For employees in information technology and analytics roles at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, building connections to their colleagues and to the company has created a work culture they find meaningful.
That starts with the everyday interactions they have with each other – even as their field has shifted to working remotely for most days of their week.
Take Blue Cross’ Enterprise Information Security department. Since 2014, employees there have been getting a weekly email with the same subject line: “Happy Friday.”
They’ve all been from the same person: Roxanne Wiemer, an IT Security Specialist, who also has the unofficial role of “EIS cheerleader.”
“A good day for me is when I can help others have a good day,” Wiemer said.
Those aren’t the only emails Wiemer sends. She frequently makes time to connect to team members to get to know them better. And, in her official role, she’s a part of the team that helps to train the entire company on cybersecurity – which can sometimes include simulated phishing emails. She’s also a part of the team that hosts a variety of information security and awareness training – and helps to train new leaders, new employees and interns.
“I really enjoy training others and seeing them develop and grow,” Wiemer said. “This role is super busy but also super exciting in seeing the workforce learn about cybersecurity and how to best practice it.”
Wiemer came to the field of IT from a 25-plus year career in the financial industry, a switch she made during a painful time in her life when one of her sons died. She found IT jobs allowed her more flexibility to support her family.
“I really like how the organization provides employees so many benefits, perks, safety, and flexibility to work,” Wiemer said. “It is great to have inclusion, diversity, empowerment, and trust in what we as a team (myself included) can bring to the enhancement and growth of the organization’s success. This in turn affects the lives of our entrusted members and their families.”
Positive support builds company culture
Joshua Frankovich is a systems analyst, supporting the IT Governance Team at Blue Cross. He joined the company in 2020 after an internship in 2019.
To Frankovich, positive support from his leadership team at Blue Cross helps keep him engaged and feel like a part of the team – and helps build a company culture that he loves.
“I feel like I have constantly had a path forward here even when things are moving slowly in my role,” Frankovich said of the positive feedback he’s received from his department director. “Being able to continue remote work has also not only increased my productivity at work, but also made my life at home easier and more digestible. Overall, I think BCBSM does a good job at letting employees know it is listening to us and the desires we have, which I respect a lot.”
In his day-to-day job, he helps many different areas of the business better understand IT processes, assist with information gathering on a case-by-case basis, and help facilitate discussions with leadership on various projects.
“A good day for me work wise is having no bumps in our process. I regularly facilitate several weekly review sessions with architects, leadership, and engineering teams, and if all of those review sessions go off without a hitch, I would call it a good day,” Frankovich said.
Like many of his peers in IT at Blue Cross, Frankovich mainly works remotely. On office days, he makes the most of his time including building connections with team members.
“We have an in-person huddle meeting to see how everyone is doing and check on what cool stuff they’ve been working on,” Frankovich said. “I also regularly have remote 1:1’s with my boss, and some other coworkers when I am involved in projects with them. I prefer to mark meetings on calendars even if just for 10 minutes and a quick question, simply so I can see how the people I work with have been.”
Supporting staff through career growth
Greg Tomezak is the director of Data Science and Strategic Analytics in the Analytics Center of Excellence at Blue Cross. The team he leads supports business units across the enterprise with customized data analysis tools and information.
“BCBSM plays such an important role in the health care ecosystem in Michigan. We develop solutions to extremely difficult business problems that greatly impact our members, customers and providers,” Tomezak said. “In that way, we have a tremendous impact on the health of Michiganders.”
For Tomezak, much of his day-to-day work is spent helping his team define the solutions that are needed for different departments in Blue Cross to start their analytics projects. The everyday breakthroughs that lead to delivering a product make for a good day on the job – but he said his best days are when a team member learns of a well-earned promotion.
“The Analytics Center of Excellence is a special team, and I have greatly enjoyed being a part of it. I take great satisfaction in seeing the development of our staff as they grow in their career,” Tomezak said.“I feel successful when the Data Science or Strategic Analytics teams deliver the product for our stakeholders and the subsequent impact that the solutions or analysis will have. I also feel success when I see a member of the team building a new skill (technical or otherwise) or take on a new responsibility and challenge.”
Connecting to community and colleagues
For Harlan Fisher, three summer internships with the Blue Cross IT department helped him build mentorship relationships and a network of colleagues and friendships that he still has almost 15 years later. Fisher is now the finance lead with the IT Services and End User Experience department, in which he is responsible for preparing financial models, reporting, and analysis that support business decisions on products, initiatives and IT services.
For Fisher, success at work isn’t only about the day-to-day tasks of managing budgets, controlling costs, finding cost savings and streamlining processes. It’s also about strategic alignment: knowing his contributions align with Blue Cross’ organizational strategies and goals.
“I feel successful at work knowing I'm indirectly impacting our members by providing financial oversight and management to keep our products competitive and affordable within the communities we serve,” Fisher said.
Fisher also finds success at work to include growth and development: both in expanding his skillset, as well as helping to mentor others on his team to achieve their career goals, creating a positive work environment.
“What I like most about working for BCBSM and IT is the opportunities leadership provided me to not only learn about the organization, but to also develop as a leader,” Fisher said. “I also like that I can give back to the workforce and community through diversity and inclusion programs and activities. Working here has also allowed me to establish lifelong friendships and professional networks.”