2021 Broker of the 12 months finalist: Edwige Ligonde

Ed Ligonde’s emphasis, he suggests, is not just on worker advantages but on the advantages of becoming an employee. (Image: Jonah Light)
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The 2021 Broker of the Calendar year will be announced at the BenefitsPRO Broker Expo, August 16-18 in San Diego. The winner will be even more profiled in our September difficulty. 

When 2020’s COVID-19 lockdowns began, Edwige Ligonde’s brokerage was presently working from property.

“We had type of a gown rehearsal for the pandemic simply because we were reworking our place of work and experienced sent all people home,” he suggests. “We considered it was going to be a two-week or a few-7 days point, and then we’d be again to normal. As I uncovered extra about the severity of the scenario, my way of thinking shifted.”

Creating opportunities out of difficulties is a lesson that Ligonde has acquired from earlier experiences. As a youthful male, he suffered a established of anxiety fractures that derailed a promising soccer profession. Despite the fact that he was a rising star at UCLA at the time, Ligonde had to reset his sights on a business enterprise vocation. He rapidly landed a plum internship at Northwestern Mutual inevitably that led to his occupation as a gains advisor.

Relevant: Alternate realities: Brokers’ backup careers

Today, Ligonde is the vice president of personnel added benefits & engineering at Nielsen Advantages Group, primarily based in Westlake Village, California. Ligonde has been a important player at the promptly developing company, bringing in additional than $1 million in revenues in his very first 12 months.

But he nevertheless remembers that shy 20-12 months-aged who abruptly experienced to reinvent himself. “It took a few decades for me to get my ft beneath me,” he suggests. “Eventually, I took a powerful internal look and said, ‘I actually want to stop hoping to be other persons and concentration on marketing and advertising the heck out of what I’m great at.’ Then I commenced to figure it out.”

Ed Ligonde Image by Jonah Light-weight

“I took a robust inside glimpse and claimed, ‘I truly want to prevent hoping to be other individuals and concentrate on internet marketing the heck out of what I’m very good at.’”

The pandemic 12 months introduced issues to all brokerages, but Ligonde immediately started to study how he could assist his consumers in a time of crisis. He discovered that typical e-mails from his employer clientele dropped off sharply.

“They were being targeted on how to assist their personnel do the job from home—they were being trying to determine it out just as we ended up,” he suggests. “I assumed ‘Maybe it is not all about the insurance policy program ideal now possibly we can emphasis on small factors like how FSAs and HSAs could now be utilised for over-the-counter medicines beneath the CARES Act.’ A little something incredibly smaller, but it was completely missed by a lot of businesses.” The organization began an informational drive to access out to customers and assist them handle the troubles they have been facing.

“Everyone handles situations of crisis in another way there are likely to be men and women who watch it as an opportunity, and there are those people who are just heading to hunker down and experience out the storm,” Ligonde says. “What we experimented with to do was be the folks who could adapt to the problem.”

It was a year of improve on numerous ranges, Ligonde provides. “What was crucial to us was to create a protected space to speak. The pandemic brought out extra than just how folks felt about the virus. There have been social justice difficulties, political troubles. We realized a whole lot about every single other, about ourselves, and about our earth. So, I wished to be certain that our team had a protected area to voice their problems and considerations as much as probable.”

The death of George Floyd lifted troubles that Ligonde has been dealing with for his full career. He noted that when he commenced his career, he stopped using his whole very first title, Edwige, and just used “Ed” in business enterprise interactions. “I adjusted my name, and all of the unexpected companies ended up emailing me,” he says. “There are people who have more possibilities just mainly because they have a much more usual-sounding name—and search what I just said: ‘more typical-sounding.’”

These bias is pervasive, Ligonde suggests, but provides that recognizing the problem is not about creating people today experience bad, it’s about recognizing the affect that bias can have. “Bias exists in all of us, but it is one thing that can be labored on,” he states. “But it will take intention.”

Racial justice troubles are a single issue businesses and staff normally talk about right now generational variations are yet another. Ligonde claims that he is like other millennials, in that he was lifted in a electronic globe. “I detest paper,” he suggests. “I’m like that, and I assume other millennials are like that. What I recognize about our era and young generations is that individuals have significantly less and much less tolerance. And that’s not necessarily a undesirable point! For the reason that we’re in this digital age, we’re utilised to accomplishing things far more rapidly.”

Nielsen Advantages has labored with companies to supply rewards details via textual content messaging—not a excellent match for every person, but a single that experienced very clear rewards at a time when so many employees were working remotely. Ligonde claimed a the latest challenge focused on texting personnel allowed businesses to deliver chunk-sized items of gains data to workers. The reward was that it was a good way to communicate with staff members who had been doing the job remotely.

TJ Thinakaran, founder of EZ Texting, is a consumer of Nielsen Advantages who also labored with Ligonde on that texting job. Thinakaran claimed that as an advisor, Ligonde usually arrives up with resourceful remedies for customers. He notes that Ligonde each elevated the advantage offer his corporation was able to provide and saved the organization cash. “He was a excellent negotiator in making absolutely sure we didn’t shell out any far more than we needed to,” he says. “Ed was incredibly effective he was a partner who understood that a major aspect of society is generating people today sense safe and come to feel like the employer has their again.”

Ligonde has a most loved phrase: His emphasis, he states, is not just on employee gains but on the positive aspects of currently being an worker. This tactic is considerably less top-down and much more worker-centered, with an eye toward a holistic method to benefits.

“For a prolonged time I’ve been preaching it’s all about the staff working experience,” he claims. “The pandemic was a kind of catalyst to make clear that staff advantages weren’t just about insurance. Companies now have the chance to make the supreme worker practical experience.”

Element of the adjust going on with workforce, Ligonde suggests, is a re-assessment of no matter whether their position is building them delighted. “That’s a superior point you want folks to see their work as not just a task. But it is likely to come with worries,” he suggests. “A great deal of workforce really do not just want a career they want a location that makes them sense like they are component of a little something even larger than by themselves.”

Rewards advisors have the tools and understanding to enable businesses make such a position, in accordance to Ligonde. “Employers have an remarkable prospect to enrich and increase the lives of their employees,” he says. “Many people shell out most of their waking several hours at perform if we’re anticipating them to give their greatest selves to do the job every working day, then I assume we need to give them with the resources and means so that they can enrich their individual lives as a great deal as attainable. It’s not just about a paycheck.”

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