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Employee Benefit Implications for An Upcoming Demographic Milestone

Jeff Griffin

We are about to witness an important change in workforce demographics – one that has implications for virtually every company recruiting college-educated adults.

Women, you see, are about to become the majority of the college-educated workforce in this country. Back in 2007, women surpassed men as the majority of college-educated adults in the United States, but it’s taken 12 years for this change to reach the labor force.

Responding to this change, savvy companies are striving to become more attractive to female job candidates. Some of these new practices include the ways in which companies are redrafting job descriptions with more gender-neutral language, as well as changes companies are making to compensation and culture.

Changes to employee benefits programs are even more widespread, and include;

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Topics: Company Culture, Retention, trends, Recruitment, Women

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What is a Limited Purpose FSA? (And Should You Offer One?)

Jeff Griffin

With the rising cost of health insurance, many consumers are opting for high deductible health plans (HDHPs) to keep their medical premiums affordable, especially when they’re relatively young, comparatively healthy, and don't spend much of their budget each year visiting a doctor. However, many people enrolled in qualified HDHPs are disappointed to learn they can no longer, by law, participate in a traditional flexible spending account (FSA). 

The nature of how these plans are designed leaves some wondering how they’ll cover all the expenses incurred prior to reaching their deductible, which has led to the rise of health savings accounts (HSAs) and limited purpose flexible spending accounts (LPFSAs).

Only those enrolled in qualified HDHPs are eligible to open an HSA and reap the tax benefits, but many are unaware that they’re also eligible to open a limited purpose FSA (providing their employer offers one), which frees up the money in their HSA for future use — even retirement. 

What Is a Limited Purpose FSA?

HSAs are usually a major selling point of HDHPs. They allow participants to set aside a portion of their income from each paycheck in order to pay for qualifying healthcare expenses. Limited purpose FSAs are like HSAs in that participants can contribute a specific amount from each paycheck. LPFSAs are like traditional FSAs in that they make funds available immediately, rather than forcing you to wait until enough money has accumulated to access the money you need for necessary vision and dental care (whereas HSAs require funds to be in the account before reimbursement can occur).  

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Topics: HSAs, Consumer Driven Healthcare, High Deductible Health Plans, Savings Plans

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Top CEOs Tell Companies To Invest In Their Employees

Jeff Griffin

Employees, customers, suppliers, and even community neighbors all moved in front of shareholders yesterday as the primary audiences publicly held companies should utmost serve in the future.

That’s according to a statement released by the Business Roundtable, a group of CEOs representing 200 corporations around the country. This new vision recasts the prime directive of corporations from first and foremost serving shareholders (e.g. maximizing profits) to serving these new audiences.

The new mission suggests that corporations should; invest in employees, deliver value to customers, deal ethically with suppliers, and support outside communities. “Shareholders ride the caboose in this new code of corporate purpose,” said a dissenting opinion piece in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal.

Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase and chairman of Business Roundtable, said yesterday, “Major employers are investing in their workers and communities because they know it is the only way to be successful over the long term. These modernized principles reflect the business community’s unwavering commitment to continue to push for an economy that serves all Americans.”

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Topics: Company Culture, CEO

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The Upside of Auto-Enrolling Your Workforce in Disability Insurance

Jeff Griffin

New this year, per the U.S. Department of Labor, is the ability for employers nationwide to auto-enroll employees in disability insurance coverages for ERISA-covered plans.

The implications of this decision are far reaching and merit serious consideration by employers offering disability benefits, which are designed to prevent income disruption in the event of a qualifying disability. (As with other auto-enrollment options such as 401(k) contributions, employees retain the opportunity to opt-out if they choose not to take the coverage.)

For those employers who don’t yet offer disability coverage, we strongly encourage you to read our blog post from earlier this year on why disability insurance is one of the most valuable benefits you can offer.

The Gap Between Interest and Action

At present, one in four 20-year-olds in the workforce can expect to be out of work for at least a year before they reach retirement, due to a disabling condition - that’s according to probability tables developed by the Social Security Administration.

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Topics: Enrollment, Behavioral Psychology, Long-Term Disability, Short-Term Disability

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Preventive Care Coverage Improves For High Deductible Health Plans

Jeff Griffin

The IRS has added care for a range of chronic conditions to the list of preventive care benefits that can be provided by a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) without a deductible.

This expansion of preventive care services is in response to an executive order signed on June 27 by President Trump. The order, designed to improve price and quality transparency in health care, directed the Treasury Department and IRS to improve the attractability of HSA-compatible HDHPs which cover low-cost preventive care, before the deductible.

The IRS issued Notice 2019-45 in response to this executive order. With this order now in place, it now classifies certain medical care services and items, including prescription drugs for chronic conditions, as preventive care for individuals with certain chronic conditions. 

Employers with HDHPs should review their plan documents and consult with their benefits broker, carriers and benefit administrators to determine how their plans might cover these new preventive care benefits on a go-forward basis. 

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Topics: Cost Containment, Education, HSAs, High Deductible Health Plans

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Common Pitfalls To Avoid With Your High Deductible Health Plan

Jeff Griffin

Employers looking to decrease their healthcare costs often rely on workforce adoption of High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs), which offer both employers and employees lower premiums. Unfortunately, this strategy doesn’t always work out if enrollment in HDHPs (assuming employees are given a choice) fall short of forecasts.

Rightly or wrongly, HDHPs have been saddled with some baggage. Many people have difficulty making the cognitive leap from traditional healthcare plans to HDHPs for a variety of reasons; in part because change is generally difficult for people, but sometimes, it’s simply a fear of the unknown and a matter of not understanding how they work.

While we certainly aren’t advocating that HDHPs are suitable for everyone, they’re a great fit for some — especially those who are otherwise overpaying for health insurance, meaning that they’re paying high premiums, but rarely using their plans.

Here are some common pitfalls to avoid when designing and marketing a high deductible health plan and suggestions on how to avoid them.

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Topics: Cost Containment, Education, HSAs, High Deductible Health Plans

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How You Can Help Your Employees Make The Most Of The July 4th Holiday

David Rook

Many employees feel like they have to check-in with work even when they’re supposed to be enjoying paid time off. More often than not, this is a cultural issue within a company.

Supervisors might be checking-in and sending emails in the evening or on weekends. This leads their direct reports to believe they need to respond immediately, and they may even start adopting these behaviors themselves. 

Yet, research has shown time and time again that workers need frequent breaks and unfortunately, Americans leave a lot of that paid time off on the table every year. It might seem like workers would be more productive if they aren’t using all their vacation time, but in reality, skipping our vacations actually makes us less productive. To keep employees operating in top shape, we need to encourage them to enjoy their downtime — and perhaps it’s fitting to begin with the July 4th holiday. Here are 5 ways to encourage employees to enjoy their independence...and their paid time off this weekend.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Company Culture, Paid Time Off (PTO), Employee Retention

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Employee Benefits Built With Employee Retention In Mind

Jeff Griffin

Maintaining a competitive edge often comes down to retaining a talented workforce. The growing popularity of so-called “portable” employee benefits, such as Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), certainly hasn't made this any easier. Employers trying to entice workers to remain loyal may want to focus their efforts on providing benefits which are simply too good to surrender. Offering benefits that accrue significant value over time, or improve with tenure, will help keep employees from abandoning that progress for greener pastures, lest they have to start over someplace else.

How the ACA Impacted Employee Retention

Prior to the passage and implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) there was considerably less job mobility for many Americans with pre-existing health conditions. The moment insurance carriers were barred from discriminating based on pre-existing conditions, the need for individuals to stay with a company for insurance reasons essentially vanished. Many employees who were previously stuck in their jobs for fear of losing benefits were now free to explore other opportunities.

Similarly, many budding entrepreneurs set off to start their own businesses while acquiring individual health insurance via the ObamaCare exchange or through other means. One could argue that this new freedom was a benefit to both employers and employees  after all, who really wants an employee who is sticking around just because of benefits? Nevertheless, this new found “employee mobility” has made the search for "sticky" benefits all the more important.

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Topics: Cost Containment, Retention

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Employee Benefits Automation; Optimizing Online Enrollment Systems

Jeff Griffin

There are countless online employee benefits enrollment systems out there today. While each is designed to make our lives easier (employees, employers, insurance carriers, payroll providers and benefits advisors), some don't quite live up to the hype.

While the initial transition from paper enrollment to any one of these online enrollment systems typically yields tremendous upside from an efficiency, speed and data integrity perspective, it's highly unusual for an enrollment system to be fully optimized for peak performance at first launch.

Tweaking and perfecting the system in the quest to maximize performance and outcomes should be an ongoing activity within your organization. Most agree that the goal of optimizing these systems is to make them as easy and intuitive as possible for your employees to use, while also guiding educated, informed and appropriate employee benefit decisions for your workforce.

Much of what’s considered “best practice” in online benefits enrollment has been adopted from best practices in eCommerce. After all, enrolling in benefits these days isn't that far off from purchasing something off Amazon, comparing cars at AutoTrader, or configuring a laptop at Dell.

While this list is by no means complete, here are some best practices you should consider adopting to optimize the configuration of your online benefits enrollment system for peak performance.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Automation, open enrollment, Strategy, Decision Tools

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The Importance of Paid Time Off (PTO)

David Rook

Paid time off is one of the most commonly provided benefits as well as one of the most highly regarded.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that more than 70 percent of employees have at least one form of paid time off, and the rate is much higher among certain types of employers such as large private companies and local, state and federal government entities.

In fact, in a Glassdoor survey, vacation and paid time off proved to be more important for employees than pay raises. Yet despite the desire for it, the United States remains far behind much of the world in both providing and using this benefit.

Even though there’s been a recent uptick in the number of days U.S. employees are taking off annually, they still take very few days off -- and that’s not good for anyone.

The following is an exploration of why paid time off is important to offer and why it's important to take, along with what’s normal in the U.S. and throughout the world. 

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Topics: Company Culture, Paid Time Off (PTO), Employee Retention, workplace wellness, trends, work life balance, Mental Health, Recruitment

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