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David Rook

David Rook

Chief Marketing Officer

Dave is a veteran marketing and digital platforms expert. His passion lies at the intersection of the creative arts, behavioral economics and social sciences. Dave is our go-to resource for out-of- the box creative, as well as strategically sound yet remarkably innovative approaches to the mundane.

Dave spends his days finding new ways to help drive benefit strategies and desired outcomes through more influential employee communications and decision-making tools.

He works hands-on with our clients to tap into the behavioral insights of their workforces – all in an effort to solve their most difficult communication, enrollment and behavioral modification challenges.

A digital products expert since the early days of the Internet, Dave also leads the development and optimization of our benefit automation and HR technology platforms, including both our desktop and mobile solutions.

Dave’s distinguished career includes brand marketing positions with Leo Burnett (General Motors, Philip Morris), Coca-Cola and AOL. More recently Dave was the General Manager of Consumer Media at Hanley Wood and the Chief Marketing Officer at eCommerce retailer Simplexity.

A sampling of the diverse brands Dave has worked on include:

  • Oldsmobile
  • Rockford Fosgate Audio
  • Marlboro
  • Sprite
  • Minute Maid
  • AOL
  • City’s Best
  • Moviefone
  • Architect Magazine
  • ePlans.com
  • Floorplans.com
  • Homeplans.com
  • Verizon
  • T-Mobile
  • When.in
  • GMC Truck
  • Celebrity Cruise Lines
  • Coca-Cola
  • Barq’s
  • Wendy’s
  • Digital City
  • MapQuest
  • Builder Magazine
  • Remodeling Magazine
  • Dream Home Source
  • Houseplans.com
  • Wirefly.com
  • Sprint
  • Urgent.ly

 

Dave received his MBA at Georgetown University and his undergraduate degree from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Telecommunications at Arizona State University.

When not at the JP Griffin Group, you might find Dave out on the golf course or at a live music venue, all the while checking scores for his beloved perennial underdog, the Chicago Cubs.

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Author's Posts

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.

Read More
Topics: Employee Benefits, Employee Communications, employee communication

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Practical Issues to Consider in Expanding Benefits Coverage to Transgender Employees

David Rook

Best-in-class employee benefits evolve with the times and our changing values. We saw marriage equality granted to all people in this country after Obergefell v. Hodges, opening employee benefits to many additional spouses and families. Now, we’re seeing more and more employers (including Fortune 100 and 500 companies) embrace transgender-inclusive health insurance plans as gender identity awareness improves. However, medical professionals have been stressing the importance of transgender health for years.

In 2008, the American Medical Association (AMA) first voiced its concerns for the discrimination of transgender individuals when it published a guidance supporting “public and private health insurance coverage for treatment of gender dysphoria as recommended by the patient's physician.” (This policy was updated in 2016).

In order to truly be an equal opportunity employer, you should have at least one transgender-inclusive health insurance plan in your employee benefits package. It’s not as complicated or expensive as it may sound. In fact, right here in our home state of Arizona, there are quite a few employers already offering such benefits.

Here are some practical issues you should consider when expanding your employee benefits to make sure they include transgender employees and how doing so could help you recruit and retain the workforce of the future — namely, millennials and generation Z, who see inclusivity as an important attribute of prospective employers.

Read More
Topics: Employee Benefits, Affordable Care Act, Company Culture, ACA, Recruiting, Retention, Plan Design, employee culture, Arizona, employers, PPACA, Culture, LGBTQ

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The Digital Divide – How to Communicate with Disconnected Employees

David Rook

Employers oftentimes worry about how to tailor employee communication for those who are digitally disconnected — meaning they don’t have access to email or the internet — but this concern is largely blown out of proportion.

According to Pew Research, only 11 percent of Americans aren’t using the internet. Research also suggests that “non-adoption [of the internet] is correlated to a number of demographic variables, including age, educational attainment, household income and community type.”

As the numbers suggest, internet adoption is picking up steam, leaving fewer and fewer people disconnected every day — especially among older Americans and those with less education. The research center points out that 86 percent of senior citizens didn’t use the internet in the year 2000, but that the current data shows a dramatic increase in older adults’ online activity (only 34 percent don’t use the internet now). Among those who didn’t finish high school, non-adopters dropped a similar amount during the same time period, going from 81 percent to 35 percent.

Regardless, it’s wise for employers who want to ensure no one in the workforce is overlooked to deploy both digital and more traditional methods of employee communication. In addition, because digital access spans multiple device types (computers, smartphones, tablets) and various ways to attain connectivity (home internet, public internet, cellular data), it’s important to take the following into account when connecting to these audiences:

Employee Communication for the Connection-Challenged

Some employees may be connected, but face some challenges in doing so. They aren’t totally cut off from the internet because they have library access or use the web browser on their smartphone, but they’re not particularly internet-savvy either. Here are some suggestions for making sure these employees can read the communications you’re sending:

Read More
Topics: Employee Benefits, Communications, Multi-Generational, Employee Communications, employee communication, Corporate Communication

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Best Practices For Optimizing Online Benefits Enrollment Systems

David Rook

There are countless online employee benefits enrollment systems out there today. While each is designed to make everyone’s lives easier — employees, employers, insurance carriers, payroll providers and benefits advisors alike, 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.

Capitalize on Nudge Theory 

While "nudge theory" won Richard Thaler a Nobel prize in economics, the concept is quite simple. It’s a subtle policy shift that encourages people to make decisions that are in their broad self-interest.

Put into practice, it simply means using "opt-out" as the default option for certain benefit selections. This requires someone to actively deselect an option. Failure to do so results in auto-enrollment in that benefit. A great example of nudging is pre-selecting a 3% contribution into an employee's 401(k) vs. leaving the field blank. This simple change will have a massive impact on 401(k) participation.

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

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Why Your Business Needs an Employee Benefits Insurance Broker

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.

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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Employee Benefits Designed To Improve Employee Retention

David Rook

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.

Read More
Topics: Employee Benefits, Employee Retention

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Workforce Social Media Guidelines On & Off the Clock

David Rook

At this point, nearly every business, regardless of size, has a social media presence — as does nearly every single one of their employees. Like it or not, social media isn’t an option for your company anymore. It’s basically a must-have.

Customers not only expect you to have an easy-to-use website, but they want to see you on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and plenty of other platforms you probably wish you didn’t have to think about. Of course, this means you need to develop strong social media guidelines for your employees to follow, while they’re on and off the clock.

Social media creates an obligation on the behalf of your company to have trusted, well-trained, and responsible staff representing your business online. It’s so easy for an employee to misspeak or get baited by an annoying internet troll. Social media also provides ample opportunity for your workforce to talk about your business when they’re off the clock. This can be a good thing, but it can also backfire if people believe your employees are speaking on the behalf of your company, even while on their personal pages.

While social media can be a frustrating venture for any business, it also creates an environment where you can interact on a more personal and immediate level with customers (both current and prospective). It expands the reach of your brand while increasing brand interactions.

Social media is here to stay. Because of this, many companies have developed social media guidelines  — both for staff members who work in the marketing and customer service departments (who will be speaking on the behalf of the company), as well as employees outside of those departments who simply engage in social media on a personal level. Social media guidelines don’t tell employees how to use social media in general, but rather describe how it’s appropriate to use social media when talking for, or about, the company. You can download some excellent sample policies here

Why Social Media Guidelines are Important


It’s safe to assume the vast majority of your employees are on social media. Some will be more active than others, but nearly everyone will have a presence on at least one channel — more than likely, multiple social platforms, with the most popular being Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for personal use and LinkedIn for professional networking.

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Topics: Compliance, Employee Communications, Corporate Communication, Culture, Social Media

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What Baby Boomers Retiring Means for Your Employee Benefits

David Rook

Human resources personnel are used to helping older employees transition into retirement. But now that baby boomers are retiring en masse, it seems to be happening all the time. In fact, as many as 10,000 baby boomers are putting in their retirement papers every single day, and while not all 10,000 will be in your company, you’ll probably be dealing with quite a few.

As all these boomers retire, your employee benefits package may need to undergo some changes and you may experience a shift in the cost of providing medical benefits as well. Here are some of the things you need to keep in mind as the baby boomers on your staff begin to retire.

Employee Benefits and Medicare

As your baby boomer employees near retirement age, some of their spouses might be a step ahead of them. The way employee benefits work with Medicare is sometimes complicated — especially when it comes to HSAs, which may be a major theme of the bulk of questions posed by those looking to retire. If your employees need to learn more about how to navigate Medicare, and if they should drop their spouse from your employer-sponsored coverage, make sure you’re as informed as possible regarding the regulations at hand before advising them.  

A frequently asked question by those turning 65 concerns penalties. People who are still working and enrolled in an employer-sponsored health plan aren’t likely to incur penalties for enrolling in Medicare late. However, it’s common for people turning 65 to enroll in Medicare Part A even if they’re still enrolled in their employer-sponsored program because it’s free (provided that the person has worked and paid into Medicare for at least ten years).

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Multi-Generational, HSA regulations, Retirement Planning, Medicare

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Retirement Savings Options: Are HSAs better than 401(k)s?

David Rook

Retirement savings are on everyone’s mind these days, regardless of age or number of years in the workforce. Millennials are concerned they’ll never be able to retire, while baby boomers are choosing to delay retirement — in part because of employer demand for their expertise in the face of a low unemployment rate, but also because many of them haven’t sufficiently saved for retirement. In fact, according to Time’s Money division, 28 percent of boomers and seniors aged 55 and older don’t have any retirement savings whatsoever and just over half have less than $50,000 saved.

Even more surprising, the median amount Americans have saved for retirement is just $5,000, which means we have a long way to go in helping people prepare for their golden years. This number may seem staggeringly low — and it is. The average retirement savings among Americans age 32 to 61 is just under $96,000. However, averages are pulled up by super-savers, so this number seems artificially high.

With the prevalence of high deductible health plans (HDHPs), a lot of people are now enrolled in health savings accounts (HSAs). While people are mostly familiar with the short-term savings opportunities these accounts provide for healthcare expense reimbursement, many are also realizing that HSAs are a viable retirement savings option as well.

This begs the question — if people had to choose between investing in their 401(k) or maxing out their HSA for the year, which one is a better retirement savings option?

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Topics: Employee Benefits, HSAs, Retirement Planning

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5 TED Talks on Decision-Making and What They Mean for Employers

David Rook

Editor's Note: This post is a follow-up to one of our most popular blog posts, "3 Great TED Talks in The Era of Consumer-Driven Healthcare (CDHC)". This post features new Ted Talks for fans of our past article to enjoy.

When it comes to the decisions we make, it can sometimes feel like we are strangers in a strange land. Our motivations are often a mystery to us. But researchers in the world of behavioral economics are able to give us some insight into what informs our decision-making and why it often defies logic.

Over the years, there have been some incredibly useful TED Talks that can help us better understand the human mind and the motivations that drive our decisions. As an employer who must consider the decision-making process of your employees, you too can gain some important insights that can help guide you in creating more effective employee benefits packages.

Here are five TED Talks which we consider to be some of the very best on this subject:

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Behavioral Psychology, Consumer Driven Healthcare, Decision Tools

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