September is Life Insurance Awareness Month


The month of September is Life Insurance Awareness Month coordinated by Life Happens. This is an industry-wide campaign to educate Americans about the importance of life insurance and helping them get the coverage they need. According to the 2016 Insurance Barometer Study by Life Happens and the Life Insurance and Market Research Association, 1 in 3 households would have immediate trouble paying living expenses if the primary wage earner died.

Life insurance has many different purposes, more than just helping loved ones handle daily expenses after a death. With life insurance policyholders can leave a legacy. Ways to do this include making a significant donation to a charity or cause, ensuring that children or grandchildren will be able to go to college and create a scholarship fund or other endowment.
There are different types of Life insurance that can be offered to employers and their employees. These include:

Term-Life Insurance provides protection for a specific period of time, or term. Most often, you will see it offered in 10-, 15-, 20- and 30- year terms. The premium does not change throughout the term. If the insured person dies during this period, the beneficiaries receive the proceeds income tax-free. At the end of each term, the insured may renew the policy, generally with a higher premium.
Whole Life Insurance builds value which the policy holder will know the exact cash value of your policy on each policy anniversary. The policy holder can choose to take a loan or withdrawal from the policy. However, if they choose to do so, the cash value and death benefit will decrease.
Universal Life Insurance earns a fixed interest rate on the cash value in the policy. While the interest rate may change over time, it will never dip below a guaranteed minimum rate.

Though many employers and their employees may already have life insurance, this month is a good time to remind everyone to check on their policy to make sure it still fits their needs. Marriage, having or adopting children or other life events can greatly impact the amount of insurance needed. For those who do not already have life insurance, the first step is to get quotes on policies and choose one. Finally, even if the policy holders deem that they have plenty of coverage, they may still want to suggest looking at other policies as they may find similar coverage for less.


Protecting Employees from Identity Theft


Identity theft is a growing threat due to data breaches and hacking incidents on the rise. Due to this growing trend, identity theft protection is quickly becoming as important as home or auto coverage. Many employers looking to attract and retain top talent have been adding identity theft protection to the company’s benefit offerings. With 12.7 million US adults falling victim to identity theft in 2014, your employees can be at risk.1

Identity theft has grown to more than just using someone’s credit card or taking out credit cards in someone’s name. Criminals may use the stolen identity to obtain a driver’s license and other documents and to commit fraud. In these cases, sorting out the situation requires much more than simply canceling credit cards and opening new accounts.

Victims of ID theft sometimes spend hundreds of hours trying to resolve problems that arise when their name, Social Security number, credit card numbers and other financial information are used to commit fraud. Lasting effects for victims of identity theft include debt collector calls, denial on new credit requests, closed credit cards, loan denial, utilities being cut off, criminal investigation or civil suit and difficulties obtaining or accessing bank accounts. From a productivity perspective, any employee who is a victim of identity theft and trying to address the resulting problems is unlikely to be fully focused on his or her work.

ID theft protection services can provide counselors to walk victims through the process. Some services provide access to network attorneys but not all reimburse for losses incurred. In addition, companies can help employees protect themselves from identity theft with education about the basics of identity theft, how to monitor their personal records for evidence of fraud or theft, and about what steps to take to rectify the situation.

1“2015 Identity Fraud,” Javelin Strategy & Research, 2015

Advantages of Voluntary Benefits


Rising healthcare costs have increased pressure on employers and employees alike to reduce expenses on health insurance while maintaining sufficient coverage. In the struggle to cut costs, voluntary benefits have taken the back burner, yet some studies question whether this really helps or hurts employers and employees. Voluntary benefits often fill in the gaps that other insurance leaves behind, providing affordable and personalized coverage for employees and their families. Though some businesses have been keen to cut voluntary benefits,MetLife Inc.’s 12th annual “Employee Benefit Trends Study” recorded that 65% of employees said they would feel more loyal to their employer if they were offered voluntary benefits.

Personalization is key with voluntary benefits.

The idea is to offer employees the opportunity to choose affordable coverage that serves their needs, as well as the needs of their family. One way to find the right coverage for your employees is to conduct a survey to find out more about their lifestyles and other specific needs. Furthermore, it is important to consider effective communication methods for different generations of employees — Baby Boomers might prefer paper while Millennials prefer an electronic campaign.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers study found that 83% of employers are now offering high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), and 25% are offering only HDHPs. This trend will continue to see a rise over the next few years. The good news is those with HDHPs are more likely to take advantage of wellness and find ways to save costs through employer sponsored programs.

Since employees are looking for ways to save money and help with paying the high deductible, they can choose accident, disability plans and hospital indemnity plans that will pay cash directly to the policyholder that they put back towards their deductible and towards treatment that may not be covered by major medical.

The rapidly changing healthcare landscape has seen a shift in decision-making power from employers to employees. While different businesses may take different approaches with regard to the availability and selection of voluntary benefits, greater personalization and a freedom to choose offer employees more options while reducing costs and headaches for employers.


Communicating Your Benefits


Open enrollment can be a stressful time for employees and employers alike. Studies show that more than one-quarter of employees don’t understand the benefits offered by their company, while one half wish there was a simpler way to enroll. One of the most effective ways to reduce stress and boost enrollment is to clearly communicate what benefits are offered, how to enroll, as well as a timeline for enrollment. Simplifying and clarifying the benefits offered and the enrollment process aids employers and employees, saving time, frustration, and money .

Here are a few ways to communicate with your employees about open enrollment:

Consider Going Digital – Though sometimes it is helpful to have a piece of paper or booklet to flip through, more often than not, you’ll simply be adding yet another piece of paper to your employees’ already-crowded desks. Instead, consider going entirely digital. You can replace letters, posters, and flyers with emails or links to online content. You’ll save money on paper and ink but your employees still have access to the material they need.

Explain Why – Present what benefits are offered along with why they are important and valuable to your employees. In addition, this is an excellent time to promote healthy lifestyles, along with any wellness programs that your company offers.

Explain Changes – Introduce changes in carriers and explain if/why premiums have changed or increased from the prior year. Telling your employees why these changes were made and how it works with their best interests in mind will keep them feeling in the loop.

Utilize Multimedia – By repeating the benefits offered through different mediums, you can ensure that your employees have a greater understanding of the benefits and plans being offered to them, so that they can make the right choice for themselves and their families. Videos and webinars are two excellent ways to communicate benefits, with content available year-round to answer any questions that might arise.

Costs of Turnover and Benefits of Retaining Employees

In 2014, CareerBuilder conducted a survey to determine what affects employee retention most. The common reasons cited by employees seeking other job opportunities included:

Wanting a career, not a job Underemployment
Lack of Training Feeling Overlooked
Lack of advancement Feeling underpaid
Mismanagement Looking for more work/life balance

It’s not as common today to stay with the same company your entire career as it was 30 years ago. With the job market as competitive as it is today, it’s expected to see young professionals moving from job to job in order to increase their chances of moving up within a company to advance their careers. But, with every change, companies come face-to-face with hidden costs, including:

Lowered productivity – the work of the employee has to be given to others within the department until the position has been filled. Staff can become overworked and ordinary work may fall behind due to extra tasks being added to someone’s load.

Lost knowledge – each employee has specific knowledge of their job responsibilities. It’s uncommon to have a detailed how-to of each person’s responsibilities. This leads to a learning curve for others within the department. Depending on how long they have been with the company, they may have historical knowledge and an understanding for how projects are completed.

Training costs – When a new employee is hired, their manager, or others within a department, must take time out of their own schedules to teach and help new employees understand their tasks. This takes others away from their own work and leads to a lowered productivity.

Recruitment – HR has to recruit new candidates, post advertisements, and screen resumes, which takes time and money. Sometimes there is extra cost associated to stay at the top of the search list.

Interviewing costs – reading through resumes, phone calls, face-to-face interviews and decision-making take valuable time for multiple people within a company.

So, what is the estimated cost for hiring and training a new employee? Forbes reported that for entry-level positions the cost can be 30-50% of the annual salary to replace and train a new employee. Those percentages go up as skill levels increase. The expense of training highly specialized employees can be around 400% of annual salary. Listed below are some ways you can entice your employees to stay:

Competitive benefits package – Benefits are more than just insurance and PTO. Schedule flexibility, telecommuting and annual bonuses and raises are a great incentive to stick around.

Philanthropy – Young professionals are looking to feel good about their company and their involvement within the community. By showing that your company cares about the local community and charitable causes, you can make your employees proud to be a part of something bigger.

Reviews – Annually reassess goals and responsibilities. Get feedback from your employees to know what they do and do not like and make changes when appropriate.

Incentives and perks – When employees are working hard, meeting goals and helping the company achieve success, reward them with bagels on Fridays, annual bonuses or a fun day out as a team.

Advancement – Employees want to know they can go places within the company. Promoting from within before looking externally for candidates will help employees feel valued.

Development – Tuition reimbursement and training helps develop your employees and build the knowledge they need to go above and beyond within the company. Encouraging employees to better themselves shows that the company believes in their potential.


Using Benefits to Close the Deal and Retain Employees


As a business it’s important to be at the top of the list of top recruits when looking to hire new employees. It’s also important to keep those with years of tenure, experience and knowledge in the industry. Both new hires and those with years within the company have a lot to offer when they collaborate leading to growing your company’s success.

When looking to hire highly qualified and skilled employees, offering more than a competitive salary is the golden ticket. Though the younger generation may not be so concerned with healthcare and retirement, they may be looking for flexible work hours and a great work-life balance. More mature recruits may be looking to make sure their family is covered with health insurance, accident insurance and they’re looking to what retirement benefits a company will offer them. Therefore, companies need to offer a flexible package that can be modified and flexible to the needs of those being recruited.

The discussion of benefits shouldn’t end after the acceptance letter is signed and returned. Prior to the annual open enrollment period, you should educate your employees and clearly define the highlights of the programs offered. You need to have information posted on a website, company intranet or emailed out to make sure that employees have access to the most up-to-date information of offerings. You must communicate the value that each program can offer and be available for questions and answers to help them choose the best fit for themselves and their family.

Keep a pulse on what employees are choosing for your plans so you can adjust year-to-year to have what your employees want and need for their health, wellness and peace of mind. Can you save your employees money but also offer them the best benefits? Show your employees you care about the health and well being. The more you show you care more about who they are as a person and the lives they live outside of the office the more they will appreciate your efforts and look forward to coming to work each day. Showing your employees you’re more interested in who they are will help with retention.