Nearly wheels up from NTCA’s recent successful HR, Benefits and OSHA conference in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. What a treat it was to spend a few days with the folks who are so key to rural broadband operations when it comes to recruiting, retention, benefit enrollment, safety training and so much more. The sessions were all packed and the attendees were really engaged (who could be more welcoming than a team of HR professionals?). I loved how many folks came up to introduce themselves to me during the conference. There is a lot going on in the benefit arena from NTCA’s perspective – new plans offered by our GHP Trustees, soft freeze implemented by our R&S Trustees, new company and employee portals getting ready to roll out as NTCA continues our march into automation and self-service for our members and of course a few market gyrations to watch as well.
NTCA’s benefits are our very own. Trustee directed and staff implemented and that makes our customer service second to none. We do partner with UHC to access their networks to ensure that our members have access to large network discounts and it was nice to have NTCA member company folks meet some of their key connections from our fabulous Asheville staff – connecting a face with a name always helps the next time a call is needed! UHC also had a nice presence and was able to answer questions on efforts underway to ease some of the preapproval processes – recognizing that rural employees have more challenges when it comes to scheduling some speciality health care needs based on the distance many need to travel to their providers. UHC also had their lead expert on Opioids in the Workplace join us to give a sobering and yet critical discussion on the really disturbing, increasing trends of addiction. Particularly among our young.
But on a happier note, our team, including our Director of HR Kimberly Nunnally shared her thoughts and experience on how a small HR team can still have a huge impact on the operation of an RLEC. Lots of great tips with a sense of humor to boot! I also greatly appreciated Mike Hagg, CEO of HTC and Cheryl Rue, CEO of TCC serving on a panel with me on how the HR team can partner with the CEO on a number of critical fronts.
And last but not least, as part of our ongoing wellness effort (and efforts to keep me in line!) our team had arranged a sunrise session this morning to do yoga on the beach with Shirley. As I clarified many times over the past 48 hours, this event was scheduled because I made the mistake of using my blog to declare my LACK of passion or interest in yoga, despite my husband’s regular practice. Thankfully, we had a real leader for our session – the bendy woman on the right – and had a marvelous time doing down dog poses on the beach at sunrise with amazing NTCA members and some of our staff (yes, Mark Marion, head of our Education unit was the sole brave man to show up beachside!)