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Here's How You Can Help Your Employees Make The Most Of The July 4th Holiday

David Rook

Many employees feel like they have to check-in with work even when they’re supposed to be enjoying paid time off. More often than not, this is a cultural issue within a company.

Supervisors might be checking-in and sending emails in the evening or on weekends. This leads their direct reports to believe they need to respond immediately, and they may even start adopting these behaviors themselves. 

Yet, research has shown time and time again that workers need frequent breaks and unfortunately, Americans leave a lot of that paid time off on the table every year. It might seem like workers would be more productive if they aren’t using all their vacation time, but in reality, skipping our vacations actually makes us less productive. To keep employees operating in top shape, we need to encourage them to enjoy their downtime — and perhaps it’s fitting to begin with the July 4th holiday. Here are 5 ways to encourage employees to enjoy their independence...and their paid time off this weekend.

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

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The Importance of Paid Time Off (PTO)

David Rook

Paid time off is one of the most commonly provided benefits as well as one of the most highly regarded.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that more than 70 percent of employees have at least one form of paid time off, and the rate is much higher among certain types of employers such as large private companies and local, state and federal government entities.

In fact, in a Glassdoor survey, vacation and paid time off proved to be more important for employees than pay raises. Yet despite the desire for it, the United States remains far behind much of the world in both providing and using this benefit.

Even though there’s been a recent uptick in the number of days U.S. employees are taking off annually, they still take very few days off -- and that’s not good for anyone.

The following is an exploration of why paid time off is important to offer and why it's important to take, along with what’s normal in the U.S. and throughout the world. 

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Topics: Company Culture, Paid Time Off (PTO), Employee Retention, workplace wellness, trends, work life balance, Mental Health, Recruitment

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Some of Our Favorite Resources For HR Professionals

David Rook

HR professionals know the value of staying connected and informed better than almost anyone else in the workplace.

Often asked to stretch resources and "make do" with limited budgets, HR professionals have learned to survive by being resourceful and self-sufficient.

Life-long learners at heart, those who work in the field of human resources often tap into the wide range of information resources now available at their fingertips, thanks to the internet. 

As follow-up to a blog post we published last year, "Best Twitter Hashtags for HR Directors to Follow", here are some of our favorite resources beyond Twitter, spanning associations, books, podcasts and blogs.

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Topics: Education, Employee Retention, Strategy, Culture, Training, Human Resources

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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: millennials, Multi-Generational, Employee Retention

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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.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Employee Retention

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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, Employee Engagement, millennials, Employee Retention, generation z, employee culture, Giving Back

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How to Create a Family Friendly Workplace

Jeff Griffin

Being a parent is hard. Being a parent with a full-time job is harder. Being a parent with a full-time job at a company that doesn’t create a family friendly workplace is almost impossible, especially if this is the case for both parents.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “92.8 percent of all men with children under age 18 participated in the labor force,” while the participation rate for women was 70.5 percent. Altogether, this amounted to 34.2 million families with at least one working parent in 2016, which means you’re extremely likely to employ parents — and lots of them.

Creating a family friendly workplace can give employers a major advantage in attracting hard-working employees, and then perhaps most importantly, keeping them long-term. Luckily, some of the most helpful benefits you can offer don’t have to be incredibly expensive.

5 Ways to Create a Family Friendly Workplace

1. Parental Leave

Paid parental leave is a hot topic in America right now. Anyone who has tried to care for a newborn baby knows it’s a full-time job in and of itself — and for the most demanding boss (with the weirdest schedule) you’ve ever had.  

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Company Culture, Employee Retention, Flexible Schedules, Culture

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When Does it Make Sense to Offer Voluntary Benefits?

Jeff Griffin

Voluntary benefits have been particularly popular in the past few years as healthcare costs rise and employers continue to shift more of the cost burden onto employees. Benefits that were once completely or partially financed by the employer, such as dental and vision, are sometimes now voluntary. A growing number of employers have also replaced low deductible health plans with high deductible health plans.   

But if you’re not careful, cutting these types of benefits can present a coverage gap for your employees, many of whom are not prepared to take the hit on unexpected medical expenses. This could leave you with a financially insecure workforce — not to mention a stressed, unhealthy and ultimately unhappy one. Offering voluntary benefits can be a meaningful addition to an employee benefits package and a win for employees and businesses alike: employees feel as though they have helpful supplements to their health insurance, and employers don’t have to increase their health care budget to offer them.

Required Benefits vs. Voluntary Benefits

As we’ve discussed in the past, certain employee benefits are required by law, and employers who fail to provide them can be hit with serious — and costly — penalties. These benefits include social security and Medicare withholding, unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation benefits. Depending on where an employer is located and how many employees it has, it may also be required by law to provide disability insurance, FMLA benefits and “acceptable” health insurance per federal statute.

Voluntary benefits, on the other hand, are usually paid 100% by the policyholder, and employers are neither expected nor required to cover any portion of the premium. Furthermore, what constitutes a “voluntary benefit” is frequently up for debate — some claim it’s a benefit paid entirely by the employee, while others say it can include benefits that are partially subsidized by the employer. In reality, almost all benefits are voluntary, as employees can waive coverage as long as a benefit is not required by law.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Employee Retention, Voluntary Benefits

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The Changing Definition of Work-Life Balance

David Rook

The term “work-life balance” has gotten quite a bit of buzz in recent years, thanks in part to the new priorities millennials are bringing to the workplace. This idea captures the desire to work and grow in a career, but also the desire to enjoy one’s life outside of work — with the goal of creating a meaningful sense of balance between the two.

However, it’s not just millennials who crave a healthy balance between their working lives and time spent outside the office. Because the workforce is currently juggling three different generations (not counting the bookend demographic groups of Generation Z and The Silent Generation) who view the working world in different ways, it’s important to define what “work-life balance” truly means to each of them, as it may change how employers can effectively motivate employees.

For example, employers might consider adjusting incentive programs to accommodate different needs and desires among several different generations of workers.

How Baby Boomers Feel About Work-Life Balance

The baby boomer generation encompasses the group of people born after the Second World War — between the years of 1946 and 1964. Although baby boomers are frequently described as the largest generation in history, Pew Research reports that millennials have now overtaken boomers as the largest living generation. Millennials also make up the largest demographic in the workforce today.   

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Topics: Employee Benefits, millennials, Multi-Generational, Employee Retention, work life balance

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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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