Expanding your Benefits Package in 2017

As 2017 approaches, many employees will be setting resolutions and goals for their future health, finances and looking for how to improve their lifestyle over the next year. Also heavy on many people’s minds are how their health care may change under new President-elect Donald Trump with his proposed changes to the Affordable Care Act. It is well known that health care costs continue to rise; many employees are looking to their employers to give stability and financial comfort through voluntary benefits. As an employer, the New Year is a great time to start planning which products and services will help meet employee needs more comprehensively — to help ease their concerns and stress related to medical bills and other finances.

Below are a few options to consider when looking at adding new benefits to your offerings:

Part-Time/Seasonal Packages
Part-time and seasonal employee benefits packages may offer some perks that your full-timers have. These packages can include benefits such as discount Rx, wellness programs or limited medical plans and more. Offering benefits to this group can help with recruitment.

Patient Advocacy Services
Many employers are offering patient advocacy services to assist employees through their health care process. This can include bill negotiation to reduce their out-of-pocket expense, doctor referrals and cost comparisons for procedures and medications.

Identity Theft Protection
Identity Theft Protection Programs include credit monitoring, fraud alert and services to help employees restore their identity and fix any damage that has been done. Many pla n tiers are available based on service a price needs.

Financial Coaching
Financial stress may not be a highly talked about issue, but some employers are starting to provide educational benefits to their employees various financial needs. Outside of 401(k)s and HSAs, services are available including student loan refinancing, debt repayment, credit score improvement and financial education for the future.

Telehealth
With telehealth programs, employees can consult with a doctor via phone or video for medical advice and treatment of minor illnesses with the need to leave work. This can help employers with absenteeism and reduced productivity.

Employee Assistance Programs

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Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) programs began in the 1940s to assist employees with alcohol problems that were hired by companies with a shortage of skilled workers during WWII. EAPs evolved in the 1970s to be a comprehensive program to address mental health, family problems, child care, elder care, stress management, legal and financial services.

Over the years, EAPs have been widely adopted by companies across the US to help their employees deal with personal problems, which can have adverse effects on their job performance, health and general well-being. EAPs provide services such as short-term counseling and referral services for employees and their household members. EAP services are funded by the employers and 80% are delivered by outside vendors who operate as for-profit companies.

EAPs help with improving employees’ behavioral health, comprising of mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. The programs provide therapy to help employees learn the coping skills to deal with depression, workplace stress and other mental health issues. These programs will help improve employee performance and employers need to show that they have their employees’ best interests in mind. According to experts, when employees are feeling their best they will have better productivity and engagement.

An estimated 43.6 million (18.1%) Americans ages 18 and up experienced some form of mental illness according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. New York-based Towers Watson & Co. found that 85% of employers of all sizes offer stress management services as a part of their EAP, but only 5% of employees choose to utilize the aid.

To help promote EAPs, companies should communicate the benefits of the programs to increase employee utilization. Due to the stigma around mental health and sickness, many people may not want to reach out for help. Employees may also be hesitant to reach out to use the program with worries about employers finding out about illness or their stresses, but they must be educated that all information is private and any transfer of information would be a HIPPA violation. As mental health issues have become more prevalent in recent years (or at least more widely publicized), companies are more likely to encourage their employees to take advantage of these great programs.

Sources:

www.easna.org

www.socialwelfarehistory.com

 

Wellness Programs – Benefiting Employers and Employees

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Over the last few years, more and more companies have implemented Wellness Programs as part of their benefit programs for their employees. As health care costs continue to rise, primarily due to changes imposed by the Affordable Care Act, many companies are seeing the impact on their bottom lines. The studies referenced below demonstrate a correlation between wellness programs and a reduction in health care costs, as well as evidence the programs boost morale and encourage healthy lifestyles.

Wellness Programs are a great voluntary approach to show employees that their employer is invested in their well-being. Employees take note when their management and executives take the time to show that employees do more than just fill a chair and clock in and out but understand that their lives outside of work and their health are also a priority.

Focusing on building healthy habits such as smoking cessation, exercise, clean eating and stress management, just to name a few, will result in fewer employee health claims, thereby reducing companies overall health care costs. In 2014 Harvard Business Review held a study with 20 companies and found an average annual health care cost increase of 1-2% for companies with wellness programs, compared to the 7% national average.

The 2012 Aflac WorkForces Report found that 92% of the companies with a wellness program in place recognize the effectiveness of the programs. In addition, 44% of employers agree they are able to offer lower health insurance premiums as a result of their wellness program.

Researchers recommend offering voluntary health screenings to help make employees aware of their own health. This will empower them to set goals and make choices to work towards achieving those goals. In order to motivate employees to participate, offering bonuses in the form of cash, vacation days or prizes are good ways to encourage employees to engage in the programs. If your company doesn’t offer the voluntary health screenings, you can offer bonuses for going to the doctor and getting annual check-ups and physicals.

Advantages of Voluntary Benefits

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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.

 

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.

Source: http://www.eremedia.com/tlnt/what-was-leadership-thinking-the-shockingly-high-cost-of-employee-turnover/