“Given our growing footprint, it no longer makes sense to provide super-local perks and benefits everywhere. It’s just not scalable, and that approach doesn’t work when you’re a global company. We had to revisit what would work best for our diverse teams, and the lifestyle spending account seemed like a unique offering that would allow people some flexibility to choose what matters most to them.” - Kelly Wakefield, Associate Director of Global Benefits
In the over 10 years since its inception, Moderna has transformed from a research-stage company advancing programs in the field of messenger RNA (mRNA) to an enterprise with a diverse clinical portfolio of vaccines and therapeutics across seven modalities, a broad intellectual property portfolio, and integrated manufacturing facilities that allow for rapid clinical and commercial production at scale.
Moderna maintains alliances with a broad range of domestic and overseas government and commercial collaborators, which has allowed for the pursuit of both groundbreaking science and rapid scaling of manufacturing. Most recently, Moderna’s capabilities have come together to allow the authorized use and approval of one of the earliest and most effective vaccines against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moderna’s mRNA platform builds on continuous advances in basic and applied mRNA science, delivery technology and manufacturing, and has allowed the development of therapeutics and vaccines for infectious diseases, immuno-oncology, rare diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and autoimmune diseases. Moderna has been named a top biopharmaceutical employer by Science for the past eight years.
As a large life sciences company with over 4,000 employees across 20 countries, Moderna wanted to provide benefits to its employees that suited their individual needs.
“We really recognize that our population is diverse and global,” said Kathryn Misata, Benefits Manager. “We have people of different abilities and different needs.”
“Moderna recognizes that our employees have unique needs, and what is needed to support well-being can vary widely from employee to employee and even month to month. The benefit provides us with the ability to provide a benefit that is flexible, personal, and relevant.” - Kathryn Misata, Benefits Manager
Like many companies, Moderna wanted to take care of their employees in new ways as the COVID-19 pandemic upended our regular ways of working and living. The company understood the importance of investing in their employees’ personal well-being.
During their research process, it became clear that an LSA program would allow them to offer enhanced flexibility to their diverse team. Lifestyle spending accounts (LSAs) are growing in popularity as HR leaders and People Ops teams realize that employees and candidates are demanding flexible benefits that better align with their values and priorities.
An LSA is a non-salaried allowance that can be used according to an employee’s personal preferences. LSAs are fully funded by the employer and considered taxable income when spent, and employers can outline a detailed set of parameters for their accounts. They can customize how the account is named, what items are eligible for spending, how much employees receive, how often they receive funds, and when funds expire.
Global benefit parity was an important piece of the puzzle for Moderna. The team appreciated the flexibility of a lifestyle spending account and how it would allow every employee to create their own path to well-being, whether that means yoga classes, nutritional supplements, or at-home meal kits.
“Given our growing footprint, it no longer makes sense to provide super-local perks and benefits everywhere,” said Kelly Wakefield, Associate Director of Global Benefits. “It’s just not scalable, and that approach doesn’t work when you’re a global company. We had to revisit what would work best for our diverse teams, and the lifestyle spending account seemed like a unique offering that would allow people some flexibility to choose what matters most to them.”
With Benepass, Moderna updates exchange rates on a quarterly basis to ensure they provide global employees benefits that are comparable to what their U.S. or HQ counterparts are receiving. Employees’ cards automatically convert to new currencies and equalize exchange rates as employees move from one country to another, making it easy to spend anywhere. This also makes it simple for Moderna to scale globally and easily add new countries to their programs as they grow.
“Benepass’s Visa-backed card provides a much more streamlined global experience,” said Kathryn.
Kathryn also noted that Moderna always searches for vendors that can support their belonging, inclusion, and diversity goals. In a diverse workforce, wellness means very different things to different employees. Allowing employees to use funds how they wish makes the benefit more valuable for each employee.
“We can totally customize and build the program as we want and that’s huge,” said Kathyrn. “With Benepass, there aren’t any boundaries or barriers to how we structure the program or what we allow as an eligible expense.”
Today, Moderna offers employees an LSA program with several detailed pillars:
Moderna’s lifestyle spending account benefit has a monthly value of USD $300 or a local purchasing power parity equivalent. The company also launched a commuter benefit that covers public transit, taxis, rideshare services, and parking in Poland and is piloting the benefit in Canada. Atlanta and Poland employees receive a lunch benefit, which is also being piloted in Canada. The program includes ready-to-eat foods in Canada and Poland, along with groceries in Atlanta.
In today’s competitive labor market, the benefits programs have acted as a huge tool for the recruiting team. “We hear from our recruiters that it's a huge selling point,” said Kathryn. “It shows that Moderna’s willing to invest in their employees to keep them healthy in mind and body.”
“When we choose a lot of our well-being partners we ask, are they flexible? Are they going to be innovative? Are they scalable? Are we going to be able to pilot new programs with them?” - Kathryn Misata, Benefits Manager
Benepass’s intuitive platform provided multiple features and capabilities that allowed Moderna to improve the employee experience and offer more robust benefits.
Kathryn and her team have used Benepass’s Admin Dashboard to track overall usage and see spending information by benefit, team, and individual. This data has helped the team understand the impact of new programs and make critical business decisions. For example, Moderna has used spending data to inform on-site programs that may incentivize employees to return to the office.
A seamless integration with Moderna’s Workday HRIS was also crucial to creating an efficient program. Benepass is the only flexible benefits vendor in the market with direct API connections to Workday and Workday Connector, which allows Moderna to automate the enrollment process.
“Accounts are just automatically opened up,” said Kathryn. “Employees get their activation email and they’re psyched and ready to go. It’s all very quick from their date of hire.”
Benepass’s flexibility has allowed the team to consider new programs and modify existing ones. Moving to Benepass for their commuter program has allowed Moderna to consolidate more programs on the Benepass platform and simplify the employee experience. They even recently brought their FSA program under the Benepass hood.
“Employees won’t have to set up multiple accounts and remember logins anymore,” said Kathryn. “That’s going to be a huge enhancement to what they’re currently experiencing. People were psyched about it during all of our open enrollment meetings when we told them that everything was going to be under one card and one app.”
Adding commuting as an LSA perk will also allow employees to change how they commute throughout the month. Most commuter programs require employees to “pick a lane” at the beginning of each month, while Benepass gives employees more flexibility to change their commuting habits as needed.
With Benepass, it’s easy for Moderna to quickly pivot and add new programs or edit them to accommodate employee requests. For example, Moderna added healthy home food delivery as an eligible expense for their LSA program after employees made the request in a recent employee survey.
“We say, ‘add it to Benepass,’ and the Benepass team always figures out a way to do it,” Kathryn said.
While Moderna’s administrative team spends about 10%-15% of their time answering employee questions about their other benefits programs, this burden is reduced for their Benepass programs. The Benepass customer service team responds to employee questions and troubleshoots issues, leaving the Moderna team with more time to spend on other aspects of the employee experience. The team looks forward to spending more time on strategy and less time on administration as a direct result of bringing multiple benefits programs onto one platform.
“The fewer service questions that we have that come through our desk, the more time we will be able to spend on strategy and really making sure that we’re thinking ahead about what our benefits program needs and what we can do to innovate,” said Kathryn.
“Top three things about the product and platform? Oh, simplicity. It’s huge. Flexibility. And I would say just the overall partnership. Benepass is a true partner of ours whenever we’ve come to them.” - Kathryn Misata, Benefits Manager