In July 2016, alcohol distribution companies Southern Wine & Spirits (based in Miami) and Glazer’s (based in Dallas) merged to form Southern Glazers Wine and Spirits, LLC (SGWS). Operating in 45 states, Canada and the Caribbean, their vision is to be the world’s preeminent selling, logistics and data insights company for alcoholic beverages. In 2016, the company had sales of $16.5 million and was North America’s largest wine and spirits distribution company.
As the two companies merged, there were challenges to overcome, including harmonization of benefits plans and carriers. Because the harmonization process would be complex, SGWS held separate benefit enrollments for 2017 and combined enrollment for 2018.
The newly formed company’s goal was to provide and maintain competitive benefits for all employees. They hoped to leverage their buying power to harmonize plans and vendors without cutting benefits or causing disruption. They also wanted to reduce complexity and eliminate gaps in coverage.
Beginning in early 2017, SGWS began the search for a partner to help them develop a communication strategy for their benefit program changes. After an extensive selection process, they chose Milliman, who had previously assisted Glazer’s with successful employee engagement campaigns.
As the SGWS and Milliman teams began working together, they considered the current climate at the company, the benefits and the enrollment process. While employees had received a barrage of information about changes due to the merger, nothing had been communicated about benefits. This information gap left people anxious about the coming changes. And in 2018, all employees would experience some form of change, whether it be the enrollment process, the benefit plan or the carrier.
Thus, the communication campaign needed to reassure employees they would retain great benefits, help them understand the new package and ensure they made active, online elections.