and supporting their growth in the workplace.

Further, the organization improved its paid parental leave policy in 2017. While new parents used to get five days of paid time off, now new mothers get six weeks and new fathers get two weeks. This new policy has received positive feedback from both current employees and helped elevate O.C. Tanner’s recruiting efforts, Baetge said.

O.C. Tanner, as an employee recognition company that is headquartered near Utah’s tech hub known as the Silicon Slopes, finds it especially necessary to attract and keep good talent. A competitive benefits package and a culture that supports employee well-being helps.

Many organizations have relied on perks like snacks in the common area and in-office pool tables to stand out, Baetge said, but O.C. Tanner wanted to go a step further with thoughtful nontraditional benefits that genuinely impact employee well-being.

“O.C. Tanner has strived to provide benefits and amenities that help employees focus on work while they’re at work, as well as be able to enjoy their time at home without worrying about or putting off tasks such as routine medical checkups and financially preparing for their future,” Baetge said.

For its ongoing work to work to inspect and improve its employee benefits package, O.C. Tanner is the 2019 Optimas Award Gold winner for Benefits.

Silver: HVFCU

Financial cooperative HVFCU has earned the designation as an “Employer of Choice” in New York’s Hudson Valley, and its wellness initiative has helped to earn that title.

HVFCU, with about 900 employees, is one of the Hudson Valley’s largest employers and part of its strategy to design its wellness program was to get employee feedback on what they wanted to see. The organization sees the program as a key differentiator from other financial institutions and employers.

A committee of employee representatives from all locations administers the wellness program and works on staying on top of industry trends, continually enhancing the program to support employees’ needs and wants.

In 2018, HVFCU paid over $16,000 in gym reimbursements and $1,500 in preventative care incentives. Meanwhile, those who have participated in the Weight Watchers at Work program have lost over 400 pounds.

For a wellness program that stands out, HVFCU is the 2019 Optimas Award Silver winner for Benefits.

Bronze: Cumberland (Wisconsin) School District

For its success in partnering with a new health insurance plan that helped reduce health care costs by $500,000, the Cumberland (Wisconsin) School District is the 2019 Optimas Award Bronze winner for Benefits.

Go here to read about the rest of the Optimas winners for 2019.

Andie Burjek is an associate editor at

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