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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.

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

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7 Simple Ways to Boost Morale at Work

Jeff Griffin

Employee morale can ebb and flow in an office environment. Sometimes dips in morale have nothing to do with actual work — it could mean people are struggling with personal issues and it’s seeping into their professional life. The trouble is, emotions are contagious. We start mimicking each others faces when we’re just hours old and it doesn’t stop in adulthood. At work, positive feelings can spread throughout your staff, just like negative ones — and both can spread through your work and impact morale.

If you notice that multiple employees are displaying negative behaviors (eye-rolling, sarcastic comments, reluctance to get work done, or coming in late), it may be time to boost morale at work. Boosting employee morale doesn’t have to involve a series of complicated incentives. Most of the time, it’s about providing some outwardly noticeable benefits that your workforce enjoys — the kinds of things they’d tell their family and friends about when boasting about the place they work.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Giving Back, employee culture, Employee Retention, millennials, Employee Engagement, generation z

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How Cell Phone Use at Work is Shaping Company Policies

Jeff Griffin

Now that nearly every adult has a smartphone, employers are realizing the need to develop policies that address cell phone use at work. As useful and helpful as our handheld devices are (and we do use them for everything), they can be distracting, and at times, a security risk.

In many ways, employers have helped foster this problem. Many employers expect their workforce to always be available, which makes it hard to tell employees they can’t use their cell phones at certain times or in certain settings at work. It might sound a bit hypocritical of us to make such demands and then tell employees they’re on their phones too much. All of us — from the top of the organization down — have gotten so used to a device in our hands that it gets admittedly difficult to put it down.

Cell Phone Use at Work and How it Affects Productivity

A survey conducted by staffing firm OfficeTeam found that employees spend about 56 minutes per day using their cell phones for personal business while at work. While managers surveyed assumed their employees were looking at social media, many employees said they were actually reading and responding to personal emails. In addition, 58 percent of workers reported using their cell phones to visit websites that were blocked or banned by their employer.

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Topics: Culture, employee culture, Company Culture, Communications, Employee Communications

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When Good Employee Perks Go Bad

David Rook

More and more, employers are looking for innovative ways to increase the value of their employee benefits packages without breaking the bank. Oftentimes, this comes in the form of unique employee perks which attempt to depart from the tried-and-true. 

While this quest for creativity should be commended, no matter how well intentioned, sometimes the best laid plans wind up backfiring in spectacular fashion. To keep this from happening, it’s a good idea to vet your ideas with a representative cross-section of your workforce before introducing them to the entire company. Role playing worse case scenarios as an HR team might also help mitigate any disasters. Here are five examples of good employee perks gone bad.

Penny Wars for a Good Cause

“At a previous employer, we had a ‘penny wars’ competition to raise money for a good cause. It was part of a lot of fun activities for the annual workplace giving campaign and employee engagement (which was a good idea). Employees donated coins in jars labeled with each executive’s name. The executive whose jar collected the most money would get a pie in the face. When the CEO won, the penny jars quickly disappeared as it didn’t seem like a good idea to pie the CEO in front of employees — and no one wanted to be the one to actually do it.”

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Employee Retention, employee culture

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4 Important Things Employers Should Know About Generation Z

David Rook

Hot on the heels of Millennials, the new wave of talent is known as "Generation Z". Born in a globally accessible society, from 1993 onward, this generation has never seen the world without the internet. Among the 2 billion worldwide, 60 million nationally have grown up technologically savvy.  Though the majority of them are now either in high school or attending universities, there are some that are beginning to enter the workforce.

Just like previous generations, Generation Z will also have distinguished characteristics for which employers will need to prepare. So what exactly should employers expect from the next generation of the workforce? Here are the most overarching features of Gen Z that HR professionals should know about:

1. They prefer digital communication and a steady stream of information.

Gen Z are visual learners and have grown up with an iPad or a smartphone in their hands. Digital communication has been their way of life, and workplaces where communication is hushed may be unfavorable to them. They are socially responsible and connected with their peers around the world via social media; their communication is often done on social networks or through text messages, not email. Organizations need to shift from the traditional ways of communication, such as memos and emails, to accommodate the Gen Z workforce.

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Topics: generation z, Employee Engagement, segmentation, employee culture

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