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5 Questions with Manessah Myrum, VP of People at Bright Health

How the VP of People at Bright Health re-engineered benefits to align with the company’s mission and her tips for HR leaders.

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Manessah Myrum is no stranger to devising innovative people programs. Building on over 20 years in the HR and People Ops space, she joined Bright Health Group to lead people operations at the height of the pandemic. 

Like many of her peers, she started in a completely remote capacity and quickly realized that Bright Health would need to expand on its benefits offerings to provide employees with the additional personal support they needed during this transformative time. 

Read on to learn how she re-engineered the benefits program to connect to the company’s larger mission and her top tips for other People leaders looking to enhance employee well-being.

1. How has your benefits program changed as a result of the pandemic? 

First and foremost, we found that we needed to offer benefits programs that are flexible to meet the needs of our diverse workforce. The choice to work from home or in the office is now standard practice for many of our employees across the country; however, some positions and teams are still required to be in the office. The pandemic highlighted the fact that our personal and professional lives are intertwined and to support our employees in this new world of work, we have to employ a whole-person model of thinking.  

With employees experiencing unique challenges as a result of the pandemic, such as working from home, moving less, socializing less, needing to care for small children, and struggling to prioritize mental health, especially in the early days, we realized that we need to put well-being front and center in our benefits program. You can't expect your people to do their best work if they can't bring their best selves to work each day.

2. How does your overall benefits program align with your company vision of building healthy, brighter lives for all?

At Bright Health, our mission is to make healthcare right. Together. For too long, U.S. healthcare, primarily designed to cater to employers and large institutions, has failed the consumer through unnecessary complexity, a lack of transparency, and skyrocketing costs. We are making healthcare simple, personal, and affordable so the people we serve can focus on what matters most: living happy and healthy lives. 

It was important for us to have a benefits program that reinforced our mission by providing our employees with offerings that are easy to use and prioritize  health and well-being for them and their families. To do this, we launched BrighterLife, an employee well-being program, which is anchored by the Lifestyle Spending Account (LSA) administered through Benepass. Bright Health contributes $200 every month to each employee's LSA, and they can use this money to support their physical, mental, financial, professional, environmental, and communal well-being. The flexibility of this program empowers Bright Health employees to spend these dollars in ways that matter most to them and their families to support their holistic health. 

3. What are some unique benefits Bright Health offers that are highly valued by your employees?

Because our Lifestyle Spending Account is so flexible, we’ve seen a wide range of how employees choose to spend these company-provided funds to enhance their overall well-being. This includes paying for professional expenses like cell phone or internet reimbursement, personal expenses like childcare, making charitable donations, paying off student loans, healthy meal delivery, and much more. All of these eligible expenses are within the guardrails we set for the LSA, and they can all be purchased through one easy-to-use Benepass account. By streamlining all our spending accounts (HSA, FSA, and LSA) to one vendor, we significantly reduce our administrative time and improve the experience for our employees. 

4. What role do benefits play in recruitment and retention amidst the competitive labor market?

In today’s marketplace, it’s more important than ever to be competitive with your pay and benefits offerings. While a comprehensive total rewards package is important, what can really set you apart is leveraging that investment to reinforce a culture that prioritizes your people. 

Aligning benefits design with your mission is critical when building a culture of meaning, purpose and belonging. People stick around when they feel they are a part of something larger, their contribution matters, and their well-being is cared for. 

5. What is your top tip for other People leaders rethinking their benefits program in light of hybrid and remote work environments?

It's vitally important that you know your people. What do they value most? What are their challenges? Employee feedback is an incredibly important input to the benefits design phase as it’s the only way to ensure you’re developing programs that will be valued and used by your people. 

Establish continuous feedback mechanisms to be sure that you not only know what's important now, but you stay connected as things change, because things are changing really, really fast.

Read the full case study on how Benepass supports Bright Health’s benefits program here.

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