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Millennials vs. Baby Boomers: Managing Across Generations

Jeff Griffin

As new generations enter the workforce, managers must learn how to lead diverse groups with various backgrounds, values, work ethics, expectations and motivations.  

Consider that our current workforce is comprised primarily of three generations: Baby Boomers, Gen-xers and Millennials (not counting the bookend demographic groups of Generation Z and The Silent Generation). Managing these different generational groups requires getting into their mindsets to understand what makes them tick — and what makes them more productive and satisfied at work.

Battle of the Boomers and Millennials

Each generational group in the workplace today has been influenced by a combination of profound societal events, demographic trends and cultural phenomena unique to the time in which they came of age.

Because these differences are most pronounced between the oldest and youngest in our workforce, we’ll focus on baby boomers and millennials — even though Gen-Xers are a unique demographic all to themselves.

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Topics: Multi-Generational, millennials, Employee Retention

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Debunking The Myth: The ACA Isn’t Increasing Your Group Health Insurance Rates

David Rook

Author's note: This post is not intended to defend nor criticize the merits of the Affordable Care Act (a political lightening rod if ever there was one). Rather, this post is merely intended to dispel a few myths as it relates to the ACA's spill-over impact on the group insurance market. 

While its effects on the individual insurance market can be debated (though most agree the ACA did very little to contain healthcare costs but did a terrific job of making healthcare more accessible), it’s a common misconception that the Affordable Care Act (also known as the ACA, or Obamacare) is causing group health insurance rates to dramatically increase. This myth, along with others that play into it, have been perpetuated frequently since the law’s passage in 2010 — especially since the individual and small business health insurance marketplaces opened in 2014.

The truth is health insurance rates were increasing long before Barack Obama ever got close to the White House. According to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average cost of premiums for individual coverage increased about 32.5 percent between 2010 and 2017. But compared to the 8-year period prior (when premiums increased about 56 percent) that amount seems low. For family coverage, the numbers are even worse, showing a 36 percent increase since 2010, compared to 67 percent in the 8 years prior. 

In addition, it would appear the ACA is actually helping to slow our national health expenditures (NHE) as a percentage of GDP. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has been tracking this data since 1960. CMS defines NHE as “health care goods and services, public health activities, government administration, the net cost of health insurance, and investment related to health care.” In other words, NHE is what we collectively spend on healthcare each year between health insurance rates, out-of-pocket expenses, and any health programs we take part in.

Between 2010 and 2016 (the latest year for which data is available), NHE increased from 17.4 percent to 17.9 — a mere half a percent (although one could also argue this could be due in part to effects of the recession). By contrast, in the 7-year period beforehand, NHE increased nearly two percent, going from 15.4 percent of GDP to 17.3. 

In order to figure out how we could actually fix this system, we have to understand the differences between what’s really broken about it and the myths out there. Here are three myths we can easily bust.

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Topics: PPACA, ACA, Affordable Care Act

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Three Ways for Employees & Employers to Save Money on Healthcare

David Rook

Recent news that the rising cost of healthcare in America may actually be slowing is being met with resounding elation by those looking for ways to save money on their medical insurance. For those with high deductible health plans (HDHPs) and other forms of consumer-driven healthcare, this comes as especially welcome news.

If sustained, this tempering of rising medical care costs will hopefully begin to curb an alarming trend, that being dangerous cost-avoidance practices by some covered individuals, which sometimes includes such dangerous practices as skipping medications and postponing necessary medical procedures. (Many have also skipped out on preventative care, despite the fact that most all of it is covered at 100%.)  While in the short-term such actions will indeed bring down healthcare expenses, they are likely to trigger larger problems later on, which cost far more money.

There are much safer and more effective ways to curb healthcare expenses, but it takes a bit of effort and education to capitalize on them. Here are just a few we’ve found. Please feel free to use these money saving strategies with your workforce — and better yet — try them out yourself.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Consumer Driven Healthcare, cost management, CHRO, CFO, employers, HSAs, FSAs

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How Incorporating Ergonomics in the Workplace Can Save Employers Money

Dr. Christine Maxwell

Hemingway and Jefferson were both "stand-up" fellows—literally and figuratively. These two famous writers preferred to work at stand-up desks because of the positive effects it had on their productivity. And though they were way ahead of their time, the benefits are clearer than ever before.

Long before the word ergonomics became a common term in the American vernacular, science has referenced the correlation between workplace design and human biomechanics and health. Derived from the Greek words ergo (work) and nomos (law), the word ergonomics has become a buzzword among health-conscious thinkers in recent years. Followers of this discipline focus on developing a workplace environment that is generally healthier for all employees.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2015, American workers missed 1,153,490 days due to work-related injuries. Ergonomic improvements have numerous workplace benefits and can be a useful healthcare strategy that can save employers money.

It's no wonder that once implemented businesses often see an increase in productivity, a noticeable change in attitudes, and a decrease in absenteeism. After all, when workers feel more comfortable and notice employers injecting healthy changes into their workday, both morale and productivity increases. This makes it a win-win scenario for everyone involved.

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Topics: ergonomics, employee health

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6 Reasons Every CFO Needs to Engage In Employee Benefits Decisions

Jeff Griffin

As one of the largest line items on the P&L these days, employee benefit discussions in many organizations have transitioned from the breakroom to the boardroom, with increased scrutiny from several in the C-Suite and beyond.

If your organization's finance department isn't already deeply involved in the discussion, it's time for them to engage. 

Going into these meetings with little employee benefits experience can seem overwhelming, but it's important for your finance team to be involved and in alignment with human resourcesThere are several reasons it's worth your while to take a more active role in the process. 

1. Employee benefits are consuming a larger portion of your company's budget

Healthcare is a crucial part of any company’s employee benefits package. In order to recruit and retain the best and brightest employees, your healthcare offerings need to be competitive, yet not excessive. Annual year-over-year increases in the cost of healthcare, no doubt outpacing your revenue and profit growth, have made this extremely challenging. 

As the leader of the finance team, you can't afford to ignore an expense that big, and often times that out-of-control. You need to understand what's driving these increases, be they external factors, internal factors, or both. Understanding what's controllable and what's not can also help bring focus to an already complex conversation. 

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Topics: CFO, Employee Benefits

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10 Pitfalls to Avoid This Open Enrollment Season

David Rook

For many who work in human resources and employee benefits, open enrollment can be a stressful time of year. Focused on meeting tight deadlines and pleasing multiple stakeholders, many HR professionals often repeat sins of the past and fail to make annual, incremental improvements in their open enrollment processes.

Optimizing your open enrollment is critical to ensuring its ongoing success. After all, over time you learn more about how best to communicate with your organization, particularly as the employee benefits space evolves i.e. new benefit products and services, and new technologies.

In the spirit of continuous improvement, whether you're working off of a well-established checklist or with your employee benefits broker, be sure to avoid these common pitfalls during your next open enrollment.  

1. Ending Open Enrollment Outside of Normal Office Hours

Procrastinating employees will inevitably have last minute questions and may experience technology troubles. Make sure your deadline for open enrollment falls during the workweek and during normal office hours when your HR staff is still on duty to help them through those final steps in the process.

2. Ignoring Other Household Decision Makers

Often times your employee is not the only one weighing-in on benefit decisions. Make sure the communication materials and media channels you're using reach other heads of household and key decision makers such as spouses. Consider extending invitations to open enrollment meetings to the entire family.

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Topics: Employee Engagement, HSAs, HDHPs, open enrollment

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Why Your Employees Aren’t Enrolling In Your HDHP

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 reasons your employees might not be enrolling in your HDHP — and how you can overcome them.

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

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How to Make the Most of Your Employee Handbook

Jeff Griffin

Many employers understand that an employee handbook can be an invaluable resource for codifying important information. Despite this, a fair number of small businesses choose to forgo this critical training, compliance and communication tool.

Some view an employee handbook as too time-consuming to prepare. Others just don’t see it as a priority. For companies with a lot of tasks on their plate (and who doesn't fit that bill) an employee handbook just never seems to make it to the top of the to-do list.

Be forewarned, however, that failing to put your company policies in writing could cause headaches down the road. Any time you save now by not documenting and circulating policies and procedures is likely to be spent later on the phone answering the same question over and over, or sitting in a crisis management meeting because someone on staff mishandled an situation.

Not only do employee handbooks ultimately save you time, but a well-crafted handbook could help you avoid litigation, thus providing you with invaluable peace of mind. Whether it’s policies, benefit details, or payroll and time off schedules, your employee handbook should be a go-to resource for your workforce. Here’s how to get the most value out of yours.   

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Corporate Communication, Employee Communications, Communications

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Shopping For A New Employee Benefits Broker: The RFP Process

Jeff Griffin

It’s certainly up for debate whether or not an RFP (Request for Proposal) is really the best method of finding a new employee benefits broker for your business. Nevertheless, if you’re planning on issuing an RFP for a new employee benefits advisor, it’s important to do it right. 

After all, a relationship between you and your employee benefits broker can span 10 years or more. Shouldn’t you strive for the best partnership imaginable? The RFP process is a time-consuming one, but when it’s done well, it creates a fruitful relationship with a trusted and highly valued business partner for years (and hopefully decades) to come.

Here’s a complete guide to issuing an RFP for employee benefits — and don’t forget to download our RFP template for additional help with getting started!

Writing an Employee Benefits RFP

First Things First: What is an RFP?

A request for proposal is “a type of bidding solicitation in which a company or organization announces that funding is available for a particular project or program, and companies can place bids for the project's completion.” In the case of employee benefits, a company is saying that they’re interested in hiring an employee benefits broker and that they’re open to new advisors.

In a way, an RFP is a little bit like a job description, stating exactly what the issuing company needs, from resources to reporting to cost-saving initiatives, and will ultimately help them codify the evaluation criteria on which the vendors’ proposals will be assessed. Essentially, the RFP should ensure all parties are on the same page in terms of requirements.

Additionally, RFPs should include background on the issuing organization, such as its lines of business, needs and expectations, as well as a set of specifications that describe the ideal solution.

Why an RFP?

It’s important to ask yourself why you’re issuing an RFP in the first place. Do you have performance issues with your current employee benefits broker? Is it a required diligence obligation? Are you simply canvassing the marketplace to see if there are better options available than your current benefits broker? Or are you looking to hire an employee benefits advisor for the first time?

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Topics: Employee Benefits, employers, employee benefits broker, rfp

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The Role of Social Media In Employee Benefits Communication

David Rook

Today’s workforce spans four different generations and reaching all of them can be a challenge. Employers can no longer solely rely on traditional employee benefits communication materials like email, printed brochures, break room posters, table tents, and payroll stuffers. While those may be effective with certain members of your workforce, younger employees are far more difficult to reach through these traditional forms of communication.

Rather, savvy employers are embracing today’s social media platforms to reach their most elusive workers — millennials and generation Z. Social media was created by millennials and gen Z are digital natives who aren’t likely to remember a time before computers. They spend quite a bit of time online, making social media one of the best avenues to connect with them in a contemporary, timely, and non-intrusive way.

Keep reading to find suggestions on how to integrate social media in your employee benefits communications, and download our free guide on this topic here.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Employee Communications, employee communication

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