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The Benefits Chef: The Taste of Change

Think back to the food you grew up with… the warm, comforting meals served on the family dinner table each evening… was there any kale? Avocado? Kimchi? Fish sauce? Was anyone in your family gluten-free or vegan? Certainly the answer for me is a resounding no. I grew up in the 1970s – a time I lovingly refer to as the era when every recipe included a package of orange Jell-O and a can of crushed pineapple. I have some very distinct food memories from my childhood like the first time I ate a taco or my first bagel with cream cheese. To me these foods were new, exotic, delicious. What seems utterly common place now was not back then. Social & economic trends and technology continue to evolve. As we learn more about wellness and nutrition, environmental impact, and the world becomes more connected globally, food changes. Our lives are transformed by new tastes and new experiences. It doesn’t seem hard or scary at all. It seems… natural.

Benefit plans have also transformed over time. Pay direct drug cards, member e-claims, provider direct submission, and health & wellness sites are all examples of change in our industry. Good changes that have fundamentally transformed our business. 20 years ago, a big part of my job at the insurance company I worked for was to help implement pay direct drug cards for new clients – it was a pretty big deal back then. Now a pay direct drug card is a simple expectation.

Over the last couple of years it seems that every organization is undergoing “transformational change” and people are weighted down with the burden of it. Is it transformational change? Or is it really just the natural evolution of continuous improvement because we know more, technology advances, and we are more connected globally. In a competitive world – no person, team, or organization can remain status quo – we must keep improving if we want to keep our customers, our staff, and our reputation. It is a natural and expected part of life.

Change is hard. Change makes us feel uncomfortable. Change is messy in the middle. Last week, a co-worker told me a story that I have thought about obsessively since then because it is so simple and yet so profound. My friend and her husband were on a tropical vacation and they decided to take a catamaran ride on the ocean. During their ride, the water became very choppy and they were bouncing around on the catamaran in the middle of the ocean. My friend’s husband started to get very sea sick. The captain told him “don’t focus on the water, focus on the shore”. As soon as he stopped looking at the choppy water and started focusing on the shore ahead, he stopped feeling sick. Here is why I can’t stop thinking about this story. It is a perfect analogy for change!

Change, be it transformational or not, will never stop. You can’t focus on the messy part like the things you can’t control. Stay focused on the shore, your vision, where you are headed, and you will be just fine. A quote from one of my personal heroes, Barack Obama: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

Wishing you smooth sailing this week, 


Alana Shearer-Kleefeld is Director of Employee Benefits at 3sHealth and Volunteer Content Creator for CPBI Saskatchewan.

CLICK HERE to learn more about CPBI Saskatchewan!

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