PDMA Director Sharon Parsons won a Bronze Stevie Award for Women in Business in the Employee of the Year – Business – All Other Industries category. Parsons attended the 2016 Stevie Awards dinner in New York City on Nov. 18 where she accepted the prestigious award. One of six finalists, Parsons is the Integration Product Category Leader for Humana in Louisville, KY.
Humana also won a Bronze Stevie Award for Best New Product or Service of the Year – Business Products and Services for its new Well-Being Benefit program.
We caught up with Parsons to discuss her nomination and to learn more about Humana’s innovative Well-Being Benefit program.
Why did Humana submit its Well-Being Benefit plan for the Stevie Awards?
It’s an international competition recognizing well-known companies. I’m really impressed by the representation from around the world.
I think it’s great for awareness, and to be rewarded for work that is helping people get healthier. For that product to get recognized, it lets people know we’re out there trying to take a different approach.
What was the vetting process like for Humana to submit its application for consideration?
The eligibility period for the 2016 Stevie Awards for Women in Business extended from July 1, 2015 through September 21, 2016. We had to write an essay on why our product should be considered. Entries are sent to judges for review. There were more than 100 judges to vet about 1,500 submissions to select as finalists in more than 90 categories.
Tell us about Humana’s Well-Being Benefit program.
Like many ideas, it started on the back of a paper napkin. I started researching the concept in late 2014. We developed the final product a year later.
Employers have been offering wellness programs to employees for years now, really trying to get employees engaged and proactive, encouraging them to adopt healthy lifestyles to help limit healthcare costs down the road. But companies can’t get all employees to participate and there’s resistance to some types of programs. Employees may say, “I don’t want my employer involved in my health,” or the people that would take advantage of the incentives were already healthy.
Humana wants the communities they serve to be the 20 percent healthier by 2020. So we revamped the program to add new features to plans.
The Well-Being Benefit is a universal wellness benefit on Group Critical Illness, Accident and Hospital Indemnity products. The benefit pays a cash benefit for members with a covered health condition for enrolling in programs focused on living a healthier lifestyle and pays additional cash benefit for completing or sticking with a program. Four areas covered include weight management, smoking cessation, dietitian/nutrition counseling and health coaching.
However, our main goal is to make sure members participate. We’re not concerned with where, members can use a variety of sources, we just want to encourage members to go do it.
The program launched for quoting in May. So far we’ve already sold the program to several large customers. We’ve received extremely positive results in a very short time.
How is Humana influencing product development?
It’s always challenging in the sense that you have federal and state regulations. Product development and launch can be a long process, particularly if it’s new. Humana has done a fantastic job building a culture of innovation. We’re working really hard to make sure people understand their options, have tools and simple resources, and reward them for wanting to make a change.
How did it feel to find out you were a winner of an individual award?
I’ve never been good at receiving compliments, but I’m incredibly proud, honored and humbled to be recognized. I couldn’t have done it if I wasn’t working at Humana with a culture of innovation. They’re not just talking about it; they’re practicing it every day. Humana has allowed me to grow, running several product lines. It’s one of the best places I’ve ever worked.
As for the team, we’re absolutely thrilled to be recognized for our work and a concept that is relatively new. It’s the greatest feeling – better than the individual recognition.
How has PDMA influenced your work?
I’m a big fan of the product development discipline — innovation is a passion of mine. New standards and practices: It’s absolutely fascinating. My involvement keeps me learning, growing and from getting set in my ways.
PDMA has valuable resources, connects me with other members to network and provides a fantastic community. It’s staying on the cutting edge as things change and talks about overlooked areas. I love that PDMA is a mix of academics and practitioners.
Words of advice for other PDMA members or prospects?
Don’t be afraid to pitch any idea when you’re at the beginning; don’t be afraid of being judged for a concept or theory. Foster a comfortable, sharing environment while brainstorming with a group. It takes many people to go from concept to reality. Your concept may be 10 percent idea, 90 percent passion. Advocate for it, believe in it and have data to back it up. Champion your ideas to leadership and stand behind it.
One “no” doesn’t mean it’s the end. Don’t stop. Passion will that make it a reality.
Released: November 30, 2016, 1:09 pm
| Updated: December 1, 2016, 12:12 pm