Go beyond your traditional benefits and amplify workplace culture by expanding tired employee reimbursements to inclusive LSAs. With flexible design options, HR now can offer complete transparency with finance teams while having the autonomy to deliver a truly personalized benefit that employees love. Espresa’s mobile- and global-first platform delivers the industry’s first LSA Plus™, including total well-being, recognition, and community built-in.

Here’s what we’ll cover in 30 minutes:


Featured speakers:


Jenna Carter, RVP of Strategic Alliances, Espresa //

Thanks so much Sarah. Really excited to be here with you all today. So I know we have 30 minutes to cover quite a bit, as Sarah had mentioned.

Benefits designed for life with choice and customization

And I think when employees prefer what they want, what they may need obviously is very unique as well. So how do you provide a benefit that’s meaningful and valuable to someone where you may have some folks within the workforce that maybe you’re thinking about or in the process of building a family? And then you also have employees who may be close to retirement and they’re really concerned about having enough savings so they can actually retire when they would like to.

So a lot of different things at play. And so when we’re starting to think about meeting employees expectations, it’s kind of those challenges of making sure you’re recruiting, retaining the top talent, creating a user experience that really resonates across all employees and providing those programs that meet employees really where they are, right? And I think that really starts with understanding the target audience.

As you go through those processes, very quickly you do realize how unique everyone really is and what their needs are. And certainly as diverse as a workforce is, what actually resonates with each employee is just as unique. And so when we’re looking across the spectrum of these variants that exist amongst employers, it’s really, really important. And how we’re realizing it is we need to provide a personalized benefit for everybody. And so this is really why 80% of employers are really looking at providing benefits through that equitable and inclusive lens and certainly realizing how difficult that really is. And so that’s really why we see close to 70% of employers are really considering putting an LSA in place to try to meet that need.

An industry first: Espresa LSA Plus™

And as more employers are looking to implement LSAs as kind of a tool to meet some of those needs and challenges, LSAs really brings some unique things to the table. And I think there’s a few things here at play. So from an inclusivity standpoint, this allows you to really bring a benefit that’s global and really truly meets employees where they are, no matter where they live or work. You have a lot of flexibility in all aspects. What are you making available? How much are you going to fund? What are the different program parameters that you want to put in place? What expenses do you want to allow, right? Of course LSAs we know are very flexible in and of themselves, but really only as flexible as the partner that you choose to administer them, and that’s a really core piece of who we are here at Espresa.

LSAs lend ultimate flexibility. In essence, this becomes not only a really personalized benefit, but a tool to support culture.

From an engagement standpoint, we know that that’s a top three challenge for many, many employers is to really drive employee engagement. And so I don’t think it’s any big surprise that if employees really know how to access a benefit, it’s really easy to use and really brings value to them. For LSAs specifically across our book of business, we’re seeing 80 upwards of 95% participation in some cases.

And it’s a great way to take a bucket of money and be able to drive engagement in a way that really resonates with employees and also obviously with a goal to amplify into other programs as well. And then lastly, adaptability. We’ve had so much happen over the last several years and it’s really changed I think our thinking around strategy, right? As you’re thinking about your longer term three year strategy, what you’re putting in place today may not be where you want to be, may not be where you really need to be in the next few years just based on that shifting dynamics.

Really, LSAs at the core are really easy to expand. You can add different populations, you can add different benefits. It can shift with whatever your priorities or goals, how they’re changing from year to year. So what does this really look like in practice? So this is a example where an employer provides maybe $600 to employees. They have the freedom to then choose whatever benefit they want. So we have different dimensions of well-being here in this particular example. You have your core four, which you’re probably pretty familiar with, financial, physical, social, emotional. A lot of employers are actually thinking about career as well in terms of what they want to add to their incentive structure or their program. As an employee, I can basically pick and choose whatever is valuable to me. So as you have somebody who’s maybe new to the workforce, maybe their concern is I really need to pay off my student loans and use tuition reimbursement, or I really want to take some other education classes that will help me specialize in a career path that I really want to take.

Where you may have somebody else who like me, I’m working remotely, traveling, being able to access virtual fitness classes is really important to me. Finding a babysitter for my young child so that my husband and I can actually go on a date once in a while is also appealing. So a lot of different choice in where you can structure your program. And obviously in terms of funding, you could do it however you want. If you want to allocate it all upfront, you could do monthly, quarterly. There’s a lot of flexibility in how you do it. The other thing too that we hear a lot is around budgeting challenges. So the other choice that you have is to really think about how broad do you want to make this benefit? If you’re just starting off, maybe you just want to concentrate on physical well-being for example.

So doing some gym reimbursements, home gym equipment, virtual classes, and then you kind of expand from there in terms of keeping the budget a little bit lower and then potentially participation because the broader that you make the benefit, the more employees that you’re going to touch. So a lot of flexibility there in terms of how you can set this up.

And I think this is a really good segue to hand it over to Ryan to kind of talk about a little bit how you can think about LSAs in a really innovative way when you’re thinking about incentives or even earned allowance. So Ryan, I’ll let you take it away from here.


This is one of our superpowers. We have the ability to really combine our LSA capabilities alongside our well-being and challenges capabilities and use what we call earned incentive or earned allowance features to allow employers to really start creating challenges that encourage behaviors or activities that really support strategic organizational initiatives or their missions or their values in different ways.

Financial: The great budget shuffle

Ryan Ramsey, Head of Strategic Alliances, Espresa //

So look, on LSAs, there’s two questions in there. Let me start with the first one, which is really what is that funding amount that we’re seeing?

And first of all, I would say we see it vary by organization based on the dynamics that they’ve got, based on the resources they have available. But broadly speaking, between 500 and a thousand dollars is the typical range that we’re seeing this year. The second part of that question was has it changed over the last year? And the resounding answer is absolutely.

Now, as you think about a year ago or a year and a half ago, there were many organizations that were under extreme pressure from a talent perspective and many still are by the way. But in those organizations, they were among the earliest adopters of this kind of new version of an LSA.

And in some cases for those organizations, particularly in the tech environment, pharma industry, maybe professional services, they were offering higher amounts that were often north of a thousand dollars.

But as more and more industries and organizations started to deploy these programs and we started to see the economy and kind of the dynamic around benefit costs shift again, more employers are saying, hey, we want to put these benefits in, but we’re not sure we can do a thousand dollars. And so what can we do? And organizations are starting to take a mindset of, hey, we want to get started and it’s okay to get started smaller because these are really easy programs to grow over time as an opportunity, like budgetary opportunities present themselves.


Sarah Claxton, Sr. Manager Brand + Creative, Espresa //

Okay, there’s another component to that question. So are businesses using LSAs in place of traditional benefits such as FSA or HSA, or are they being used in addition to?


Jenna Carter, RVP of Strategic Alliances, Espresa //

Yeah. I mean, I think what we’ve seen anyway is I think it’s really in addition to. Certainly back to the budget question, in some cases we’ve seen employers kind of reallocate some of their HSA dollars into LSA as a way to be able to compensate for some of that budget.

Remember that HSA, FSA typically used for different reasons. Usually it’s medical benefit or maybe you have dependent care, it’s all pre-tax. Certainly LSAs can be set up in a way that it could be post-tax or pre-tax, but generally I would say it I’d see it as a kind of separate benefit. And Ryan, I don’t know if you have anything else to add to that.

LSAs are a mechanism to offer current benefits in a different way


Ryan Ramsey, Head of Strategic Alliances, Espresa //

No, I think you nailed it. The thing I would add is one of the things that we are saying that’s pretty common is really using LSAs as a mechanism to offer current benefits in a different way. And so what I mean by that is over the last decade we’ve seen employers add all sorts of different point solutions.

Some are very specialized medical solutions or medical condition related solutions, and we don’t see that changing. However, the other thing that we’ve also seen is as an employer, hey, we have a corporate relationship with Sittercity, we offer discounts on Citi Bike, all sorts of different benefits and perks that they’ve started to accrue in their ecosystem.

And so what some employers are absolutely starting to do is saying, hey, look, we’ve gotten to the point where we can’t administer all these things. It’s individual contracts, different things to measure, different things to renew. And so instead they’re saying, hey, as opportunities present themselves, let’s start to sunset our corporate level contracts and start to make these same items available for employees to purchase using LSA dollars if it’s meaningful to them.

And so it’s a great win-win because employees still have access to those things that they care about if they care about them. But from an employer perspective, it’s really an opportunity to start consolidating point solutions in a different way.


Sarah Claxton, Sr. Manager Brand + Creative, Espresa //

The next question, you’ll sense the theme building here. Are there strings attached to LSA dollars? And we can address this as a separate one after, but what happens when an employee leaves a company or do they all receive the same amount globally? Or how are funds dispersed amongst employees?


Jenna Carter, RVP of Strategic Alliances, Espresa //

Yeah. So the strings attached question, it depends on how you’re going to set it up. So Ryan talked a little bit about that earned allowance notion of the incentive piece. So I’d say we see employers focus in on a few different ways. So they could just give you an allocation of money, you use it as you want, and that’s it, right? Maybe the message is we care about you, we want you to have this benefit that’s going to be valuable to you.

And then we may see on the other side of the spectrum that employers are kind of rethinking their wellness program and they’re using LSAs as a way to fit that gap. And they say, you know what? We want you to earn all of these dollars by maybe participating in different activities, whether it be attending an EAP webinar for example, and you can earn additional dollars. And sometimes we see something in the middle where you may get half of the money upfront and then you earn additional dollars.

And I know Ryan had given a great example of challenges as a way to earn extra LSA dollars. So I’d say a combination. It just really honestly comes down to the philosophy of the employer in terms of how that plays out.


Ryan Ramsey, Head of Strategic Alliances, Espresa //

Absolutely. And I predict just for what it’s worth, Jenna, that that middle scenario is going to be the one where the market really starts to orient around and really starts to, as these things take shape over the next 12 to 18 months, we’ll see more activity in that space. And based on the level of interest and conversations we’re having with clients and prospective clients, I see strong indications in the market that that’ll happen.

LSAs create equitable benefits that help support benefit parity issues

Now the other question was in and around funding, particularly for global organizations, and I think this is a really interesting question as well, because when we talk about global LSAs, their prime advantage is really this idea of how do you create equitable benefits that help support benefit parity issues. And so from a funding perspective, it’s a tremendous opportunity to really think about that in a different way. And so some employers will say, hey, if I’m giving a thousand dollars here in the US, I’m just simply going to convert that thousand dollars into a local currency wherever my employees are around the world.

Now if you think about that, that’s a very simple, easy, straightforward way to do it, but it’s not particularly equitable because you’re missing out on differences in purchasing power and also cost of living. And so actually one of the tools that we use with our clients is really what we call Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), which is really an index that allows us to help employers think through what those adjustments might look like.

So a great example might be if we have a thousand dollar benefit here in the US, well, if we were to go to India, cost of living and purchasing power is significantly different. That thousand dollars equivalent might translate into about 300 US dollar equivalent in of course rupees in India.

Now there’s other areas in the world where it’s quite a bit more expensive. So if you think about Switzerland or Tokyo, that thousand dollars isn’t going to go as far in those locations and so you might have to think about giving more. So it really becomes a discussion around what do you have going on in each of your countries? What’s the total rewards picture you’re trying to solve for? We can use purchasing parody as a data point to help make those decisions and refine decisions by region or country.


Sarah Claxton, Sr. Manager Brand + Creative, Espresa //

Thank you. Sorry, I was making sure we hit all the points of that question. The one part that maybe we could add onto that is what happens with unused funds at the end of the benefit year?


Ryan Ramsey, Head of Strategic Alliances, Espresa //

Yeah, Jenna, I can take that one. So the most common approach is employers will often allow employees to roll over funds from say month to month, quarter to quarter, within a plan year. None of our clients actually allow employees to carry it over from one plan year to the next. And a lot of that has to do with deferred compensation rules, accounting and finance teams hate it. It has a lot of complexity. So while we can technically do it, nobody ends up doing it for those reasons.

Now, the other element to that is what happens when an employee leaves? And so typically these are funds that they tend to be notional accounts and employers are reimbursing employees or providing those funds as they’re being used. And so when an employee leaves, if they have an unused balance, they do not get those funds typically at the time of departure. And so any unused funds go back to the company in essence.


Sarah Claxton, Sr. Manager Brand + Creative, Espresa //

All right, so we have two more questions right now. So one of the questions just came into the chat and it’s why not use PTO to fund an LSA?


Ryan Ramsey, Head of Strategic Alliances, Espresa //

So this has actually been an increasingly popular topic. I don’t think we have any clients actually doing this yet today, but I expect between now and the end of the year we’ll see that change. And some organizations, and those of you on the phone may be one of these organizations, have PTO plans that still accrue as a liability on your books. And so there’s always this idea of how do we minimize, reduce, or eliminate this liability that we’ve got on our books. We are starting to see employers saying, hey, is there a PTO exchange type process where an employee could then take their PTO days, turn them in in essence, and ultimately have that convert into LSA dollars?

Again, we just haven’t seen much of it yet, but I suspect as people again kind of evolve and think about how to be creative with these programs, that’s absolutely an element that we’ll start to see come to life over the next 12 to 18 months. I don’t know, Jenna, anything you’re seeing in different conversations?


Jenna Carter, RVP of Strategic Alliances, Espresa //

Yeah, I mean, I think that’s definitely a new concept. I think there’s some interesting ideas I think coming to the table that makes us think and obviously challenges us to think about it a little bit differently. I think that that’s a really good question though.


Ryan Ramsey, Head of Strategic Alliances, Espresa //

Well, and I would say for whoever asked that question, if you are an employer that’s thinking about that or if you’re a consultant that’s working with an employer, we’d welcome the opportunity to have that conversation and really dig in on how you’re thinking about it. I think one of our mantras is really flexibility, as Jenna was talking about. And so if there’s an opportunity to get creative and make an impact on your population, we’d love to have that discussion.


Sarah Claxton, Sr. Manager Brand + Creative, Espresa //

All right. So I said there were two left, but there’s still two left. We just had another. So thank you for hanging in everyone. We’d love to be able to answer your questions live. If we don’t get the chance to answer your question in the chat is the email that will go to Jenna and Ryan. So please feel free to reach out if we did miss it. So we have two questions now left.

What does year two budget look like when you launch off cycle for the first year?


Ryan Ramsey, Head of Strategic Alliances, Espresa //

Okay. So there’s two different ways you can handle this, and I think it really depends on what your objective is. And I actually love both of these for totally different reasons.

Let me start with the example of the financial services company that I shared during the presentation. So they actually intentionally launched in July, and if you recall, one of the things they were really trying to solve for was this positive message, positive impact. They had some other benefit changes that were coming that they really wanted this to stand out as a positive kind of value to employees. And so part of what they did when they launched mid-year is they actually gave the full budget mid-year. So in other words, in their case, I believe it was a thousand dollars, they made that entire thousand dollars eligible. And then as a bonus, they actually said, not only are you getting the thousand dollars, but you can go back all the way to January 1 of last year and claim expenses that you’ve already spent money on so you could actually get money back for things you already spent.

And so in that case, they actually spent essentially a full year’s budget in a condensed amount of time. Now, the other alternative, and I think it’s a great option for employers who have limited first year budgets is you launch off cycle and you get the benefit of really promoting the message of, hey, we have this tremendous benefit that we’re going to launch. We’re launching it mid-year and we’re actually going to do it on a prorated amount. So in that case you might say, hey, it’s a thousand dollars, it starts in July. It’s a thousand dollar benefits this year because we’re kicking it off mid-year and we wanted to get a headstart on it and didn’t want to wait until next year. You get $500 for the remainder of the year, and then when you transition into the next year, we go to the full amount.

But to Jenna’s earlier comment, these benefits are so flexible. The employer has total discretion to adjust and budget year in and year out. Now it’s always a risk if you give a big budget this year and then reduce that in a substantial way next year. So those are all things that you need to be thinking about and what is that experience and kind of objective behind the program. But from a mechanics perspective, you can do it in a lot of different ways.


Sarah Claxton, Sr. Manager Brand + Creative, Espresa //

All right. I know we’re going long, but this is the last question and it perfectly follows what you just said, Ryan. What is the average employer contribution to an LSA program?


Ryan Ramsey, Head of Strategic Alliances, Espresa //

Oh, average. I’m going off memory here, so keep in mind what I said earlier, it’s really that what we’re seeing commonly is that $500 – 1,000. Again, a lot of it, while that’s helpful information from broad context, the thing I would really follow that up by is what is your organizational situation? What are you trying to achieve and what do you have to work with? And I wouldn’t let the amount get in the way.

If your focus is personalization in choice, you can still get a lot of bang for your buck by just making something available and starting small and then growing into it. What I would say within our portfolio, we do have clients that are offering as little as $200 a year. Typically, I would say that 250, 300 is kind of the low end of where we start to see employers get into the mix on these programs.


Sarah Claxton, Sr. Manager Brand + Creative, Espresa //

All right! If you have anything else that you felt you wanted to address, please email consultants@espresa.com. That’s the follow-up email if you wanted to get in touch with Ryan or Jenna or Dan on our team who’s not here today. Thank you, Ryan. Thank you, Jenna. We appreciate you going over and thank you everyone for hanging in and being so engaged in the chat and in the Q+A.

We really appreciate it. We do this for you. Have a great rest of your day, everyone.


Ryan Ramsey, Head of Strategic Alliances, Espresa //

Bye guys. Have a great rest of your day!


Jenna Carter, RVP of Strategic Alliances, Espresa //

Thanks everybody!


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