A Day in the Life of a Benefits Specialist

Kris Rote is searching through an electronic database with a computer mouse in one hand, a phone in her other hand, and her desk is home to paper files, documents and employee benefits brochures. Kris’ job at Grand Casino, Hinckley as a Benefits Specialist is both busy and rewarding. 

Kris has been with the Casino for over seventeen years.  Originally, she started out as a hotel room attendant. She then went on to work as a guest service representative at the hotel, and later as a buffet server. “I also helped out at concerts and events,” Kris recalls. In the HR department Kris has worked in Risk Management, in Recruitment and Staffing, and has also facilitated classes and performed data entry. “The most important thing is liking the people that you work with,” Kris gleaned from her long work history. Because, as she explained, making the work environment comfortable is the most important component in work longevity and satisfaction.

Kris works with the benefits that Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures has to offer to its employees.  “My favorite thing about my job is helping people,” Kris says. “I help them understand how it works and why it’s important.” Kris’ typical day includes meeting individually with associates who have questions, going downstairs to the casino floor to answer any benefits-related questions that associates may have, scheduling appointments, doing conference calls, data entry of medical, dental, 401K, Flexible Spending Accounts, verifying paperwork, reimbursements, purchasing supplies for the free clinic located on the first floor, scheduling vaccinations and shots, working with vendors, processing child support  orders, ordering gift cards for the medical program incentives, processing Family Medical Leave, and helping with programs such as the Wellness Program, My Medica and Optum Employee Assistance. “I forgot, I also sit at the front desk at times,” Kris laughs.

“If you have problems with Medica, I can contact them on your behalf,” Kris says. She talked about the wealth of benefits that are available for associates. Full time employees can sign up for medical plans and dental benefits. The Casino also offers 401(k) with a matching contributions of up to 5%. There is also free life insurance for full time employees. The Wellness Initiative includes weight loss programs, health classes and reimbursements for gym membership. Voluntary benefits include short and long-term disability, critical illness insurance, flexible spending accounts, and vision benefits.

“We also host associate events and parties,” Kris says. These include the Wellness Expo, a Christmas party, a summer party, 5Ks, associate meals in the Associate Dining Room, and a Primetime event which covers various benefits and risks subjects.  

Casino Care Clinics offer convenient options for associates and their family members. The free walk-in clinic inside of the Hinckley Casino is a very popular option, which offers care for minor and acute issues.  First Light offers smoking cessation. An exercise physiologist also comes in and offers services to associates. A diabetic nurse and a dietician are also available. The Clinic also provides continued care onsite for current Gateway patients. In addition to the clinic at the Grand Casino location, there are nine other clinic locations.

Kris encourages current and future associates to contact a benefits representative to find out more about everything that Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures has to offer.

Kris’ advice for new and current employees is to do a Job Share to find a job that you love. “An associate may work in one department, but do a Job Share in another one. And the same with the new on-call You Pick program,” Kris says. “These options are great if you don’t know what you would like to do. If you are asthmatic and are not sure if you’ll be able to lift that much, or if you’re not sure you can walk as much as a certain job requires, or if you’re not sure if you’d like working on the casino floor – a You Pick or a Job Share can allow you to try it out.

“When applying, be honest about your availability, the hours you can work, if you can’t get daycare at midnight don’t say that you can work that shift. And be honest whether you liked your previous job. If you hate working with people, don’t take a customer service type of job. Do something more back of the house. And utilize the programs that are available to help you advance and grow, such as onsite classes offered through Learning and Development at the Casino, training and especially tuition reimbursement.”

In her free time Kris enjoys baking dessert and making candies. “I also have lots of events with family and friends,” she says. “We play board games and cards. I also like going to meat raffles. My husband and I have this rule where we only play $10-worth, and if we lose we don’t play anymore. Oh, and I also love playing candy crush to unwind. “