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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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Alternative Health Plan Options For Small Employers: MEWAs and AHPs

Jeff Griffin

Employers have been struggling to find the best way to provide affordable health benefits to their workers for many years now. One promising option, especially for those with smaller workforces, is to offer insurance through multiple employer welfare arrangements (MEWAs) and association health plans (AHPs).

The idea behind MEWAs is to bundle small groups into a larger community, thereby spreading risk over a larger and more diverse pool of covered individuals. It’s the same principle large employers benefit from by way of lower insurance premiums.  

If your small business is looking for cheaper healthcare options, MEWAs and association health plans may be good options for you to investigate.

What is a MEWA?

MEWA stands for multiple employer welfare arrangement, but is also sometimes referred to as a multiple employer trust (MET). MEWAs allow small employers to essentially team up to create a larger pool of employees to capitalize on the economies of scale that larger employers enjoy. This could mean as few as two employers in the group, or as many as deemed necessary to form a large enough employee pool.

Each employer gets a say in plan design, as well as plan offerings. If one employer has an older population who prefers more traditional plans, they can request such for their workforce. If another employer has a younger workforce for whom high deductible health plans would be more appealing, they could request more consumer-driven healthcare options for their employees. With these groups banded together, the premium costs should be lower than if each employer tried to get insurance on their own.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Compliance, Cost Containment, ACA, Legislation, Association Health Plans, MEWA

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How You Know it's Time to Fire Your Employee Benefits Broker

Jeff Griffin

Many companies stick with their employee benefits broker for years on end, not giving too much thought to whether a change is warranted. HR directors always have long to-do lists full of time-sensitive issues, so finding a new broker is typically the last thing on their minds — except maybe during contract renewal season if the news isn’t good (and it never seems to be with health insurance these days).

The issue here is that there is a point when it’s time to fire your broker, but recognizing it when the time comes is difficult because you have a million things on your mind and far more pressing matters at hand. There are some definite signs it’s time to find a new employee benefits broker and it’s important to keep an eye out for them. Here are some of the big ones.

They’re Not Helping You Contain Costs Year-Round

Employee benefits brokers should not only be reaching out when it comes time for your annual renewal. Top-notch benefits consultants are working with you year-round to make sure you’re taking every possible step to keep your benefits costs contained.

True cost containment strategy requires constant effort in the form of chronic condition identification and management, medication adherence, large-scale claim intervention, consistent execution of a sound wellness program, financial oversight, and diligent carrier reconciliations.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Compliance, Education, Disruption, Strategy

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FMLA Rules and Regulations: What is Required of Employers?

Jeff Griffin

At some point or another, every human resources employee helps to facilitate a leave of absence under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). HR personnel can probably recite FMLA regulations in their sleep, but the average employee is pretty much out of touch with what the law entitles them to, and quite often they don't realize what’s actually required of their employers.

FMLA rules are designed to protect both the employer and the employee. From an employee’s perspective, they’re able to take necessary medical leave without fear of losing their job. For employers, it helps them work toward the goal of true, equal opportunity employment for both men and women.

To help make your life as an HR professional just a little bit easier, we’ve put this handy guide of FMLA rules and regulations together for you — including some that are specific to our home state of Arizona's FMLA laws. Feel free to download this additional resource guide to include it in your employee handbook or to email to employees who are inquiring about FMLA guidelines.

About the Family Medical Leave Act

The Family Medical Leave Act took nearly a decade to become law, with its first draft being written in 1984 by the Women’s Legal Defense Fund. It was introduced every year from then until 1993, and was even passed by Congress in 1991 and then again in 1992, but was vetoed both times by President George H. Bush. Congress passed the legislation once more in 1993, which President Bill Clinton signed into law just 16 days after taking office.

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

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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-friendlyThe 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. 

First, a disclosure before I go on - I had a lot of help from my wife, a working mom of two children, when writing this particular article. 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. With that out of the way, let's continue...

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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Why Workplace Harassment Training is So Important

Jeff Griffin

Most employers in America have some kind of workplace harassment training in place. The majority of the time, it’s hokey, outdated videos full of unrealistic scenarios that completely miss the nuances of personal interaction, followed by a series of questions with very obvious answers. Pretty much anyone could correctly answer those questions without actually paying attention to the videos. We all know the “right” answers because they’re so obvious.

The recent sexual harassment allegations in the news have left many business owners and HR departments wondering what they can do to improve sexual harassment training in their companies, while enduring push back from staff who are dreading yet another terrible seminar.

It’s important for every company to have effective workplace harassment training and subsequent guidelines for how to handle accusations, as not doing so can leave you vulnerable to lawsuits. But not having proper training and procedures can also create a breeding ground for workplace harassment, giving rise to employees feeling unsafe at work, which doesn’t create the type of environment people enjoy working in — and it’s definitely not the kind of place that recruits and retains the best talent.

Workplace Harassment in the News

Sexual harassment has been prevalent in the news lately, as more and more women (and men) are coming forward about their experiences with workplace harassment. Discussions of harassment and assault have been picking up momentum since the summer of 2016, when 24 women made assault or harassment allegations against then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Since then, multiple men have been accused, including former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, celebrity chef Mario Batali, Metropolitan Opera conductor James Levine, former host and creator of the radio show "A Prairie Home Companion" Garrison Keillor, former Today Show anchor Matt Lauer, journalist Charlie Rose, hip hop producer Russell Simmons, former Minnesota Senator Al Franken, actor Kevin Spacey, comedian Louis C.K., defeated Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, and of course, movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. The list goes on, and on, and on.

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Topics: Compliance, Company Culture, Employee Engagement, Culture, Training

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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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Keeping Your Wellness Program Compliant

Dr. Christine

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.

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.  

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

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Arizona Healthcare Could Improve with New Legislation

David Rook

State lawmakers are currently reviewing a piece of legislation that could improve Arizona healthcare for a number of residents. Senate Bill 1441 seeks to solve a common Arizona healthcare problem: surprise medical bills from out-of-network physicians after receiving treatment or having surgery through in-network providers. It’s a frustrating (and confusing) situation, especially for those who have done their research beforehand to make sure all providers were covered by their insurance policy. How are people getting unexpected bills? And what will this legislation do about it?

The Arizona Healthcare Problem: Surprise Bills

In the state of Arizona, people seeing in-network doctors and utilizing in-network hospitals systems frequently receive surprise bills from out-of-network providers. It’s become a common Arizona healthcare narrative these days. If it hasn’t happened to you, you probably know someone who has encountered this issue in the past.

How does this happen? Well, it’s actually pretty complicated.

Let’s say you need surgery. You do your necessary diligence by researching the hospital, the surgeon, and the other doctors you know you’ll be in contact with. You make sure they’re all in-network so you’re minimizing the bills you receive after the fact. Everyone (including the hospital network) is covered. You should be all set, right?

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Compliance, Legislation, Arizona

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6 Ways Employee Benefits Administration Automation Can Save You Time (and Money)

David Rook

Some employers choose to take on employee benefits administration with paper forms and spreadsheets, thinking they’ll save money. They see the cost of online automation, coupled with the monthly commitment — usually per employee, per month (PEPM) — and find it hard to believe the benefits of the software would be worth the investment. It’s true that employee benefits administration software is not free, but the benefits of automation far outweigh the cost.

The reality of the situation is that regulation complications, paperwork, and human error end up costing employers far more time than it's worth. And of course, that doesn’t include the fines your business could incur as a result. Here are six ways employee benefits administration automation can save you time and money.

1. Increased Efficiency for Both Employer and Employee

Automated employee benefits administration increases efficiency for both you, the administrator, and your employees who use it. Regardless of the task you are trying to complete, it will, in short order, take less time when it’s automated as opposed to old-fashioned spreadsheets, or worse, paper. 

Many companies still have employees fill out paper forms, which an HR director or assistant then has to manually enter into a payroll system, an HR system, and the health insurance system. What took two or three people to accomplish could have taken one — the employee — if an employee benefits administration platform was used. With well-organized systems, all those different parts talk to each other and disperse the information where it needs to go, which means you get to focus on real work instead of paperwork.

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Topics: Compliance, Enrollment, Disruption, Technology, Automation

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