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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

This Past Open Enrollment Season’s Most Frequently Asked Questions

David Rook

If you’re like most HR departments around the country, you’re on the tail end of taking a bit of a breather in Q1, seemingly having just completed yet another fall open enrollment.

Our benefit hotline specialists fielded thousands of calls in Q4 of last year. We thought it might be helpful if we recapped some of the more popular questions and answers, some of which change from year-to-year while others are perennial favorites.

As you might expect, this year we fielded a considerable number of questions about High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). We also took a considerable number of calls on Medicare, Limited Purpose FSAs and other hot topics.

Distributing these FAQs to your workforce or repurposing them in next year’s open enrollment communications and employee benefits guides should go a long way to helping reduce call volume into your HR department.

Listed below are the first 15 on our list. You can access 55 more by clicking here to receive our downloadable guide.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Communications, Employee Communications, Administration, Account Management

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5 Ways to Make Pregnancy (and the Return to Work) Easier for Working Moms

David Rook

Even though the majority of the working population in America are parents, employers seem to be largely in the dark about how to cater benefits packages to people who are raising kids, especially working moms. Thanks to the openness of the internet and highly successful working moms (like Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook) talking about their experiences, a whole new avenue of conversation has started about making the workplace more family-friendly.

The law provides a starting point, but there are little things (even free things) you can do to help make pregnancy and the return to work easier for working moms.  And in the interest of full disclosure, I had a lot of help from my wife, a working mom of two children, when writing this blog. She had a lot of thoughts about what she wished she would have had access to when our children were young and what employers could do now to make the return to work easier

What’s Required of Employers by Law

Employers with 50 or more full-time equivalents are required to allow men and women to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Most employers will allow their employees to use vacation or sick time during their leave so that part of the weeks are paid. Some even offer partially paid leave.

One of the provisions in the Affordable Care Act includes employer requirements for working moms who are still nursing. This stems from the scientific belief that breast milk, for the first year, is what’s best for babies, as well as the reality of breastfeeding — which is that it’s time consuming. Women are more likely to give up on breastfeeding if they don’t feel their employer is supportive of providing work breaks for pumping.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Affordable Care Act, Compliance, Company Culture, Flexible Schedules

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What is a 529 Plan? (And Should You Offer One?)

David Rook

College tuition has been steadily increasing for the past couple decades. While many colleges are trying to increase endowments and offer more scholarships for high-achieving students, other options exist for students to avoid debt. A 529 plan is one of the best tools students have to do just that.

In fact, the new tax law passed by Congress, as well as the recently introduced bi-partisan Boost Saving for College Act, both bring about a few changes to 529s worth checking out (read below). 

Just consider that in 2017, the average cost of a four-year undergraduate degree at a public college for in-state residents was nearly $57,000 for tuition, fees, and room and board — of course, that’s assuming the student graduates in four years. Many degrees are stretched to four and a half or five years if internships or cooperative education programs (co-ops) are involved.

Families who can afford it have been saving for college for a long time, and thanks to 529 plans, many are able to do so with tax advantages. Some employers have even started to offer them to employees as a way to incentivize them to plan ahead for college savings. And thankfully, some state governments (like Arizona) have begun to offer extra state tax incentives, as well.

What is a 529 Plan?

Congress developed 529 plans in 1996 as a way to “make it easier to save for college and other post-secondary training for a designated beneficiary, such as a child or grandchild.” While not-so-cleverly nicknamed after the section of the Internal Revenue code that discusses them, 529 plans are legally called “qualified tuition plans.”

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Recruiting, Arizona, Voluntary Benefits, Ancillary Benefits, Worksite Benefits, Culture

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Advice To Give When Employees Need Help Paying Medical Bills

David Rook

When household budgets are already tight, the last thing your employees need is to be overburdened by unplanned and expensive medical bills. Even if they have a persistent cough that won't go away, an injury that just won't heal on its own, or a medical concern they know will eventually land them in the hospital, they may be less likely to see a doctor because they can’t afford to pay another bill.

Unfortunately, health problems often pop up without warning, which may leave some of your employees scrambling to pay the bill — and most likely, at the worst possible time. While most people find this subject embarrassing and would rather keep these matters private, you may have a few employees who confide in you, and seek your advice when it comes to needing help paying medical bills. It goes a long way when you point out to them that they have several outlets to explore before all hope seems to be lost.

Here are some suggestions you can put in your employee benefits guide or send to inquiring employees:

1. Don't Ignore the Bill

This is a really important first step: When you get the bill, don't ignore it. Most companies will bill you again after 30 days, again after 60 days, and then probably once more after 90 days. If you’ve still neglected to pay the bill, you may be sent to collections (the laws can vary, depending on many factors, including the type of medical debt), which will result in agents calling you to demand repayment, negatively impacting your credit history (and therefore, your credit rating).

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Topics: Employee Communications, employee communication, employers

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How Sleep Patterns Affect Employee Productivity: Early Birds vs. Night Owls

David Rook

Some of us are early birds, some of us are night owls, but no matter what you are, it’s tough to switch to the other side (though it’s not unheard of). It seems to be something we’re born into. How these sleep patterns affect employee productivity is a topic highly debated. What isn’t up for debate is the importance of good sleep — regardless of what time you’re waking up.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), “Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life.” If we don’t get enough quality sleep, our bodies cannot properly repair and heal vital systems (such as the heart and blood vessels,) which is why lack of sleep is often linked to heart and kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.

Americans’ lack of sleep has been a hot topic of conversation in the news for the past few years, specifically how it affects brain performance, and subsequently, productivity. Some high schools have chosen to push their start times back in order to prevent sleep deprived teens from falling asleep in class — or worse, behind the wheel. In the working world, many employers are embracing flexible schedules. Some companies are even allowing their employees to nap at work when they need to.

The negative effects of sleep deprivation on employee productivity are universally agreed upon. The problem here is that not all of us are on the same sleep schedule. Some of us burn the midnight oil, while others have been asleep for hours by that point in the evening. What’s important for employers to remember is that native sleep patterns can affect employee productivity and that fighting against them can actually do more harm than good.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Flexible Schedules

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How Does Healthcare in Europe Work?

David Rook

A photo of European currency with a doctor's stethoscope.The American healthcare system functions pretty differently than healthcare in Europe — and most healthcare systems in other first world countries, for that matter. With the ongoing healthcare debate in America (from repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act to Senator Sanders’ Medicare-For-All proposal), many people have begun to ask why we can’t have a system like Canada, the U.K., France, or most other European nations. In order to decide whether or not those types of systems would be suitable for America (a debate we will not delve into here), we first have to understand how healthcare in Europe works.

How Healthcare in Europe Works

Generally speaking, most European nations (in addition to others around the world) have some type of universal healthcare. According to the definition provided by the World Health Organization (WHO), this means that everyone has equal access to quality healthcare that improves the health of patients and that seeking such care would not cause financial harm to those receiving it.

While it’s easy for Americans to generalize European healthcare into one giant conglomerate of universal coverage, there are actually many different systems across the continent. Each country has figured out their own way of organizing their insurance companies, doctors, and hospital systems. But regardless of country, healthcare in Europe is designed with the same goal in mind: to make sure every person has access to basic health services.

Given that European nations have all been around far longer than America, they’ve tried almost every possible scenario and, for the most part, they’ve landed largely on three systems: single-payer, socialized, and privatized, but regulated. Of course, there’s quite a bit of variety between countries and no two systems are alike.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Affordable Care Act, ACA

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Why America's Healthcare System Is Broken

David Rook

According to The Commonwealth Fund’s most recent study of 11 different countries’ healthcare systems, the United States comes in dead last. This study measures overall industry performance and each country is ranked by five factors that contribute to their score: care process (in which the U.S. placed 5th), access (11th), administrative efficiency (10th), equity (11th), and outcomes (11th).

For being one of the richest countries in the world, the U.S. just can’t seem to get a grip on their healthcare system. No matter the proposed solution over the past century, the system has slowly but surely become more and more expensive, which means it’s also becoming less and less accessible.

If you were to ask 10 people why America’s healthcare system is broken, you’re sure to get 10 different answers — and you might even get into a debate about what “broken” means, both of which could help explain why we haven’t been able to fix it yet. Experts have many opinions, but one thing is for sure: the problems with our healthcare system don’t point back to just one cause. There are multiple issues at hand and none of them are easy fixes. 

5 Major Ways Our Healthcare System is Broken

Lack of Cost Transparency

One of the most common complaints among consumers is the lack of cost transparency in our healthcare system. You’d be hard-pressed to find another industry where this is the case. Even in other insurance situations, such as a car repair after an accident, the driver can figure out a fairly accurate estimate before ever paying a dime. The same goes for a homeowners claim.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Affordable Care Act, Cost Containment, Education, ACA

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Office Holiday Parties Rein It In

David Rook

I’ve attended some epic holiday office parties in my life. For the first eight years of my career I worked for Leo Burnett, the storied Chicago ad agency right out of the Mad Men era. They'd hold their holiday breakfast in early December each year at one of Chicago’s historic institutions like the Chicago Theater or the Masonic Temple. The breakfast started at 8:30 AM, and consisted of an annual "state of the business" presentation, and then the much-anticipated unveiling of the “best of reels” representing the company's finest commercial broadcast work that year, both domestic and international. The breakfast always ended with everyone watching Leo Burnett’s now infamous 1967 speech, “When to Take My Name Off The Door”, where he laid out his vision of the company’s enduring values. It’s a guaranteed tear jerker; never a dry eye in the house.

After the official breakfast, Burnetter’s would parade through the streets of Chicago back to HQ to meet with their teams and pick up their annual bonus checks, amounting to anywhere from 10% to 20% of their annual salaries. For a guy who started in advertising making $18,800, a bonus check of $1,880 was like hitting the jackpot. Once the bonus checks were distributed, each account group left the office to celebrate at one of dozens and dozens of luncheons planned at various venues around town. Around 4 PM, most everyone descended on the “producer’s party”, which was always held at the swankiest night club in town.

All this sounds pretty fantastic, and it was, but it was also an alcohol fueled day for many, myself included. Some of us would start the morning with a 5:30 am poker game at an associate's condo downtown, complete with a bloody mary and beer bar. Others would pack flasks for the breakfast meeting, while others would make it their personal goal to go “tip-to-tip”, starting at 5:30 AM and not going to bed until 5:30 the next day. This is not to suggest that everyone’s breakfast experience was like the one I just described (not at all), but as ad types go, I don’t think there’s quite another profession where people work so hard and play even harder. I was also thirty years younger back then and the underpaid peers I hung around with tended to enjoy a free buffet and open bar a bit more than the more seasoned employees.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Culture

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Why Employee Benefits Might Finally Play a Role in Seasonal Hiring

David Rook

When most companies think of hiring seasonal workers, they’re not thinking about employee benefits. Most seasonal hires don’t qualify for benefits beyond that of an employee discount for a variety of reasons — they won’t be working for a long enough period of time (or enough hours) to qualify for healthcare, and employers don’t really need to entice them to stay onboard after the end-of-year shopping season.

That’s all changing this year. With an economy that’s at virtual full employment, seasonal hires may be many companies’ best option to coax some of these works into becoming full-time staff. With this in mind, it makes good sense to take another look at your employee benefits policy when it comes to attracting seasonal workers.

Employee Benefits to Attract Seasonal Hires

Andrew Challenger, vice president of career transitioning firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, believes this year will yield more seasonal-to-permanent hires than in recent years, and if you’re planning to implement this strategy, you’ll need to make sure your employee benefits package is good enough to make those temporary workers want to stay on full-time. But first, you have to figure out how to get them in the door to apply.

Your seasonal hires may be attracted to your company simply because of the employee discount. Perhaps they get 20 or 30 percent off regular priced items in your store (some companies even offer up to 50 percent!), which could help them get through their holiday shopping with a lighter punch to their wallets.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Recruiting, Strategy

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Ducey's Plan for Arizona's CHIP Program

David Rook

Governor Ducey is working on a plan to fund Arizona’s CHIP program until Congress either passes a new budget or finds a way to pass an independent CHIP bill, which would require some legislative maneuvering with very few legislative days left in the year and a tremendous backlog of bills.

On September 30, 2017, the government’s fiscal year ended without passing a new budget, essentially cutting off all federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) across the country. Because 9 million children in the U.S. (and their parents) depend on the insurance CHIP provides, states are trying to find extra cash to sustain the program.

Who Does CHIP Cover?

CHIP was created to fill in the gaps for families that make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but not necessarily enough to pay for private or employer-sponsored health insurance.

Children up to age 19 are eligible for the program, but states have discretion over further eligibility standards, including those related to income. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) also expanded CHIP eligibility to children of state employees.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Compliance, employee health, Arizona

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