While not as “exciting” as hearing about any possible end of the year salary increases—likely more important for the staff of NTCA member broadband companies (and our own staff)—are the benefits offered through member-run trusts administered by the association in the healthcare, disability, wellness, defined benefit, and defined contribution plans. What employees seldom realize is that these benefits are extremely valuable and have a higher monetary value at the end of the day than any salary raises could possibly cover for. That is one of the reasons why I treasure the work that our R&S and GHP Trust Committees do voluntarily on behalf of their peers in the rural broadband industry. To be able to offer an array of options in the benefits arena…and have these programs led by peer leadership—those who actually understand the challenges facing this industry—make it that much more attractive!
This time of year, the two trusts meet back to back (in different locations) which allows me to just get in a benefits frame of mind by spending the week absorbing both sets of meetings. Topics on new specs for the plans, reactions to things like our pension soft freeze rolling out early next year, and our new Silver PPO plan are discussed by members sharing their reactions. There is also a great deal of diligence done as we end the year in terms of budgets and audit plans for the year ahead.
As the industry has continued to be under financial pressures at the same time demand for more broadband deployment has increased, these options and flexibility are more valuable than ever. However, it’s also important for folks to understand the personal nature of our programs and the role that our amazing Member Relations Managers play in serving as free consultants to participants on planning, options and cost containment…plus their amazing personal touch!
I never cease to walk out of these meetings impressed with the volunteer leaders we have who are game to plow through hundreds of pages of manual documents on behalf of the industry and who make decisions so key to retaining the needed workforce of the future.