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Cost of Employee Benefits: What Does the Average Employer Spend?

Jeff Griffin

When helping employers cultivate employee benefits packages, we’re often asked to aggregate insights on what their peers are spending on their benefit programs. The answers vary widely based on multiple factors, including geography, industry, size of the workforce, the overall health of the workforce population, and the health of their respective businesses and the economy.

Employee benefits benchmarking is one of the best ways to figure this out and the best way to get at this data is through a combination of public and proprietary information (the latter of which can be costly, but also quite necessary).

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Audits, CFO, employers, CHRO, Voluntary Benefits, Ancillary Benefits, Worksite Benefits

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The History of Medicine and Organized Healthcare in America

Jeff Griffin

The American history of medicine and organized healthcare is quite a bit different than that of most other first world countries.

While the Civil war propelled the progress of American medicine much faster than what would have probably transpired without it, our staunch belief in capitalism has prevented us from developing the kind of national healthcare the United Kingdom, France, and Canada have used for decades.

As a result, we have our own unique system that has evolved drastically over the past century into something that is both loved and hated by its citizens.

Whichever end of the spectrum you lean toward, there’s no doubt about it: the history of medicine and organized healthcare in America is a long and winding road. How we've gotten to where we are today is quite a story, so let’s dive in...

The History of Medicine and Organized Healthcare: From the 1700’s to Now

The 1700’s: Colonial Times

Medicine was fairly rudimentary for the first few generations of colonists who landed in the new world, primarily because very few upper-class physicians emigrated to the colonies. Women played a major role in administering care in these early days, most especially when it came to childbirth.

Mortality in those early days was extremely high, most notably for infants and small children. Malaria was particularly brutal, as was diphtheria and yellow fever. Most of the sick were treated with folk remedies, though smallpox inoculation was introduced earn-on (long before it was embraced in Europe.) In these early days, there was virtually no government regulation or attention paid to public health.

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Topics: Employee Benefits

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Using Behavioral Economics in Employee Benefits and Workplace Wellness

David Rook

So what exactly is behavioral economics and why is it a useful tool for motivating behaviors?

Behavioral economics is the use of psychological, social, cognitive, or emotional factors to influence a person's behavior when it comes to making economical decisions. 

An excellent example of this in workforce wellness is when employers use incentives to encourage or discourage a specific thought or action.

In a blog post earlier this year, Compensation Cafe used smoking as an example of a behavior that many employers may want to discourage, since it's both unhealthy and disruptive. The challenge is doing so in an effective and non-offensive manner.

The following are five different types of behavioral economics to facilitate change, using smoking cessation as an example.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Behavioral Psychology

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Best Practices For Maintaining Legally Compliant Workplace Wellness Programs

Dr. Christine Maxwell

There are several comprehensive federal statutes that impact workplace wellness programs. While employers who invest in wellness initiatives almost always do so with the best of intentions, violations of these regulations can be costly.

Today we'll focus on three key federal laws which employers should keep in mind when building out a wellness plan. They are as follows;

1. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) includes nondiscrimination rules that apply to wellness plans being offered in connection with group health plans. Under HIPAA, workplace wellness programs are divided into two categories: participatory wellness programs and health-contingent wellness programs.  

Here are the main differences between these two types of programs;

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Compliance, wellness, employee wellness, wellness program

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Keeping New Year's Resolutions - Here's How Employers Can Help

Dr. Christine Maxwell

The new year is often a time for people to pause and reflect on the past year and consider things they’d like to change. This leads to new year’s resolutions, which frequently include health-related outcomes. Soon after, however, resolve to keep these resolutions starts to get a bit shaky.

Some of the most common new year’s resolutions including losing weight, eating better, exercising more, and engaging in more self-care. Anyone who belongs to a fitness club knows that January is the busiest month of the year, but the crowds start to thin out around mid-February, if not sooner. By that point, most people have given up on their new year’s resolutions and the steady gym members get their favorite machines back.

The bad news is the failure to implement the healthy lifestyle changes your employees were working on might have adverse effects on their mindsets. By the end of February, if they’ve abandoned their new year’s resolutions, they’re back to their old habits, picking up fast food at lunch, downing cans of soda, and probably feeling bad about themselves.

The good news is that you can help them turn things around. Maybe they need a little extra encouragement and support to follow through with their new year’s resolutions, both of which you can provide to them with a bit of effort.  

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Topics: Employee Benefits, wellness, workplace wellness, cost management, Culture

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Cyber Monday Shopping At Work: 4 Ways To Maintain Productivity

David Rook

Over half of U.S. workers will shop online while on the job this Cyber Monday. That's double the number of "work shoppers" from just a few years ago, according to recent research conducted by Robert Half Technology

Once an activity only those with desk jobs could get away with, experts point to the ease in which retailers have now made shopping from smartphones as one of the primary drivers of this dramatic increase in online shopping while at work. 

And while most workers will browse during their lunch breaks, a surprising number will shop all day long, with 44% admitting that their productivity suffers as they surf for the best deals.

Among 28 U.S. cities in the survey, Phoenix tops the list of cities with employees who admit to this hit in productivity, with San Diego and Austin following close behind.

So what can be done about this workplace productivity killer? In a nutshell, not much. Resistance is futile, as they say. In fact, in a separate survey also conducted by Robert Half, 77% of technology leaders said their firms allow "workshopping", but more than half of these same respondents (52%) indicated a preference for employees to not shop from work. (See infographic.)

So here are four ways that you, as an employer, can embrace Cyber Monday in ways designed to minimize workplace disruption and maintain employee productivity.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Company Culture, Education, Employee Productivity

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Take Back Control of Your Employee Benefits Story on Glassdoor and Indeed

David Rook

Every business owner is concerned about their company’s reputation. It not only affects their ability to attract customers, but also the talent they’re able to recruit. And these days, the internet is providing a much louder voice to a much wider audience, making business reputation management both more difficult and more complicated.

Ideally, you want current and former employees to leave shining endorsements of your company and all it has to offer, but the reality is that not everyone will do so. Whether your role in a company is one of ownership, leadership, marketing, or human resources, part of your job is to engage in business reputation management and luckily, the very same internet making the process more difficult has managed to provide some useful tools to help you out.  

The Role the Internet Plays in Company Reputation

One of the most positive things the internet has bestowed upon us is the ability to be more transparent. We don’t buy anything without researching it and reading every review we can find, so why would job-seeking be any different? People can read the company’s website, but let’s face it: what they really want is the inside scoop. They want the dirt. They want to know why employees leave, what they’re upset about, what they wish they could change, and how good the employee benefits really are.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Culture, Reputation Management, Social Media

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Keeping Your Wellness Program Compliant

Dr. Christine Maxwell

You don’t have to be a health insurance expert to know that healthcare coverage makes up a significant portion of businesses’ operating costs. Looking ahead to next year, Willis Tower Watson predicts the average annual per-employee cost for health insurance will increase 5.3% to $12,850 (up from $12,200 in 2017).

Understandably, employers are always looking for ways to get a firmer handle on rising healthcare costs and often turn to wellness programs as a possible solution.   

Three Important Federal Laws That Affect Wellness Plans

Before you launch a wellness program, it’s important to do your homework. Mistakes can be costly for both your employees and your bottom line. One area you should pay particularly close attention to is the intersection of wellness plans and federal law.

There are several comprehensive federal statutes that impact workplace wellness plans, so before you put your plan in place, make sure you consult with a legal expert who can help you stay on the right side of the law.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Compliance, wellness, employee wellness, wellness program

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The Multi-Generational Definition of Work-Life Balance

David Rook

The term “work-life balance” has gotten quite a bit of buzz in recent years, thanks in part to the new priorities millennials are bringing to the workplace. This idea captures the desire to work and grow in a career, but also the desire to enjoy one’s life outside of work — with the goal of creating a meaningful sense of balance between the two.

However, it’s not just millennials who crave a healthy balance between their working lives and time spent outside the office.

The workforce is currently juggling three different generations (not including the bookend demographic groups of Generation Z and The Silent Generation) who view the working world in different ways. It’s important to define what “work-life balance” truly means to each of them, as it may change how employers can effectively motivate employees.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, millennials, Multi-Generational, Employee Retention, work life balance

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Employee Benefits Broker: The Value for Your Business

David Rook

Like all business owners, you’re trying to navigate the murky waters of health insurance and other employee benefits. It’s time-consuming, frustrating, and ultimately not a subject you're well- versed in.

In an effort to help, someone recently suggested you use an employee benefits broker. You’re not even sure what they do and you don’t want to spend extra money on them. You've also heard of other options, such as PEOs, payroll vendors, HR software platforms and the SHOP exchange. How do you sort through all of these options and confidently make the right decision?

We're admittedly a little bias on the topic, but we highly recommend you start this process by simply talking to a benefits broker. If you don't know any (and even if you do), gather a few recommendations from your peers within other organizations. Just make sure you initiate your consultation with a trusted broker who is well regarded in the industry and your market. A broker with a solid reputation will help you quickly assess all of your options and will, in all likelihood, be completely upfront with you in the event they aren't your best option.


If requesting proposals from employee benefits brokers, it's important to inquire about specific capabilities of prospect organizations, most especially as they relate to your primary needs.  Download our free guide for 100+ sample questions and scoring template.



Once you decide to move forward with an employee benefits broker, they'll guide you through sound analytical and strategic reasoning for the benefit decisions you are making for your workforce.  Employee benefit brokers are far more affordable than you might think and good ones can be invaluable to a business, paying for themselves many times over in the savings they generate for you. Brokers are especially helpful to small businesses with skeleton HR departments but are equally as useful to well-staffed operations. 

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Topics: Employee Benefits, employee benefits broker

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