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Key Takeaways from Weekdays with Bernie 2021

Key Takeaways from Weekdays with Bernie 2021

Each year, HRIS platform and company BerniePortal convenes hundreds of HR industry leaders and innovative thinkers for best-in-class learning opportunities, networking, and strategic solution-oriented sessions—plus the chance to earn CE credits for attending.

This year’s Weekdays with Bernie was BerniePortal’s first hybrid conference, which combined the best elements of our virtual event from last year with all of the in-person benefits from years past. 

Our keynote speakers gave attendees tools on how you can better share your story and how to build an impactful company culture to legal considerations facing teams in the new year, plus plenty more. Read on for a recap on what you missed at Weekdays with Bernie this year!


How to Elevate Your Organization with Takeaways From Weekdays with Bernie

Weekdays with Bernie 2021 proudly featured a keynote presentation from Kindra Hall and general session presentations from Anton Gunn, Dr. Paul Keckley, and BerniePortal’s own Alex Tolbert. Here are the key takeaways from each presentation:


Kindra Hall, Stories That Stick: The Irresistible Power of Strategic Storytelling

Professional storyteller Kindra Hall kicked off Weekdays with Bernie 2021 with actionable insights on the power of strategic storytelling, including why storytelling works so well, what a story is (and is not), and foolproof storytelling strategies to use in order to enhance your organization. 

As Kindra mentioned, storytelling has become a buzzword across all industries, and for good reason—she emphasized that humans are attracted to stories. In her words, “Unless your client is a robot, they like stories.” 

Despite this truth, Kindra said that in the absence of a story, many times humans will naturally default to using logic and information when trying to win over a prospective client or communicate company culture to an employee, which aren’t nearly as powerful as stories. Kindra said in these moments when you sense that gap, shift to thinking about, “What story could I tell here?”


Anton Gunn, The Diversity Advantage: How Understanding Inclusion Can Build Your Company's Culture and Boost Your Bottom Line

As a former senior advisor to President Barack Obama, Anton Gunn recalled the moment when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was announced on April 1, 2014 in the Rose Garden. After the announcement, Gunn was invited to speak to President Obama himself, who thanked Anton personally for his work on the legislation and reiterated that “Every individual matters.”

Anton reinforced this sentiment throughout his keynote presentation, noting that unfairnesses in American workforce—including racial injustice, COVID-19 health disparities, economic opportunity inequality, and racism—need to be addressed. He cited three questions that every individual wants to know, whether it’s your employee, customer, family member, friend:

  1. Do you care about me?
  2. Will you help me?
  3. Can I trust you?

Anton emphasized that organizations should work to show their teams that they care about them, that they’ll help them, and that they can trust them. 

He also talked about the reasons why organizations don’t address diversity and inclusion efforts, such as, organizations don’t know how to address it, they don’t have the tools or resources, leaders don’t have the time, and/or the organization is stuck.


Paul Keckley, Megatrends Impacting the U.S. Healthcare Industry

As the Managing Editor of The Keckley Report, a healthcare policy analyst, and widely known industry expert, Paul Keckley discussed a wide range of topics surrounding what’s next for healthcare after such an unprecedented year.

Paul pulled from his extensive experience to prompt attendees to think about our current healthcare landscapewhile the economy lost jobs during the Great Recession, healthcare job growth saw little to no negative impact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Likewise, Paul said that healthcare created its own economyif you took healthcare and big tech out of the picture, the American economy would likely tank. Meanwhile, Paul pointed out, many Americans live every day with the obvious question, “How do I afford healthcare?”

With this in mind, Paul emphasized that employers and industry leaders need to stay current, adaptable, and open to change. For example, he noted that major shifts in the industry will likely come from outside influences like Amazon Care, not internally. He also noted that employers and brokers need to be willing to build a framework for discussion for customers and clients in order to get them thinking about the future.


Alex Tolbert, COVID-19: How to Decide When to Require Employees to Come Back to Work

In his general session discussion, BerniePortal founder and CEO Alex Tolbert reviewed how he evaluated BerniePortal’s return to the office during the pandemic using the famous Kepner-Tregoe “Decision Analysis” framework. 

The presentation discussed how HR professionals can use this same system for evaluating big decisions both in their organization and their lives. After over a year of operating remotely, thinking about how and when to reopen the office was a massive decision with so many variables. 

Alex talked about using the Kepner-Tregoe “Decision Analysis” approach to eliminate talking endlessly about different alternatives, and how it ultimately made the process more decisive and efficient.


Congrats to Our In-Person Weekdays with Bernie Winners

Congratulations to our Bernie Award winners this year! 

Bernie BFF

This award goes to two winners who were most engaged with BerniePortal in 2020:

  1. Insurance Planning Associates
  2. The Robbi Davis Agency

BerniePortal Boss

This award goes to up to five winners who added the most employees to BerniePortal:

  1. Magis Advisory Group
  2. Ieuter Insurance
  3. Team SJB
  4. Ohio Health Benefits

Weekdays with Bernie MVP

This award goes to the attendee with the most WWB spirit and is chosen at the conference: 

  1. Eric Fredriksen from Fredriksen Health Insurance


What’s New with BerniePortal?

Bernard Health Founder and CEO Alex Tolbert concluded Day 1 of Weekdays with Bernie by showcasing all of the latest updates with all-in-one HRIS platform BerniePortal


The following are notable updates to BerniePortal for employers

  1. Free edition of Applicant Tracking, sign up on our pricing page.
  2. Employee directory
  3. Public organization chart
  4. Easier employee list navigation with new search bar and left/right navigation
  5. New PTO Report
  6. Compliance: Notice archiving, additional tracking
  7. Performance: 360 degree employee surveys
  8. Offboarding checklists
  9. More native COBRA administration capabilities (e.g. ARPA).


The following are notable updates to BerniePortal for brokers

  1. Auto-enrollment (“passive open enrollment”)
  2. BernieForms: Ability to waive upfront, improved auditing capabilities
  3. Medical Bridge based on Health
  4. Eligibility data type available for Broker Custom Reports
  5. Improvements to new employer set-up process
  6. Improvements to pre-loading issue-age life plans
  7. Service model: created a new role as “back up” to the dedicated Advisor Success Team Member role to answer simple questions when your person is not available

For more product release details, check out our product updates page here.


Here’s what users can expect in the next 12 months:

  1. User experience improvements
  2. Dual Year Enrollment
  3. BerniePortal API allowing 360 degree integrations
  4. Assigning time to “Projects”
  5. Self-appraisals, Manager Evaluations
  6. OKRs / Goals
  7. Google integration
  8. Alpine offering BernieBill (starting 8/1/21 effective dates)

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