Through tough times and happy moments, the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) was there for me

Sometimes we all need an outlet, a safe space where we can share our feelings without judgement. Whether we are dealing with situations big or small, having someone to listen and provide tools to guide us through can make all the difference. Lynn Wesley Burton, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Rochester Regional Communications Manager, found her outlet through GuidanceResources®, an employee benefit that provides Excellus BlueCross BlueShield employees and members of their household with a free Employee Assistance Program (EAP) through ComPsych®. The program offers counseling, legal and financial consultation, work-life assistance, and crisis intervention services.

Connecting with a counselor

Lynn’s experience with EAP began when her father passed away in 2007. At the time, she was working at another employer but continued using the service as an Excellus BCBS employee. “When I started working at Excellus BCBS, it was one of the first things I looked at to see if it was offered as part of our benefits package, and it was,” shares Lynn. Getting started with EAP was as easy as a phone call to speak with a GuidanceConsultant℠ – a counselor who collects some general information and talks with you about your needs. “They asked me what I was experiencing, what I was looking for, and what I felt comfortable with,” remembers Lynn. She explained her current situation to the GuidanceConsultant℠ and that she would prefer a female counselor that she could visit in person. By the end of the conversation, she had the name of three potential counselors and an authorization number.

Fortunately for Lynn, she clicked with the first counselor she contacted. “Right off the bat, I knew she was somebody that I wanted to work with and who was good for me,” explains Lynn. Flexibility was also high on the priority list for Lynn, so finding a counselor who could work around her busy work schedule was extremely helpful. She found the experience so valuable that she continues to see her counselor today.

Healing from grief and loss

Throughout the years, Lynn turned to her counselor to help deal with grief and loss, first with the death of her father, and years later her mother and brother. “Many of the benefits for me came from having someone who was neutral, who was not family, and who was not one of my best friends, in order to give me the tools to look at things differently, to look at things objectively,” says Lynn. “If there were times that I just wanted to sit and cry, I did.” Through counseling, she worked on finding her new normal after experiencing loss. She focused on self-care so she could handle her day-to-day activities, her job and be there for her family. “This was the most important thing I could do for myself to maintain my mental and physical wellbeing,” explains Lynn.

Help for the happy times

Lynn on her wedding day.

While we may think of seeking out counseling for traumatic situations like the loss of a loved one, Lynn reminds us that mental health support can be useful in a variety of circumstances. “One important thing that I would share is a lot of people go to counseling for stressful situations or unfortunate incidents that happen in their life, and they need some help. I also needed help with some fantastic things that were happening in my life and being able to manage those.” For Lynn this included starting her new job at Excellus BCBS and getting engaged, all within a two-week period. Coming from a previous role working in television news where she was connected to work continuously, adjusting appropriately to her new job was a priority. “My wellbeing and work-life balance was more important than being connected all the time. It was something I had to learn, and it was something I never really understood was possible until I started at Excellus BCBS,” she explains. With all the excitement of a new job and planning a wedding, her counselor helped to remind Lynn to live in the moment, enjoy the process, and not forget the important things including herself. “No matter what is happening in your life, good or bad, to have someone else sit and listen and support you and help you talk through things is extremely beneficial for your wellbeing.”

Don’t hesitate to make your mental health a priority

Lynn ziplining in the Dominican Republic.

One of the most valuable things Lynn has learned throughout her journey is how to adapt and adjust to situations using the tools around her. This includes writing in a journal, exercising regularly, and focusing on healthy eating habits.  

If you are considering using the EAP or seeking out other mental health support but have been hesitant to take that next step, Lynn offers this advice, “Your mental health and wellbeing are first and foremost, you are important, and you matter. There is nothing selfish about taking advantage of a benefit that could help you in the long run.”

For Lynn, having this benefit available through her employer was vital. It meant that she had the support she needed and didn’t have to look for help on her own. “If this benefit wasn’t available, I don’t know that I would have done it on my own because it is a lot of work. Having the support made all the difference.”

Employee Assistance Program (EAP) benefit for Excellus BCBS employees

The Employee Assistance Program is provided by ComPsych® Corporation and offers free short-term counseling to Excellus BCBS employees and their dependents. Some of the reasons to contact EAP include:

  • Feeling overwhelmed balancing work and family demand
  • Stress, anxiety, or depression
  • Grief and loss
  • Child or elder care concerns
  • Legal or financial questions
  • Substance use concerns for you or a dependent

To learn more about the EAP and other wellness programs offered to Excellus BCBS employees, visit the Excellus BCBS careers site.

Job Opportunities

Are you looking to take the next step in your career and make a difference in others’ lives?

We have the right fit for you. Positions are available in many departments including Customer Care, Operational Excellence, Marketing and Sales, Information Technology, and more. Check us out at Get to know our people and our values, and grow your relationship with us.  For more information, reach out to Director of Talent Acquisition Jason Helsdon at

Finding beauty and compassion volunteering at Francis House

Partnerships with community-based organizations are vital to the mission of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. We have been proud to support the Francis House through event sponsorship and volunteerism since 2017 as they fill a local need for end-of-life care for the Central New York community. Many Excellus BCBS employees have volunteered with Francis House on their own and as an employee team through the Central New York United Way Day of Caring.

Michele Luysterborghs, Compliance Program Administrator, shares her story of volunteering

Michele Luysterborghs, Excellus BCBS compliance program administrator

Francis House is a place that pretty much looks like your typical home on a residential street in Syracuse, New York. But beyond its doors, it is a place that provides anyone who enters the warm comforts of home and family.

The Francis House mission is to “provide a home and extended family to persons with terminal illnesses so they can die with dignity surrounded by the unconditional love of God.” When volunteering there, you help to create an atmosphere where people in need can feel like part of a family. There is “no place like home,” but when that isn’t an option, there is Francis House.

Getting involved

I became involved with Francis House through my cousin, when I shadowed her for a shift in one of its kitchens. I left that four-hour shift with my heart overflowing, knowing I got back much more than I gave.  After that, I was determined to help more. I took the onboarding classes for volunteers and earned my gold pin. I know each and every time that I volunteer, I make a difference in the people whom I am lucky to serve that day. When I returned to volunteer after COVID-19, one of the nurses greeted me with a smile and said, “Welcome home.”

By being a volunteer at Francis House, I am proud knowing I am helping its founder, the late Sister Kathleen Osbelt, to keep her vision from more than 30 years ago alive: to provide a place of unconditional love and acceptance for individuals who may not have another place to go, or do have another place to go but chose Francis House to make it easier on their loved ones.

Helping patients – and their families

As its mission states, Francis House is not only for end-of-life-care patients in need of help, but also for the patients’ families and friends who love and support them. Francis House is an invaluable and caring place for all people because it provides a caring and warm environment for people who are experiencing already difficult situations. Now, after volunteering for several years, I have witnessed Francis House’s beauty firsthand on many occasions.

There is so much unconditional love, support, beauty, compassion, and empathy there. The residents are at their most vulnerable state and yet, during their weakest hours, their true strength shines. Their courage is impressive. The smiles and the stories told within those walls are remarkable. As a volunteer, you do not know a patient’s condition unless they or their loved ones happen to share. You are part of their journey of emotional and physical acceptance of where they are at end of life. When you treat that person with acceptance, they know they matter.

Life stories

I have heard so many beautiful stories; I once made a secret family fudge recipe with a resident and she passed the recipe on to me; I have shared in many holiday traditions; I have put together puzzles and played cards; I have baked my heart out, always receiving comments like, “It smells so good in here, what are you baking?” and served one-too-many ice cream sundaes. I have also shared in the residents’ deepest joys, life adventures, life tips, and triumphs, and have seen a handful of them in their darkest hours.

As a volunteer, you see glimpses of their life stories in their spouses, kids, grandkids, pets or other loved ones who come and visit. The photos on their walls or their favorite treasures from home often provide inspiration to spark a conversation. Being present and compassionate with a resident brings them peace, even if just for a moment. You are brought into their lives in so many ways. You hear their life hopes, dreams and deepest fears.

Giving back

When my father-in-law was at end of life, he entered hospice on a Friday and left us less than two days later. While he was there, I remember the pure grace and compassion the volunteers and staff showed to him and our family. I remember the comfort I felt. It never left me. I am happy to be able to give back to our community in this way. My heart is always so full after I volunteer a shift at this beautiful and amazing place. Francis House has given me some memories and moments of friendship that I will hold in my heart forever.

Excellus BCBS values volunteerism

The value of volunteerism at Excellus BCBS runs deep. It is connected to the organization’s mission, localism and employee values and behaviors. “As an employee, I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to use my volunteer time off serving the people in need at Francis House. I am proud to work for a company that allows us to give back to our communities in this way,” shares Michele.  Every January, each Excellus BCBS employee is provided with eight hours of volunteer time off to use throughout the year to support their communities. 

Job Opportunities

Are you looking to take the next step in your career and make a difference in others’ lives?

We have the right fit for you. Positions are available in many departments including Customer Care, Operational Excellence, Marketing and Sales, Information Technology, and more. Check us out at  Get to know our people and our values, and grow your relationship with us.  For more information, reach out to Director of Talent Acquisition Jason Helsdon at

Stay Interviews Help to Increase Trust and Transparency

“I started doing stay interviews in 2018, so it has been five years! I have probably conducted around 40 or 50 of them myself. The idea was originally shared with my team by our HR Business Partner, and we all loved that it was a simple way to have transparent conversations, increase trust with our employees, and take action that could improve engagement and retention, so we began rolling them out consistently across our teams,” stated Susie Hume, Vice President, HR Strategic Business Partnerships.

You may have noticed that you have been hearing a lot about “stay interviews” lately and how they have become very popular with our leadership for several multi-faceted reasons.

Valuable Feedback

Stay interviews allows our leadership to gather valuable insights and feedback directly from our employees. By conducting these interviews, we can identify any issues or concerns that might be impacting employee satisfaction and engagement. Stay interviews also provide an opportunity for employees to express their thoughts, concerns, and aspirations directly to their managers or directors. This open and honest communication helps build trust and strengthens the employee-manager relationship.

“Sometimes these conversations open the need to have increased development or EDP conversations with employees, other times they have helped us get to the root of a challenge our employees are experiencing and then follow-up with actions to remove them, where possible. In one instance, I had an employee who was becoming increasingly disengaged and through our conversation I realized that the issue was a lack of clarity in roles and responsibilities. We held a facilitated session with another team to resolve this and the level of engagement and productivity increased considerably. These conversations should be happening organically, but sometimes they don’t unless we create the structure and invitation to share this feedback regularly,” Susie added.

Employee Benefit

Stay interviews really offer an avenue for employees to have their voices heard and their needs addressed within our organization. By participating in stay interviews, employees can help shape their work environment to better suit their needs and preferences. When leaders genuinely listen and act upon employee feedback, it goes a long way to create a positive and supportive work environment.

Stay interviews also offer a safe space for employees to address any challenges or concerns they may be facing. Whether it’s related to workload, workplace culture, or personal circumstances, discussing these issues can lead to finding solutions and improving the overall work experience.

Overall, stay interviews empower employees, foster better relationships with their leadership, provide growth opportunities, and contribute to a happier and more engaged workforce.

Leading the way to employee development

“In my experience, when you have a supportive leadership team and you know what you want to do, your leadership makes sure learning and development is a priority,” explains Joyce Williams, Excellus BCBS Lead Operations Coordinator. Joyce has engaged in several learning and development opportunities, including a variety of LinkedIn Learning courses and Dale Carnegie Skills for Success.

What is employee development?

Employee development can be thought of as a partnership between employee and employer that assists the employee in increasing their skills and knowledge.  This partnership is beneficial for everyone. According to an article from Post University, the benefits of investing in employee development include attracting top talent, improving employee performance, increasing engagement, preparing employees for future leadership positions, increasing job satisfaction, and improving the skills and knowledge of the workforce.

Including LinkedIn learning in your development plan

Joyce incorporates learning and development opportunities into her Employee Development Plan.  She’s taken advantage of the LinkedIn Learning courses offered by Excellus BCBS through their employee learning website and has taken several courses focused on increasing her confidence as a leader, as well as emotional intelligence. “I find it beneficial that the organization offers these courses,” explains Joyce. “Employees can go at their own pace and there is material that relates to all work areas.” When deciding which courses to take, Joyce turns to her leader for guidance and uses the recommendations offered by the program, paying close attention to course ratings. “I find that the courses help with my professional growth and development,” she shares. “There’s something for every level both personally and professionally within the courses.”

Diving into Dale Carnegie

Joyce took her development even further by participating in the Dale Carnegie program. The cost of this course is completely covered by the organization so there is no out of pocket expense for Excellus BCBS employees to participate. “Other leaders who completed Dale Carnegie told me how it changed them for the better both personally and professionally,” noted Joyce.

A little history

​​​Inspired by his belief in the power of self-improvement, Dale Carnegie founded the program in 1912. It continues to evolve, helping millions of people around the world create positive change and growth.  Over 340 employees from Excellus BCBS have graduated from Dale Carnegie’s Skills for Success, Presentations and/or Leadership Development courses. These courses support the organization’s values and behaviors and enhance participants’ leadership skills.

Beyond the basics

Most participants walk away with so much more than a new set of skills. “Dale Carnegie taught me to keep pushing forward, be attentive, and be positive,” shares Joyce.  For many, it is also a way to establish deeper connections with colleagues. “It enables you to connect with yourself and others on a deeper level.  There are moments of vulnerability and strong support,” Joyce notes, adding that she would recommend the course to others. “It opened my eyes to different perspectives, ways of connecting to others, and how to build upon my leadership skills.”

Leadership support

For Joyce, the support of her leader played a vital role in her development. “My leader has strongly supported me in pursuing these classes and has also made me aware of courses to take that align with my goals,” she explains.  By prioritizing development, incorporating it into her Employee Development Plan (EDP), and seeking support from leadership, Joyce has been able to acquire new skills and advance in her career.

Our commitment to development

Employee development is an important component of the employee experience at Excellus BCBS. It is supported by our organization’s values and behaviors and embedded into our culture.  For more information about employee development opportunities at Excellus BCBS, visit the careers page.

Job Opportunities

Are you looking to take the next step in your career and make a difference in others’ lives?

We have the right fit for you. Positions are available in many departments including Customer Care, Operational Excellence, Marketing and Sales, Information Technology, and more. Check us out at  Get to know our people and our values, and grow your relationship with us.  For more information, reach out to Director of Talent Acquisition Jason Helsdon at

From Intern To Employee

You may be aware that Excellus BlueCross BlueShield offers a well-designed intern program that provides a structured learning experience for interns. It outlines their goals, objectives, and expectations, ensuring that they receive valuable training and development opportunities. This structure helps interns gain a deeper understanding of their role and responsibilities within our organization.

But did you know that the intern program also serves as a recruitment and retention tool for us?  

A strategic focus area of the human resources department and the health plan is to transition our interns to full-time employees. Here are a few reasons why this focus is so important:

  • Familiarity with the organization: Interns who have been part of our comprehensive intern program have already gained familiarity with our organization’s culture, values, and work environment. This makes the transition from intern to employee smoother and reduces the learning curve associated with starting a new job at a different company. 
  • Reduced recruitment costs: Hiring interns who have successfully completed our intern program helps us reduce recruitment costs, since our interns have already been exposed to the organization’s operations and have proven their capabilities, the recruitment process becomes more streamlined and efficient.
  • Retention of talent: Interns who choose to become employees have already demonstrated their interest and commitment to our organization. They are more likely to be engaged and motivated to contribute to our organization’s success. Retaining talented individuals who have gone through the intern program helps us maintain a skilled and talented workforce.

Below, hear from several talented individuals who went from interns to current employees.

Dominic Gombetto
Rx Innovation Product Analyst
Sarah Dohr (she/her)
Risk Adjustment Analyst
Pictured with her niece and nephew

When did you intern at Excellus BCBS? I interned at Excellus BCBS in the summer of 2022. I reported directly to Melissa Scanlon with a broader role in the Government Programs, Product & Strategy Implementation and Member Retention Departments.

What is your current job at Excellus BCBS?
I am currently working as a Product Analyst on the Pharmacy Innovation Team.

What was your favorite experience when you were an intern?
A couple of my favorite experiences while interning included the intern onsite days and poster walks. The intern onsite days provided me with an opportunity to connect with my fellow interns and create new friendships. I also really enjoyed the poster walks because I was able to show off my hard work from the summer.

Did your internship help prepare you for your current job at Excellus BCBS?
Yes, my experiences while interning at Excellus BCBS made the transition from an intern to a full-time employee much smoother. The internship provided me with a better understanding of the health insurance industry. Also, the leadership panels helped me to understand the dynamics of the company and the direction that we are headed in.

What are some of the perks that you believe are unique to our organization?
The hybrid work environment that the organization offers is unique. I love having the option of working from at home or the office. I also think it is amazing that the organization offers volunteer time, which allowed me to participate in the Day of Caring event this year. 

When did you intern at Excellus BCBS? I became an intern on the Risk Adjustment Controls team in the summer of 2022.

What is your current job at Excellus BCBS?
I am a Risk Adjustment Analyst on the Risk Adjustment Controls team.

What was your favorite experience when you were an intern?
One of my favorite experiences was having the opportunity to meet with full-time employees and ask them about their experiences. I was given great advice on how to navigate getting hired full-time. Another one of my favorite experiences was meeting and making friends with other interns. I made connections and friendships that I maintain to this day!

Did your internship help prepare you for your current job at Excellus BCBS?
The internship program prepared me very well for my current job. The project I worked on during the summer was very similar to the work I do on a day-to-day basis now. The trainings we attended during the internship also prepared me well for my full-time position, as they exposed me to different projects and programming languages that I work on and use today. 

What are some of the perks that you believe are unique to our organization?
The best part about working for this company is our amazing employees. The people who work here genuinely care about each other’s wellbeing, and we encourage and support each other’s growth and development. Culture is often not universally valued in the hybrid-corporate world, so this certainly sets Excellus apart from other organizations.68 people liked this12 Comments1202 ViewsSave for later