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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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How to Create an Employee Benefits Package for Generation Z

Jeff Griffin

With baby boomers starting to retire, millennials have become the largest portion of today’s workforce. For years now, employers have been asking themselves how they can attract and retain this elusive generation — crafting tailored employee benefits packages — and just when they think they’ve got the hang of it, Generation Z pops up.

Gen Z is also known as the post-millennials, the digital generation, and the iGeneration, but regardless of what you call them, they’re beginning to enter the workforce. Though they may be dreading the prospect, it’s already time for HR Directors to start thinking about what kind of employee benefits package will recruit a whole new generation.

Who are Generation Z?

The boomer generation is the only one with agreed upon dates recognized by the census bureau (1946 through 1964), but the media has spent plenty of time defining (and debating) the others. For the most part, people agree that Gen Z begins sometime between 1997 and 2001.

Some make the case for defining this generation as starting on September 11, 2001, in recognition of the historical event on that day which changed every facet of American life, including the way we raise our children. Without a doubt, Gen Z is being raised with an entirely different perspective on life than those who came before them.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, generation z, Recruiting, Retention

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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, Voluntary Benefits, Recruiting, Worksite Benefits, Ancillary Benefits, Arizona, 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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17 Unique Employee Perks from High-Flying Companies

David Rook

If you think your employees only care about salary, think again. You should never underestimate the power of employee perks when it comes to gauging employee satisfaction. In fact, a survey from Glassdoor found that 80 percent of people would rather have new benefits or perks than a pay raise.

So what kind of perks are we talking about? We don't just mean two-week vacations and employee discounts — companies need to go above and beyond to keep their employees engaged and loyal.

Of course, we've all heard of more and more companies offering perks that would have been unthinkable in the working world of yesteryear, like unlimited vacation or free lunches. However, some companies on the cutting-edge are thinking outside of the box to offer unique and unusual perks to their employees to keep them engaged and happy.

Here are some examples of unique employee perks from high-flying companies:

1. Free overnight breast-milk shipping for new moms on business trips at Zillow.

2. Free egg freezing and fertility assistance for Spotify employees.

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Topics: Company Culture, Innovation, Recruiting

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Employee Benefits to Recruit and Retain a Native American Workforce

David Rook

Do a Google search for recruitment and retention strategies for the Native American workforce, and you'll quickly find your research comes up short. Making up less than two percent of the workforce, this overlooked demographic suffers from unemployment rates double that of national averages.

According to U.S. News and World Report, their labor force participation rate is 61.6 percent, the lowest for all race groups. However, the reality is that Native Americans not only provide a larger workforce pool in the areas where populations are concentrated, but they bring a unique diversity unparalleled by any other group.

Many have learned to balance their tribal world with American culture. Those seeking higher education are often first in their family to do so, displaying a determination and work ethnic that would be an asset to any organization.

How can you successfully recruit and retain top Native American candidates? Below are three important employee benefit considerations for the Native American workforce.

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Topics: Retention, Recruiting, segmentation, Multi-Cultural

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Leveraging Employee Benefits to Recruit and Retain Top Talent

David Rook

Leveraging Employee Benefits to Recruit and Retain Top Talent

SHRM’s 2015 Strategic Benefits Study is out, and for employers hoping to remain competitive when recruiting, a strong portfolio of non-cash benefits remain a key pa rt of any total compensation package. That said, and not surprisingly, pay considerations (salary, raises, bonuses and commissions) still remain the most important element of employee compensation.


Communicating Value Is Key To Influencing Decisions

For a highly valued candidate with multiple job offers, the role of employee benefits in swaying their decision can be enormous. According to the 2014 Aflac Workforces Report, 59 percent of employees are likely to accept a lower salary in exchange for better benefits.
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Topics: Employee Benefits, Recruiting

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