Abarca awarded Best Employers for the third year in a row

Social and economic challenges advance Abarca Health’s strategy for success. As the organization receives the Best Employers award for the third year in a row, it is inspired more than ever to further strengthen its mission of excellence.

Founded in Puerto Rico in 2006, the PBM (pharmacy benefits manager) Abarca Health was recently recognized with the ‘Best Employers’ award for the third year in a row by Kincentric. Abarca’s President & CEO, Jason Borschow, weighs in on what makes this year’s recognition different while reflecting on the historic impact COVID-19 has had globally and the many repercussions to his company.

“So many trying global events have occurred in these past years. Maybe that’s why this year’s nomination feels different,” admitted Borschow. “Most recently, for example, Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Fiona, which caused a lot of PTSD, reopening old scars. For these reasons, we appreciate the positive spirit of our team even more so in the face of so many difficult circumstances, such as the pandemic,” said the executive, noting that “this year’s award is the most significant for us so far.” 

Lessons learned and a refocus

Mercibel González, Senior Vice President of Talent Acquisition and Chief People Officer at Abarca, explains that the company’s executive team faced many challenges after returning to work face-to-face — resulting in several improvements and adjustments to their talent strategy. “We were facing many new situations and social and economic changes… As a result, we had to refocus our strategy on recruiting new employees and retaining the people we already had,” recalled González.

Part of that strategy was strengthening the benefits offered to their employees through the company’s Abarcan Care and Abarcan Growth programs — two essential pillars of their daily operations. The comprehensive programs focus on the well-being and professional growth of Abarcans (Abarca employees), aligned with their culture of excellence and responsibility to the communities they serve. 

“These programs are a clear sign of how we aim to reinforce a sense of belonging within our company culture,” said González. “To remind Abarcans that we are here to support them and provide what is necessary for their overall improvement,” she added. Through the benefits programs, Abarcans receive access to holistic care and mental and financial health resources. The programs also champion good nutrition, physical activity, and emotional relaxation.

Abarca Health Best Employers
Front row left to right: Norma Arroyo, Senior Office Assistant; Mercibel González, SVP & Chief People Officer; Chester Velez, Senior Happiness Specialist; Marilisse Martínez, Director of Talent Relations & Benefits. Second row left to right: Verónica Torres, Talent Relations & Benefits Representative; María Luisa Monserrate, Manager, Employee Experience; Daniela Copete, Talent Relations & Compliance Specialist; Arlene Valcárcel, Manager Talent Payroll & Benefits; Alexandra Cruz, Talent Enablement Representative; Edmarie Vélez, Senior Manager, Office Management; Bryan Munoz, Manager, Talent Enablement; Natalie Oliveras, Lead Talent Acquisition. Last row: Ramón Jiménez, Tech Support Analyst II; Angel Tirado, AVP, Software Engineering; and Giselle Blondet, Business Support Analyst.

Better Benefits

In alignment with Abarca’s purpose to find a better way, the organization also established stipends to support their employees in channeling the anxiety caused by the pandemic. “Many of our employees took art and sewing classes to manage the stress,” said González.

“These efforts and actions to support our employees reflected our values and helped restore a sense of harmony within our organization while facing the reality of the outside world. We wanted to ensure that Abarcans remained focused and successful in their roles, even within the challenging circumstances we’ve been experiencing since 2017,” added González.

“In the end, we created a space for our employees to take care of themselves and their loved ones while also providing them with the necessary tools to maintain their productivity,” she highlighted. 

The value of technology in maintaining services & human connection  

Thanks to a robust technological system, Serge Perras, Abarca’s Chief Information Officer, explained that when faced with the pandemic, the company was able to shift to a remote work environment with ease. “Interestingly, we were already prepared for remote work as connectivity is essential for our operations which run 24/7,” said Perras.

“We love Zoom and Teams, and also use FaceTime to speak with one another – these technologies allow us to stay connected and support each other,” said Perras. “This year, we decided to bring several of our U.S.-based co-workers to Puerto Rico for an in-person gathering. Part of our dedication to our employees is making sure that they feel heard and ensuring that they have the tools needed to fulfill their responsibilities while also enjoying what they do every day,” he added. 

Of Canadian origin, Perras is part of a team of six hundred Abarca employees located between Puerto Rico, the United States, and other nations in Europe and Asia, which adds significant value to the perception of diversity and inclusion within the company. “Our team values attributes like diversity and inclusion greatly,” highlighted Borschow and González.

Though Abarca maintains its home base in Puerto Rico, Perras explains that thanks to the security and speed of its technological systems, the organization is able to keep their people connected, emphasizing the importance of technology as a tool and asset that allows Abarcans to deliver on their commitment to service, even during the most of trying of times. 

Commitment, passion, and purpose

When evaluating their corporate strengths, the three Abarca executives agreed that commitment, passion and purpose are the most representative attributes of their company culture and dedication to their employees and clients. “Our entire company is built on these values: including how we recruit, retain, compensate and motivate our team,” said Borschow, adding that “these merits are what truly makes us unique.”

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*This original article was written by Jorge E. Pérez, published in El Nuevo Dia on October 30, 2022, and translated by an Abarcan. 

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