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Senior Manager, Benefits

Western Governors University

Western Governors University

Accounting & Finance
Posted on Sunday, November 19, 2023

The salary range for this role takes into account the wide range of factors that are considered in making compensation decisions including but not limited to skill sets; experience and training; licensure and certifications; and other business and organizational needs.

At WGU, it is not typical for an individual to be hired at or near the top of the range for their role, and compensation decisions are dependent on the facts and circumstances of each case. A reasonable estimate of the current range is:

Pay Range: $104,800.00 - $188,600.00

If you’re passionate about building a better future for individuals, communities, and our country—and you’re committed to working hard to play your part in building that future—consider WGU as the next step in your career.

Driven by a mission to expand access to higher education through online, competency-based degree programs, WGU is also committed to being a great place to work for a diverse workforce of student-focused professionals. The university has pioneered a new way to learn in the 21st century, one that has received praise from academic, industry, government, and media leaders. Whatever your role, working for WGU gives you a part to play in helping students graduate, creating a better tomorrow for themselves and their families.

***Internal candidates must apply by Weds, Nov. 15th***

The Senior Manager, Benefits applies extensive knowledge and experience in leading and driving WGU's benefits strategy and end-to-end delivery. This position is responsible for strategy, design, operational delivery, and team leadership for all benefits. Programs include health and welfare, wellbeing, retirement, time off, leave-of-absence, ADA accommodations, disability, life and accident insurance, and all other voluntary benefits. This role leads and drives delivery of benefit programs and policies in an operationally effective, financially prudent, legally compliant, competitive, and innovative way. As a vital member of People & Talent (HR), the Senior Manager, Benefits is accountable for delivery of all benefit program components, including vendor management, financial management, compliance and governance, operational delivery, and employee experience. This position reports to the Senior Director, People & Talent within P&T’s Total Rewards function.

Essential Functions and Responsibilities:

  • Partner with other People & Talent and Total Rewards leaders to ensure benefits is part of a cohesive and aligned function across strategy, delivery, and financial management.
  • Evolve and deliver a holistic, multi-year benefits strategy that aligns with overall WGU and P&T objectives. Bring data informed, well thought out recommendations and strategies that incorporate stakeholder input and foster decision alignment.
  • Maintain a dynamic roadmap for benefit programs, within the total rewards context, that strives for market competitive benefits programs that meet the needs of the company and are scalable to growth.
  • Manage, lead, develop and inspire the team responsible for end-to-end delivery of medical, dental, vision, spending accounts, life insurance, disability insurance, time off, FMLA/leaves-of-absence, ADA accommodations, wellbeing, and all ancillary programs. This role will also be responsible for directly managing certain programs.
  • Lead and mentor team of benefits professionals, providing guidance, support and fostering a culture of inclusion and continuous professional growth.
  • Lead and direct external partners and the benefits team through the periodic benchmarking and market research to help ensure benefit offerings are appropriately serve WGU as a competitive advantage vis-à-vis talent markets within our total rewards framework.
  • Continually evaluate external benefits partners to ensure programs are delivered with highest service levels resulting in positive employee experiences.
  • Partner with external consultants and professional industry organizations to understand best practices, compliance, program administration and design options, and program administration resources.
  • Develop and maintain key performance indicators and other vital metrics to measure value and impact of all programs. Regularly prepare and present reports on utilization, costs, and benchmarking to inform decision-making and to surface recommendations to leadership for improvements or modifications.
  • Collaborate and partner with internal P&T People Center Team (HR shared services), Strategic People Services (business partners, employee relations) and Legal on effective management of employee issues and escalation support.
  • Champion regular audits and assessments to ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements and ensure all benefits comply with legislative requirements, such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), HIPAA, ERISA, FMLA, ADA and other applicable regulations. Timely act on any findings that reveal necessary adjustments to benefits programs and policies. Coordinate with internal or external legal counsel as necessary.
  • In concert with Internal Communications other P&T stakeholders and external resources, develop and implement effective multi-channel communication strategies that drive engagement which exposes value and educates employees regarding WGU benefits programs.
  • Manage the preparation and distribution of benefits communications, including plan documents, summary plan, descriptions, open enrollment materials, and total rewards statements.
  • Partner with internal financial, payroll, accounting, and procurement teams on all aspects of benefits expenses, budgeting, contracting, and funding.
  • Lead necessary projects related to benefits operational delivery; foster a mindset of continuous improvement.
  • Participate as the benefits lead within the context of M&A activity or new entity creation.
  • The Senior Manager, Benefits will travel to SLC 4 - 6 times annually, 3-5 days per trip.

Knowledge, Skill, and Abilities:

  • Establishes and/or contributes to development of functional goals, plans and practices.
  • Frequently interacts with team members, executives, and external vendors.
  • Directs and controls the activities of a broad reaching function.
  • Holds direct reports accountable through established performance management processes and actively develops and coaches people and makes hiring and compensation decisions.
  • Has wide latitude to determine objectives for the function. Ensures plans are executed and goals are achieved.
  • Operates in a diverse and complex environment where situations and data require in-depth analysis.
  • Participates in development of methods, techniques and evaluation for projects, programs, and people.
  • Assists Senior Leaders in defining strategic plans.
  • Operates as a leader, is a role model to others, and champions company direction and standards.
  • Is well networked in the organization.
  • Invests in improving the organization.
  • Operates as a people leader, is a role model to others, and works to inspire and develop a team of professionals.


Organizational Impact:

  • Recognizes the benefits function’s impact and the fact that it is an integral part of the company's business strategy.
  • Develops and recommends actions to accomplish job area responsibilities that align with People & Talent initiatives and operating plans.
  • Performance affects department results. Work requires extensive knowledge of the University to recognize the impact of decisions.
  • Responsible for compiling data to produce a budget or a portion of a budget for a department or job area.
  • Outcome orientated and able to act decisively and deliver. Ability to leverage strong judgment to make effective and balanced decisions. Comfortable with analyzing data for the use in decision making and to inform actions. Must be adept at using Excel.




Problem Solving & Decision Making:

  • Responsible for making significant improvements to processes, programs, and systems to enhance the outcomes of the division or job area.
  • May create and direct policy decisions within scope of responsibility. Accountable for coordinating activities and maintaining relationships with external parties as needed.
  • Problems faced are numerous and undefined, and require detailed information gathering, analysis, and prior experience. Solutions to problems typically affect multiple departments.
  • Ability to design and execute change management plans. Knowledgeable as to when and how to introduce change, so it is universally accepted and institutionalized.
  • Comfortable designing for the future, while managing current state operations.
  • Deals effectively with strategic issues, as well as tactical operational details.
  • Quick study, able to handle complex matters, with multiple initiatives going on simultaneously.
  • Effectively pivots and re-prioritizes in a fast paced, rapidly changing, and ambiguous environment.
  • Energetic and resourceful, with a strong service orientation and positive attitude.
  • Never satisfied with status-quo, continually striving for excellence. Enjoys working hands-on.
  • Routinely models an agile and adaptive mindset.

Communication & Influence:

  • Represents the division or job area as the primary internal contact for operations.
  • Influences others to accept the division or job area’s views, practices, concepts, and approaches. Interacts with equivalent level management concerning matters of significance to the University.
  • Conducts briefings with senior leadership to gain approval.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills. Can translate observations into feedback and coaching. Operates and communicates with transparency. Adept at storytelling with data.
  • Demonstrated ability to build executive level relationships by establishing mutual respect, credibility, and trust, while also relating to employees at all organizational levels.
  • Strong influencing skills that apply high-level people practices knowledge and solid organizational understanding. Influences through expertise, data, respect, integrity, and persuasion.

Leadership & Talent Management

  • Manages teams of managers and professionals. Responsible for creating workforce and staffing plans for area. Directly oversees hiring, firing, promotion, performance management, employee training, and other personnel decisions of significance within the division or job area.
  • May spend time completing functional tasks, but primarily achieves goals through leading a team.

Job Qualifications:

Minimum Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree.
  • 10 years specific experience in employee benefits.
  • 5-7 years of experience leading a team.
  • The Senior Manager, Benefits will travel to SLC 4 - 6 times annually, 3-5 days per trip.

  • Expert knowledge in the design and management of all standard benefits programs; maintaining retirement programs; to include project management, enrollment, vendor management, auditing, filings, and training, education, and communication.
  • Demonstrated proficiency with the MS Office Products to include advanced MS Excel skills.
  • Strong HRIS skills.
  • Demonstrated experience in employee leaves and disability accommodations

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Workday HRIS experience
  • Experience leading benefits in an organization of 5,000 or more eligible employees is highly preferred
  • Coordination with or alongside an HR shared services function
  • Administration of non-U.S. benefits, e.g., Mexico or other countries

As an equal opportunity employer, WGU recognizes that our strength lies in our people. We are committed to diversity.