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Brand changes, benefits trends, and more highlights from SPARK 2022

Posted June 2, 2022

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“The energy has been incredible.” That’s how Robert Deshaies, chief operating officer of Americas at WEX, described WEX SPARK 2022, which returned to an in-person event for the first time in three years. 

Those who attended SPARK from May 16-18, 2022 in Hollywood, Fla., learned valuable insights, shared ideas, and listened to engaging keynote speakers. Here are a few highlights from this year’s event. 

Our new look and what it means to you

Earlier this year, WEX introduced a new logo and refreshed its brand. These visual changes are a reflection of a deeper transformation of connecting our fleet, benefits, corporate payments, and travel lines of businesses in our common mission of simplifying the business of running a business. 

Melissa Smith, chair and CEO of WEX, said at SPARK that these decisions were driven by conversations with our partners, customers, and employees. 

“We consistently heard that friction and complexity make it harder for businesses to achieve their goals,” Smith said. “We feel like we are uniquely positioned to help and can really lean into that central focus to make sure we’re simplifying the business of doing business.”  

Deshaies said we’ve been hearing fleet customers ask how to better retain employees and benefits customers ask how to better manage the movement of money. Our recent changes allow us to better unify the thousands of WEX employees to work with you to develop the best experience through simplifying business. 

“We continue to have strong focus in our lines of business,” Deshaies said. “That’s one thing we want to continue to stress. But what we’ve found is a great way horizontally (across divisions) to get the best of WEX and deliver it to you.”  

SPARK 2022 highlights

Melissa Smith, chair and CEO of WEX, and Robert Deshaies, chief operating officer of Americas at WEX, share their perspective on recent brand changes and what's to come during SPARK 2022.

Benefits trends and investments

The last couple years have called attention to whether Americans have enough saved for retirement, and the importance of striking that balance between health and wealth. Deshaies cited a recent EBRI/Greenwald Research study that revealed that 1 in 3 employees don’t feel they have enough savings to handle an emergency. 

Deshaies shared some of the swift changes and emerging trends we’ve seen in employee benefits in the last year. Two key trends Deshaies shared were: 

  • Steady growth in health savings account (HSA) and high-deductible health plan (HDHP) participation. Devenir’s 2021 year-end HSA report stated that HSA assets had increased 19% year-over-year, while the number of accounts increased 8%. 
  • Data and analytics are playing a key role in helping partners grow their business and employers increase participation. We recently released a pilot campaign called consumer pathways, which provides HSA participants with personalized messaging to help them get more out of their accounts. 

“We want you to feel like … the confidence level is way up here,” Deshaies said. “When we work with WEX, we don’t have to worry. We don’t need a backup, because we know they’re there.”

Ken Schmidt, former director of communications at Harley-Davidson, discusses the value of a tattoo-friendly brand to SPARK 2022 attendees.

The state of employee benefits

The Great Resignation. Employee wellness. Inflation and financial concerns. The benefits space has experienced a swift transformation over the last couple years, which requires a recalibration of what is top of mind for human resources teams and benefits professionals. We assembled a panel of experts to talk through these challenges. The panelists were: 

  • Melanie Tinto, chief human resources officer, WEX
  • Christa Guzzo, vice president, account executive, Aon
  • Jennifer McClure, chief excitement officer, DisruptHR

The value of “choice” in your employee benefits package was one of the underlying themes during our panel. A recent study found that 7 out of 10 employees think it’s their employer’s responsibility to make sure they are financially well, but a benefit that works for one employee might not work for another. 

Some advice our panel shared was: 

  • The value of HSAs, but also the importance of offering flexible spending accounts (FSAs), health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), and more. Not all employees have access to an HSA-qualified health plan. And employees that do might still prefer traditional plans that aren’t HSA-eligible. 
  • Lifestyle spending account (LSA) adoption and participation is booming. And so is interest. We polled our SPARK audience and asked, “What is one benefit or topic you’re interested in seeing more content about?” LSA and wellness were the top two answers. 
  • Paid parental leave and family-planning benefits are also vitally important to employees who are reassessing their priorities during this time. 

We recorded a number of new Benefits Buzz podcast episodes with some really interesting guests. To get those episodes as they come out, subscribe to our Benefits Buzz podcast wherever you listen or watch your favorite podcasts.

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