Yearly Archives: 2019

  • It’s apparent that what is meant to be transparent needs parenting

    December 30, 2019

    Tags: ,

    To pro­mote com­pe­ti­tion and push down health­care costs, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion issued new rules in Novem­ber to require insur­ers and hos­pi­tals to dis­close upfront the actu­al prices for com­mon tests and pro­ce­dures.  Not sur­pris­ing­ly, there is an almost open revolt from the health­care indus­try.  The rules for hos­pi­tals take effect in 2021 – it is not out­lined when this applies to health insur­ance com­pa­nies.  It is expect­ed this will go to court, but in the meantime:

    Hos­pi­tals must pub­lish in a con­sumer-friend­ly man­ner nego­ti­at­ed rates for the 300 most com­mon ser­vices that can be sched­uled in advance and pub­lish all charges in a for­mat that can be read on the web.  For health insur­ance com­pa­nies, it is required that they cre­ate an online tool so pol­i­cy­hold­ers may get a real-time per­son­al­ized esti­mate of their out-of-pock­et costs, and a pub­lic dis­clo­sure of nego­ti­at­ed rates for their in-net­work providers.

    Charge lists will include:

    • Gross charge
    • Pay­er spe­cif­ic nego­ti­at­ed charge
    • Dis­count­ed cash price
    • De-iden­ti­fied min­i­mum nego­ti­at­ed charge (low­est of all prices the hos­pi­tal has)
    • De-iden­ti­fied max­i­mum nego­ti­at­ed charge

    The for­mal title is “The 2020 Out­pa­tient prospec­tive pay­ment sys­tem and ambu­la­to­ry sur­gi­cal cen­ter price trans­paren­cy require­ments for hos­pi­tals to make stan­dard charges pub­lic final rule” and it is under CMS 1717-F2 issued 11/15/19.

  • Celebrate the Season Safely

    December 16, 2019

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    Last year’s 2018 Hol­i­day Par­ty Sur­vey by Chal­lenger, Gray & Christ­mas found that just 65 per­cent of com­pa­nies were hold­ing hol­i­day fes­tiv­i­ties last year, the low­est rate since the 2009 reces­sion, and this trend is expect­ed to con­tin­ue into the 2019 hol­i­day sea­son (the 2019 report has not yet been released). While in 2009, hol­i­day par­ties were skipped for finan­cial rea­sons, today’s caus­es are more com­plex. Andrew Chal­lenger, VP of Chal­lenger, Gray & Christ­mas, spec­u­lat­ed that the two biggest fac­tors are #MeToo and an increase in the num­ber of remote employees.

    If your com­pa­ny is among those cel­e­brat­ing the hol­i­day sea­son this year, what can you do to avoid lia­bil­i­ty from sex­u­al harass­ment, alco­hol con­sump­tion, and oth­er cat­e­gories of risk?

    Risk: Harassment Allegations

    • Com­mu­ni­cate behav­ior expec­ta­tions to employ­ees ahead of time. Con­sid­er using this lan­guage to set stan­dards of con­duct. You may even choose to redis­trib­ute your sex­u­al harass­ment pol­i­cy. Be sure to empha­size that all employ­ee poli­cies apply at the par­ty, even if it is off-site or after work hours. Racial or sex­u­al jokes, inap­pro­pri­ate gag gifts, gos­sip­ing about office rela­tion­ships, and unwel­come touch­ing will not be per­mit­ted dur­ing the hol­i­day par­ty, just as they are not allowed in the office.
    • Do not allow employ­ees to get away with bad behav­ior. Remind your super­vi­sors to set a good exam­ple and keep an eye out for employ­ee behav­ior that needs man­ag­ing at the event.
    • Fol­low up imme­di­ate­ly on alle­ga­tions of inap­pro­pri­ate behav­ior and con­duct a thor­ough inves­ti­ga­tion of the facts, even if the alleged vic­tim does not file a com­plaint and you only hear about the behav­ior through the grapevine. If cor­rec­tive action is war­rant­ed, apply it promptly.
    • Invite sig­nif­i­cant oth­ers or fam­i­lies. Employ­ee behav­ior tends to improve at com­pa­ny events when spous­es or part­ners and chil­dren are present. If your bud­get allows, include the entire fam­i­ly in the cel­e­bra­tion. Be sure to review your lia­bil­i­ty cov­er­age with your bro­ker first.
    • Avoid inci­dents relat­ed to relaxed inhi­bi­tions by fol­low­ing the tips for reduc­ing alco­hol-relat­ed risks (see below).

    Risk: Alcohol-Related Incidents

    • Take steps to lim­it alco­hol con­sump­tion. If alco­hol will be served, pro­vide plen­ty of food rich in car­bo­hy­drates and pro­tein to slow the absorp­tion of alco­hol into the blood­stream. You can also have a cash bar, lim­it the num­ber of drink tick­ets, or close the bar ear­ly to deter over-con­sump­tion. Also have a good selec­tion of non­al­co­holic bev­er­ages or a tasty sig­na­ture “mock­tail” avail­able. Make sure water glass­es are refilled frequently.
    • Get bar­tenders on board. If you have under­age work­ers or invite chil­dren of employ­ees, be sure that servers ask for ID from any­one who looks under age 30. Ask servers to cut off any­one who appears to be intoxicated.
    • Make sure employ­ees get home safe­ly. Offer incen­tives to employ­ees who vol­un­teer to be des­ig­nat­ed dri­vers, offer to pay for ride shares or taxis, or arrange group trans­porta­tion or accom­mo­da­tions. Plan­ning for safe trans­porta­tion can poten­tial­ly min­i­mize your lia­bil­i­ty if an employ­ee caus­es an acci­dent while dri­ving under the influence.
    • Do not serve alco­hol if your par­ty is at the office and your poli­cies do not per­mit drink­ing on com­pa­ny premis­es or dur­ing work hours. Deter employ­ees from an infor­mal after-par­ty at a bar or restau­rant where the alco­hol could flow.

    Risk: Workers’ Compensation Claims

    • Keep the par­ty vol­un­tary and social. Typ­i­cal­ly, work­ers’ com­pen­sa­tion does not apply if the injury is “incurred in the pur­suit of an activ­i­ty, the major pur­pose of which is social or recre­ation­al.” If the car­ri­er deter­mines that the com­pa­ny par­ty was tru­ly vol­un­tary and not relat­ed to work, you may not be liable for injuries sus­tained at the party.
    • Go off­site. Host­ing your hol­i­day par­ty at an off­site loca­tion is a smart idea. Your employ­ees will be thank­ful for the change in set­ting, and this could reduce insur­ance lia­bil­i­ties for your com­pa­ny, espe­cial­ly when it comes to third-par­ty alco­hol and injury policies.
    • Check with your bro­ker before the par­ty. Review your insur­ance poli­cies and par­ty plans to make sure you do every­thing you can to avoid risk and know how to han­dle any inci­dents that result from the party.

    Risk: Perceptions of Unfairness

    • Deter­mine how to han­dle pay issues in advance of the par­ty. You’re not required to pay employ­ees who vol­un­tar­i­ly attend a par­ty after hours. How­ev­er, nonex­empt employ­ees need to be com­pen­sat­ed if they are work­ing the par­ty or if atten­dance is manda­to­ry. If the par­ty is held dur­ing reg­u­lar work hours, then all employ­ees must be paid for attend­ing the party.
    • Decide in advance whether and how to include remote employ­ees, inde­pen­dent con­trac­tors, tem­po­rary employ­ees, or agency work­ers. Be con­sis­tent in send­ing invi­ta­tions, and if a cat­e­go­ry of work­ers will not be invit­ed to the par­ty, con­sid­er oth­er ways to reward them for their hard work through­out the year, such as gifts.
    • Do not penal­ize employ­ees who choose not to attend. The mes­sage may be mis­in­ter­pret­ed and could cre­ate employ­ee rela­tions con­cerns. Be con­sid­er­ate of those who do not attend the event due to reli­gious beliefs, sobri­ety, men­tal health issues, fam­i­ly oblig­a­tions, child care con­flicts, or any oth­er rea­sons. Avoid reli­gious sym­bols or themes as they could offend indi­vid­u­als of dif­fer­ent faiths.

    By Rachel Sobel
    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on thinkhr.com

  • Holiday Travel Safety Tips

    December 9, 2019

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    Hav­ing just wrapped up Thanks­giv­ing, we are now only 2 ½ weeks out from Christ­mas! While we start plan­ning the per­fect gifts for every­one spe­cial in our lives, we are also think­ing of trav­el­ing to vis­it fam­i­ly and friends. Whether you go by car, bus, or plane, trav­el­ing dur­ing the hol­i­days needs to be safe. Fol­low these tips to help you get to your hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion safe­ly this season.

     

    Car Trav­el Safety

    • Make sure you get plen­ty of sleep the night before you trav­el. Being sleep deprived results in slow­er reac­tion times and dis­tract­ed driving.
    • Buck­le every­one up in your car—not just those in child-safe­ty seats. If you are rid­ing, you need to be buck­led in.
    • Put your phone away. That text or that phone con­ver­sa­tion can wait. If you need to com­mu­ni­cate while trav­el­ing, have your pas­sen­ger han­dle your phone.
    • Make a road­side emer­gency kit. Include essen­tials like jumper cables, phone charg­ers, flash­lights, bat­ter­ies, water, snacks, and blan­kets. Make sure your spare tire is undam­aged and you have a jack and tire iron in your vehi­cle should you need to change a tire.

     

    Apps to Help with Hol­i­day Travel

    • Hotel Tonight—If you find your­self get­ting tired as you dri­ve, con­sid­er stop­ping and get­ting some sleep. Hotel Tonight helps you find last minute hotel open­ings near you.
    • Gas­Bud­dy—Don’t spend your time dri­ving around in unfa­mil­iar areas to find the cheap­est gas prices. Use Gas­Bud­dy to find the cheap­est gas in your imme­di­ate vicinity.
    • Waze—Most every­one knows about Waze by now. This com­mu­ni­ty-dri­ven nav­i­ga­tion tool allows you to see where slow­downs are hap­pen­ing near you as well as road debris, acci­dents, and alter­nate routes.
    • iEx­it—Try­ing to remem­ber all the food places list­ed on the high­way exit signs is hard! iEx­it gives you a list of what’s near each high­way exit from food to hotels to gas stations.
    • SitOrSquat—One of the top com­plaints of hol­i­day car trav­el is find­ing clean bath­rooms when you need them. This app rates pub­lic bath­rooms by their clean­li­ness. Brilliant!

     

    Air Trav­el Safety

    • This goes with­out say­ing, but lis­ten to your flight atten­dants. They give valu­able infor­ma­tion to pas­sen­gers in case of an emer­gency. Pay atten­tion to the pre-flight instruc­tions includ­ing where to locate emer­gency exits.
    • Get up and walk around a lit­tle dur­ing long flights. This keeps the blood mov­ing in your legs that are prob­a­bly cramped into the tiny space between seats.
    • Skip the next drink of alco­hol. You want to be clear-head­ed in case an emer­gency hap­pens. Wait and have that glass of wine once you land and are safe­ly at your destination.
    • Put the oxy­gen mask on your­self first. If there hap­pens to be an emer­gency mid-flight, you need to first place the mask on your face and then help oth­ers around you. This ensures that you are able to clear­ly hear instruc­tions and are able to help some­one near­by who may not be able to get the mask on themselves.

     

    Fol­low­ing these sim­ple trav­el tips will help get you to your des­ti­na­tion safe­ly this hol­i­day sea­son. Remem­ber, sur­round­ing your­self with the ones you love and val­ue is the goal. Get to those loved ones safe­ly and your hol­i­day will be memorable!

  • Men’s Health Awareness is Lifelong

    November 25, 2019

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    Novem­ber is Men’s Health Aware­ness Month and the Movem­ber Foun­da­tion uses the month to bring aware­ness to and sup­port of those tack­ling prostate can­cer, tes­tic­u­lar can­cer, men­tal health, and sui­cide. June is Men’s Health Month; the pur­pose is to height­en the aware­ness of pre­ventable health prob­lems and encour­age ear­ly detec­tion and treat­ment of dis­ease among men and boys. The fol­low­ing are rec­om­men­da­tions that are sup­port­ed by evi­dence from schol­ar­ly jour­nals and pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions and asso­ci­a­tions to improve men’s health.

    Through­out the world, women live longer than men, although this gap varies tremen­dous­ly in less devel­oped coun­tries. Accord­ing to the CIA World Fact­book, in the Unit­ed States, aver­age longevi­ty for women is 82.2 years for women and 77.2 years for men, a five-year gap.  Many men have the men­tal­i­ty of “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” so if they can­not see or feel an exter­nal stim­u­lus, they will think there is noth­ing ever wrong.  A major­i­ty of men are just not aware of what they can do to improve their health and live health­i­er and hap­pi­er lives.

    At a very least, get vac­ci­nat­ed. Every­one needs immu­niza­tions to stay healthy, no mat­ter their age. Even if you were vac­ci­nat­ed as a child, you may need updates because immu­ni­ty can fade with time. Vac­cine rec­om­men­da­tions are based on a range of fac­tors, includ­ing age, over­all health, and your med­ical his­to­ry. Ask your health care provider or a phar­ma­cist about the rec­om­mend­ed vaccinations.

    Rec­om­men­da­tions for men’s health begin­ning at age 20 and beyond

    • Get an annu­al phys­i­cal exam by your pri­ma­ry care provider, includ­ing blood pres­sure, and height/weight checks.
    • Annu­al­ly screen for tes­tic­u­lar can­cer that includes month­ly self-exams.
    • Have cho­les­terol test­ing every five years.
    • Screen for dia­betes, thy­roid dis­ease, liv­er prob­lems, and anemia.
    • Depend­ing on risk fac­tors, screen for skin can­cer, sex­u­al­ly trans­mit­ted dis­eases and HIV infec­tion, and alco­hol and drug misuse.
    • At 30, screen for coro­nary heart dis­ease, espe­cial­ly with a strong fam­i­ly his­to­ry of the dis­ease and/or risk factors.
    • At 40, screen for thy­roid dis­ease, liv­er prob­lems, ane­mia, and prostate cancer.
    • At 50, screen for cho­les­terol every five years; annu­al­ly screen for Type II dia­betes; lipid dis­or­ders; and skin, colon, and lung can­cer. Obtain a shin­gles vaccine.
    • At 60, screen for depres­sion, osteo­poro­sis, demen­tia, Alzheimer’s dis­ease, and abdom­i­nal aor­tic aneurysm. Have a carotid artery ultrasound.
    • At 70, depend­ing on pre­vi­ous find­ings, some screen­ings may be done every six months.

    Rec­om­men­da­tions for men’s health regard­less of age

    • Men have more dif­fi­cul­ty han­dling stress than women, par­tial­ly because women have bet­ter social net­works and more friends with whom then can con­fide. Thus, men should seek out more friends, whether they are male or female.
    • Laugh­ter increas­es endor­phins, there­by increas­ing longevi­ty. Get a sense of humor and engage with oth­ers with whom you can laugh.
    • Avoid tobac­co prod­ucts and non-pre­scrip­tive drugs.
    • Avoid exces­sive sun exposure.
    • Research the reli­a­bil­i­ty of vit­a­mins or herbs before start­ing them. Make sure it is rec­om­mend­ed by pro­fes­sion­als, not just the man­u­fac­tur­er of the item.
    • Don’t become a worka­holic; it increas­es stress and can lead to health con­cerns such as hyper­ten­sion and weight gain. Get a hob­by that helps you decrease stress, exer­cise in the man­ner you pre­fer, and seek help with diet to main­tain a desir­able weight.
    • Men, espe­cial­ly young men, are known for engag­ing in risky behav­iors. Wear seat­belts, hel­mets when rid­ing bicy­cles or motor­cy­cles, don’t text or talk on the tele­phone when dri­ving, and avoid friends who encour­age illic­it drug use and high alco­hol consumption.
    • If sex­u­al­ly active, get test­ed reg­u­lar­ly for sex­u­al­ly trans­mit­ted infec­tions. You might think you are safe if you engage in sex­u­al activ­i­ty with only one per­son, but that per­son might be hav­ing sex­u­al rela­tions with oth­ers, a con­cept called ser­i­al monogamy.
    • The Guttmach­er Insti­tute reports that some boys start hav­ing sex at the age of 10 and that num­ber increas­es each year until by the age of 20, 75 per­cent of men and boys engage sex­u­al activ­i­ty by the age of 20. There­fore, start safe-sex edu­ca­tion at home and in school begin­ning at age of 10.

    Dis­claimer: The Men’s Health Aware­ness views expressed here are sole­ly those of the author(s) and do not nec­es­sar­i­ly rep­re­sent or reflect the views of Excel­sior Col­lege, its trustees, offi­cers, or employees.

    By Lar­ry Pur­nell, PhD, RN, FAAN

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on Excelsior.edu

  • Pet Insurance

    November 20, 2019

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    We’ve all heard the say­ing “A dog is a man’s best friend” and we know it’s true! Pets give us uncon­di­tion­al love, com­pan­ion­ship, and joy. But, are we will­ing to pay the price when a hefty vet bill comes along? Pet insur­ance may help you stom­ach that unex­pect­ed emer­gency room charge due to Fluffy’s uncan­ny abil­i­ty to eat any­thing with­in reach—even if it’s rotten!

    In 2017, over $16.62B were spent on vet­eri­nar­i­an bills in the Unit­ed States. In that same year, Amer­i­cans also spent over $1B on pet insur­ance. This begs the ques­tion “is pet insur­ance worth buy­ing?” While this mar­ket con­tin­ues to grow, 99% of pet own­ers report NOT hav­ing pet insur­ance. The num­ber one rea­son? Cost. Pre­mi­ums are at their low­est when you own a pup­py or kit­ten and increase as the pet gets old­er. This results in the insured only keep­ing pet insur­ance for an aver­age of 3 years. The cost of insur­ance can increase 5‑fold between the pup­py and adult years.

    Pet insur­ance is one of the fastest grow­ing mar­kets in the US. This insur­ance can be pur­chased with increased lev­els of cov­er­age. The most basic lev­el may cov­er treat­ments for some com­mon ill­ness­es or acci­den­tal injury. The mid-range cov­er­age could cov­er pre­ven­ta­tive care as well as immu­niza­tions. An exam­ple of pre­mi­um cov­er­age is sur­gi­cal cost and lia­bil­i­ty for if the pet injured some­one. Prices for these lev­els range from $15/ month to $45/month.

    Pet insur­ance is now becom­ing a more com­mon­place employ­ee ben­e­fitContingencies.org says that 6500 employ­ers in the US and Cana­da offer pet insur­ance to its employ­ees. A report by SHRM says that of those offered pet insur­ance as an employ­ee perk, only 6% of pet own­ers uti­lized that ben­e­fit in 2012. By 2017, that num­ber rose to 9%. Employ­ees say this is an impor­tant ben­e­fit because, for many, pets are con­sid­ered part of a fam­i­ly and if you insure a human mem­ber of a fam­i­ly, why wouldn’t you also insure your pet?

    If your com­pa­ny does not offer pet insur­ance, here are some tips on what you should look for when con­sid­er­ing pur­chas­ing pet insurance:

    1. How much do my pre­mi­ums increase as my pet ages?
    2. What is cov­ered and not cov­ered? Does the plan include pre-exist­ing conditions?
    3. Can you pur­chase just acci­dent cov­er­age for if your pet injures someone?

    With our pets being a vital part of our fam­i­ly, hav­ing pet insur­ance can give you peace of mind that you don’t have to shoul­der the entire cost of an injury or ill­ness of a pet. Not hav­ing to make deci­sions for their care based on mon­ey is a bless­ing to their fam­i­lies. For over 6,000 com­pa­nies and their 80,000 employ­ees this perk is worth every penny.

  • What Diversity Looks Like in the Workplace

    November 13, 2019

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    Diver­si­ty isn’t just a moral issue.  There is a busi­ness case that can be made for pro­mot­ing diver­si­ty and inclu­sion in the work­place.  From recruit­ment to men­tor­ing, human resources has a main role in the strategy.

    Defining Diversity

    What is diver­si­ty?  That’s a two pronged answer.  There is inher­ent diver­si­ty.  It involves traits a per­son is born with… gen­der, eth­nic­i­ty, and sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion for instance.  Then there is acquired diver­si­ty.  These are traits gained from expe­ri­ence.  For instance, an employ­ee who has worked abroad will be more inclined to appre­ci­ate cul­tur­al difference.

    The Har­vard Busi­ness Review con­duct­ed a study focused on two-dimen­sion­al diver­si­ty.  A per­son with 2‑D diver­si­ty is said to have least three inher­ent and three acquired diver­si­ty traits.  In the study, com­pa­nies with 2‑D diver­si­ty out-inno­vat­ed and out-per­formed those with­out it.  Those com­pa­nies were 45% more like­ly to report growth over the pre­vi­ous year and 70% more like­ly to report cap­tur­ing a new market.

    Diversity in Practice

    Tran­sUnion con­tin­ues to focus on diver­si­ty and inclu­sion ini­tia­tives and has even made key changes in lead­er­ship.  Instead of posi­tions being held by just men, the com­pa­ny has added some women to the ranks.  But it isn’t some­thing that hap­pened overnight and the work con­tin­ues into 2019.  Debra Wasser­man is the Senior Direc­tor of Com­pen­sa­tion and Ben­e­fits at Tran­sUnion.  She said Tran­sUnion used a top-down approach.

    “We start­ed with the senior-most lead­ers and fol­lowed it down through­out the orga­ni­za­tion,” Wasser­man said.  “I think to some degree, there need­ed to be some aware­ness.  So, we had to get this front and cen­ter in front of everyone.”

    From there, Wasser­man says the com­pa­ny has start­ed look­ing at pay equi­ty.  She said some states already require this, but they’ve start­ed look­ing at it as a glob­al issue as well.

    “We don’t have all the answers.  We’re just start­ing to ask ques­tions at this point, but we’re try­ing to make a move toward a more diverse sit­u­a­tion,” Wasser­man said.

    Impacting Diversity

    Diver­si­ty and inclu­sion con­tin­ues to be one of the dom­i­nant top­ics for HR pro­fes­sion­als.  There are some way’s HR can real­ly impact change for their respec­tive companies.

    In most com­pa­nies it can be dif­fi­cult to get a clear pic­ture of what diver­si­ty is like for that par­tic­u­lar organization.

    To com­bat this, HR teams should mon­i­tor diver­si­ty.  This can be done through audits.  This should be done, not only for cur­rent employ­ees, but in recruit­ment prac­tices as well.  This will allow for progress to be mea­sured effectively.

    When it comes to diver­si­ty, HR should focus on build­ing a diverse work­force through recruit­ment or devel­op­ment. There are a myr­i­ad of ways of doing this.  Some can be through inter­nal or exter­nal partnerships.

    Like recruit­ment, men­tor­ing can be inter­nal or exter­nal. For instance, some HR pro­fes­sion­als work with schools or local youth groups. This helps with fos­ter­ing tal­ent ear­ly and mak­ing sure more diverse indi­vid­u­als are aware of the opportunities.

    HR teams should under­stand it is vital to ensure the diver­si­ty of your sup­ply chain.  Fur­ther­more, it should reflect your con­sumer base, but also that there is a busi­ness case for sup­ply chain diversity.

    In Summation

    It is clear HR has a role in diver­si­ty.  Com­pa­nies should start, if they’re not already, think­ing about mak­ing these changes to recruit­ment, but they will have to imple­ment them as soon as possible.

    That said, these steps can help pro­pel the com­pa­ny onto a pos­i­tive tra­jec­to­ry.  Even with pos­i­tive changes in recruit­ment, oth­er areas such as men­tor­ing, sup­pli­er chain diver­si­ty and pro­gres­sion and lead­er­ship still need to be focused on to ensure com­pa­nies are aid­ing eth­nic minor­i­ty pro­gres­sion with­in their organizations.

    By Mason Stevenson

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on hrexchangenetwork.com

  • New HSA Limits

    November 8, 2019

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    For 2020 the min­i­mum annu­al deductible is $1,400 for an indi­vid­ual and $2,800 with depen­dents. The max­i­mum deductible and out-of-pock­et costs are $6,900 and $13,800, respec­tive­ly. The max­i­mum con­tri­bu­tions are $3,550 for an indi­vid­ual and $7,100 with depen­dents. Those aged 55 or above are still allowed to con­tribute an addi­tion­al $1,000 per year.

  • Diabetes Education and Prevention

    November 6, 2019

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    Dia­betes is a long-last­ing health con­di­tion that affects how your body con­verts food to ener­gy. Dia­betes patients are unable to make enough of the hor­mone called insulin or can­not use the insulin that is made in their body effi­cient­ly.  When this hap­pens, your body can respond in some seri­ous ways that include liv­er dam­age, heart dis­ease, vision loss, and kid­ney disease.

    There are two types of dia­betes. Type 1 dia­betes is an autoim­mune dis­ease where the body just stops mak­ing insulin. These patients are usu­al­ly diag­nosed as chil­dren, teens, or ear­ly adults. Type 2 dia­betes is a result of your body not using the insulin pro­duced in an effi­cient man­ner. About 90% of all dia­bet­ic patients are type 2 cas­es. But, through edu­ca­tion and pre­ven­tion, the effects of dia­betes on a person’s body can be lessened.

    How is food con­vert­ed to energy?

    When you eat food, most of it is con­vert­ed to sug­ar (glu­cose) and released into your blood­stream to pro­vide you with the ener­gy you need to do dai­ly tasks. When your blood sug­ar lev­els increase, your pan­creas is then acti­vat­ed to release insulin into your body’s cells and use it for ener­gy. Insulin not only helps con­vert glu­cose to ener­gy, but it also helps our body store glu­cose for future ener­gy use.

    Dia­betes = Bro­ken Process

    In some peo­ple, the con­ver­sion process is inter­rupt­ed and the mes­sage to the pan­creas to release insulin into the cells to use for ener­gy is done inef­fec­tive­ly. These patients have trou­ble bal­anc­ing the cor­rect amount of insulin in their cells and so there­fore have a hard­er time main­tain­ing ener­gy lev­els. Dia­bet­ic patients try to get rid of extra sug­ar (blood sug­ar lev­el of 180 +) through the kid­neys and there­fore have the need to uri­nate more often. When releas­ing large amounts of sug­ar through urine, it means that there is less avail­able to con­vert to ener­gy and leads to lethar­gy, loss of appetite, and excess burn­ing of body fat.

    Edu­ca­tion & Pre­ven­tion is Key

    For peo­ple with either type 1 or type 2 dia­betes, under­stand­ing how your body process­es sug­ar and main­tains healthy blood sug­ar lev­els is para­mount. Those with type 1 dia­betes require dai­ly insulin shots to keep blood sug­ar lev­els even. These patients are unable to reverse this autoim­mune dis­ease and sole­ly rely on insulin shots to lev­el out glu­cose lev­els. Those with type 2 dia­betes can con­trol the pro­gres­sion of this dis­ease by mak­ing healthy diet choic­es and exer­cis­ing reg­u­lar­ly. In some cas­es, type 2 dia­bet­ics also have to include insulin shots or dia­betes pills.

    Novem­ber is Nation­al Dia­betes Month and is a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to adopt healthy lifestyle habits. Main­tain­ing blood sug­ar lev­els through diet and exer­cise as well as becom­ing aware of the effects of the eat­ing choic­es you make is key to under­stand­ing this dis­ease. For more infor­ma­tion on dia­betes and how to make good choic­es, vis­it the Amer­i­can Dia­betes Asso­ci­a­tion website.

  • The big get bigger…will it provide bigger opportunities for savings on health care?

    November 6, 2019

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    Humana already has a mail-order phar­ma­cy, with over 230 pri­ma­ry care clin­ics and a large home health care provider.  These ser­vices are part of Humana’s shift from “an insur­ance com­pa­ny with ele­ments of health­care to a health­care com­pa­ny with ele­ments of insur­ance” accord­ing to their chief strat­e­gy offi­cer, as they build more pri­ma­ry care clin­ics while stitch­ing togeth­er oth­er pri­ma­ry care inno­va­tors.  Now Humana is launch­ing a new dig­i­tal health and ana­lyt­ics unit, Stu­dio H, which will focus on tech­nol­o­gy designed to man­age provider work­flow, expand­ing tele­health into the home health and pri­ma­ry care set­tings and bring­ing voice recog­ni­tion tools to mem­bers in their homes.  One of those ser­vices has already been built out, a vir­tu­al pri­ma­ry care ser­vice launched with Doc­tor on Demand (now called On Hand).

  • 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Life Insurance

    October 30, 2019

    Tags:

    Life insur­ance blah blah blah. Is that what you hear when some­one men­tions it as part of your new job’s employ­ee ben­e­fits round-up or when you see some­thing about it on TV or social media? Not to wor­ry: we’ve got the low-down on what you need to know. And it’s real­ly not as over­whelm­ing (or under­whelm­ing) as you might think.

    1. It’s part of a sound finan­cial plan. You know about sav­ings, you know about retire­ment. You might know a bit about invest­ments and long-term finan­cial plan­ning for your health and hap­pi­ness. And life insur­ance helps with plan­ning for your loved ones’ long-term health and hap­pi­ness, espe­cial­ly those who depend on your income, in case some­thing were to hap­pen to you.

    2. There are dif­fer­ent kinds of life insur­ance. In addi­tion to employ­ment-based life insur­ance (which typ­i­cal­ly only lasts as long as your employ­ment at your job), there’s term and per­ma­nent life insurance.

    Term life insur­ance: You typ­i­cal­ly pay low­er pre­mi­ums for term life insur­ance, but your cov­er­age is just for a spec­i­fied amount of time, say 20 years, for exam­ple. At the end of the term, your insur­ance cov­er­age ends.

    Per­ma­nent life insur­ance: With per­ma­nent life insur­ance (whole, uni­ver­sal, vari­able) you typ­i­cal­ly pay high­er pre­mi­ums in the short term, but then these poli­cies gen­er­al­ly allow you to accu­mu­late cash val­ue over time. Your cov­er­age is designed to last as long as you con­tin­ue to pay premiums.

    3. Life insur­ance is sur­pris­ing­ly afford­able for most peo­ple. Sure, there are forms of life insur­ance that get prici­er the more fea­tures you add on to it, and the price goes up if you’re a smok­er or deal­ing with health prob­lems. But most peo­ple think life insur­ance costs about three times as much as it real­ly does, accord­ing to the Insur­ance Barom­e­ter Study by Life Hap­pens and LIMRA. Just as a gen­er­al guide, a healthy non­smok­ing 30-year-old man can get a $250,000 20-year lev­el term pol­i­cy for about $16 a month.

    4. Key life events are often the best time to get on board. Get­ting mar­ried? Hav­ing kids? Chang­ing jobs? Bought a house? Sig­nif­i­cant life events are often the time you become most aware of the need for life insurance—and on that note…

    5. You can change your life insur­ance. Per­haps you have a life insur­ance pol­i­cy that your par­ents got for you when you were a baby. Per­haps you have a term pol­i­cy from when you bought your house but now you have a big­ger fam­i­ly and you’re con­cerned about get­ting them all through col­lege. Or per­haps you want to bump up your cov­er­age because your over­all cost of liv­ing has changed. And on *that* note …

    6. You may well need more cov­er­age than you think. Some­times peo­ple think life insur­ance is to pay off their own debts and funer­al expens­es. But a key advan­tage of hav­ing life insur­ance is to ensure that the peo­ple who depend on you will be OK with their ongo­ing and future finan­cial needs if some­thing hap­pens to you. Need help fig­ur­ing this out how much? Go to this online cal­cu­la­tor: www.lifehappens.org/howmuch.

    7. Life insur­ance pays out quick­ly. Because life insur­ance doesn’t get tan­gled up in estate claims, it gen­er­al­ly pays out quick­ly, some­times in days or weeks, usu­al­ly inside of a month.

    8. Life insur­ance pro­ceeds are gen­er­al­ly tax-free. Com­pare this to, say, crowd­fund­ing options like “GoFundMe” that have become so pop­u­lar yet cre­ate tax con­se­quences for the peo­ple they’re meant to help (to say noth­ing of fees and the lack of guar­an­teed ben­e­fit). It’s also help­ful when you’re try­ing to cre­ate an inher­i­tance for a beneficiary.

    9. Life insur­ance pro­tects your fam­i­ly, but only if you let it. Keep your pre­mi­ums paid up and your ben­e­fi­cia­ries up to date, and the door with your agent open so that your loved ones know who to call if they need to. Keep your paper­work with your oth­er vital documents.

    10. Life insur­ance can be more than just life insur­ance. Using “rid­ers,” or an adden­dum to a life insur­ance con­tract, or even a spe­cif­ic kind of pol­i­cy, life insur­ance ben­e­fits can become “liv­ing ben­e­fits,” mon­ey you can access before you die, or use to pay for long-term care, as two examples.

    If you still need help get­ting a han­dle on all this, talk to an agent. They can help you under­stand the ins and outs and the best pol­i­cy for your bud­get and needs. Because of course—the most impor­tant thing to know about life insur­ance is that it’s there to help the peo­ple you love the most.

    By Helen Mosher

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on lifehappens.org

  • We won’t need humans to be with humans without the patience to see patients

    October 29, 2019

    Tags: ,

    The Mayo Clin­ic and Google announced a ten-year strate­gic part­ner­ship where Google Cloud will be the cor­ner­stone of its dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion.  Mayo will now use advanced cloud com­put­ing, data ana­lyt­ics, machine learn­ing and AI to rede­fine health­care deliv­ery.  The CEO of Mayo Clin­ic says, “It will empow­er us to solve some of the most com­plex med­ical prob­lems, bet­ter antic­i­pate the needs of peo­ple we serve, and meet them when, where, and how they need us.”

  • Arrow Benefits Group Launches Award-Winning Joint-Partnership Program for Clients

    October 28, 2019

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    Ben­e­fits advis­ing is typ­i­cal­ly a high­ly com­pet­i­tive indus­try. But now Arrow Ben­e­fits Group is break­ing the mold, where Prin­ci­pal Andrew McNeil and Span­ish Lan­guage Divi­sion (Alian­za) lead Rosario Avi­la have teamed up to form The Pow­er of Two, an unprece­dent­ed col­lab­o­ra­tion that has gar­nered them the pres­ti­gious award “2019 Ben­e­fits Advis­ers of the Year” by Employ­ee Ben­e­fits Advis­er (EBA), the first time this award has been grant­ed joint­ly. This unique part­ner­ship of ben­e­fits advis­ers serves their clients by focus­ing on being proac­tive rather than reac­tive, and this unique per­spec­tive is gen­er­at­ing results. Arrow cus­tomers are already see­ing the ben­e­fits of this kind of joint-ven­ture “Andrew and Rosario worked with me on a part­ner­ship to bring CPR class­es to the Span­ish-speak­ing com­mu­ni­ty. They bring vary­ing impor­tant per­spec­tives to the table and then work col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly to find the best solu­tion. Their dif­fer­ences com­ple­ment each oth­er and they bring thought­ful, com­pre­hen­sive solu­tions to every sit­u­a­tion. Work­ing togeth­er, they tru­ly demon­strate that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” said Lori Zaret SPHR, SVP Human Resources, Exchange Bank. To book time with this dynam­ic duo or for more infor­ma­tion call: 707–992-3789 or email [email protected]

    After dis­cus­sions about the broad and diverse range of needs of their clients, McNeil and Avi­la rec­og­nized that often just one high-lev­el rep­re­sen­ta­tive who may spe­cial­ize in a par­tic­u­lar area can’t always ful­fill the client’s needs alone. They saw an oppor­tu­ni­ty among their wide breadth of skills and expe­ri­ence as a duo. Join­ing togeth­er with a part­ner in the indus­try who approach­es a sit­u­a­tion dif­fer­ent­ly enables both to serve clients on a much broad­er scale. “The Pow­er of Two is a way to make each oth­er bet­ter, both client and agent,” notes Avi­la. “They can fin­ish each other’s thoughts; they’re so in sync with one anoth­er. But they’re also real­ly dif­fer­ent and real­ly com­ple­men­tary,” says Lori Zaret of Exchange Bank. “When we’re jiv­ing on each other’s vibe, the chem­istry is real­ly hard to dupli­cate,” McNeil said. To read more about why McNeil and Avi­la were select­ed for the 2019 Ben­e­fits Advis­er of the Year award, go to: https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/employee-benefit-adviser-names-2019-advisers-of-the-year

    Con­tin­u­ing a tra­di­tion of indus­try inno­va­tion at Arrow, The Pow­er of Two pro­gram has many objec­tives that buck the tra­di­tion­al approach to ben­e­fits advis­ing. Ben­e­fits bro­kers typ­i­cal­ly meet with their clients once a year and do not nec­es­sar­i­ly have con­tact with their client’s employ­ees. This has always been done dif­fer­ent­ly at Arrow, and now The Pow­er of Two project is a strate­gic plan to review each client through­out the year, as well as work­ing direct­ly with employ­ees and their fam­i­lies to edu­cate them on the ben­e­fits pro­vid­ed and to resolve ben­e­fits-relat­ed issues. This is not the indus­try norm. These ded­i­cat­ed rela­tion­ships ensure that the ben­e­fits pro­gram is what the employ­er and employ­ees want and need.

    Employ­ee ben­e­fits are often the sec­ond-high­est line item in a company’s bud­get after pay­roll, and yet if employ­ees do not under­stand their ben­e­fits pack­age, they will not use them to their fullest poten­tial. Under­uti­liza­tion of ben­e­fits results in an extreme waste of resources, and ulti­mate­ly a less healthy work­force. McNeil and Avila’s ded­i­ca­tion to ben­e­fits edu­ca­tion also inspired them to cre­ate Ben­e­fit­sTV, a series of videos post­ed to social media, after rec­og­niz­ing the lack of dig­i­tal infor­ma­tion­al con­tent acces­si­ble to lay peo­ple want­i­ng to bet­ter under­stand their employ­ee benefits.

    About Arrow Ben­e­fits Group
    Arrow Ben­e­fits Group, the third largest ben­e­fits firm in the North Bay, is a proud mem­ber of TRUE Net­work Advi­sors. Arrow Ben­e­fits Group is the sin­gle-source solu­tion for man­ag­ing the com­plex­i­ties of ben­e­fits with expert advice, cus­tomized pro­grams, and per­son­al­ized solu­tions. Arrow’s inno­v­a­tive pro­grams con­trol costs and give employ­ees a greater sense of finan­cial and emo­tion­al secu­ri­ty. For straight answers to employ­ee ben­e­fits call 707–992-3780 or vis­it https://www.arrowbenefitsgroup.com

     

  • Invasion of the Discount Body Snatchers – Walmart wants all your money

    October 25, 2019

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    Wal­mart has opened anoth­er med­ical clin­ic; this one in Geor­gia.  Besides pro­vid­ing pri­ma­ry care, which they have done in Texas, South Car­oli­na and oth­er Geor­gia loca­tions (Care Clin­ic), the new clin­ic will also offer men­tal health cov­er­age.  All the clin­ics pro­vide immu­niza­tions, lab tests and med­ical con­sul­ta­tions.  The men­tal health aspect is some­thing new and will be inter­est­ing to keep an eye on.

    Wal­mart is already one of the largest phar­ma­cy com­pa­nies in the U.S., with in-store sec­tions for phar­ma­cy in all 4,700 US locations.

    Ama­zon is also com­pet­ing with Wal­mart now, hav­ing just opened a pri­ma­ry care clin­ic at its main office in Seat­tle (and last year acquired the online phar­ma­cy PillPack).

  • All for One and Medicare for All – except not all are on board and may be bored with it all

    October 24, 2019

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    There are already fis­sures in the finan­cials and dis­rup­tion with­in the Democ­rats, head­ed by the head per­son, Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi.  Pelosi has pub­licly said that she is more in the mod­er­ate, Biden-led camp than the pro­gres­sive par­ty wing.  On Mad Mon­ey with Jim Cramer, she said “we think the right path is the Afford­able Care Act, and that is a path to health­care for all Amer­i­cans…”  This implies that, from her per­spec­tive, the ACA is the best way and may cost us less to pay.

  • How to be an Open Enrollment Rockstar

    October 22, 2019

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    It’s the most won­der­ful time of the year.

    No, it’s not Christmas—it’s Open Enrollment!!

    When the autumn leaves fall and the weath­er turns cool­er, we know it’s time to start think­ing of open enroll­ment hype and meet­ings and meet­ings and meet­ings. So how do you change nor­mal and ordi­nary com­mu­ni­ca­tion about employ­ee ben­e­fits and change them into rock­star com­mu­ni­ca­tion? We have some tips that may help!

     

    COMMUNICATE EARLY

    Peo­ple need time to process all the infor­ma­tion you share about their employ­ee ben­e­fits. Once they have received the info, they typ­i­cal­ly need to ask ques­tions, compare/contrast plans, and weigh deci­sions. By com­mu­ni­cat­ing with your employ­ees ear­ly, you give them plen­ty of time to make their choic­es with­out feel­ing rushed by a short deadline.

     

    COMMUNICATE CLEARLY

    HSA, FSA, PPO, HMO, LTD? What? You can see how your employ­ees can get con­fused with all the terms and plan names that get pre­sent­ed to them dur­ing open enroll­ment. The Soci­ety for Human Resources Man­age­ment (SHRM) sug­gests cre­at­ing a glos­sary of com­mon terms for enroll­ment meet­ings. Anoth­er way to clear­ly com­mu­ni­cate ben­e­fits is to think ahead to the com­mon ques­tions asked each year and make a FAQ sheet with the answers.

     

    COMMUNICATE FREQUENTLY

    Did you know that it takes 8 times to read some­thing before you retain that infor­ma­tion? Think of all the mate­r­i­al that gets shared at open enroll­ment meet­ings. There is no way that an employ­ee would be able to retain that info in one sit­ting. So, com­mu­ni­cate about your ben­e­fit plans all year long. Do triv­ia con­tests with prizes in your com­pa­ny newslet­ter about dif­fer­ent ben­e­fits top­ics. Use mul­ti­ple chan­nels to fre­quent­ly com­mu­ni­cate such as print, dig­i­tal, and ani­mat­ed videos!

     

    COMMUNICATE PERSONALLY

    Share “real life” exam­ples of a sam­ple employ­ee with spe­cif­ic health issues and how they can uti­lize their ben­e­fits. This helps your audi­ence think of addi­tion­al sit­u­a­tions in which they could see them­selves need­ing some of the insur­ance prod­ucts offered in your meet­ings. Host small Q & A ses­sions after larg­er meet­ings to allow for more per­son­al­ized atten­tion. When you com­mu­ni­cate per­son­al­ly, you are able to explain the val­ue of the ben­e­fits to your employ­ees better.

    By focus­ing on these com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­niques, you will reap the rewards of a well-informed and con­nect­ed employ­ee when they are choos­ing ben­e­fits. Plan ahead, speak with a clear mes­sage, per­son­al­ize exam­ple sit­u­a­tions, and repeat, repeat, repeat. Here’s to a great open enroll­ment season!

  • Don’t Leave Your FSA Money on the Table this Year!

    October 15, 2019

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    As 2019 is near­ing an end, many peo­ple are look­ing at this year’s med­ical expens­es to plan for how much they should set back for next year. In inves­ti­gat­ing these expen­di­tures, you may notice that you still have mon­ey in your Flex­i­ble Spend­ing Account (FSA) for 2019. FSAs are unique in that any unused mon­ey from this plan year is for­feit­ed once the new year begins. You def­i­nite­ly do not want to leave mon­ey in your FSA once 2020 rolls around. To help, we’ve com­piled a list of some ways to use up your hard-earned FSA mon­ey that you may not have thought possible!

    • Acupunc­ture
    • Acne treat­ment
    • Breast pump and supplies
    • Chi­ro­prac­tic treatments
    • Den­tal treatments—orthodontia, med­ical­ly nec­es­sary water flu­o­ride treat­ments, caps, fill­ings, x‑rays
    • Eyes—glasses, surgery, con­tact lenses
    • First aid kit
    • Genet­ic testing—including BRCA gene testing
    • Motion sick­ness medicine
    • Nutri­tion­ist consultations
    • Sun­screen
    • Smok­ing ces­sa­tion program
    • Vapor­iz­er
    • Vasec­to­my
    • Weight loss programs/surgery

    There are even some high-tech gad­gets that may fall into the med­ical­ly qual­i­fied expens­es category:

    • Acne light therapy
    • Elec­tron­ic stim­u­la­tion instru­ments for pain
    • Med­ical­ly nec­es­sary mattresses
    • Smart ther­mome­ters

    Don’t leave your FSA mon­ey on the table in 2019! You have earned this mon­ey so make sure you use it to its full potential.

    This list is not an exhaus­tive list of ways to spend your FSA mon­ey nor does it guar­an­tee your insur­ance pro­gram con­sid­ers these to be qual­i­fied expens­es. Check with your HR depart­ment and insur­ance agent if you have ques­tions about qual­i­fied expenses.

     

  • AI in HR | California Employee Benefits Team

    October 2, 2019

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    Arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence is push­ing humans and machines clos­er togeth­er.  It’s excit­ing!  AI’s influ­ences are being felt across the HR space… being used to auto­mate busi­ness process­es, enhance effi­cien­cy, and reduce bias among oth­er things.  In fact, McKinsey’s lat­est fore­cast of AI’s impact on the glob­al econ­o­my is that it will gen­er­ate $13 tril­lion in eco­nom­ic activ­i­ty across the globe by 2030.

    But, there is room for improve­ment, and top exec­u­tives want it yes­ter­day.  A recent sur­vey from Price­wa­ter­house­C­oop­er found 72% of exec­u­tives believe AI will offer siz­able busi­ness advan­tages in the near future.  In anoth­er sur­vey from IBM, 66% of CEOs believe AI can dri­ve sig­nif­i­cant val­ue in HR.  Some are already explor­ing those oppor­tu­ni­ties.  Uber, for instance, com­plet­ed the world’s first car­go ship­ment using a truck con­trolled by AI!

    State of AI in HR

    AI as a Tool

    The inclu­sion of arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence in the HR professional’s tool­box is not sur­pris­ing.  When look­ing for answers, look no fur­ther than the iPhone, for instance, or the black, cylin­dri­cal Echo tow­er sit­ting on the counter.  Whether its Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Echo, peo­ple are using arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence at home in their day-to-day lives.  It makes sense, then, that AI has made it into the workplace.

    In most pro­fes­sion­al set­tings, AI is not required to do mun­dane tasks like answer ques­tions about the weath­er or turn on the lights.  Instead, AI is asked to do much more.

    Reducing Human Bias

    Humans are inher­ent­ly bias.  Even when striv­ing for inclu­sive­ness, HR pro­fes­sion­als may sub­con­scious­ly lean toward a par­tic­u­lar can­di­date… for instance, some­one who is more like the recruiter.  Anoth­er poten­tial bias, lan­guage bias; people’s sub­con­scious word asso­ci­a­tions could indi­cate a par­tic­u­lar preference.

    Now, thanks to AI, algo­rithms can be designed to help employ­ers iden­ti­fy and remove these bias­es.  That poten­tial­ly trans­lates to bet­ter hir­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions and attract­ing a more diverse group of can­di­dates.  Those same algo­rithms can also find can­di­dates who may have been screened out due to human bias.  To put it in con­text, AI allows man­agers to go beyond gut feel­ings and rely on data-dri­ving assessments.

    AI Automation

    AI is being used in HR to auto­mate repet­i­tive, low-val­ue tasks thus increas­ing the focus on more strate­gic work.  AI tools auto­mate com­mon HR tasks like ben­e­fits man­age­ment or han­dling com­mon ques­tions or requests.

    Recruiting through AI

    Cus­tom expe­ri­ences are expect­ed by appli­cants.  These are tai­lored to unique needs as they apply for a new job, choose the right ben­e­fits or explore devel­op­ment opportunities.

    Com­pa­nies have imple­ment­ed “AI recruiters” to auto­mate sched­ul­ing inter­views, pro­vide ongo­ing feed­back to can­di­dates and answer their ques­tions in real time.  This allows human recruiters to spend more time con­vert­ing can­di­dates to hires.

    Retention

    Some com­pa­nies are using AI plat­forms to sin­gle out employ­ees that may be head­ing for the exit door.  Those plat­forms track employ­ee com­put­er activ­i­ty, emails, key­strokes, inter­net brows­ing and so on and store it.  Then AI ana­lyzes the data to deter­mine a base­line of nor­mal activ­i­ty pat­terns in the orga­ni­za­tion. Based on that knowl­edge, out­liers are flagged and report­ed to the employ­er.  AI is also being used to detect changes in the over­all tone of employ­ees’ com­mu­ni­ca­tions to pre­dict when employ­ees might be think­ing of leaving.

    AI Makes HR More Human

    At some point in the career of an HR pro­fes­sion­al the ques­tion is asked:  how can human resources become more human?  At least one com­pa­ny believes it has the answer.  Best Buy Cana­da says it’s to add more machines.  Chris Tay­lor is the chief human resources offi­cer for Best Buy Cana­da.  He has gone on record say­ing the embrac­ing of arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence and machine learn­ing appli­ca­tions in human cap­i­tal man­age­ment is a “manda­to­ry invest­ment in the future.”

    So, why add more machines to make HR more human?

    The automa­tion of tasks through AI tech­nol­o­gy allows for the free­ing of HR pro­fes­sion­als to focus on unique­ly human abil­i­ties such as crit­i­cal think­ing, cre­ativ­i­ty, and empa­thy.  While they are involved with the more human tasks, tech­nol­o­gy, at the moment, can han­dle the more mun­dane tasks.

    All of that said, in a lot of ways arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence is still grow­ing and learn­ing itself.

    What does that state­ment mean? AI is able to search a query based on the words you are using and give you a response, but that response isn’t contextual.

    AI is head­ing in that direc­tion though.

    Instead of writ­ing respons­es specif­i­cal­ly to spe­cif­ic inputs… you just have a huge data­base of lan­guage around a spe­cif­ic knowl­edge domain and the AI can go into that knowl­edge domain and answer the ques­tions from the user.

    HR pro­fes­sion­als inter­est­ed in pur­su­ing AI want it to do much more than answer ques­tions and rum­mage through appli­ca­tions. They want to use it as a learn­ing platform.

    But it’s not there yet.

    AI can teach itself to do some­thing, but it’s not at the stage it can replace humans beings as the “dri­vers of edu­ca­tion.” In the future, it may be used that way, but it would require a lot of adaptability.

    Tay­lor says Best Buy Cana­da is embrac­ing as much tech­nol­o­gy as they can get their hands on.  For instance, the com­pa­ny has start­ed invest­ing in cloud-based solu­tion that uses arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, voice tech­nol­o­gy and machine learn­ing.  All of these tech­nolo­gies, Best Buy Cana­da hopes, will bet­ter the employ­ee experience.

    Conclusion

    As much as the HR tech­nol­o­gy land­scape con­tin­ues to be dis­rupt­ed by AI, HR teams must find ways to bal­ance these advance­ments with trans­paren­cy.  It is essen­tial in mak­ing sure the imple­men­ta­tion of AI tech­nol­o­gy is suc­cess­ful.  At the end of the day, arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence is not the end-all-be-all answer to every quandary HR finds itself in.  It is a tool and noth­ing more.  A tool that can improp­er­ly func­tion based on the data it is giv­en in order to work effec­tive­ly.  Even so, arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence can be a valu­able resource.  Work to embrace it now because it’s like­ly you’ll be expect­ed to use it in the future.

    By Mason Stevenson

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on hrexchangenetwork.com

  • Nutrition Tips for Busy Families | CA Benefits Advisors

    September 25, 2019

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    The typ­i­cal fam­i­ly in the US looks quite dif­fer­ent today than it did 30 years ago. School, sports, church, clubs and activ­i­ties, and longer work hours have changed the way we allo­cate our time as well as how we eat.  With fam­i­lies get­ting busier and busier, how do you make healthy eat­ing a pri­or­i­ty? It’s actu­al­ly pret­ty easy!

    New Look/Old Concept

    Do you remem­ber the food pyra­mid that your health teacher showed you in ele­men­tary school? It looked a lit­tle some­thing like this:

    Grains were depict­ed as the largest food group, tak­ing up the most room on the pyra­mid. We were encour­aged to eat 6–11 serv­ings a day! Dairy and meats com­prised less than ¼ of the rec­om­mend­ed foods. Today, the food pyra­mid has been com­plete­ly reworked to now look like this:

    Gone is the illus­tra­tion that sug­gest­ed one food group was more impor­tant than anoth­er. New guide­lines encour­age a bal­anced plate of food and help users visu­al­ize what their actu­al plate should look like. Here are some sim­ple tips for busy fam­i­lies to fol­low to achieve bal­anced nutrition.


    Make a Meal Plan

    Sit down with your fam­i­ly and brain­storm some meals that every­one likes. After you have a good-sized list of fam­i­ly favorites, make a menu of what you are going to make for din­ner this week. When you go gro­cery shop­ping, buy only the items you need to make these din­ners and stick to it. Not only will this cut down on mak­ing mul­ti­ple trips to the gro­cery store each week (who has time for that?) but it also allows you to plan a bal­anced meal and ensures you have the ingre­di­ents to keep it bal­anced. Few­er trips to the store also means less mon­ey spent on impulse items!


    5 Food Groups & Being Sneaky

    Instead of plac­ing a greater empha­sis on one type of food, like in the old food pyra­mid, the Unit­ed States Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture now encour­ages an almost even dis­tri­b­u­tion of food groups. Fruits, veg­eta­bles, grains, pro­tein, and dairy should be near­ly equal­ly rep­re­sent­ed on your plate. Have a picky eater who just will not eat veg­gies? Sneak them in! Grate car­rots to include in your lasagna sauce or throw a hand­ful of spinach leaves in your child’s break­fast smooth­ie. Be cre­ative to keep that plate a bal­anced one.


    Meal Prep = Saved Minutes

    The num­ber one excuse busy fam­i­lies make for not eat­ing healthy is that it takes too much time to cook at home when they need to be on the go.  It’s just eas­i­er and faster to grab a meal in the dri­ve-thru ver­sus mak­ing one in the kitchen. That doesn’t have to be so! When you make your week-long meal plan, you can choose the amount of time you can allot to meal prep. Don’t choose labor-inten­sive meals when you have a short win­dow of time to cook and eat. Also, set aside a cou­ple hours on the week­end and prep as much of the meals as you can for the week. Grill all the chick­en you need at one time. Chop all the veg­eta­bles for the week and mea­sure them out into bag­gies for each recipe. Por­tion out healthy snacks for the week so they are quick to grab on the way to the next activ­i­ty. By spend­ing a small amount of time plan­ning ahead for the week, you will save your­self from bad food choic­es when you are at your busiest (and hungriest).


    Cre­ativ­i­ty is Key

    Food bore­dom is real. We are all guilty of say­ing “noth­ing looks good to eat” when we stare mind­less­ly into the pantry or refrig­er­a­tor while search­ing for a snack or try­ing to fig­ure out a meal.  To keep a busy fam­i­ly from get­ting bored of eat­ing the same old stuff, be cre­ative with your meals! And being cre­ative doesn’t have to mean mak­ing flower shaped sand­wich­es or tak­ing extra time to cook. Cre­ativ­i­ty is as sim­ple as a Google search for “Grab and Go Break­fasts” or “Quick Healthy Meals.”

    Eat­ing healthy doesn’t have to be out of reach for a busy fam­i­ly. By fol­low­ing these very basic and very sim­ple tips, you can cook up a bal­anced plate of food for your loved ones each week. Your waist­band and your wal­let will both thank you for adopt­ing some new nutri­tion habits. Your friends at your favorite fast food dri­ve-thru may miss see­ing you every­day, but you can always stop by and drop off a healthy snack to share.

  • How to Implement an Employee Training Program | California Employee Benefits

    September 18, 2019

    Tags: , ,

    Employ­ee train­ing pro­grams are ben­e­fi­cial to orga­ni­za­tions of vary­ing sizes. Even small com­pa­nies can improve cus­tomer ser­vice skills. Large orga­ni­za­tions often need train­ing pro­grams specif­i­cal­ly tar­get­ed to employ­ee devel­op­ment and chang­ing tech­nolo­gies. The Soci­ety for Human Resource Man­age­ment says that offer­ing train­ing pro­grams to employ­ees helps the employ­ee feel more engaged and com­mit­ted to the orga­ni­za­tion. Imple­ment an employ­ee train­ing pro­gram in your orga­ni­za­tion to improve job morale and teach new skills.

    Step 1

    Ana­lyze your orga­ni­za­tion­al needs. Inter­view man­agers and super­vi­sors and iden­ti­fy employ­ee per­for­mance areas that need strength­en­ing. Review employ­ee per­for­mance appraisals to locate com­mon per­for­mance prob­lems. Call the human resources depart­ment of sim­i­lar­ly sized and focused orga­ni­za­tions and ask what train­ing pro­grams have been valu­able to them.

    Step 2

    Present your research find­ings to the com­mit­tee or the com­pa­ny’s lead­er­ship team. Pre­pare a detailed pre­sen­ta­tion and be pre­pared to answer ques­tions. Out­line the ben­e­fits of each pro­posed pro­gram, antic­i­pat­ed costs and time require­ments. Demon­strate the need for each pro­gram by prepar­ing detailed analy­sis of prob­lem areas and pos­si­ble solu­tions. Ask for input, sug­ges­tions and changes.

    Step 3

    Final­ize your plan and deter­mine your bud­get for the next fis­cal year. Request funds using your com­pa­ny’s bud­get­ing process. When cal­cu­lat­ing your employ­ee train­ing bud­get, include mate­ri­als, trav­el, speak­er fees, com­put­er access charges and food in the bud­get­ed amount. Ask for funds before the fis­cal year begins rather than request­ing unbud­get­ed mon­ey dur­ing the fis­cal year.

    Step 4

    Take the total bud­get and allo­cate the funds by depart­ment, per employ­ee or per train­ing pro­gram, rec­om­mends the Amer­i­can Soci­ety for Train­ing and Devel­op­ment. Con­sid­er the ben­e­fits you expect from each train­ing pro­gram and decide if the cost of the pro­gram will give you the desired results. Decide if train­ing pro­grams will be required or optional.

    Step 5

    List the train­ing class­es you will offer over the next year. Divide the class­es by type and employ­ee atten­dance. Pre­pare a sched­ule and pub­lish it on your com­pa­ny’s intranet. If pos­si­ble, allow employ­ees to sign up elec­tron­i­cal­ly to save valu­able per­son­nel time. Be sen­si­tive to depart­men­tal sched­ules and work flow.

    Step 6

    Con­tract with out­side firms or select and inter­nal train­er to pro­vide train­ing. Call the poten­tial train­er’s ref­er­ences and ver­i­fy that his mate­ri­als and pre­sen­ta­tion style fit your needs. Ask him to give you sam­ples of his work, a quote of his com­plete fees and a list of any need­ed equip­ment. Out­sourc­ing train­ing can save mon­ey when you con­sid­er the admin­is­tra­tive and pro­gram costs.

    Select an inter­nal train­er for train­ing pro­grams you will han­dle. Ask an employ­ee with exper­tise in the field to teach a class or uti­lize mem­ber of your com­pa­ny’s human resources depart­ment. Set clear expec­ta­tions of class con­tent and have a feed­back sys­tem in place. Con­sid­er extra com­pen­sa­tion if train­ing is not part of the employ­ee’s job description.

    Step 7

    Eval­u­ate the suc­cess of each pro­gram imme­di­ate­ly after the pro­gram’s com­ple­tion. Ask the par­tic­i­pants to fill out pre­pared eval­u­a­tion forms. Ana­lyze the com­ments to plan for fur­ther train­ing. Fol­low-up with super­vi­sors dur­ing the year to gauge the con­tin­ued effec­tive­ness of the train­ing programs.

     

    by Diane Lynn
    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on Livestrong.com

  • Will Discount Drugs be discounted from counting toward insurance?

    September 10, 2019

    Tags: , ,

    The Depart­ment of Labor issued new guid­ance to delay enforce­ment of a recent rule relat­ed to drug man­u­fac­tur­er coupons. The rul­ing is due to a con­flict it had with an ear­li­er rul­ing, but now there is more con­fu­sion and anoth­er rul­ing is expect­ed lat­er this year.  Under the new inter­pre­ta­tion, insur­ers and plans DO NOT have to count the val­ue of a drug man­u­fac­tur­er coupon toward the annu­al cost shar­ing lim­it when a gener­ic equiv­a­lent is avail­able.  This may imply, how­ev­er, that they DO have to count it when a gener­ic is unavail­able.  Stay tuned.

  • Volunteering Time Off, Part Two

    September 9, 2019

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    Right now our nation­al unem­ploy­ment rate is 3.7%–edging towards a 50-year low. With this low rate, com­pa­nies are actu­al­ly find­ing it increas­ing­ly hard­er to hire and retain great tal­ent. One way to com­bat this issue is by increas­ing employ­ee engage­ment through volunteering.

     

    In sur­vey after sur­vey, employ­ees state that they want to work for com­pa­nies who care for oth­ers.  In fact, “71% of employ­ees sur­veyed say it’s very impor­tant to work where cul­ture sup­ports vol­un­teer­ing,” accord­ing to America’s Char­i­ties Snap­shot. There are dif­fer­ent types of vol­un­teer options when look­ing to begin a vol­un­teer pro­gram at a com­pa­ny. For exam­ple, entire com­pa­nies can come togeth­er for a big “Day of Ser­vice” event.  Or per­haps there is an ongo­ing need in the com­mu­ni­ty, like Meals on Wheels, and employ­ees sign up to help when need­ed by the char­i­ty. Offer­ing pro bono ser­vices to non-prof­it com­mu­ni­ty groups or donat­ing skills for spe­cif­ic projects are oth­er ways to assist char­i­ties in your area.

     

    The issue of time worked and pay typ­i­cal­ly comes up when talk­ing about employ­er sponsored/encouraged vol­un­teer­ing. There are a cou­ple dif­fer­ent ways that com­pa­nies struc­ture this. One way is to sim­ply pay employ­ees for their usu­al time at the work­place even though they are not actu­al­ly work­ing on com­pa­ny busi­ness at the time of the vol­un­teer project. This is typ­i­cal of big “Day of Ser­vice” cam­paigns dur­ing the work­week. Anoth­er way is to encour­age employ­ees to donate their break or lunch time to com­plete vol­un­teer ser­vice projects. Final­ly, and this is the emerg­ing trend in employ­ee ben­e­fits, is to give each employ­ee Vol­un­teer Time Off (VTO) hours as part of their ben­e­fits package.

     

    The ben­e­fits of VTO are numer­ous. One of the biggest val­ues of VTO is that of employ­ee recruit­ment and reten­tion.  Price­wa­ter­house­C­oop­ers con­duct­ed a sur­vey and the results were that “59% of Mil­len­ni­als grav­i­tat­ed towards com­pa­nies with pro­nounced Cor­po­rate Social Respon­si­bil­i­ty pro­grams.”  For reten­tion, the val­ue is even high­er, “74% of employ­ees say their job is more ful­fill­ing when giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to make a pos­i­tive impact at work.” Com­pa­nies also see a ben­e­fit in cama­raderie across depart­ments and com­pa­ny hier­ar­chy. Work­ing togeth­er towards a com­mon goal builds these inter­de­part­men­tal rela­tion­ships. Also, by play­ing towards strengths unseen in a reg­u­lar office set­ting, employ­ers have a chance to dis­cov­er untapped lead­er­ship skills and com­plete­ly unknown skill sets of employ­ees. Final­ly, your company’s brand image is boost­ed by the view of its involve­ment in the community.

     

    What­ev­er the ben­e­fit that your com­pa­ny assigns to a healthy VTO pro­gram, be it reten­tion, image, or team build­ing, the fact remains that there WILL BE a ben­e­fit. If you are look­ing to begin the search for the right fit­ting pro­gram, there are great resources avail­able for you. Check out this quick read on Charities.org and also the great tips on SalesForce.com. Start the con­ver­sa­tion today with your lead­er­ship and start mak­ing an impact in your community!

  • Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room

    September 5, 2019

    Tags: , , , ,

    Let’s say you are get­ting ready to make your favorite break­fast—avo­ca­do toast. You’ve toast­ed the bread, cut the avo­ca­do in half, and are ready to remove the dread­ed pit. Of course, your knife slips and you end up slic­ing your hand—making you the lat­est vic­tim of “avo­ca­do hand.” It seems you can­not stop the bleed­ing with a sim­ple ban­dage so now you need to make the deci­sion on where to go to seek help. Do you choose an urgent care facil­i­ty or the emer­gency room? What’s the difference?

    Urgent care cen­ters and emer­gency rooms are both great options for times when you are unable to see your pri­ma­ry care physi­cian (PCP). The rea­sons for choos­ing these facil­i­ties can be because the injury or sick­ness has occurred out­side nor­mal office hours for your doc­tor or that you are out of town when an emer­gency hits. As you know, the first choice for non-life or limb-threat­en­ing con­di­tions should be your reg­u­lar doctor—they will have your med­ical his­to­ry on file and your med­ica­tion list at the ready. When this is not an option, you will need to make the choice on what lev­el of care you need.

     

    Urgent Care Centers

    Urgent care cen­ters fill the gap between when you are sick or minor­ly injured but can­not see your PCP and when you are in need of hos­pi­tal emer­gency care. Most urgent care loca­tions are staffed by doc­tors or physician’s assis­tants. These cen­ters can get you in and out quick­ly and some even take appoint­ments. Since you will not see your PCP at these clin­ics, it’s always best to bring a copy of all the med­ica­tions and dosages of meds you take. If you have a spe­cial con­di­tion, like epilep­sy, make sure you dis­close that to the urgent care provider you see. In the case of your avo­ca­do hand, your urgent care physi­cian may be able to do minor stitch­es and ban­dag­ing at the facil­i­ty. Most have access to x‑ray machines and basic diag­nos­tic tests. The typ­i­cal range of costs for care at these cen­ters is between $50-$150.

    Here are some con­di­tions that typ­i­cal­ly can be seen at urgent care centers:

    • Fevers, flu or cold symptoms
    • Ear infec­tions
    • Bron­chi­tis
    • Cuts and bleed­ing that may require stitches
    • Uri­nary tract infections
    • Vom­it­ing or diarrhea
    • Minor back pain

     

    Emer­gency Room Care

    Hos­pi­tal emer­gency rooms pro­vide care for life and limb-threat­en­ing sit­u­a­tions rang­ing from heart attack and stroke to car acci­dent injuries. Staffed by physi­cians, nurs­es, and spe­cial­ists, emer­gency rooms have access to high­ly knowl­edge­able and diverse med­ical teams.  In emer­gency rooms, care is giv­en to the most seri­ous injury/illness first—not on a first-come, first-served basis. Because of this, wait times in emer­gency rooms are wide­ly var­ied and may be into a sev­er­al hours-long wait. Again, it is wise to bring a list of any med­ica­tions, both pre­scribed and over-the-counter, with you when seek­ing care since the ER will not have this infor­ma­tion from your PCP. Costs for emer­gency ser­vices can be any­where from $50 to more than $10,000 depend­ing on the sever­i­ty of the injury or illness.

    Symp­toms that are best eval­u­at­ed in an emer­gency room include:

    • Chest pain or dif­fi­cul­ty breathing
    • Weakness/numbness on one side
    • Slurred speech
    • Fainting/change in men­tal state
    • Seri­ous burns
    • Head or eye injury
    • Concussion/confusion
    • Bro­ken bones and dis­lo­cat­ed joints
    • Fever with a rash
    • Seizures
    • Severe cuts that may require stitches
    • Facial lac­er­a­tions
    • Severe cold or flu symptoms
    • Vagi­nal bleed­ing with pregnancy

     

    When faced with the deci­sion to vis­it an urgent care cen­ter or emer­gency room, you have to first eval­u­ate your symp­toms. Once you have done this, ask your­self this ques­tion, “Does this con­di­tion have the pos­si­bil­i­ty of per­ma­nent­ly impair­ing or endan­ger­ing your life?” If the answer is “yes,” then you have an emer­gency and should pro­ceed to the near­est hos­pi­tal ER. If the answer is “no,” then take your tow­el-wrapped avo­ca­do hand to your local urgent care cen­ter for stitch­es or what­ev­er care they rec­om­mend. You will save your­self time and mon­ey by mak­ing a good choice on your care.

  • Affordability rules change a bit…yes, the ACA is still in effect

    August 28, 2019

    Tags: ,

     

     

    When deter­min­ing if an employ­ee has “afford­able” cov­er­age for pur­pos­es of the penal­ty pro­vi­sion, in 2020 it will mean that their share of the pre­mi­um pay­ment exceeds 9.78% of their total annu­al wages.  This is a slight reduc­tion from the amount used in 2019.

  • 10 Tips for Excellent Company Culture | CA Employee Benefits Consultants

    August 28, 2019

    Tags: , , , ,

    When it comes to cul­ture, com­pa­nies have to walk the walk and talk the talk.

    HR pro­fes­sion­als have all been there.  A poten­tial new employ­ee comes in for an inter­view.  Com­pa­ny rep­re­sen­ta­tives ques­tion the prospect and then ask if the can­di­date has any ques­tions.  With sure­ty, the first ques­tion uttered will be about the company’s cul­ture.  The response has to be real and backed-up with proof.

    Why?

    In addi­tion to the usu­al rea­sons (truth­ful­ness, respect and ethics and so on), look at the cur­rent make up of the work­force for guid­ance.  Com­pa­nies are deal­ing with one that’s multi­gen­er­a­tional; one that stretch­es from spec­trum to spec­trum in terms of what they want and need from their employ­ers.  Take Gen­er­a­tion Z for instance.  These work­ers are very con­fi­dent and that bleeds into the way in which they approach the interview/hiring process.  They will want to explore the office and talk to cur­rent employ­ees.  They are going to test what HR says about the culture.

    Hav­ing said that, what con­sti­tutes an excel­lent com­pa­ny culture?

    Company Culture Tips

    An excel­lent com­pa­ny cul­ture is:

    • Rich­ly Diverse – A com­pa­ny cul­ture thrives on diver­si­ty.  This doesn’t just push toward eth­nic or gen­der diver­si­ty, though that is equal­ly impor­tant.  It must also embrace cog­ni­tive diver­si­ty; the dif­fer­ent ways in which peo­ple per­ceive and digest infor­ma­tion.  Lean­ing on this allows for ideas to be eval­u­at­ed from mul­ti­ple angles and can reveal both the pros and cons of an action.  A diverse com­pa­ny cul­ture also looks at all dimen­sions of diver­si­ty includ­ing hir­ing or seek­ing employ­ees from diverse back­grounds both per­son­al­ly and pro­fes­sion­al­ly.  That may include, as an exam­ple, hir­ing a can­di­date with an intel­lec­tu­al or devel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ty (IDD).  Oth­er exam­ples include hir­ing more vet­er­ans or the for­mer­ly incar­cer­at­ed.  These present unique chal­lenges, but giv­en the right action plan, those issues can be over­come and the com­pa­ny can benefit.
    • Inno­v­a­tive – A com­pa­ny cul­ture must always look to the future.  That means embrac­ing inno­va­tion.  Employ­ees at all lev­els need to feel the free­dom to posit ideas for con­sid­er­a­tion.  And those ideas need to be thor­ough­ly dis­cussed and eval­u­at­ed.  That’s the key to inno­va­tion.  Most employ­ees just want their ideas con­sid­ered.  If it’s not an idea that is fea­si­ble or real­is­tic, that’s fine.  The impor­tance lies in that the employ­ee has a voice.
    • Open to dis­sent – Speak­ing of employ­ee voic­es, work­ers need to feel they can dis­sent from lead­er­ship.  This doesn’t mean protest or rebel against a deci­sion, but that their con­cerns will be heard and they will not see retal­i­a­tion from shar­ing those ideas.
    • Trans­par­ent – A com­pa­ny cul­ture that embraces trans­paren­cy will not, in most cas­es, fail.  Why?  In a trans­par­ent cul­ture, every­one knows the impor­tant bits of infor­ma­tion, but more impor­tant­ly, they can take own­er­ship of what’s hap­pen­ing.  Employ­ees who are proud to work for their employ­ers ulti­mate­ly take more own­er­ship in the company’s des­tiny.  They will be more engaged and will pour more ener­gy into ensur­ing suc­cess than the aver­age employee.
    • Aligned with com­pa­ny brand – Employ­ees and cus­tomers must see val­ue in the brand which helps sup­port the cul­ture.  It has to res­onate with them.  For HR, this might include a part­ner­ship with the company’s mar­ket­ing or pub­lic rela­tions department.
    • Sup­port­ed by all, espe­cial­ly lead­er­ship – If lead­ers don’t see val­ue in or sup­port the cul­ture, expect the same from employ­ees.  Lead­ers have to active­ly engage in the cul­ture and make it a sta­ple in their nor­mal oper­a­tions.  Lead by exam­ple.  When the CEO cares… the employ­ees care.
    • Aligns with strat­e­gy and process – Think about this from a tal­ent per­spec­tive.  The cul­ture needs to align with process­es like hir­ing, com­pen­sa­tion and ben­e­fits, devel­op­ment and hir­ing.  And don’t for­get about suc­ces­sion plan­ning.  How will the cul­ture align in the future?
    • Col­lab­o­ra­tive – This is a great way to instill the cul­ture for your employ­ees.  Look at ways to encour­age col­lab­o­ra­tion between teams of employ­ees.  This rein­forces the idea that every­one is part of a much larg­er team.
    • Feed­back dri­ven – Give employ­ees reg­u­lar feed­back on per­for­mance.  This will help in align­ing their per­for­mance with the goals of the com­pa­ny.  But don’t save this for a once-a-year event.  Any time an employ­ee or team makes progress toward the company’s goals and in doing so sup­ports the cul­ture, it’s time for some P.R.O.P.S. or Peer Recog­ni­tion of Peer Success.
    • Delib­er­ate – Cul­ture should be delib­er­ate.  It’s not some­thing that just hap­pens.  Val­ues must be known and sup­port­ed, espe­cial­ly by lead­er­ship.  Oth­er­wise, the cul­ture that is try­ing to be built will slow­ly pass into obliv­ion and the process will have to start all over again.

    Benefits of an Excellent Company Culture

    The tips list­ed above are just that, tips.  If they’re not inter­nal­ized and not used prop­er­ly the com­pa­ny will not ben­e­fit.  On the flip side, if those pieces are prac­ticed well, com­pa­nies will see some huge advantages.

    For one, expect to see an improved envi­ron­ment.  It will tru­ly become a pleas­ant place to work.  It’s pleas­ing social­ly and psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly.  If that’s the case, expect to see the qual­i­ty of work improve.  That means high­er increas­es in pro­duc­tiv­i­ty which leads to more busi­ness success.

    By Mason Stevenson
    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on hrexchangenetwork.com

  • The Man with the Plan…Biden speaks

    August 26, 2019

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    Medicare for All is a great “catch all” for a plan that does not exist except in the minds of some Demo­c­rat can­di­dates.  Joe Biden has a plan that is “like Medicare.”

    • Pri­ma­ry care cov­ered with­out co-payments
    • Includes con­tra­cep­tive care and abortion
    • Expands tax cred­its for pur­chas­ing insur­ance in the indi­vid­ual market
    • Has a sur­prise billing pro­vi­sion to avoid prob­lems with out-of-net­work providers
    • Offers a Med­ic­aid expan­sion alternative
    • Medicare can direct­ly nego­ti­ate with phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies to low­er drug costs
    • Drug price increas­es would be lim­it­ed to the gen­er­al infla­tion rate

    To avoid doubts on his appar­ent flip flop­ping, Biden would also repeal the Hyde Amend­ment, which pro­hibits the use of fed­er­al Med­ic­aid dol­lars for abortion.

  • Cadillac Tax is in for repairs after a lot of delays

    August 21, 2019

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    The “Cadil­lac Tax” is a pend­ing tax on employ­er-spon­sored health plans whose val­ue exceeds a legal lim­it (for being too rich in ben­e­fit).  The plans would be sub­ject to a 40% excise tax, levied on the insur­ance com­pa­nies, though it is expect­ed the bur­den will fall on the employ­ees. Orig­i­nal­ly, this tax was hard­ly noticed.  Once it received prop­er acknowl­edge­ment, it was not an imme­di­ate con­cern since (at the time) it was years away from going into effect.  Then the dead­line approached and they pushed it back, and law­mak­ers have since pushed it back again.  Now Con­gress has decid­ed to put the brakes on once and for all, pass­ing a repeal bill with a vote of 419 for repeal and only 6 opposed.  One prob­lem: the Sen­ate, and what it is going to do for fed­er­al dol­lars to pay back the cost of indi­vid­ual cov­er­age sub­si­dies (which is what the tax was designed to off­set in the first place).

  • And while Newsom made news he added another story…the Individual Mandate is back

    August 19, 2019

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    One of the con­cerns about the fate of Oba­macare is how it can sur­vive with­out the indi­vid­ual man­date requir­ing Amer­i­cans to enroll in an ade­quate health plan.  Car­ri­ers demand­ed it as the price for their sup­port, since a lack of a man­date would cre­ate con­sid­er­able “adverse selec­tion” and thus high­er poten­tial costs of cov­er­age.  So now Cal­i­for­nia (along with only New Jer­sey and Wash­ing­ton DC) will sim­ply leap over the recent Fed­er­al deci­sion to let things slide on the man­date and impose one of its own:

    1. Penal­ties will be the same as under the ACA with the unin­sured owing either $695 per year or 2.5% of their house­hold income, whichev­er is greater.
    2. Simul­ta­ne­ous­ly the state will dras­ti­cal­ly increase the num­ber of peo­ple eli­gi­ble forA­CA sub­si­dies which have been expand­ed to SIX times the fed­er­al pover­ty lim­it ($75,000 for an indi­vid­ual and $154,500 for a fam­i­ly).  The cur­rent lim­it is FOUR times.

  • 5 Tips to Beat the Heat | California Benefits Consultants

    August 19, 2019

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    There’s no deny­ing that sum­mer has arrived. In fact, the news has been abuzz with Alaska’s heat wave in July that sent tem­per­a­tures soar­ing between 20 and 30 degrees above aver­age. When you are caught in the mid­dle of a heat wave, it may seem like there’s noth­ing you can do to keep cool. But, there are ways for you to beat the heat this sum­mer and stay safe from heat relat­ed illnesses.

     

    Avoid the Heat

    It may seem like a no-brain­er to avoid the heat to pre­vent a heat relat­ed ill­ness but some pro­fes­sions work sole­ly out­doors. In those cas­es, there aren’t many options for avoid­ing the heat.  Be aware of the hottest time of day and lim­it phys­i­cal activ­i­ty out­side dur­ing that time.

    Reduce Activ­i­ty Levels

    Plan the most active job of the day to be in the morn­ing when the sun and heat aren’t as intense. Heat­stroke can occur when a per­son engages in stren­u­ous activ­i­ty for long peri­ods of time in the heat. If pos­si­ble, arrange work­flows to include times of rest and times to vis­it a cool­ing station.

    Drink Flu­ids Regularly

    The under­ly­ing fac­tor in most heat relat­ed ill­ness is the inad­e­quate sup­ply of flu­ids for your body, in oth­er words, drink more water! Heavy sweat­ing depletes a person’s body of flu­id and salt and this in turn can cause heat cramps and heat exhaus­tion. If this occurs, drink cool water or an elec­trolyte-replace­ment bev­er­age like Gatorade. To pre­vent these two ill­ness­es, drink plen­ty of water before you know you will be out­side in the heat so that your body has suf­fi­cient flu­ids in reserve.

    Have a Bud­dy System

    When you know you will work­ing out­side or even play­ing out­side in the heat of the day, make sure you have some­one with you. If you should expe­ri­ence a heat relat­ed ill­ness while alone, there would be no one avail­able to offer first aid or call for help. As in the case of heat­stroke, con­fu­sion and weak­ness along with faint­ing and pos­si­bly con­vul­sions could occur. These are all series symp­toms and require imme­di­ate action for treat­ment. The bud­dy sys­tem gives you a safe­ty net of some­one else who can rec­og­nize these symp­toms and can act to save them.

    Take a Dip!

    The best way to beat the heat is by cool­ing off your body. Not every­one has access to a pool when spend­ing time out­side in the heat so if that’s the case, use cold com­press­es or ice and ice packs to low­er body tem­per­a­ture. You can also remove excess cloth­ing and spray your body with cool water. If you do have some­one with you and you are expe­ri­enc­ing a heat relat­ed ill­ness, make sure they are watch­ing you if you jump into a pool.

     

    By fol­low­ing these easy tips to beat the heat you can safe­ly be out­side when tem­per­a­tures are at their peak. Enjoy your sum­mer and stay cool!

  • Top 5 Learning Metrics to Watch | California Benefits Team

    August 14, 2019

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    How much job train­ing equates to time wast­ed:  About 20%, accord­ing to one LinkedIn study.  That’s the per­cent­age of learn­ers who nev­er apply their train­ing to their job.  That same study says 67% of learn­ers apply the lessons learned, but in the end, revert to pre­vi­ous habits.  Anoth­er study found 45% of train­ing con­tent is nev­er applied.

    For HR pro­fes­sion­als design­ing or mon­i­tor­ing the Return on Invest­ment of train­ing pro­grams, those are dis­turb­ing sta­tis­tics, espe­cial­ly when you con­sid­er the decrease in pro­duc­tiv­i­ty this caus­es and the cost of wast­ed money.

    So, how do you mit­i­gate or address the issue?

    Learning Metrics

    Gone is the day lead­ers make learn­ing strat­e­gy deci­sions via gut and intu­ition.  Arrived is the day lead­ers look at learn­ing data and sta­tis­tics to make deci­sions and pro­vide evi­dence for an action.

    There was a time when the only met­rics request­ed from learn­ing and devel­op­ment offi­cials were the num­ber of peo­ple tak­ing part in the train­ing and the cost involved.  In oth­er words:  basic effec­tive­ness and efficiency.

    As with every­thing, how­ev­er, learn­ing and devel­op­ment has evolved.  It’s now a busi­ness crit­i­cal change agent.  It’s not enough, though, to mea­sure inputs, the num­ber of cours­es, and atten­dance.  Learn­ing and devel­op­ment must look at the out­put and outcomes.

    “We’re in the process of try­ing to become a learn­ing orga­ni­za­tion, and to become a learn­ing orga­ni­za­tion you have to be nim­ble.  You have to have a cul­ture of lead­ers as teach­ers.  You have to have a cul­ture of rec­og­niz­ing those things that con­tribute, and actu­al­ly those things what lead to suc­cess,” Brad Samar­gya said.  Samar­gya is the Chief Learn­ing Offi­cer for mobile phone mak­er Ericsson.

    All of the descrip­tions Samar­gya is using refer back to the con­tent, specif­i­cal­ly how it is deliv­ered and is it of sub­stance.  When both pieces are in con­cert, HR pro­fes­sion­als should see an increase in qual­i­ty around the met­rics gathered.

    Delivery

    First, let’s focus on delivery.

    Saman­tha Ham­mock is the Chief Learn­ing Offi­cer for Amer­i­can Express.  Her com­pa­ny employs a learn­ing man­age­ment sys­tem as part of their learn­ing process.  Ham­mock says mea­sure­ment is the company’s biggest need.

    “If we’re going to man­date train­ing, we had bet­ter be robust in track­ing and report­ing. Is the expe­ri­ence get­ting bet­ter, is the knowl­edge increas­ing. We have put it thru work­force ana­lyt­ics to slice and dice some of those met­rics,” Ham­mock said.

    Of course, learn­ing man­age­ment sys­tems are not the only way to deliv­er learn­ing.  Mobile learn­ing for instance, makes con­tent avail­able on smart­phones, tablets, and oth­er devices.  Not only is the con­tent acces­si­ble any­where, but any­time.  Video learn­ing is sim­i­lar in that the con­tent is avail­able in the ever-pop­u­lar YouTube for­mat.  Gam­i­fi­ca­tion, or edu­ca­tion by gam­ing, again deliv­ers learn­ing in a form much for attrac­tive than your reg­u­lar class­room for­mat, and microlearn­ing, or the strat­e­gy of deliv­er­ing learn­ing con­tent over a short amount of time.

    None of those work with­out one spe­cif­ic ingre­di­ent, how­ev­er:  the con­tent.  Pro­vid­ing rel­e­vant con­tent is key to a good learn­ing strat­e­gy, good met­rics, and  to ensure your learn­ers are engaged and con­tin­ue to come back for more.

    The mod­ern employ­ee is dis­tract­ed, over­whelmed and has lit­tle time to spare. Cater­ing con­tent to their needs is not only impor­tant – it’s critical.

    The con­tent pre­sent­ed to employ­ees must be applic­a­ble and time­ly to help them with their dai­ly duties, expand their mind, and pro­vide them with quick take­aways that can imme­di­ate­ly be applied.

    Metrics to Watch

    There are a hand­ful of met­rics derived for HR pro­fes­sion­als to ana­lyze.

    1. Com­ple­tion rates – This met­ric is impor­tant because it indi­cates the lev­el of learn­er engage­ment, moti­va­tion and par­tic­i­pa­tion. Low com­ple­tion rates indi­cate employ­ees aren’t invest­ing in the mate­r­i­al or how it relates to their jobs.  High com­ple­tion rates show employ­ees are invested.
    2. Per­for­mance and Progress – This par­tic­u­lar met­ric is split into two cat­e­gories: the indi­vid­ual and the group.  For the indi­vid­ual, met­rics will give you a detailed look at how the employ­ee is doing with the learn­ing.  For the group, the met­ric will include the details around spe­cif­ic trends.  For instance, how the group is pro­gress­ing through the mate­r­i­al.  Both indi­vid­ual met­rics and group met­rics allow for the track­ing of course effec­tive­ness and engagement.
    3. Sat­is­fac­tion and approval – This met­ric gives HR pro­fes­sion­als some indi­ca­tion of how the employ­ee or employ­ees feel about the con­tent. The is a pow­er­ful met­ric because it allows HR or learn­ing man­agers to adjust cur­rent con­tent or, if need be, cre­ate bet­ter con­tent based on the needs of the employee.
    4. Instruc­tor and man­ag­er rat­ings – This met­ric may not always be applic­a­ble as, in some cas­es, mate­r­i­al is not pre­sent­ed by an instruc­tor or man­ag­er but through a tech­nol­o­gy inter­face of some sort. If that is not the case, this will indi­cate how learn­ers feel about the instruc­tor or man­ag­er.  It can also be direct­ly linked to the rea­son an employ­ee or group of employ­ees are not learn­ing at the lev­el expected.
    5. Com­pe­ten­cy and pro­fi­cien­cy – Com­pe­ten­cy and pro­fi­cien­cy met­rics show HR pro­fes­sion­als if employ­ees have the knowl­edge and skills to achieve a desired out­come. If not, this met­ric allows for learn­ing man­agers to adjust the mate­r­i­al accord­ing­ly.  It also allows from some insight into an employ­ee or group’s cur­rent­ly proficiency.

    In summation

    The chal­lenges fac­ing HR pro­fes­sion­als when using ana­lyt­ics to trans­form the learn­ing and devel­op­ment pro­gram are con­nect­ed.  Before com­pa­nies can actu­al­ly engage with the trans­for­ma­tion, data has to be present.  Whether it is real­ized or not, com­pa­nies do have learn­ing data avail­able.  What may not exist is the abil­i­ty to eval­u­ate that data.

    Data pro­vides invalu­able insight into the future learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties of a company’s work­force.  Now, more than ever before, HR pro­fes­sion­als have a real oppor­tu­ni­ty to do what all lead­ers and C‑suite mem­bers want to do:  pre­dict the future.  By lever­ag­ing and under­stand­ing the data gen­er­at­ed by learn­ing pro­grams, HR pro­fes­sion­als can bet­ter eval­u­ate the con­tent and their effec­tive­ness.  It can lead to bet­ter out­comes both devel­op­men­tal­ly for the employ­ee and finan­cial­ly for the employer.

    By Mason Stevenson

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on hrexchangenetwork.com

  • It was not long enough…more time to spend with the family, but it’s not a vacation

    August 14, 2019

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    Cal­i­for­nia Gov­er­nor New­som signed into law his first bud­get, and this includ­ed a pro­vi­sion that the Paid Fam­i­ly Leave ben­e­fit allowance will be extend­ed from six weeks to eight weeks as of July 2020.  The addi­tion­al two weeks are allowed for each par­ent, so in a sense it looks like anoth­er month of total fam­i­ly bonding.

  • Keeping an Eye on Medicare for All

    August 12, 2019

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    Polls are pre­vent­ing some dis­sent­ing voic­es from voic­ing dis­sent, and the views of those ris­ing to the top are being heard more often.  Cur­rent­ly in favor of Medicare for All and the resul­tant abo­li­tion of pri­vate health insur­ance:  Kamala Har­ris, Bernie Sanders and Eliz­a­beth Warren.

    One inter­est­ing ques­tion:  who would admin­is­ter the claims for the gov­ern­ment under these pro­pos­als? After all, car­ri­ers pay the Medicare claims for the gov­ern­ment now.

  • Volunteering Time Off, Part 1 | CA Benefits Agency

    August 7, 2019

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    Vol­un­teer­ing Time Off, or VTO, has become a buzz top­ic for many com­pa­nies as of late. It involves encour­ag­ing employ­ees to take time off from their job to plug in to their com­mu­ni­ty and the non­prof­its that sup­port it. Let’s delve in deep­er to under­stand what VTO looks like.

    • Typ­i­cal VTO poli­cies allot for 8 hours of paid time off to vol­un­teer each year.
    • Just like Paid Time Off (PTO), VTO usu­al­ly requires advance notice to the employ­er and approval for time away from the business.
    • Stud­ies have shown that VTO boosts employ­ee engage­ment and retention.
    • Mil­len­ni­als state they are attract­ed to com­pa­nies who offer VTO.
    • VTO builds loy­al­ty and pride for a com­pa­ny with its employees.
    • A recent Soci­ety for Human Resource Man­age­ment (SHRM) study states 20% of its respon­dents now offer vol­un­teer­ing ben­e­fits as part of their employ­ee ben­e­fits package.

    As you look for ways to engage with your employ­ees through VTO, take a look at these resources:

    • VolunteerMatch.org—This web­site makes the busi­ness-to-non­prof­it con­nec­tion pos­si­ble. Non­prof­its post projects and jobs they need assis­tance with and then the com­pa­ny builds its team to help.
    • Vol­un­teer­ing Is CSR—An arm of Vol­un­teer Match, this blog is for busi­ness lead­ers to edu­cate them­selves on best prac­tices and case studies.
    • CatchAFire.org—This site con­nects pro­fes­sion­als with non­prof­its using their spe­cif­ic skill sets.
    • PointsofLight.org—Found­ed by Pres­i­dent George H.W. Bush, this group offers toolk­its to busi­ness­es and non­prof­its to max­i­mize vol­un­teer­ing efforts as well as offers prod­ucts to max­i­mize those efforts.

  • How to Identify Employee Burnout | California Benefits Consultants

    August 5, 2019

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    The North Bay Busi­ness Jour­nal recent­ly put on their 2019 Heath Care Con­fer­ence which high­light­ed physi­cian burnout. An alarm­ing trend in the med­ical com­mu­ni­ty but, unfor­tu­nate­ly, job burnout is not iso­lat­ed to just the med­ical field. A study done by Gallup of near­ly 7,500 full- time employ­ees found that rough­ly two-thirds of full-time work­ers expe­ri­ence job burnout. The study also found that burned out employ­ees are 63% more like­ly to take a sick day and 2.6 times as like­ly to be active­ly seek­ing a dif­fer­ent job. Employ­ee burnout that goes unad­dressed will impact both indi­vid­ual and orga­ni­za­tion­al per­for­mance. Here are some ways employ­ers can iden­ti­fy employ­ee burnout:

    • Dis­en­gage­ment
    • Decreased pro­duc­tiv­i­ty or qual­i­ty of work
    • Increased absen­teeism
    • Cyn­i­cism

    Some Ways to han­dle employ­ee burnout

    • Try and get the employ­ee to open up
      ‑Talk­ing to the employ­ee expe­ri­enc­ing burnout will give you (the employ­er) a bet­ter idea of what the employ­ee is expe­ri­enc­ing and how you can help them.
    • Allow the employ­ee to take anoth­er posi­tion tem­porar­i­ly-Some peo­ple need a change of scenery. I have per­son­al­ly expe­ri­enced this where I worked in anoth­er depart­ment for a while just for change of pace, dif­fer­ent job and see­ing dif­fer­ent faces and location.
    • Encour­age PTO

    As stat­ed above, some peo­ple need a change of scenery. Stud­ies have shown that tak­ing time away from the job can have phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal health ben­e­fits. Time away has shown to low­er stress and lessen the risk of heart disease.

    burned-out employ­ees are 63% more like­ly to take a sick day and 2.6

    times as like­ly to be active­ly seek­ing a dif­fer­ent job. Employ­ee burnout that goes unaddressed

    will impact both indi­vid­ual and orga­ni­za­tion­al per­for­mance.  Here are some ways employ­ers can iden­ti­fy employ­ee burnout:

    ▪  Dis­en­gage­ment

    ▪  Decreased pro­duc­tiv­i­ty or qual­i­ty of work

    ▪  Increased absenteeism

    ▪  Cyn­i­cism

    Some Ways to Han­dle Employ­ee Burnout

    ▪  Try and get the employ­ee to open up

    -Talk­ing to the employ­ee expe­ri­enc­ing burnout will give you (the employ­er) a bet­ter idea of what the employ­ee is expe­ri­enc­ing and how you can help them.

    ▪  Allow the employ­ee to take anoth­er posi­tion temporarily

    -Some peo­ple need a change of scenery. I have per­son­al­ly expe­ri­enced this where I worked in anoth­er depart­ment for a while just for change of pace, dif­fer­ent job and see­ing dif­fer­ent faces and location.

    ▪  Encour­age PTO

    -As stat­ed above, some peo­ple need a change of scenery. Stud­ies have shown that tak­ing time away from the job can have phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal health ben­e­fits. Time away has shown to low­er stress and lessen the risk of heart disease.

    By Andrew McNeil

  • Millennials, legal industry workers more likely to be hungover at work | CA Benefits Agency

    July 31, 2019

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    Dive Brief:

    • On aver­age, Amer­i­can work­ers miss two days of work per year due to being hun­gover, a sur­vey of 1,000 full-time work­ers from Del­phi Behav­ioral Health Group found. By indus­try, the sec­tor most affect­ed by hang­overs is tech, with an aver­age of 8 sick days used, while con­struc­tion work­ers and legal indus­try work­ers used four, the sur­vey found. Med­ical and health­care; whole­sale and retail; and gov­ern­ment and pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion work­ers used only one sick day on aver­age, accord­ing to Del­phi, which esti­mat­ed that hang­overs cost U.S. employ­ers more than $41 bil­lion in sick day pay last year.
    • More than 75% of work­ers admit­ted they’ve shown up to work with a hang­over — near­ly 80% of men sur­veyed and about 70% of women — the study revealed. By age group, mil­len­ni­als lead the pack at almost 77% report­ing for work hun­gover, and work­ers in the legal indus­try were most like­ly to nurse hang­overs at the office, Del­phi said.
    • Work­ers come into work hun­gover on aver­age six times per year, accord­ing to the sur­vey, and spend about five hours of those days actu­al­ly work­ing. To get through the day, they pre­tend to work, hide out in the restrooms, take a nap or a long lunch. More than 30% said they’ve told their boss they over­did it the night before, and there were no con­se­quences for 66%.

    Dive Insight:

    While the occa­sion­al overindul­gence isn’t prob­lem­at­ic, employ­ers may right­ful­ly be con­cerned with the behav­ior if it becomes a chron­ic prob­lem and it’s worth con­sid­er­ing if it indi­cates a broad­er issue. Almost half of employ­ers are unsure whether their staff has a sub­stance abuse prob­lem, but some reports sug­gest employ­ers think men­tal ill­ness and sub­stance abuse lev­els are reach­ing record highs. The trend is prompt­ing some com­pa­nies to assess if new ben­e­fits can help workers.

    Many of the indus­tries that appeared on the Del­phi report, like the legal indus­try, are con­sid­ered high stress. Men­tal health advo­cates believe stress on the job threat­ens work-life bal­ance for many work­ers. Unre­al­is­tic expec­ta­tions for pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, effi­cien­cy and con­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion can pres­sure staff. Iron­i­cal­ly, as stress lev­els increase, pro­duc­tiv­i­ty can suf­fer and some work­ers may not be equipped with effec­tive cop­ing mech­a­nisms. To address this prob­lem, Macy’s, ADP and oth­er employ­ers recent­ly part­nered to cre­ate a guide for offer­ing men­tal health ben­e­fits and reduc­ing men­tal health stigma.

    By Riia O’Donnell

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on hrdive.com

  • New HSA Limits Announced

    July 26, 2019

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    Effec­tive 2020 the allow­able con­tri­bu­tion for an indi­vid­ual HSA is $3,550 and for a fam­i­ly it is $7,100.

    You can use them until you can’t – and then you must let them go – Com­muter Ben­e­fits 

    In Infor­ma­tion Let­ter 2019-02, the IRS has con­firmed that unused trans­porta­tion ben­e­fits will be for­feit­ed when an employ­ee ter­mi­nates employ­ment.  It does not mat­ter how much or why – when the employ­ee is no longer active­ly employed, the remain­ing bal­ance in the account is forfeited.

  • Gig Economy | California Insurance Agency

    July 24, 2019

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    Gig-Econ­o­my

  • What happened to the budget surplus?

    July 23, 2019

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    Gov­er­nor New­som is propos­ing to spend $98 mil­lion a year to pro­vide med­ical cov­er­age to low-income immi­grants between the ages of 19 and 25 who are liv­ing here ille­gal­ly.  Fur­ther, the State bud­get pro­pos­al added those who were 65 or old­er.  The Assem­bly next said it would cov­er every­one over the age of 19.  The Gov­er­nor said that the $98 mil­lion has now become $3 bil­lion.  The Assem­bly bill has passed 44–11 and now goes to the Senate.

  • REMINDER: HEALTH PLAN PCORI FEES ARE DUE JULY 31 | CA Benefits Team

    July 22, 2019

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    Employ­ers that self-insured any group health plans in 2018, includ­ing health reim­burse­ment arrange­ments (HRAs), are respon­si­ble for deter­min­ing whether the annu­al PCORI fee applies to their plan. If so, use Form 720 to cal­cu­late, report, and pay the fee by July 31, 2019.

    PCORI stands for the Patient-Cen­tered Out­comes Research Insti­tute. Fed­er­al law impos­es a small annu­al fee on most health plans that include med­ical ben­e­fits in order to raise rev­enue to finance the Institute’s work. See our blog for details on which employ­er-spon­sored plans are sub­ject to the PCORI fee, how to cal­cu­late the 2018 amount, com­plete Form 720, and make payment.

    By Kathy Berger

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on thinkhr.com

  • Ask the Experts: Overtime and Paid Time Off | California Benefits Advisors

    July 17, 2019

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    Ques­tion: Should we include hol­i­days, PTO, vaca­tion, or oth­er leave tak­en dur­ing the work­week in cal­cu­lat­ing over­time pre­mi­um pay under FLSA rules?

    Answer: No. Because hol­i­day, PTO, and vaca­tion hours are not actu­al­ly hours worked they do not count towards over­time pay.

    Under the Fair Labor Stan­dards Act (FLSA), an employ­er who requires or per­mits an employ­ee to work over­time is gen­er­al­ly required to pay the employ­ee pre­mi­um pay for such over­time work. Unless specif­i­cal­ly exempt­ed, employ­ees cov­ered by the FLSA must receive over­time pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a work­week at a rate not less than time and one-half their reg­u­lar rates of pay. The key con­sid­er­a­tion for pre­mi­um pay under the FLSA is whether or not the employ­ee actu­al­ly works more than 40 hours in the work­week, not just that he or she is paid for more than 40 hours in the workweek.

    For exam­ple, an employ­ee is off work for one day for a com­pa­ny-paid hol­i­day and takes the next day as a paid vaca­tion day. He then works 10 hours for the next three days of the work­week. Under the FLSA, he would be paid straight time at his reg­u­lar rate for the 46 hours record­ed for that week as fol­lows: 8 hours of hol­i­day pay + 8 hours of vaca­tion pay + 30 hours of reg­u­lar pay for time worked = 46 hours at his reg­u­lar pay rate.

    Employ­ers should also check state laws for over­time require­ments regard­ing hol­i­day and vaca­tion time.

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on thinkhr.com

  • Inflation Allowances don’t allow much hope – your cost exposure has increased again

    July 17, 2019

     

    Under the Afford­able Care Act, car­ri­ers are allowed to amend their plan designs each year under an infla­tion fac­tor to keep their “expo­sure” constant,which means that the expo­sure for the patient will increase to also keep his expo­sure con­stant.  For 2020, the out-of-pock­et max­i­mum allowed is $8,150 for indi­vid­ual cov­er­age and $16,300 for fam­i­ly coverage.

    When CMS announced these new lim­its, they also said that start­ing in 2020 plans are per­mit­ted, but not required, to exclude drug man­u­fac­tur­er coupons from count­ing toward a cov­ered person’s annu­al out of pock­et max­i­mum IF a med­ical­ly-appro­pri­ate gener­ic drug is available.

  • How can you save for retirement when debt is a current reality? Study of 401(k) plans vs. Student Debt Paydowns show that millennials prefer the latter

    July 15, 2019

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    Of the recent col­lege grad­u­at­ing class, near­ly 70% took out some form of stu­dent loans, and the aver­age stu­dent debt upon grad­u­a­tion is $29,800.  The total stu­dent debt equates to about $1.5 tril­lion spread out among 44 mil­lion bor­row­ers.  At least the unem­ploy­ment rate is low.

    Con­cern about debt will make it dif­fi­cult for employ­ees to par­tic­i­pate in a 401(k) plan, so employ­ers are start­ing to look at set­ting up a stu­dent loan repay­ment pro­gram.  There are some inno­v­a­tive ideas being put for­ward that even allow some of the repay­ment to be treat­ed the same as a 401(k) contribution.

  • Is Wellness Doing Well Even When It is a Good Idea?

    July 10, 2019

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    The evi­dence has always been anec­do­tal.  The evi­dence has also some­times been point­ed in the right direc­tion, but not the direc­tion researchers want to see – they want to see proof that par­tic­i­pa­tion in well­ness pro­grams actu­al­ly improves blood pres­sure, sug­ar lev­els, etc.

    The lat­est “down­er” is a report by the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion (JAMA), which looked at the expe­ri­ence of 33,000 employ­ees at BJ’s Whole­sale Club over a year and a half.  The find­ings were that, despite exer­cise and weight watch­ing, the employ­ees expe­ri­enced no sig­nif­i­cant long-term out­comes like low­er blood pres­sure or improved sug­ar lev­els.  This adds to the recent Illi­nois Work­place Study, which also ques­tioned the val­ue of work­place well­ness pro­grams.  Pro­po­nents, of course, say that the JAMA study did not focus on enough vari­ables, that not all pro­grams are the same, and that edu­ca­tion is not suf­fi­cient, espe­cial­ly giv­en the often-irra­tional behav­ior attrib­uted to every­one that can also defy measurement.

     

    So what hap­pens to all the dol­lars spent on Fit­Bits, Apple Watch­es and all the oth­er bud­dy sys­tems we need to keep us healthy?  It will require more research!

  • Identity Theft | CA Benefits Consultants

    July 8, 2019

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    Recent­ly, the “Hap­pi­est Place on Earth” wasn’t liv­ing up to its name for many fam­i­lies. For almost a full year, mali­cious soft­ware had been installed on point-of-sale sys­tems at sev­er­al Earl Enter­pris­es restau­rants. This soft­ware then cap­tured deb­it and cred­it card num­bers, expi­ra­tion dates, and card­hold­er names of users pur­chas­ing food at these venues. Iden­ti­ty theft has become too com­mon­place in our day and age and we need to become bet­ter edu­cat­ed on where we are most like­ly to encounter threats as well as ways to avoid becom­ing victims.

    How many peo­ple are tru­ly affect­ed by iden­ti­ty theft? Accord­ing to IdentityForce.com, here are some basic numbers:
    • In 2017, 6.64 per­cent of con­sumers became vic­tims of iden­ti­ty fraud, or about 1 in 15 people
    • That equals 16.7 mil­lion vic­tims last year, an increase of 1 mil­lion from 2016
    • Over 1 mil­lion chil­dren in the U.S. were vic­tims of iden­ti­ty theft in 2017, cost­ing fam­i­lies $540 mil­lion in out-of-pock­et expenses
    • There’s a new vic­tim of iden­ti­ty theft every 2 seconds
    • Iden­ti­ty theft is one of the most com­mon con­se­quences of data breach­es, as 31.7 per­cent of breach vic­tims expe­ri­enced ID theft
    • There were 1,579 data breach­es expos­ing 179 mil­lion records last year
    • It takes most vic­tims of iden­ti­ty theft 3 months to find out what’s hap­pen­ing, but 16 per­cent don’t find out for 3 years
    How do you pro­tect your­self from iden­ti­ty theft? Experts agree that there are sev­er­al basic steps to take to help pre­vent theft from happening.

    CHANGE PASSWORDS REGULARLY

    If you are any­thing like me, you fre­quent­ly for­get the pass­words you have for the numer­ous online accounts you man­age. One way to man­age those pass­words, and help you remem­ber to change them, is an online pass­word man­ag­er like Last­Pass. Enter the pass­words into this secure account and then you’ll just need to remem­ber one pass­word to access them all. Was there a secu­ri­ty breach at your gym? Just log on to Last­Pass and in one click, you can have a new pass­word for your account and can go along with your day.

    AVOID PUTTING PERSONAL INFO ON SOCIAL MEDIA

    In an era of “over-shar­ing” you must be cau­tious about giv­ing away per­son­al infor­ma­tion on your social media accounts. Thieves are smart and can mine your accounts for infor­ma­tion. When you post about being out on vaca­tion, you open the door for thieves to come rob your home. The same holds true for iden­ti­ty theft. Be care­ful about post­ing sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion online like maid­en name, age, birthday—even your high school! All it takes is one crafty thief to take the back­ground info you’ve post­ed on social media and open a new cred­it card in your name. Use cau­tion when you share this sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion online.

    CHECK YOUR ACCOUNTS REGULARLY

    Gone are the days of get­ting a bank state­ment in the mail every month that you rec­on­cile with your check­ing account ledger. With almost all of our bank­ing trans­ac­tions occur­ring online, many peo­ple nev­er check the detailed state­ments for their accounts. This is exact­ly what the iden­ti­ty thieves want to hap­pen. Check your bank state­ments for trans­ac­tions you didn’t make, med­ical bills for care you didn’t receive, and cred­it card state­ments for cards you do not have. Also, make it a prac­tice to check each of your three cred­it reports at least once a year—and the best part is that this is free for you to use!

    ID THEFT INSURANCE

    One last way to pro­tect your­self against iden­ti­ty theft is to enroll in ID Theft Insur­ance. While ID Theft Insur­ance does not pro­tect against the actu­al mon­e­tary theft, it does cov­er the costs you, as the vic­tim, will incur while rebuild­ing your iden­ti­ty. The cov­er­age may include:
    • Phone call and pho­to­copy­ing charges
    • Postage fees for mail­ing documents
    • Salary loss due to uncom­pen­sat­ed time away from work while repair­ing one’s identity
    • Legal fees
    • Access to a fraud spe­cial­ist who can assist in restor­ing good cred­it and pro­tect­ing one’s iden­ti­ty again
    • Help with prepar­ing doc­u­ments, fil­ing police reports and cre­at­ing a fraud vic­tim affidavit

    Tak­ing these steps will help pro­tect you and your fam­i­ly from iden­ti­ty theft. While it doesn’t guar­an­tee you will be pro­tect­ed all the time, it does make it hard­er for the thieves to gain access to your pro­tect­ed information—and this can make your iden­ti­ty stay in a hap­py place—with you!

  • Of course, retirement doesn’t look good when you don’t have any savings

    July 8, 2019

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    The reports and the anec­do­tal sto­ries of bank­rupt­cy are pil­ing up.  Some are blam­ing the Afford­able Care Act, some the insur­ance car­ri­ers, some sim­ply the high cost of med­ical care and of course the employ­ers for cut­ting back on the lev­el of cov­er­age they pro­vide (when they are not cut­ting back the amount they allow for pre­mi­um pay­ments).  In a new report titled “The US Health­care Cost Cri­sis,” which sur­veyed more than 3,500 adults, it was esti­mat­ed that seniors have pulled an esti­mat­ed $22 bil­lion from their long-term sav­ings for health­care-relat­ed expens­es, an aver­age of $3,789.  Major find­ings from the report are:

     

    10% of those 65 and old­er did not seek need­ed treat­ment in the past year due to cost

    About 7 mil­lion seniors could not afford to pay for pre­scrip­tions in the last year

    80% of the pre­scrip­tions that seniors can’t afford are used to treat seri­ous conditions

    92% of seniors believe the cost of health­care will not improve or will get worse

    45% are afraid they will have to file for bank­rupt­cy if faced with a health­care crisis

  • Failing to Save with No One Left to Save them if they Fail – 401(k) is up but not enough

    July 3, 2019

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    Almost half of Amer­i­cans approach­ing retire­ment have noth­ing saved in their employ­er spon­sored 401(k) or an indi­vid­ual account.  If there is any good news, this num­ber has improved over a few years ear­li­er.  Still, of those 55 or old­er, 48% had noth­ing put away, accord­ing to a recent GAO estimate.

  • Telemedicine Virtually Getting Better

    July 1, 2019

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    Doc­tors on Demand, cur­rent­ly the largest vir­tu­al care provider, has announced the launch of Synapse, a first-to-mar­ket and ful­ly-inte­grat­ed plat­form that can inte­grate into health plans’ exist­ing net­works and pro­vide patients with improved access to full mind and body care.  Thus they will have “dig­i­tal med­ical home” expand­ed clin­i­cal capa­bil­i­ties and “smart referrals.”

  • Moans and Groans: About Student Loans

    June 28, 2019

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    The sta­tis­tics are startling:

    • The total bur­den of stu­dent debt in the Unit­ed States is $1.4 trillion.
    • In 2017 the medi­an mil­len­ni­al wage was $43,000.
    • In the same year, the medi­an mil­len­ni­al debt was $37,000.
    • 59% of employ­ees 22 to 44 have stu­dent debt.

    Debt is the #1 finan­cial chal­lenge to all Amer­i­cans, and by a wide mar­gin. This lack of fis­cal health has a neg­a­tive effect on both men­tal and phys­i­cal health, both of which affect employ­ee per­for­mance and motivation.

    In a time of reduced unem­ploy­ment, the bat­tle for tal­ent and its reten­tion is increas­ing. How do we get qual­i­ty employ­ees? What can we offer to keep them? If they stay, how can we help max­i­mize appre­ci­a­tion and thus loy­al­ty? The sim­ple answer is to offer a mean­ing­ful com­pen­sa­tion and ben­e­fits pack­age. The more rel­e­vant, and com­plex, answer is to address spe­cif­ic employ­ee needs and thus cre­ate a more mean­ing­ful employ­ee experience.

    Med­ical and retire­ment may be a giv­en, but how val­ued are those ben­e­fits if debt pre­vents par­tic­i­pa­tion or fore­stalls ful­fill­ing med­ical needs? Do employ­ees even know the risks of refusal? What will they deny them­selves lat­er by not attend­ing to their long term wellbeing?

    Greater atten­tion is thus being paid to employ­ee edu­ca­tion in the basics of finance, while offer­ing prod­ucts, tools, and ser­vices under the rubric of “finan­cial well­ness.” One of the key com­po­nents of such a pro­gram is instruc­tion in debt man­age­ment. New offer­ings in the stu­dent loan sec­tor allow employ­ers to go even further.

    Pay­ing off debt is expen­sive, with the “load” exceed­ing the inter­est earned on sav­ings and poten­tial­ly the tax and accu­mu­la­tion val­ue of a 401k or oth­er retire­ment instru­ments Thus, find­ing a way to alle­vi­ate the stress of a finan­cial bur­den paves the way to take advan­tage of a sig­nif­i­cant sav­ings opportunity.

    A bur­geon­ing cot­tage indus­try has devel­oped to help those with stu­dent loans, pri­mar­i­ly through the chan­nel of employ­er spon­sor­ship. These ser­vices offer:

    • Employ­er pay­ments to employ­ees to reduce loan balances

    (exam­ple – PwC gives employ­ees $100 per month for up to 72 months).

    • Access to lenders who will refi­nance the loan.
    • Edu­ca­tion and coun­sel­ing, not just on exist­ing debt but how to finance a child’s col­lege edu­ca­tion (e.g. using 529 plans).

    For a mod­est fee, these com­pa­nies expand the resources for employ­ees, stream­line ser­vices, help reduce debt, and also cre­ate a sim­pli­fied method of repay­ment through pay­roll deduction.

    Var­i­ous stud­ies have cited:

    • 61% of employ­ers polled said they believe stu­dent loan wor­ries have ham­pered retire­ment plan participation.
    • 81% of mil­len­ni­als, and 65% of those over 50, want their com­pa­ny to offer stu­dent loan tools and resources.
    • A sim­i­lar per­cent­age of both pop­u­la­tions would be more inclined to accept employ­ment with a com­pa­ny that offered stu­dent loan tools – or stay with a com­pa­ny if they received stu­dent loan benefits.

    Grant­ed, spe­cif­ic stud­ies are skewed to favor the spon­sor­ing stu­dent loan ser­vices, but there is lit­tle doubt that stu­dent loans place finan­cial, and thus men­tal and emo­tion­al, stress on employ­ees. Just ask them – and then ask how you can help. The more you can offer, the more appre­cia­tive they will be. Recog­ni­tion and appre­ci­a­tion of a benefit’s val­ue is the cor­ner­stone of a suc­cess­ful com­pen­sa­tion and ben­e­fits pro­gram, after all, so now is a good time to see how you can expand yours in a mean­ing­ful way.

  • Tech Wreck Puts Brokers on Deck

    June 26, 2019

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    Clover Health, which is backed by Alpha­bet (Google), is a major play for the Medicare Advan­tage mar­ket, but the com­pa­ny just laid off 140 tech employ­ees in favor of begin­ning to hire those with a back­ground in health insur­ance and clin­i­cal care.

  • States May be Given More Responsibility, but some are Taking it now

    June 24, 2019

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    Vir­ginia has become the first state to require that health insur­ers count coupons for pre­scrip­tion drugs and copay­ments as apply­ing to health plan deductibles.  Fair Health Care VA, an advo­ca­cy group, said “patients should not be denied one of the key ben­e­fits of copay assis­tance pro­grams, par­tic­u­lar­ly since insur­ers are already get­ting the val­ue of nego­ti­at­ed drug price dis­counts while with­hold­ing these ben­e­fits from patients.”

  • Connecting Agility, Culture and Change Management

    June 20, 2019

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    Every com­pa­ny wants to lead their indus­try, and doing so means remain­ing com­pet­i­tive. With the rate of speed the world expe­ri­ences change in this age that is a very dif­fi­cult propo­si­tion. For an HR pro­fes­sion­al, it is increas­ing­ly more dif­fi­cult to stay ahead of the curve.

    So, what are the crit­i­cal pieces to the strategy?
    • Agility
    • Change Management
    • Culture
    Know­ing that, how do the three con­cepts tie to one another?

    We start with agility.

    When it comes to this part of the strat­e­gy, what HR pro­fes­sion­als real­ly want is to be able to adjust at a moment’s notice. But it’s not enough to just be able to make the change. The HR pro­fes­sion­al wants to effec­tive­ly imple­ment the change in the organization.

    Of course, that change doesn’t just hap­pen at the drop of the hat. It requires lead­er­ship and even some maintenance.

    That’s where change man­age­ment comes into the mix. HR Exchange Net­work con­trib­u­tor John Whitak­er says:
    “Change can and will come quick­ly. Change man­age­ment is a help­ful (and some­times hope­ful) way to plan the actions and respons­es need­ed dur­ing a change process. But you must take advan­tage of those times where you are thrown into a chaot­ic sit­u­a­tion with­out the ben­e­fit of planning.”

    Final­ly, that brings us to culture.

    In address­ing this con­cept, Cul­tureIQ worked with Bloomberg to sur­vey 300 senior exec­u­tives about the Future of Work. In that research, one of the first things they learned is work is becom­ing more com­plex. How? Con­sid­er first that com­pa­nies are becom­ing more agile either by force or organ­i­cal­ly. Exec­u­tives know they have to do this in order to remain com­pet­i­tive. Opti­miz­ing a tal­ent­ed work­force, pre­dict­ing tal­ent needs and keep­ing reten­tion rates high are crit­i­cal to sus­tain­ing your organization’s com­pet­i­tive advantage.

    In fact, CEOs rec­og­nized that one of the most impor­tant fac­tors in their organization’s per­for­mance for the next three years was ensur­ing their orga­ni­za­tion was agile.

    Cul­tureIQ says agili­ty ranked high­er than oth­er attrib­ut­es like col­lab­o­ra­tion, engage­ment, or innovation.
    A company’s cul­ture is imper­a­tive to its strat­e­gy espe­cial­ly when you con­sid­er this fact: cul­ture influ­ences whether tal­ent is attract­ed or not attract­ed to the com­pa­ny. It’s also sig­nif­i­cant in the company’s abil­i­ty to retain their best employees.

    Accord­ing to Gallup, 4 in 10 U.S. employ­ees strong­ly agree their organization’s mis­sion and pur­pose makes them feel their job is impor­tant. Furthermore:

    “By dou­bling that ratio to eight in 10 employ­ees, orga­ni­za­tions could real­ize a 41% reduc­tion in absen­teeism, a 33% improve­ment in qual­i­ty, or in the case of health­care, even a 50% drop in patient safe­ty incidents.”
    Gallup has stud­ied orga­ni­za­tion­al cul­ture and lead­er­ship for years. They find some orga­ni­za­tions have dif­fi­cul­ty in suc­cess­ful­ly estab­lish­ing their “ide­al” cul­ture and attribute that to the fact that cul­ture is con­stant­ly in flux and is not the same one moment to the next.

    Ear­li­er this year, researchers looked specif­i­cal­ly at how HR lead­ers fit into the process of chang­ing culture.
    “Our ana­lyt­ics show that in the world’s high­est per­form­ing orga­ni­za­tions, HR lead­ers play a cen­tral role in cre­at­ing and sus­tain­ing the cul­ture their orga­ni­za­tion aspires to have. As the stew­ards and keep­ers of the cul­ture, HR lead­ers are respon­si­ble for inspir­ing desired employ­ee behav­iors and beliefs — and in turn, real­iz­ing the per­for­mance gains of a thriv­ing culture.

    By own­ing their piv­otal strate­gic and tac­ti­cal roles in shap­ing work cul­ture, HR lead­ers can cul­ti­vate excep­tion­al per­for­mance and prove to senior lead­er­ship that they deserve a seat at the table.”

    For HR, Gallup set forth three roles that explain how lead­ers influ­ence culture.
    1. Cham­pi­on – Exec­u­tive lead­ers cre­ate the vision of the per­fect cul­ture, but HR lead­ers cham­pi­on it. They are respon­si­ble for turn­ing words into deeds.
    2. Coach – HR lead­ers, as coach­es, make sure man­agers and employ­ees are on the same page and help the two enti­ties take own­er­ship of the culture.
    3. Con­sul­tant – HR lead­ers here con­sis­tent­ly check cul­ture met­rics such as employ­ee engage­ment, cus­tomer out­lines and per­for­mance indi­ca­tors. In this way, HR lead­ers can make sure the cul­ture strat­e­gy stays on track.

    By Mason Stevenson
    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on hrexchangenetwork.com

  • Some Insurance Carriers are Less Nervous than Others over Single Payer

    June 19, 2019

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    Cen­tene, which owns a num­ber of car­ri­ers already, is buy­ing Well­Care Health Plans for $17 bil­lion.  A smart bet unless it isn’t, as Sin­gle Pay­er threat­ens car­ri­er health.

  • While Proposals are Pushed, those Previously Promoted are being Pulled

    June 17, 2019

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    The Trump admin­is­tra­tion pro­mot­ed Asso­ci­a­tion Health Plans as an option to help bring down costs with employ­ers band­ing togeth­er with anoth­er form of “col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing” The House Ways and Means Com­mit­tee has pulled this from a health care bill, which sim­ply ampli­fies the neg­a­tive feel­ings about it.  A Fed­er­al judge also struck down the plan in late March, say­ing that asso­ci­a­tion health plans were clear­ly an end run around the con­sumer pro­tec­tions promised under the Afford­able Care Act.  This was done right in Trump’s back­yard, with a DC judge mak­ing the rul­ing, in response to a suit filed by 11 Attor­neys Gen­er­al.  At the same time, Pres­i­dent Trump said at a ral­ly, “We are going to get rid of Obamacare…the Repub­li­can Par­ty will become the par­ty of great health care.”

  • Why the Concern? One Statistic Shows Americans Borrow Heavily to pay for Health Care

    June 12, 2019

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    Accord­ing to a sur­vey by Gallup/West Health, Amer­i­cans bor­rowed an esti­mat­ed $88 bil­lion over the last year to pay for health care.  The sur­vey also showed 1 in 4 Amer­i­cans have skipped treat­ment because of the cost and that near­ly half fear bank­rupt­cy in the event of a health emer­gency.  Both Repub­li­can and Demo­c­rat iden­ti­fied respon­dents said they lacked con­fi­dence in the abil­i­ty of polit­i­cal lead­ers to solve the prob­lem (70%).

  • Meanwhile, Insurance Carriers are Nervous but Investors are Elated with Inflated Hopes

    June 10, 2019

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    At a time when some would rather be out of the busi­ness under the onslaught of Medicare for All pro­po­nent, ven­ture fund­ing for insur­ance and insurtech com­pa­nies hit all-time highs in 2018.  In 2014, fund­ing was rough­ly $800 mil­lion.  In 2018, fund­ing was up to $2.5 bil­lion.  The lead­ers on the health insur­ance front are Oscar and Bright Health.

    The “insurtech” play, while not relat­ed to health insur­ance, is also inter­est­ing and worth not­ing.  Wefox Group is in the dig­i­tal insur­ance mar­ket, Root Insur­ance will have auto insur­ance rates based on dri­ver test­ing and Metro­mile will charge pre­mi­ums based on miles driven.

  • Running Up the Middle – Let’s Keep the Affordable Care Act

    June 5, 2019

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    Well remem­bered for urg­ing the House to “pass the bill so we can see what’s in it,” House Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi has urged cau­tion on Medicare for All, believ­ing that the Afford­able Care Act is still the best path to ‘qual­i­ty, afford­able care’  She clar­i­fied in an inter­view that Medicare for All, for most peo­ple, sim­ply means “cov­er­age for all” which then does not neces­si­tate using a sin­gle pay­er sys­tem as advo­cat­ed by Bernie Sanders.

    Pres­i­dent Trump, mean­while, got sup­port to drop the ACA when a Dis­trict Court judge in North­ern Texas said that ACA was uncon­sti­tu­tion­al.  There is an appeal filed from a group of Attor­neys Gen­er­al protest­ing this move.  The admin­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues to side with the court, with the Jus­tice Depart­ment writ­ing it had “deter­mined that the dis­trict court’s judg­ment should be affirmed” and will file a brief. This in spite of the oppo­si­tion of HHS Sec­re­tary Alex Azar and Attor­ney Gen­er­al William Barr.

  • What’s the Plan? Republicans Respond to Medicare for All but Stall

    June 3, 2019

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    Repub­li­cans have a counter, though no one yet knows what it is.  Pres­i­dent Trump has promised…to show what it is after the 2020 elec­tions.  He has endorsed some pro­pos­als already, which may be includ­ed in his more com­pre­hen­sive plan.  One (Gra­ham-Cas­sidy) shows the elim­i­na­tion of the ACA Med­ic­aid expan­sion and insur­ance sub­si­dies, with the mon­ey being real­lo­cat­ed to the states, who would also be able to over­ride some ACA ben­e­fit stan­dards.  The 2020 White House bud­get points to this by cre­at­ing block grants to the states for a sim­i­lar pur­pose.  Con­ser­v­a­tives also have a plan, which fol­lows a sim­i­lar path.  In short, every­one is against hav­ing the Fed­er­al gov­ern­ment run it – they are all pass­ing to the states.

    Of course, Trump real­ly does need a plan, giv­en that his 2020 bud­get calls for a cut of more than $845 bil­lion in Medicare, pur­port­ed­ly to “cut waste, fraud and abuse.”  The OMB direc­tor said “he’s not cut­ting Medicare in this bud­get” so…so how can we have Medicare for all when Medicare itself is always under attack?

    The gen­er­al group­ing of pro­pos­als are:

    • Pass­ing block grants and fund­ing to the states
    • Adding pub­lic plan fea­tures to pri­vate insurance
    • Giv­ing peo­ple a choice of pub­lic plans along­side pri­vate plans (e.g. Medicare for those age 50 to 64 while still being able to buy pri­vate insur­ance instead)

  • Medicare for All: a Free for All Among Politicians and Insurers are Worried

    May 30, 2019

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    It’s not just Bernie Sanders’ vision any more.  Even more cen­trist Democ­rats have tak­en the pledge, with Sen­a­tors Har­ris, Gilli­brand and Book­er hav­ing cosigned Sanders’ bill.  The basics? Health insur­ance would now no longer be paid direct­ly by employ­ers, but indi­rect­ly through a 7.5% pay­roll tax and a con­tri­bu­tion by employ­ees of 4%.  Medicare and Med­ic­aid would be elim­i­nat­ed and every­one would be cov­ered.  Insur­ance com­pa­nies would still exist, but only to sell sup­ple­men­tal or ancil­lary plans; they may not com­pete direct­ly with the gov­ern­ment plan.  Insur­ers are, of course, wor­ried and pub­licly pledg­ing to come up with a way to build upon the exist­ing system.

    As if the bill for expand­ed cov­er­age is not large enough, the Medicare for All pro­pos­al has been expand­ed fur­ther to include Long Term Care.  This pro­vi­sion, which had been part of the ini­tial Afford­able Care Act, was aban­doned almost as soon as it began once law­mak­ers saw the poten­tial size of that cov­er­age bill.

    Things recent­ly got more inter­est­ing when Seema Ver­ma, the direc­tor of CMS (which runs Medicare) went on Fox News and said “Medicare for all is the biggest threat to the Amer­i­can health care sys­tem.”  She not­ed that social­ized health care sys­tems in oth­er coun­tries have prob­lems of their own, includ­ing long wait times and poor care, which leads cit­i­zens to trav­el to the U.S. for drugs and care they can’t secure at home.  More to the point, she said “the real­i­ty is we’re hav­ing prob­lems today pay­ing for the Medicare pro­gram and the trustees have warned about sol­ven­cy, so adding more peo­ple to the pro­gram is only going to exac­er­bate it.”

    Argu­ments pro and con – why and why not:

                Pro      Advo­cates say the change is sim­ple – mon­ey spent on pri­vate health insur­ance and health care would be shift­ed to the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment in the form of taxation

                            The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment would set prices and force health care providers to accept cur­rent Medicare pay­ment rates, which is rough­ly 40% below what pri­vate insur­ers pay

                            The gov­ern­ment run sys­tem would mean every­one would be insured and peo­ple would access health care ser­vices more fre­quent­ly because they would be free (maybe copay­ments would be required, though this has not yet been decided)

                Con     “Trust US” – 70% say they are sat­is­fied with their cov­er­age, but all 181 mil­lion Amer­i­cans now cov­ered by employ­ers would have to make a move to a pro­gram that is unex­plained, unproven and about which the results are unsure

                            There are those who are not crazy about cen­tral­ized big gov­ern­ment in any aspect of our lives – and then, of course, there are the addi­tion­al taxes

                            No mat­ter how they slice it, hos­pi­tals, physi­cians and affil­i­at­ed providers are going to take a big pay cut, and there won’t be much room for nego­ti­a­tion when the gov­ern­ment is the only game in town (think Walmart)

                            Patients will have to make a shift in expec­ta­tions – seen the wait­ing list and lines in Cana­da lately?

                            The Sanders plan would increase fed­er­al spend­ing by about $32 tril­lion over its first ten years, or $3 tril­lion per year.  The Con­gres­sion­al Bud­get Office projects fed­er­al spend­ing for the entire 2019 fis­cal year at $4.4 trillion

  • Democrat Proposals for 2020: Medicare for All…and Other Proposals that Lean Left and Lefter

    May 28, 2019

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    Medicare for All:  Bernie Sanders has intro­duced the plan in the Sen­ate, and it is sup­port­ed by Cory Book­er, Kirsten Gilli­brand, Kamala Har­ris and Eliz­a­beth War­ren, who have all spon­sored these bills, along with Rep. Tul­si Gab­bard in the House.  May­or Pete Buttigieg is also on record as being in favor of such a sys­tem.  The pro­posed plan would elim­i­nate pri­vate insur­ance and trans­form Medicare into a sin­gle-pay­er sys­tem run entire­ly by the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment.  Oppo­nents, even with­in the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, are wary, how­ev­er, of ban­ning health insur­ers from sell­ing any­thing, as well as the total price tag.  The gen­er­al esti­mate is a whop­ping $32 trillion.

    Medicare for Amer­i­ca:  Sup­port­ed by Beto O’Rourke and pos­si­bly Kirsten Gilli­brand.  This aims for uni­ver­sal cov­er­age while giv­ing work­ers the option of keep­ing their employ­er-spon­sored plan or switch­ing to a new and expand­ed ver­sion of Medicare.  The pro­pos­al rolls in any­one now on Medicare, Med­ic­aid, Oba­maCare-sub­si­dized plans and the Chil­drens’ Health Insur­ance Pro­gram.  Plans offered by employ­ers would have to match stan­dards set under the pro­posed new program.

    Medicare X Choice Act:  Spon­sored by Sen­a­tors Michael Ben­net and Tim Kaine and in the House by Anto­ni­uo Del­ga­do, John Lar­son and Bri­an Hig­gins.  Among can­di­dates, the plan is also sup­port­ed by Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Har­ris and Cory Book­er. The pro­posed plan leaves in the exist­ing sys­tem and cre­ates a pub­lic option (this was pro­posed dur­ing the debate over the Afford­able Care Act and ulti­mate­ly reject­ed).  The pro­pos­al, if approved, would also expand tax cred­its for purchase.

    Medicare at 50 Act:  Sup­port­ed by Cory Book­er, Kamala Har­ris, Amy Klobuchar and Kirsten Gilli­brand.  The pro­pos­al essen­tial­ly allows U.S. cit­i­zens between the ages of 50 and 64 to buy a Medicare plan, and can use Oba­macare sub­si­dies to do so.

  • Spring Clean Your Life | California Benefits Agency

    May 28, 2019

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    The win­ter dol­drums have left most of the coun­try and we are wit­ness­ing the arrival of spring. Just like the bud­ding trees and baby ani­mals sig­ni­fy a new start, so does a fresh clean­ing of your home. But don’t let the spring clean­ing stop with the phys­i­cal place where you live—extend it to all cor­ners of your life. Give your life a good spring clean­ing by orga­niz­ing, declut­ter­ing, and set­ting goals.

     

    ORGANIZE

    By now every­one knows who Marie Kon­do is—the mas­ter of “The Life-Chang­ing Mag­ic of Tidy­ing Up.”  What began a world­wide phe­nom­e­non of “spark­ing joy” in your home can be applied to your work life as well. Start by orga­niz­ing your thoughts. Write down the tasks you want to accom­plish whether it be dai­ly, month­ly, or year­ly. Cal­en­dar the tasks so you know when you want them com­plet­ed and pri­or­i­tize them so you know what impor­tance you assign to each item. Pri­or­i­tiz­ing tasks helps you accept a request or con­fi­dent­ly say “no” when some­one asks you to do some­thing know­ing it doesn’t fit in with your pri­or­i­ties.  Orga­niz­ing tasks works for both your per­son­al and work life.

     

    DECLUTTER

    A good declut­ter­ing ses­sion is good for the soul! Step back and look at your workspace—are there piles of paper stacked on your desk? What about that mound of things you keep say­ing you’ll take upstairs in your house? Do you have rela­tion­ships that are clut­ter­ing up your life? Take an hour each week to sort through your work­space piles. Choose to save only the papers/magazines/notes that you need to com­plete your job or that you want to save for sen­ti­men­tal rea­sons. Toss the rest of those papers in the recy­cle bin! After you are able to pare down the piles, begin ask­ing your­self if the next paper that comes across your desk needs to be saved, trashed, or recy­cled so that those mounds don’t grow into moun­tains again. The same goes for stuff around your house. Start that garage sale box, begin a keep­sake box, and trash the rest. Final­ly, kick those tox­ic rela­tion­ships to the curb. You know the ones—the rela­tion­ships that suck the life out of you. If you have some­one whose val­ues and pri­or­i­ties don’t align with yours, choose to keep them at arm’s length so you can spend more time with the peo­ple who hold pri­or­i­ty in your life.

     

    SET GOALS     

    Goals are unlike res­o­lu­tions.  Res­o­lu­tions are a firm deci­sion to do or not to do some­thing. “I resolve not to eat dessert after every meal.” Goals give direc­tion to fol­low to achieve a desired out­come. For instance, a career goal may be to fin­ish your col­lege degree or obtain a spe­cial cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. A rela­tion­ship goal could be to have week­ly date night or to start a fam­i­ly. Finan­cial goals may include pay­ing down debt, set­ting aside mon­ey from each check for a sum­mer vaca­tion, or to begin reg­u­lar­ly giv­ing to a non-prof­it dear to your heart. Set goals as you spring clean your life to give your­self direc­tion in how you spend your time and effort this year.

     

    As you begin spring clean­ing your life, you will be sur­prised what good things are able to flow into those cor­ners that were pre­vi­ous­ly inhab­it­ed by dis­or­ga­ni­za­tion, clut­ter, or lack of focus. By giv­ing your­self a chance to have a fresh start in your life, you are encour­ag­ing new growth. And new growth is always exciting!

  • Single Payer has its Layers – California may Adopt Even if the Feds Don’t

    May 23, 2019

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    Gov­er­nor Gavin New­som has released details on his over­hauled “Healthy Cal­i­for­nia for All Com­mis­sion,” which will start meet­ing in Sep­tem­ber.  It will also increase in size from 5 to 13 mem­bers, all appoint­ed by leg­isla­tive lead­ers includ­ing the gov­er­nor, and head­ed by the Sec­re­tary of Health and Human Ser­vices.  The Com­mis­sion would be required to deliv­er its final report to the gov­er­nor and Leg­is­la­ture by Feb­ru­ary 1, 2021.

  • Insuring the Times of Your Life | CA Benefits Group

    May 20, 2019

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    Pre­ston New­by was a youth min­is­ter. He and his wife, Tara, were dri­ving with their son to vis­it family—excited to announce a new baby on the way. In the keep­ing with the kind of per­son Pre­ston was, he stopped to help at the scene of an acci­dent. That’s when he was struck by anoth­er car and killed. He was only 24.

    For­tu­nate­ly, this young cou­ple had done their plan­ning and had bought life insur­ance. So despite the emo­tion­al upheaval that Preston’s death caused, Tara, a stay-at-home mom, and her two sons were able to car­ry on finan­cial­ly as they had before. You can watch their sto­ry here.

    How many oth­er peo­ple have pre­pared like this for the unex­pect­ed? Unfor­tu­nate­ly, not enough: 43% of adult Amer­i­cans don’t have life insur­ance, accord­ing to the 2019 Insur­ance Barom­e­ter Study, by Life Hap­pens and LIMRA.

    Many peo­ple think, “I’m young. That won’t hap­pen to me.” Sta­tis­ti­cal­ly they may be right. How­ev­er, they could be up being one of the sta­tis­tics. You just don’t know—and that’s the prob­lem. The solu­tion is life insurance.

    If you have peo­ple you love and who depend on you, or you have finan­cial oblig­a­tions to meet, you need life insur­ance to pro­tect against the “what ifs”—at every stage in life. Here are just a few rea­sons you may need life insur­ance, or more of it, through­out your life.

    Sin­gle with no chil­dren: You may think you don’t need life insur­ance, since you have no depen­dents, but if you owe mon­ey, you need it. It ensures that your debts, includ­ing stu­dent loans and funer­al expens­es, won’t be passed on to your fam­i­ly. Addi­tion­al­ly, if you are tak­ing care of aging par­ents or a spe­cial-needs sib­ling, or know you will in the future, life insur­ance is a smart way to make sure that care can con­tin­ue uninterrupted.

    Mar­ried or part­nered: As you begin your lives togeth­er, you’ll like­ly incur joint finan­cial oblig­a­tions like buy­ing a home, in addi­tion to month­ly bills. It makes sense to pro­tect your spouse or part­ner with ade­quate life insur­ance. It’s also a smart move to get cov­er­age in place now if you plan on hav­ing a fam­i­ly in the future.

    Par­ents with chil­dren: If you’re in the midst of this stage, finan­cial oblig­a­tions abound. Many cou­ples rely on two incomes to make ends meet and sin­gle par­ents may be their children’s one-and-only. Life insur­ance is crit­i­cal at this point. When fig­ur­ing out how much you need, remem­ber that the eco­nom­ic impact you have on your fam­i­ly can be mea­sured not just by how much you earn now, but by how much you’ll earn over the course of your work­ing life. Life Hap­pens’ Human Life Val­ue Cal­cu­la­tor can help you fig­ure out what that will be.

    Emp­ty-nester­s/re­tirees: Your kids are on their own and your mort­gage is paid off, so you may think you don’t need life insur­ance. How­ev­er, if you are still build­ing your retire­ment nest egg, life insur­ance ensures that if some­thing hap­pens to you that your spouse or part­ner can still live com­fort­ably in retire­ment, despite any shortfalls.

    Keep in mind, life insur­ance is a sim­ple answer to an impor­tant ques­tion: Would any­one suf­fer finan­cial­ly if I were to die. If the answer is yes, it’s time to sit down with an insur­ance professional.

    By Mag­gie Leyes

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on lifehappens.org

  • Millennials are HR’s biggest challenge in the multi-gen workplace | California Benefits Agency

    May 16, 2019

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    Dive Brief:

    • Almost half of HR pro­fes­sion­als (48%) report­ed mil­len­ni­als as their largest non-desk work group, but 32% said they are the hard­est gen­er­a­tion among Gen Z, Gen X and baby boomers to engage, accord­ing to research from Speakap. The cor­po­rate social plat­form sur­veyed 250 HR pro­fes­sion­als in the U.S. and U.K. on their use of tech­nol­o­gy to retain and engage employ­ees and their biggest work­force challenges.
    • The sur­vey uncov­ered that mil­len­ni­als val­ue prod­ucts less than mean­ing­ful expe­ri­ences; are ide­al­is­tic rather than prag­mat­ic; are con­tin­u­ous­ly search­ing for per­son­al ful­fill­ment, rather than just a job; and don’t tol­er­ate sub­par expe­ri­ences — from brands deliv­er­ing a cus­tomer expe­ri­ence to employ­ers deliv­er­ing an employ­ee experience.
    • Almost three-fourths of the sur­vey respon­dents said their orga­ni­za­tions cur­rent­ly use tech­nol­o­gy-dri­ven HR ini­tia­tives, and 75% said they have turnover rates aver­ag­ing up to 30% a year. Social­ly engag­ing expe­ri­ences, real-time feed­back and mobile access pos­i­tive­ly impact engage­ment with mil­len­ni­al and Gen Z work­ers, accord­ing to the feed­back, and reduc­ing turnover and improv­ing employ­ee-man­ag­er rela­tion­ships are big­ger HR pri­or­i­ties with Gen Z work­ers than with boomer and mil­len­ni­al workers.

    Dive Insight:

    Attract­ing and hir­ing tal­ent is only the start of estab­lish­ing a pos­i­tive employ­ee expe­ri­ence. Employ­ers must first make employ­ee engage­ment a pri­or­i­ty, espe­cial­ly among mil­len­ni­als, who are apt to job hop when they feel under­uti­lized. Because mil­len­ni­als were born into the tech age, between 1981 and 1996, employ­ers that keep up with tech­no­log­i­cal advance­ments and pro­vide the lat­est dig­i­tal tools may engage them bet­ter at work. Employ­ers that don’t will have a hard­er time com­pet­ing for tal­ent in gen­er­al, accord­ing to a Har­vard Busi­ness Review Ana­lyt­ic Ser­vices report.

    “First and fore­most, com­pa­nies should tap into mil­len­ni­als’ intrin­sic desire for per­son­al ful­fill­ment and a sense of pur­pose,” Erwin Van Der Vlist, Speakap​‘s co-founder and CEO, said in a statement.

    Per­son­al­iza­tion report­ed­ly has high appeal among mil­len­ni­als, espe­cial­ly when the con­cept is applied to ben­e­fits. Emi­ly Bai­ley, man­ag­ing prin­ci­pal at OneDig­i­tal, told HR Dive in a 2018 inter­view that there are major dif­fer­ences in how mil­len­ni­als select ben­e­fits. She said younger work­ers are more like­ly to pass on vol­un­tary ben­e­fits and opt for those that meet a more imme­di­ate need, such as tuition reim­burse­ment or remote-work options.

    Employ­ers might con­sid­er myr­i­ad options to engage mil­len­ni­als, such as con­nect­ing their orga­ni­za­tion to a cause through cor­po­rate social respon­si­bil­i­ty ini­tia­tives, pri­or­i­tiz­ing career devel­op­ment and pro­vid­ing mean­ing­ful work experiences.

    By Valerie Bolden-Barrett

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on hrdive.com

  • They still won’t be making house calls, but there is a changed future for healthcare

    May 8, 2019

    A recent White Paper on the future of health care deliv­ery in the Unit­ed States has out­lined a “blue­print” on what awaits us:

    • The expe­ri­ence may begin with a tech­nol­o­gy enabled, concierge like out­reach to con­nect the patient to resources based on their pro­file. This may include estab­lish­ing a rela­tion­ship with a pri­ma­ry care provider they can reach vir­tu­al­ly or in per­son with safe­guard­ed data.
    • There should be one con­sol­i­dat­ed place for dig­i­tal app reminders, phar­ma­cy con­nec­tiv­i­ty and oth­er sources of online sup­port to help them take care of them­selves on a dai­ly basis. There may be dif­fer­ent costs for dif­fer­ent types of ser­vices, and they may work with a more exclu­sive set of providers.
    • To opti­mize the health of work­ers and the sus­tain­abil­i­ty for employ­er plan spon­sors, health care ben­e­fit offer­ings need to evolve in terms of design, deliv­ery, deci­sion sup­port and val­ue, tak­ing advan­tage of tech­nol­o­gy and lever­ag­ing local mar­ket solu­tions in new and mean­ing­ful ways.

  • Who Can I Name as a Beneficiary on My Life Insurance Policy? | California Benefits Advisors

    May 7, 2019

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    First off, great job on buy­ing life insur­ance! You took an impor­tant step by pro­tect­ing the ones you love.

    Every life insur­ance pol­i­cy requires you to name a ben­e­fi­cia­ry. A life insur­ance ben­e­fi­cia­ry is typ­i­cal­ly the per­son or peo­ple who get the pay­out on your life insur­ance pol­i­cy after you die; it may also be a trust, char­i­ty or your estate.

    You can also name more than one ben­e­fi­cia­ry, as well as the per­cent­age of the pay­out you want to go to each one—for instance, you could des­ig­nate 50% to a spouse and 50% to an adult child.

    You’ll typ­i­cal­ly be asked to pick two kinds of ben­e­fi­cia­ries: a pri­ma­ry and a sec­ondary. The sec­ondary ben­e­fi­cia­ry (also called a “con­tin­gent ben­e­fi­cia­ry”) receives the pay­out if the pri­ma­ry ben­e­fi­cia­ry is deceased.

    Pro­vid­ing for Kids
    A big rea­son why peo­ple buy life insur­ance is to pro­vide for chil­dren left behind. Usu­al­ly this is done by mak­ing the sur­viv­ing spouse or part­ner who cares for and is rais­ing the kids the ben­e­fi­cia­ry. But what if you’re wid­owed or—God forbid—-both you and your part­ner pass away at the same time?

    First, know that it’s not a good idea to name a minor as a ben­e­fi­cia­ry. That’s because the law for­bids life insur­ance pay­outs to any­one who has not reached the age of major­i­ty, which is 18 to 21 depend­ing on your state. If a child were to be named, then it would be turned over to pro­bate court. The court will name a guardian who has over­sight of the money/estate until the child comes of age.

    For­tu­nate­ly, there are two options. The first is to name an adult cus­to­di­an. The cus­to­di­an should be some­one you can trust to use the mon­ey for things like hous­ing, health care, and edu­ca­tion until the child reach­es the age of major­i­ty. At that point, any remain­ing mon­ey gets turned over the child and they can spend it any way they want.

    The sec­ond option is to work with an attor­ney to set up a trust. In this sce­nario, the trust is the ben­e­fi­cia­ry and a trustee is named to man­age and dis­trib­ute the funds. The main advan­tage of a trust over nam­ing a cus­to­di­an is hav­ing more control.

    A trust lets you spec­i­fy how you want the mon­ey distributed—and it lets you do so even when your kids are adults. (One quick word of cau­tion: Def­i­nite­ly con­sult with an attor­ney if you’re set­ting up a trust for a spe­cial needs child. They can help you cre­ate one that doesn’t impact your child’s eli­gi­bil­i­ty for gov­ern­ment assis­tance like Med­ic­aid or Sup­ple­men­tal Secu­ri­ty Income.)

    Nam­ing a Charity
    Do you have a cause that’s near and dear to your heart? If so, you might con­sid­er nam­ing a char­i­ta­ble orga­ni­za­tion as the ben­e­fi­cia­ry of your life insur­ance.

    There are sev­er­al ways to do this. They include nam­ing the char­i­ty as a ben­e­fi­cia­ry on a new or exist­ing life insur­ance pol­i­cy, mak­ing the char­i­ty both the own­er and the ben­e­fi­cia­ry of a life insur­ance pol­i­cy, adding a char­i­ta­ble-giv­ing rid­er to a life insur­ance pol­i­cy, or work­ing with a com­mu­ni­ty foun­da­tion to fig­ure out the best way to dis­trib­ute a payout.

    Final Tips
    Think care­ful­ly about nam­ing your estate as a ben­e­fi­cia­ry. This can trig­ger a long and cost­ly legal process known as pro­bate. A faster and more effi­cient solu­tion is to name spe­cif­ic indi­vid­u­als or orga­ni­za­tions as beneficiaries.

    1. Get spe­cif­ic. Instead of nam­ing “my spouse” or “my chil­dren” as ben­e­fi­cia­ries, list their names along with their address­es and Social Secu­ri­ty num­bers. This saves a lot of time since the insur­ance com­pa­ny doesn’t have to track down information.

    2. Always name a con­tin­gent ben­e­fi­cia­ry. Pass­ing away and leav­ing behind life insur­ance with­out a liv­ing ben­e­fi­cia­ry could mean the pay­out goes to some­one you nev­er want­ed your pol­i­cy to ben­e­fit. It could also require a court-appoint­ed admin­is­tra­tor to sort things out.

    3. Pick trust­wor­thy cus­to­di­ans and trustees. Real­ly con­sid­er who’d you trust your child’s finan­cial well-being with if you weren’t in the pic­ture. Your kids may love their uncle or aunt, but is he or she mature and respon­si­ble with mon­ey? If not, pick some­one else who is.

    4. Reg­u­lar­ly review your ben­e­fi­cia­ries. It’s a good idea to review your ben­e­fi­cia­ries about once a year and after major life events like a mar­riage, divorce, the birth of a child, or a death in the family.

    5. Com­mu­ni­cate your wish­es. Let your ben­e­fi­cia­ries know your inten­tions and how to find the policy.

    6. Be aware of spe­cial sit­u­a­tions. There are some sit­u­a­tions that could trig­ger a tax on the life insur­ance benefit—for instance, when the pol­i­cy­hold­er and the insured aren’t the same per­son. Like­wise, things can get sticky if you live in a com­mu­ni­ty prop­er­ty state and don’t name your spouse as a ben­e­fi­cia­ry. An insur­ance agent can give you life insur­ance advice on this and much more.

     

    By Aman­da Austin

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on lifehappens.org

  • The Big Three get together – to form a safe “Haven”

    May 1, 2019

    They have found a leader, and he has made his first pub­lic state­ment.  They are putting togeth­er a team, named Haven.  They are going to reform health­care – but start with their own com­pa­nies and their own employ­ees.  CEO Atul Gawande, M.D. has stat­ed that Haven “will be an advo­cate for the patient and an ally to any­one” who wants to improve patient care and costs.  The com­pa­ny will “cre­ate new solu­tions and work to change sys­tems, tech­nolo­gies, con­tracts, pol­i­cy and what­ev­er else is in the way of bet­ter care” – a tall order.  But with sev­er­al hun­dred thou­sand employ­ees between Ama­zon, Berk­shire Hath­away and Cit­i­Group as the founders, this is a pret­ty big lab­o­ra­to­ry.  More news to come…

  • Hot Trends in HR | California Benefits Agency

    April 29, 2019

    Tags: ,

    2019 has ush­ered in many new trends such as retro car­toon char­ac­ter time­pieces, meat­less ham­burg­ers, and 5G net­works to name a few. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, trend-watch­ing doesn’t stop with pop cul­ture, fash­ion, and tech­nol­o­gy. Your company’s human resources depart­ment should also take notice of the top changes in the mar­ket­place, so they are poised to attract and retain the best tal­ent. These top trends include a greater empha­sis on soft skills, increased work­force flex­i­bil­i­ty, and salary transparency.

    SOFT SKILLS

    Gone are the days of hir­ing a can­di­date sole­ly based on their hard skills—their edu­ca­tion and tech­ni­cal back­ground. While the prop­er edu­ca­tion and train­ing are impor­tant fac­tors in get­ting the job com­plet­ed, a well-round­ed employ­ee must have the soft skills need­ed to work with a team, prob­lem solve, and com­mu­ni­cate ideas and process­es. Accord­ing to Tim Sack­ett, SHRM-SCP and pres­i­dent of HRU Tech­ni­cal Resources in Michi­gan, “Employ­ers should be look­ing for soft skills more and train­ing for hard skills, but we strug­gle with that.” While hard skills can be mea­sured, soft skills are hard­er to quan­ti­fy. How­ev­er, soft skills facil­i­tate human con­nec­tions and are the one thing that machines can­not replace.  They are invalu­able to the suc­cess of a company.

    WORKFORCE FLEXIBILITY

    As mil­len­ni­als begin to flood the work­place, the tra­di­tion­al view of the work­week has changed. Job seek­ers report they place a high impor­tance on hav­ing the flex­i­bil­i­ty of when and where to work. The typ­i­cal work day has evolved from a 9am – 5pm day to a flex­i­ble 24-hour work cycle that adjusts to the needs of the employ­ee. Employ­ers are able to offer greater flex­i­bil­i­ty about when the work is com­plet­ed and where it takes place. This flex­i­bil­i­ty has so much impor­tance that job seek­ers say remote work options and the free­dom of an adapt­able sched­ule have an high­er pri­or­i­ty to them over pay.

    SALARY TRANSPARENCY

    In the wake of the very pub­lic out­ing of the gen­der and race pay gaps, com­pa­nies are open­ing up con­ver­sa­tions about wages in the work­place. Once a hushed sub­ject pun­ish­able by ter­mi­na­tion, salary infor­ma­tion is now often being shared in the office. Employ­ers have found that the more trans­par­ent and open that they are about the com­pen­sa­tion lev­els in their orga­ni­za­tion, the more trust­wor­thy they appear to their work­force. One way to stay edu­cat­ed on the wel­come trend of pay equal­i­ty is to vis­it the US Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics’ web­site to review wage ranges across the nation. Anoth­er great resource is the Depart­ment of Labor’s free pub­li­ca­tion called “Employer’s Guide on Equal Pay.”

    By watch­ing the trends in the mar­ket­place, employ­ers can focus on what is impor­tant to their staff. Hon­est dis­cus­sions about salary and com­pen­sa­tion, when and where to work, and devel­op­ing the employ­ee as a whole, includ­ing soft skills, sets your com­pa­ny up for suc­cess. When you lis­ten to what the mar­ket is say­ing, you show you are sen­si­tive to what their pri­or­i­ties are—and this is always on trend.

  • Cadillac, Cadillac…first it was a big deal, and now?

    April 23, 2019

    Tags:

    One of the aspects of the Afford­able Care Act, which was sup­posed to occur in the dis­tant future (now the recent past of 2018), was the so called “Cadil­lac Tax,” which would tax those who had “rich” plans for the “excess” over a basic deter­mined lev­el – just 40%.

    The rea­son for its enact­ment was to ensure that there was some fund­ing that would cov­er some of the antic­i­pat­ed deficits in the ACA.  Unfor­tu­nate­ly, no one real­ized how many peo­ple it would affect, as it was not adjust­ed for area (the Bay Area gen­er­al­ly runs above the lim­its, but Arkansas and more rur­al states do not), income, or oth­er area adjust­ed fac­tors.  Now the tax has been delayed twice, with the lat­est incar­na­tion set to appear in 2022.  Now new bills have been pro­posed to repeal it alto­geth­er, but with­out a replace­ment for the income loss it rep­re­sents.  We may see this in our rear view mir­ror soon…

  • Federal Employment Law Update — April 2019

    April 22, 2019

    Tags: ,

    EEOC Releases Fiscal Year 2018 Enforcement and Litigation Data

    On April 10, 2019, the U.S. Equal Employ­ment Oppor­tu­ni­ty Com­mis­sion (EEOC) released detailed break­downs for the 76,418 charges of work­place dis­crim­i­na­tion the agency received in fis­cal year 2018. The com­pre­hen­sive enforce­ment and lit­i­ga­tion sta­tis­tics for FY 2018, which end­ed Sep­tem­ber 30, 2018, are post­ed on the agency’s web­site, which also includes detailed break­down of charges by state.

    The EEOC resolved 90,558 charges of dis­crim­i­na­tion and secured $505 mil­lion dol­lars for vic­tims in pri­vate sec­tor, state and local gov­ern­ment, and fed­er­al work­places. The agency han­dled over 519,000 calls to its toll-free num­ber, 34,600 emails, and more than 200,000 inquiries in field offices.

    The FY 2018 data show that retal­i­a­tion con­tin­ued to be the most fre­quent­ly filed charge filed with the agency, fol­lowed by sex, dis­abil­i­ty, and race. The agency also received 7,609 sex­u­al harass­ment charges — a 13.6 per­cent increase from FY 2017 — and obtained $56.6 mil­lion dol­lars in mon­e­tary ben­e­fits for vic­tims of sex­u­al harass­ment. Specif­i­cal­ly, the charge num­bers show the fol­low­ing break­downs by alle­ga­tions, in descend­ing order:

    • Retal­i­a­tion: 39,469 (51.6 per­cent of all charges filed)
    • Sex: 24,655 (32.3 percent)
    • Dis­abil­i­ty: 24,605 (32.2 percent)
    • Race: 24,600 (32.2 percent)
    • Age: 16,911 (22.1 percent)
    • Nation­al Ori­gin: 7,106 (9.3 percent)
    • Col­or: 3,166 (4.1 percent)
    • Reli­gion: 2,859 (3.7 percent)
    • Equal Pay Act: 1,066 (1.4 percent)
    • Genet­ic Infor­ma­tion: 220 (.3 percent)

    These per­cent­ages add up to more than 100 because some charges allege mul­ti­ple bases.

    EEOC legal staff filed 199 mer­its law­suits alleg­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion in fis­cal year 2018. The law­suits filed by the EEOC includ­ed 117 indi­vid­ual suits and 45 suits involv­ing mul­ti­ple vic­tims or discrimin­atory poli­cies and 37 sys­temic dis­crim­i­na­tion cas­es. At the end of the fis­cal year, the EEOC had 302 cas­es on its active dock­et. The EEOC achieved a suc­cess­ful out­come in 95.7 per­cent of all dis­trict court resolutions.

    The EEOC enforces fed­er­al laws pro­hibit­ing employ­ment discrimination.

    Read the press release

    EEOC Proposes September 2019 for Submission of EEO‑1 Component Two data

    On March 3, 2019, the fed­er­al Equal Employ­ment Oppor­tu­ni­ty Com­mis­sion (EEOC) filed a sub­mis­sion (in response to the court’s ques­tions raised dur­ing the March 19, 2019 sta­tus con­fer­ence) and dec­la­ra­tion (from its Chief Data Offi­cer and Direc­tor of the Office of Enter­prise Data) propos­ing that employ­ers be required to sub­mit their EEO‑1 Com­po­nent 2 pay data for 2018 by Sep­tem­ber 30, 2019. The EEOC also pro­posed that employ­ers not be required to sub­mit 2017 data.

    There­fore, the fol­low­ing are the dead­lines for cov­ered employers:

    • Set dead­line: Sub­mit Cat­e­go­ry 1 EEO‑1 data for year 2018 by May 31, 2019.
    • Pro­posed dead­line: Sub­mit Cat­e­go­ry 2 EEO‑1 data for year 2018 by Sep­tem­ber 30, 2019. Cat­e­go­ry 2 infor­ma­tion con­sists of 12 pay bands for each of the 10 EEO‑1 cat­e­gories (race, eth­nic­i­ty, and sex).

    The Sep­tem­ber date is uncon­firmed and, at this time, is only a proposal.

    Read the sub­mis­sion and dec­la­ra­tion

    DOL Issues Three New FLSA Opinion Letters

    On April 2, 2019, the U.S. Depart­ment of Labor’s Wage and Hour Divi­sion (WHD) announced that it issued three new opin­ion let­ters address­ing the fol­low­ing com­pli­ance issues under the Fair Labor Stan­dards Act (FLSA):

    • FLSA2019‑3, address­es whether a youth res­i­den­tial care facil­i­ty may imple­ment an “8 and 80” over­time pay system;
    • FLSA2019‑4, address­es the appli­ca­tion of the teacher exemp­tion to Nutri­tion­al Out­reach Instruc­tors employed by a pub­lic uni­ver­si­ty; and
    • FLSA2019‑5, address­es the appli­ca­tion of the agri­cul­tur­al exemp­tion to the freez­ing, cut­ting, pack­ing, stor­ing, and/or trans­porta­tion of a farm’s own fruit, veg­etable, or meat products.

    An opin­ion let­ter is an offi­cial, writ­ten opin­ion by WHD on how a par­tic­u­lar law applies in spe­cif­ic cir­cum­stances pre­sent­ed by the per­son or enti­ty request­ing the letter.

    See the gen­er­al FLSA opin­ion let­ter index page

    Joint Employer Status Under the FLSA

    On April 1, 2019, the U.S. Depart­ment of Labor (DOL) announced a pro­posed rule to revise and clar­i­fy the respon­si­bil­i­ties of employ­ers and joint employ­ers to employ­ees in joint employ­er arrange­ments. The Fair Labor Stan­dards Act allows joint employ­er sit­u­a­tions where an employ­er and a joint employ­er are joint­ly respon­si­ble for the employee’s wages. This pro­pos­al would ensure that employ­ers and joint employ­ers clear­ly under­stand their respon­si­bil­i­ties to pay at least the fed­er­al min­i­mum wage for all hours worked and over­time for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.

    The DOL pro­pos­es a four-fac­tor test that would con­sid­er whether the poten­tial joint employ­er actu­al­ly exer­cis­es the pow­er to:

    • Hire or fire the employee;
    • Super­vise and con­trol the employee’s work sched­ules or con­di­tions of employment;
    • Deter­mine the employee’s rate and method of pay­ment; and
    • Main­tain the employee’s employ­ment records.

    The pro­pos­al also includes a set of exam­ples for com­ment that fur­ther clar­i­fy joint employ­er status.

    The pro­posed rule was sub­mit­ted to the Office of the Fed­er­al Reg­is­ter (OFR) for pub­li­ca­tion, and is cur­rent­ly pend­ing place­ment on pub­lic inspec­tion at the OFR and pub­li­ca­tion in the Fed­er­al Reg­is­ter. The pro­posed reg­u­la­tions may vary slight­ly from the pub­lished doc­u­ment if minor tech­ni­cal or for­mat­ting changes are made dur­ing the OFR review process. Only the ver­sion pub­lished in the Fed­er­al Reg­is­ter is the offi­cial pro­posed reg­u­la­tion. The DOL encour­ages any inter­est­ed mem­bers of the pub­lic to sub­mit com­ments about the pro­posed rule elec­tron­i­cal­ly at www.regulations.gov, in the rule­mak­ing dock­et RIN 1235-AA26. The pub­lic will have 60 days to com­ment on the pro­posed reg­u­la­tion; the com­ment peri­od will begin on the date of pub­li­ca­tion in the Fed­er­al Reg­is­ter.

    Read the pro­posed rule and more

    Notice of Proposed Rule Regarding Employee’s Regular Rate

    On March 28, 2019, the U.S. Depart­ment of Labor (DOL) announced a pro­posed rule to amend 29 C.F.R § 778 to clar­i­fy and update reg­u­lar rate require­ments under § 7(e) of the Fair Labor Stan­dards Act (FLSA). The FLSA gen­er­al­ly requires over­time pay of at least one and one-half times the reg­u­lar rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per work­week. Reg­u­lar rate require­ments are the forms of pay­ment employ­ers include and exclude in the “time and one-half” cal­cu­la­tion when deter­min­ing work­ers’ over­time rates.

    Under cur­rent rules, employ­ers are dis­cour­aged from offer­ing more perks to their employ­ees as it may be unclear whether those perks must be includ­ed in the cal­cu­la­tion of an employ­ees’ reg­u­lar rate of pay. The pro­posed rule focus­es pri­mar­i­ly on clar­i­fy­ing whether cer­tain kinds of perks, ben­e­fits, or oth­er mis­cel­la­neous items must be includ­ed in the reg­u­lar rate. Because these reg­u­la­tions have not been updat­ed in decades, the pro­pos­al would bet­ter define the reg­u­lar rate for today’s work­place practices.

    The DOL pro­pos­es clar­i­fi­ca­tions to the reg­u­la­tions to con­firm that employ­ers may exclude the fol­low­ing from an employee’s reg­u­lar rate of pay:

    • The cost of pro­vid­ing well­ness pro­grams, onsite spe­cial­ist treat­ment, gym access and fit­ness class­es, and employ­ee dis­counts on retail goods and services;
    • Pay­ments for unused paid leave, includ­ing paid sick leave;
    • Reim­bursed expens­es, even if not incurred “sole­ly” for the employer’s benefit;
    • Reim­bursed trav­el expens­es that do not exceed the max­i­mum trav­el reim­burse­ment under the Fed­er­al Trav­el Reg­u­la­tion Sys­tem and that sat­is­fy oth­er reg­u­la­to­ry requirements;
    • Dis­cre­tionary bonus­es, by pro­vid­ing addi­tion­al exam­ples and clar­i­fy­ing that the label giv­en a bonus does not deter­mine whether it is discretionary;
    • Ben­e­fit plans, includ­ing acci­dent, unem­ploy­ment, and legal ser­vices; and
    • Tuition pro­grams, such as reim­burse­ment pro­grams or repay­ment of edu­ca­tion­al debt.

    The pro­posed rule also includes addi­tion­al clar­i­fi­ca­tion about oth­er forms of com­pen­sa­tion, includ­ing pay­ment for meal peri­ods, “call back” pay, and others.

    The DOL encour­ages the pub­lic to sub­mit com­ments about the pro­posed rule elec­tron­i­cal­ly at www.regulations.gov, in the rule­mak­ing dock­et RIN 1235-AA24. Com­ments must be sub­mit­ted by 11:59 p.m. on May 28, 2019 to be considered.

    Read the announce­ment and pro­posed rule

    Penalty Increase for Posting Violations

    On March 21, 2019, the fed­er­al Equal Employ­ment Oppor­tu­ni­ty Com­mis­sion (EEOC) pub­lished a final rule in the Fed­er­al Reg­is­ter increas­ing the civ­il mon­e­tary penal­ty from $545 to $559 for vio­la­tions of the notice-post­ing require­ments in all of the fol­low­ing fed­er­al laws:

    • Title VII of the Civ­il Rights Act of 1964.
    • The Amer­i­cans with Dis­abil­i­ties Act.
    • The Genet­ic Infor­ma­tion Non-Dis­crim­i­na­tion Act.

    The final rule is effec­tive April 22, 2019.

    Read the final rule

     

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on ThinkHR.com

  • 5 Simple Tips to SPRING into Fitness! | California Benefits Team

    April 17, 2019

    Tags: ,

    Spring is here! That means it’s time to ditch those win­ter lay­ers, and even that excess win­ter weight. No mat­ter what your cur­rent fit­ness lev­el, spring is a great time to refo­cus your habits and spruce up your routine.

    Get a Check Up or a Physical

    Before start­ing any new fit­ness reg­i­men, it’s a good idea to check with your doc­tor. Your med­ical pro­fes­sion­al will be able to assess any poten­tial risks asso­ci­at­ed with start­ing a new fit­ness rou­tine and may advise you on the types of activ­i­ties you should try or avoid. For exam­ple, if you suf­fer from low back pain, your doc­tor can sug­gest the types of activ­i­ties that will strength­en your mus­cles with­out extra risk of injury, and they may even sug­gest avoid­ing cer­tain types of workouts.

    Hit the Trails

    If you enjoy walk­ing, jog­ging, or bik­ing, it’s time to take your work­outs into the great out­doors. Indoor work­outs are con­ve­nient, not to men­tion cli­mate con­trolled, but it’s time to take advan­tage of the spring weath­er and enjoy those activ­i­ties out of doors for a nice change of pace. While you’re at it, change your pace! Try increas­ing your speed or adding in some hills and add the extra chal­lenge your cur­rent fit­ness level.

    Sign Up for a Race

    Spring is a great time to walk, jog, or run in a char­i­ty race. Whether it’s a cause close to your heart, or an event close to home, there are lots of 5K’s and fun-runs to choose from. Try search­ing on Face­book events for upcom­ing races. Some­times the sim­ple act of pay­ing a reg­is­tra­tion can be all the moti­va­tion need­ed to get your run­ning or walk­ing back on track–figuratively and literally.

    Join a Local Team

    All work and no play can make for a very bor­ing fit­ness rou­tine. Try join­ing a local recre­ation­al sports league. Check with your local parks and recre­ation office for adult leagues. It can be a great way to get fit while mak­ing new friends. Soc­cer, soft­ball, vol­ley­ball and even dodge­ball are com­mon. If you can find cowork­ers to join you, con­sid­er start­ing an office team of your own. Brag­ging rights can be very effec­tive moti­va­tion­al tools!

    Start a Fitness Challenge at Work

    Start a sports team isn’t the only way to get the office involved. Con­sid­er start­ing an office fit­ness chal­lenge. It could be some­thing as sim­ple as a “30-Day Water Chal­lenge” or a “Biggest Los­er” weight loss con­test. The most impor­tant part of a fit­ness chal­lenge at work is the oppor­tu­ni­ty to moti­vate one anoth­er, to chal­lenge one anoth­er, and even to hold each oth­er accountable.

    Start by assess­ing your cur­rent fit­ness lev­el, con­sult a med­ical pro­fes­sion­al as need­ed, and set real­is­tic goals for improve­ment. From there, the pos­si­bil­i­ties are endless.

  • 5 Things to Think About Before Adding Outside-of-the-Box Benefits

    April 16, 2019

    Tags: ,

    Accord­ing to the Bureau of Labor and Sta­tis­tics, the North Bay’s unem­ploy­ment rate for the month of Jan­u­ary 2019 was 3.3%. With the unem­ploy­ment rate being so low, employ­ers are now forced to get cre­ative with how they attract and retain employ­ees. As ben­e­fits advi­sors, we get an up-close view as to what makes a company’s staffing goals suc­cess­ful. We see that the employ­ers who are win­ning the tal­ent war use out­side-of-the box ben­e­fits that tar­get the work­force that the employ­er needs. Here are five things that we advise clients to think about before they look to add and use out­side-of-the-box ben­e­fits as a way to attract and retain employees:

    SURVEY

    It’s impor­tant to engage your work­force and find out what ben­e­fits they would val­ue most before invest­ing in a ben­e­fit that will have lit­tle or no return on invest­ment. We have had sev­er­al dis­cus­sions with employ­ers over the past 18 months where the employ­er thinks of a ben­e­fit that they would val­ue and there­fore assumes the employ­ees will val­ue it too. You won’t if you’re cor­rect until you ask.

    WHO ARE YOU TRYING TO ATTRACT?

    It’s impor­tant to strate­gi­cal­ly think about the type of employ­ee you are look­ing to hire and retain. Employ­ers often hire to fill a spot with­out think­ing about the type of per­son they need and whether the new hire will fit seam­less­ly into the organization.

    WHAT ARE YOUR VALUES

    The wants and needs of the work­force are chang­ing. For exam­ple, younger peo­ple tend to see their careers not sole­ly as income, but as a dri­ver of ful­fill­ment and an expres­sion of their val­ues, inter­ests and skills. We like to high­light cor­po­rate val­ues because we have found that to be a main dri­ver for a younger employee’s deci­sion on whether or not to work for a com­pa­ny. Com­pa­ny val­ues are the beliefs upon which a busi­ness and its behav­iors are based. We sug­gest that employ­ers deter­mine and make their val­ues pub­lic. This will help attract employ­ees who align with an employer.

     WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH AND WHY?

    Do you want to cre­ate a bet­ter employ­ee expe­ri­ence and make employ­ees feel more engaged or are you look­ing to attract more tal­ent to your orga­ni­za­tion? Maybe it’s both. Either way, there is no one-size-fits-all solu­tion to this puz­zle. Our sug­ges­tion is to tar­get the demo­graph­ic you are look­ing to attract or retain. Under­stand them and then focus on what brings them value.

    ENGAGE EMPLOYEES ON AN INDIVIDUAL LEVEL

    By under­stand­ing deep­er moti­va­tions, employ­ers can devel­op strate­gies that bet­ter engage their work­force. Hav­ing a ben­e­fits pro­gram cus­tomized to meet indi­vid­ual employ­ees’ increas­es loy­al­ty to an employ­er (MetLife Ben­e­fit Trends Study).

     

     

    ABOUT US

    Andrew McNeil and Rosario Avi­la are employ­ee ben­e­fit advi­sors who col­lab­o­rate with their clients as team, using their dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives to deploy one solu­tion. Both have been rec­og­nized nation­al­ly by Employ­ee Ben­e­fit Advi­sor mag­a­zine (Andrew: 2017 Ris­ing Star in Advis­ing. Rosario: 2018 Top Women in Ben­e­fit Advising).

  • It’s Intern Season | CA Benefits Group

    April 8, 2019

    Tags: ,

    Sum­mer intern­ships offer stu­dents oppor­tu­ni­ties to gain real-world expe­ri­ence and hands-on career devel­op­ment. Con­verse­ly, intern­ship pro­grams give employ­ers access to high­ly moti­vat­ed and edu­cat­ed young work­ers and give junior man­agers more expe­ri­ence train­ing and super­vis­ing. There are ben­e­fits for every­one involved.

    How­ev­er, there are some peo­ple risks that many employ­ers over­look. One of the largest issues is deter­min­ing what interns should be paid – or not paid.

    The Depart­ment of Labor issued new guid­ance on Jan­u­ary 5, 2018, that gives employ­ers more flex­i­bil­i­ty in decid­ing whether to pay interns. A sev­en-cri­te­ria test is now used to deter­mine if an intern­ship may be unpaid, but the biggest change is that not all fac­tors need to be met – no sin­gle fac­tor is deci­sive, and the deter­mi­na­tion is made on the unique cir­cum­stances of each case.

    If the job train­ing pro­gram pri­mar­i­ly pro­vides pro­fes­sion­al expe­ri­ence that fur­thers a student’s edu­ca­tion­al goals, a stu­dent may not be con­sid­ered an employ­ee enti­tled to com­pen­sa­tion. How­ev­er, if stu­dents are doing work usu­al­ly done by employ­ees and are not receiv­ing train­ing and close men­tor­ing, they should be paid wages. If there is any doubt, the best approach is to pay the student.

    4 Reasons to Pay Interns

    How­ev­er, while it’s now legal­ly per­mis­si­ble to clas­si­fy more interns as unpaid, there are still com­pelling rea­sons to pay interns even when the intern­ship does meet the cri­te­ria for unpaid status.

    Unpaid intern­ships tend to exclude stu­dents from low­er- and mid­dle-income back­grounds, who can­not afford not to work at paid jobs dur­ing the sum­mer. In addi­tion, they may need to pay up to sev­er­al thou­sand dol­lars for course cred­it, in addi­tion to com­ing up with funds for hous­ing, cloth­ing, and trans­porta­tion relat­ed to the intern­ship. This can put intern­ships out of reach for some of the stu­dents who can ben­e­fit from them the most.

    Unpaid intern­ships may deval­ue the work paid employ­ees are doing. After all, interns are work­ing along­side reg­u­lar employ­ees — often doing some of the same tasks — and not being com­pen­sat­ed for that work. This may send the mes­sage to employ­ees that their work, or time, is not valued.

    Unpaid intern­ships can cre­ate a neg­a­tive impres­sion of your com­pa­ny. Cus­tomers or the com­mu­ni­ty may see you as tak­ing advan­tage of these stu­dents, which is not the mes­sage you want to por­tray. It’s a good com­mu­ni­ty rela­tions move to offer youth paid opportunities.

    The work the unpaid intern is doing may actu­al­ly be work that should be com­pens­able. Improp­er­ly clas­si­fy­ing an intern­ship and not pay­ing the stu­dent could result in wage claims that include back pay, penal­ties, and fines. To mit­i­gate those risks, once again, the best approach is to pay the student.

    Hir­ing sum­mer stu­dents is a great way to help youth learn what it takes to be suc­cess­ful in busi­ness while help­ing employ­ers get spe­cial projects com­plet­ed. Plan ahead and struc­ture your pro­gram so that your sum­mer intern­ship pro­gram is a great expe­ri­ence for everyone.

     

    by Rachel Sobel
    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on ThinkHR.com

  • Court Blocks New DOL Rules on Association Health Plans | CA Benefits Group

    April 4, 2019

    Tags: ,

    In March, a fed­er­al dis­trict court struck down a Depart­ment of Labor (DOL) Rule on Asso­ci­a­tion Health Plans (AHPs). Issued in 2018, the DOL rule aimed to expand the avail­abil­i­ty of AHPs to a greater num­ber of small busi­ness­es as an alter­na­tive to stan­dard ACA-com­pli­ant small group insur­ance poli­cies. For details, see our June 2018 blog post.

    AHPs, also known as Mul­ti­ple Employ­er Wel­fare Arrange­ments (MEWAs), have been around for years but, under DOL rules before 2018, they gen­er­al­ly were lim­it­ed to asso­ci­a­tions formed by employ­ers in the same trade, indus­try, or pro­fes­sion. Tra­di­tion­al­ly, this meant employ­ers that had employ­ees and that also shared a “com­mon­al­i­ty of inter­est.” The 2018 DOL rule expand­ed the mean­ing to include employ­ers with­out a shared inter­est if they were mere­ly locat­ed in the same state or met­ro­pol­i­tan area, includ­ing busi­ness­es with­out any employ­ees. The key con­cern of states that object­ed to the new DOL rule was that dis­parate busi­ness­es, and even indi­vid­u­als with no employ­ees, could form AHPs to avoid the ACA’s con­sumer pro­tec­tions. State insur­ance laws con­trol the type of poli­cies issued in each state (and var­i­ous states already pro­hib­it or restrict AHPs) but self-fund­ed plans that are sub­ject to ERISA may be able to avoid state law.

    The 2018 DOL rule was quick­ly chal­lenged by 11 dif­fer­ent states and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia, led by the Attor­ney Gen­er­al of New York. On March 28, 2019, Judge John D. Bates of the U.S. Dis­trict Court agreed with the states, say­ing the DOL rule “was intend­ed and designed to end run the require­ments of the ACA, [and] it does so only by ignor­ing the lan­guage and pur­pose of both ERISA and the ACA.”

    In State of New York, et al v. DOL, Judge Bates went on to say the “DOL unrea­son­ably expands the def­i­n­i­tion of “employ­ers” to include groups with­out any real com­mon­al­i­ty of inter­est and to bring work­ing own­ers with­out employ­ees with­in ERISA’s scope despite Congress’s clear intent that ERISA cov­er ben­e­fits aris­ing out of employ­ment rela­tion­ships. Accord­ing­ly, these pro­vi­sions are unlaw­ful and must be set aside.”

    To recap, the 2018 DOL rule on AHPs has been vacat­ed by the fed­er­al dis­trict court. The DOL may choose to seek a stay of the rul­ing, appeal the rul­ing, or rewrite its rule. In the mean­time, the DOL pre-2018 rules con­tin­ue to apply.

    Last­ly, on a sep­a­rate note, the name Judge John D. Bates may ring a bell with those in the employ­ee ben­e­fits field. He is the same judge who vacat­ed the EEOC rules on vol­un­tary well­ness pro­grams in AARP v EEOC. The D.C. Dis­trict Court, to which Judge Bates was appoint­ed by Pres­i­dent Bush, often hears cas­es involv­ing fed­er­al laws, includ­ing ERISA and the ACA.

    by Rachel Sobel

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on ThinkHR.com

  • The Advantages of Automation | California Benefits Partners

    March 27, 2019

    Tags: ,

    As sched­ules con­tin­ue to get more and more packed with work, health, and per­son­al respon­si­bil­i­ties, pri­or­i­tiz­ing and orga­niz­ing our lives becomes increas­ing­ly cru­cial. When you look at your dai­ly to-do list, some tasks are obvi­ous­ly more impor­tant than oth­ers, but the sig­nif­i­cance of oth­er tasks may be less appar­ent. Automat­ing cer­tain things, like pay­ing bills, is a no-brain­er, but there are oth­er areas of our lives that can ben­e­fit from automa­tion as well. Con­sid­er the ben­e­fits of tak­ing automa­tion beyond your Net­flix sub­scrip­tion renew­al to oth­er impor­tant parts of your dai­ly life.

    Automate Your Finances

    So many of us have auto­mat­ic drafts for var­i­ous accounts that we don’t even bat an eye­lash at automat­ing our finances. But think about those oth­er bills stack­ing up on your desk. Have you ever for­got­ten to pay a util­i­ty bill only to dis­cov­er the lights don’t come on when you get home from work? Auto­mate your finances by set­ting up pay­ments for every­thing from util­i­ties to cred­it cards. If you give out of the gen­er­ous pock­et of your heart, you can even set up auto­pay­ments for dona­tions to your favorite char­i­ties. And don’t miss out on the reg­u­lar deposit you make into your 401k at work. If your com­pa­ny match­es your con­tri­bu­tions, make sure you auto­mat­i­cal­ly deposit the amount that they agree to match so that you are max­ing out this ben­e­fit. Not only do you avoid late fees and added charges, but you gain the peace of mind that comes from plan­ning ahead.

    Automate Your Health

    Few things in life are more impor­tant than our phys­i­cal health, but so many of us put off tak­ing care of our­selves. Be proac­tive and sched­ule tasks relat­ed to your health. Get your annu­al phys­i­cal and annu­al den­tal exams on the cal­en­dar ear­ly in the year. Women need to sched­ule their rou­tine breast can­cer exam, and doc­tors rec­om­mend every­one 50 years and old­er, hav­ing rou­tine colon can­cer screen­ing. By automat­ing these health exams, you aid in ear­ly detec­tion of dis­eases and reduce the impact should con­cerns arise.

    In addi­tion to annu­al health exams, you can sched­ule your family’s week­ly meals. Plan­ning out your menu of meals for the week saves time in decid­ing what to fix as well as time run­ning to the gro­cery store for just one meal’s ingre­di­ents. Hav­ing a meal-prep day can be a week­ly task that may end up sav­ing you time in the kitchen every sin­gle day of the week. If plan­ning and cook­ing aren’t things you enjoy, con­sid­er a meal kit ser­vice that deliv­ers all the ingre­di­ents, recipes, and instruc­tions to your door. There’s a meal kit ser­vice for every palate imag­in­able from veg­an to kid-friend­ly to fam­i­ly style!

    Automate Your Relationships

    The most impor­tant part of our lives is whom we spend them with, so automat­ing time with peo­ple is a great way to make them a pri­or­i­ty in your sched­ule. Try start­ing each new month by look­ing at your cal­en­dar and plan­ning rela­tion­ship-build­ing time. For instance, once a month sched­ule date night with your spouse. Book the babysit­ter, make a reser­va­tion, or what­ev­er you both enjoy. You’ll have the added bonus of antic­i­pat­ing the fun, plus the abil­i­ty to plan around what real­ly mat­ters rather than try­ing to “fit it in” after the fact. Maybe once a month, or every oth­er month, you plan a girls’ night or get togeth­er with the guys every Mon­day to watch the foot­ball game. If you’re a par­ent, try sched­ul­ing one-on-one time with each of your kids.

    Don’t stop there, though. Sched­ule a set time each week or month where you unplug from elec­tron­ics and do some­thing you enjoy. Read, spend time out­doors, take a class. When you auto­mate invest­ing in your relationships—with your­self and others—you are able to pri­or­i­tize how you spend your extra time each day. You’ll also re-eval­u­ate which rela­tion­ships are tru­ly impor­tant to you so that you can give them the time they deserve.

    Automat­ing your life doesn’t mean that you are stuck to a strict sched­ule with every minute account­ed for or planned out. Instead, it means that you are look­ing at the things that hold the most val­ue to you and devot­ing the time and resources you desire to make that part of your life healthy. Whether it’s finances, health, or rela­tion­ships, you can save time and mon­ey and build stronger con­nec­tions by adding sim­ple automa­tions to your life. Now get your cal­en­dar and com­put­er out and auto­mate what you appreciate!

  • 5 Ways Employers Can Attract and Retain a Hispanic Workforce

    March 22, 2019

    Tags: , ,

    Accord­ing to the Bureau of Labor and Sta­tis­tics, the nation­al unem­ploy­ment rate for the His­pan­ic pop­u­la­tion is 4.9%. Here in the North Bay, that num­ber is even less as you have the wine indus­try, cannabis indus­try, con­struc­tion indus­try, and man­u­fac­tur­ers all com­pet­ing for this valu­able work­force. So how do you com­pete for the work­force you need? We have iden­ti­fied five impor­tant things to con­sid­er when look­ing to attract new His­pan­ic work­ers and cre­ate loy­al­ty with cur­rent ones.

    Cul­tur­al Understanding
    It is impor­tant for employ­ers to famil­iar­ize and under­stand His­pan­ic cul­ture. This will allow you to bet­ter under­stand, inter­act and appre­ci­ate your His­pan­ic employ­ees and their cul­ture. This will cre­ate a wel­com­ing atmos­phere and help build trust between the employ­er and the employees.

    Flex­i­bil­i­ty
    Like the non-His­pan­ic work­force, offer­ing flex­i­bil­i­ty is cru­cial to attract­ing and retain­ing your employ­ees. But what does flex­i­bil­i­ty mean? To non-His­pan­ics, flex­i­bil­i­ty relates to the broad­er term “work-life bal­ance”. To His­pan­ics, the term flex­i­bil­i­ty relates to fam­i­ly and the abil­i­ty to take time to care for fam­i­ly mem­bers both in and out of the country.

    Ben­e­fits and Communication
    Do your Span­ish speak­ing employ­ees under­stand the ben­e­fits and finan­cial invest­ment you have made in them? Employ­ee ben­e­fits, par­tic­u­lar­ly health insur­ance, are not com­mon in Latin Amer­i­ca, so just pro­vid­ing a ben­e­fits pro­gram with no expla­na­tion will like­ly go unap­pre­ci­at­ed. Many employ­ers are under the impres­sion that just trans­lat­ing these ben­e­fits is enough for a Span­ish speak­ing employ­ee to under­stand them. They may under­stand the words, but not nec­es­sar­i­ly the mean­ing. If your ben­e­fits pro­gram is going to make an impact on attract­ing and retain­ing your Span­ish speak­ing work­force, your orga­ni­za­tion needs to be equipped with the per­son­nel nec­es­sary to not just trans­late but edu­cate your employ­ees on your ben­e­fits program.

    Devel­op and Engage
    Devel­op­ing your His­pan­ic work­force with things like dif­fer­ent train­ing pro­grams and men­tor­ship pro­grams will help keep employ­ees engaged with your orga­ni­za­tion for the long term. Peo­ple want to help peo­ple who are help­ing them. Fur­ther, you can cre­ate avol­un­taryEm­ploy­ee Resource Group which is an employ­ee-led group that is meant to fos­ter a diverse, inclu­sive work­place aligned with the organization’s mis­sion, val­ues, goals, busi­ness prac­tices, and objectives.

    Recruit
    Hap­py employ­ees will ulti­mate­ly lead to more job appli­cants. Devel­op an employ­ee refer­ral pro­gram to incen­tivize employ­ees to refer their friends and family.

     

     

    by Rosario Avi­la & Andrew McNeil

  • The Risks are Real | California Employee Benefits

    March 20, 2019

    Tags: ,

    Even when you proac­tive­ly antic­i­pate all the peo­ple risks that have the poten­tial to impact your work­place, it’s easy to con­vince your­self there is no risk to youthat it will nev­er hap­pen here.

    You may think no one at your work­place will harass any­one, no one will sue you over an hon­est mis­take made in admin­is­ter­ing work­ers’ comp, no one will acci­den­tal­ly cause a data breach, or no one will ever bring a weapon to the office. You might think man­ag­ing peo­ple risk is extreme­ly time con­sum­ing and not worth the effort. Ratio­nal­iza­tions like this may lead you to believe you don’t need to do any­thing to pre­vent these risks.

    How­ev­er, these risks are very real and can hap­pen any­where, at any time. It’s imper­a­tive you cov­er all of your bases, and it’s actu­al­ly very straight­for­ward, espe­cial­ly if you have a part­ner on your side.

    Ide­al­ly, you will inte­grate peo­ple risk man­age­ment (PRM) with your busi­ness prac­tices so it’s not some­thing extra to do; it’s a way of doing things you already do. PRM can be a lens through which you look through when eval­u­at­ing your poli­cies, pro­ce­dures, and oth­er aspects of how you run your company.

    Acknowledging and Preventing Risk: A Four-Step Plan

    When you are antic­i­pat­ing risk, you are think­ing about what might hap­pen. Then you need to look at what you should do when some­thing actu­al­ly hap­pens and it’s time to acknowl­edge the risk.

    Maybe a law pass­es or reg­u­la­tion is final­ized, you real­ize your pay poli­cies are not in com­pli­ance with the law, or an employ­ee informs you they have been pre­scribed med­ical mar­i­jua­na but you have a very strict drug use pol­i­cy. What tools to do you have to deal with that?

    Once you acknowl­edge the risks inher­ent in these issues, there are four steps to putting a plan of action into place to pre­vent the risks from caus­ing dam­age to your company’s bot­tom line, its rep­u­ta­tion, or to its lev­el of employ­ee engagement:

    1. Under­stand when and how the risk will impact you. If it’s a law or reg­u­la­tion, when does it go into effect? Is it an ongo­ing issue or some­thing that can be addressed and then set aside? What are the poten­tial penal­ties or pit­falls pre­sent­ed by the risk?
    2. Deter­mine the best course of action. Does the sit­u­a­tion require sim­ple changes to oper­a­tions or a more com­pli­cat­ed approach? Where do changes need to be imple­ment­ed — in hand­book pol­i­cy updates, pro­ce­dur­al doc­u­men­ta­tion, or new train­ing programs?
    3. Craft com­mu­ni­ca­tion strate­gies around the risk. Who needs to know what, and how much infor­ma­tion should be giv­en to peo­ple at each lev­el? What infor­ma­tion should be held back to pre­serve con­fi­den­tial­i­ty? What infor­ma­tion is only rel­e­vant to a hand­ful of peo­ple (such as when an OSHA report is due) and what infor­ma­tion is rel­e­vant to every­one (such as who needs sex­u­al harass­ment train­ing in your state)?
    4. Decide what change man­age­ment activ­i­ties are required to get buy-in. It’s one thing to decide to do some­thing but get­ting peo­ple ready to embrace the change is anoth­er thing. If change man­age­ment is good, then the changes will take hold, the imple­men­ta­tion will be smooth, and the risks will be lower.

     

     

    by Lar­ry Duni­van, CEO of ThinkHR
    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on ThinkHR.com

  • Opioid Addiction in the Workplace | California Benefits Agency

    March 11, 2019

    Tags: , ,

    The opi­oid cri­sis has dri­ven over­dose deaths in Amer­i­ca to all-time highs. By 2017, the opi­oid mor­tal­i­ty rate was five times high­er than the rate in 1999. This cri­sis is not lim­it­ed to one socio-eco­nom­ic class or one geo­graph­ic area. Opi­oid addic­tion affects those in sub­ur­ban homes, high-rise office build­ings, and schools in every state in Amer­i­ca.  Employ­ers must address this epi­dem­ic in their work­place through edu­ca­tion and ser­vices for employ­ees, so that the tide of this cri­sis can recede, and their work­force can march ahead unde­terred by addiction.

    Opioid Addiction Explained

    Opi­oid addic­tion most often results from the mis­use of and addic­tion to pre­scrip­tion pain med­ica­tion. It has become an epi­dem­ic that affects not only the patient, with impli­ca­tions in the work­place, as well. Many patients who are pre­scribed opi­oids for chron­ic pain don’t believe they will become addict­ed to them. But, with pro­longed use, their need for more med­ica­tion to achieve the same lev­el of pain-relief increas­es, as does their depen­dence on these drugs.

    Education Is Key

    Edu­cat­ing your employ­ees on how opi­oid addic­tion hap­pens and what can be done to over­come it is essen­tial in the work­place. The Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion have many resources to help you with edu­ca­tion that you can post around your office and work­place. Their web­site is also a great resource on edu­cat­ing the employ­er on what opi­oid mis­use looks like and how to address it with your employees.

    Resources for Employees

    With an esti­mat­ed 1.7 mil­lion Amer­i­cans addict­ed to opi­oids, you can be assured you will encounter some­one in your work­place who has been affect­ed by this cri­sis. How can you help your employ­ees to over­come this addic­tion? Your company’s Employ­ee Assis­tance Pro­gram (EAP) is a won­der­ful resource to offer. Each EAP will be dif­fer­ent based on the ser­vice to which your com­pa­ny has sub­scribed. Accord­ing to a recent sur­vey, 91% of work orga­ni­za­tions offer some type of EAPs for their employ­ees. Most EAPs offer assis­tance in match­ing employ­ees to local treat­ment resources, as well as short-term coun­sel­ing and support/recovery groups. Also, EAP pro­fes­sion­als are knowl­edge­able on treat­ment options and sug­gest­ed ways to inter­vene when abuse is suspected.

    The opi­oid cri­sis is real—now, more Amer­i­cans are like­ly to die from an opi­oid over­dose than an auto­mo­bile acci­dent. This epi­dem­ic has sieged neigh­bors, co-work­ers, and fam­i­ly. The work­place is feel­ing this cri­sis through low­ered pro­duc­tiv­i­ty of employ­ees as well as increased health­care costs. In fact, the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion esti­mates that the total “eco­nom­ic bur­den” of pre­scrip­tion opi­oid mis­use alone in the Unit­ed States is $78.5 bil­lion a year, includ­ing the costs of health­care, lost pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, addic­tion treat­ment, and crim­i­nal jus­tice involve­ment. As an employ­er, you have the abil­i­ty to help turn the tide of this addic­tion cri­sis by offer­ing edu­ca­tion and employ­ee assis­tance pro­grams for your work­force. The right resources can help your work­force become edu­cat­ed on and over­come this addiction.

  • March Madness 2019: The Ball is in Your Court | California Benefits Agents

    March 6, 2019

    Tags: , ,

    March Mad­ness is upon us, and there is no avoid­ing it. Selec­tion Sun­day, when the NCAA Divi­sion 1 Men’s Bas­ket­ball Com­mit­tee announces which 68 teams made the 2019 tour­na­ment, is March 17. Games begin with the First Four on March 19 and 20 and cul­mi­nate with the Final Four April 6 and 8.

    While this annu­al event can impact pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, employ­ers may find that the pos­i­tive effects it has on team engage­ment and cama­raderie out­weigh any neg­a­tives. Con­sid­er these facts from both sides of the coin:

    • An esti­mat­ed $1.9 bil­lion is lost in work­place pro­duc­tiv­i­ty dur­ing a typ­i­cal March Mad­ness tour­na­ment. (Chal­lenger, Gray & Christ­mas)
    • Employ­ees will spend 25.5 min­utes per work­day on March Mad­ness, for a total of 6 hours spread over the 15 work­days when games will be played. (OfficeTeam) This includes time spent by 76 per­cent of employ­ees who admit to check­ing scores dur­ing work hours and 53 per­cent who watch or fol­low sport­ing events on their com­put­ers while at work. (Rand­stad)
    • As much as $3 bil­lion will be bet on work­place brack­et pools dur­ing March Mad­ness this year. (Ford­Har­ri­son) About 40 per­cent of work­ers say they have par­tic­i­pat­ed in col­lege bas­ket­ball brack­ets in their offices, with an aver­age of $22.44 con­tributed to the pools. (Rand­stad)
    • Near­ly 9 in 10 employ­ees said par­tic­i­pat­ing in NCAA brack­ets at work helped build team cama­raderie, and 73 per­cent said they look for­ward to going to work more when they are part of an office pool. (Rand­stad)

    So how can an employ­er embrace the fun of March Mad­ness while enforc­ing the rules it may push the lim­its of? Whether you view the tour­na­ment as a minor dis­trac­tion that cre­ates an oppor­tu­ni­ty to boost morale, or as a poten­tial pit­fall of legal lia­bil­i­ty, missed dead­lines, and dis­sat­is­fied cus­tomers, the ball is in your court. Here are five ways to max­i­mize the pos­i­tive aspects of March Mad­ness while min­i­miz­ing disruptions.

    1. Have fun: Make it clear to your employ­ees that you want them to enjoy work and March Mad­ness while not let­ting the tour­na­ment put a full court press on their work. Encour­age employ­ees to wear their favorite team’s cloth­ing and/or dec­o­rate their work­space in their team’s colors.
    2. Watch togeth­er: Put tele­vi­sions in break rooms so that employ­ees have some­where to watch the games oth­er than the inter­net. That way, con­nec­tiv­i­ty is not slowed and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty lost even for those not par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Mad­ness activ­i­ties. Pro­vide snacks for the viewers.
    3. Be care­ful with brack­ets: Orga­nize a com­pa­ny-wide pool with no entry fee to avoid eth­i­cal or legal issues sur­round­ing office gam­bling. Give away a com­pa­ny gift to the pool win­ner that is not cash. Keep the brack­ets post­ed and updat­ed in the break room.
    4. Be flex­i­ble: Allow work­ers to arrive ear­ly so they can work a full shift and still leave in time to see big games that over­lap the end of their shift. Con­verse­ly, allow­ing employ­ees to delay their start time the morn­ing after big games may help reduce absenteeism.
    5. Fol­low the rules: Review applic­a­ble com­pa­ny policies—such as gam­bling, use of per­son­al elec­tron­ics and com­pa­ny com­put­ers, and work and break hours—with your employ­ees before engag­ing in any March Mad­ness activ­i­ties at work, so it will be clear to all what is con­sid­ered acceptable.

    Deter­mine how March Mad­ness fits with your busi­ness cul­ture and cus­tomer deliv­er­ables. If employ­ees are get­ting their work done, cus­tomers are hap­py, and the biggest prob­lems are reduced inter­net band­width or a lit­tle more noise in the cubi­cles or lunch­room for a cou­ple of days, it’s noth­ing but net. (See what we did there?) Decide how you’ll be play­ing this before the open­ing tipoff and the Mad­ness begins!

    by Rachel Sobel
    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on ThinkHR.com

  • Negotiations are now possible, if you can figure out the numbers

    February 28, 2019

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    A new rule went into effect Jan­u­ary 1 requir­ing hos­pi­tals to pub­lish their online price lists for all the med­ical ser­vices they pro­vide.  This was required under the ACA, but now they must be pub­lished online in a for­mat that can be down­loaded.  The cen­tral web­site for Cal­i­for­nia hos­pi­tals for the most com­mon out­pa­tient pro­ce­dures is www.oshpd.ca.gov/data-and-reports/cost-transparency/hospital-chargemasters/2018-chargemasters

     

  • 3 Ways to Build a Thriving Company Culture

    February 27, 2019

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    When you are a busi­ness own­er, you know how impor­tant it is to cre­ate a thriv­ing cul­ture at the work­place for your employ­ees. But how do you define com­pa­ny cul­ture? The con­cept means dif­fer­ent things to dif­fer­ent peo­ple. First off, it is about lead­er­ship, so the most impor­tant thing you, as the leader of your com­pa­ny, need to do is set an exam­ple to fol­low. Once you do this, you can begin the process to build an inspir­ing and thriv­ing com­pa­ny cul­ture. You can seek the help of the top ben­e­fit bro­kers in San Fran­cis­co Coun­ty for expert advice and tai­lor-made HR solu­tions for your company’s employ­ee ben­e­fits needs.

    3 Tips to Help You Build a Thriv­ing Cul­ture in Your Company

    Here is a look at 3 ways to build a com­pa­ny cul­ture that is both inspir­ing and thriving.

    1. Hire Char­ac­ter Before Tal­ent: Most com­pa­nies look at tal­ent before any­thing else when they hire employ­ees. How­ev­er, it is extreme­ly impor­tant to engage and hire peo­ple with char­ac­ter over mere tal­ent. Char­ac­ter cre­ates cul­ture, which in turn sup­ports char­ac­ter – mean­ing that they are mutu­al­ly sup­port­ive. With char­ac­ter, you can not only cre­ate a thriv­ing com­pa­ny cul­ture, but also a suc­cess­ful business.
    2. Pro­vide Oppor­tu­ni­ty: If you want the cul­ture in your com­pa­ny to thrive, you need to make room for an oppor­tu­ni­ty with­in the world you have cre­at­ed. You must make sure that your team feels like that they can grow and rise with­in the space they are in. If they feel like they can­not con­tribute or are lim­it­ed, they will even­tu­al­ly stop feel­ing inspired, and get tired of being part of your organization.
    3. Build a Com­mu­ni­ty: Your com­pa­ny is made up of dif­fer­ent peo­ple from dif­fer­ent back­grounds who have dif­fer­ent skills. You need to call them to work in uni­ty in spite of all these dif­fer­ences. It is impor­tant to make your employ­ees feel like they are part of a com­mu­ni­ty and play a key role with­in it. You should also make sure to reward indi­vid­u­als as well as groups for break­throughs in your company.

    Man­age the Com­plex­i­ties of Ben­e­fits with the Lead­ing Ben­e­fit Bro­kers in San Fran­cis­co County

    When you need expert help in man­ag­ing employ­ee ben­e­fits, you should look no fur­ther than Arrow Ben­e­fits Group, the top ben­e­fit bro­kers in San Fran­cis­co Coun­ty. The com­pa­ny pro­vides expert advice, tai­lor-made pro­grams and cus­tomized HR solu­tions for com­pa­nies across the coun­ty and the U.S. Call us today at 707–992-3780 to get expert coun­sel about employ­ee ben­e­fits and much more.

  • ACA won’t go away…and the courts are courting further argument

    February 27, 2019

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    California’s Attor­ney Gen­er­al Xavier Becer­ra is lead­ing the charge of oth­er Attor­neys Gen­er­al to appeal a rul­ing by a con­ser­v­a­tive Texas fed­er­al judge say­ing that the ACA is uncon­sti­tu­tion­al.  Even that judge has already said he would recon­sid­er, but for now the rule stands.  The appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Cir­cuit is joined by 16 states and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia.  “In this par­tic­u­lar case we believe the stakes are not only great, but com­pelling” Becer­ra, who vot­ed for the ACA when he was a House rep­re­sen­ta­tive, said.  Ellen Rosen­blum from Ore­gon said “real­ly, this is an absurd inter­pre­ta­tion of the law and an over­reach of the fed­er­al court that will hope­ful­ly be stopped at the appel­late lev­el”  Of course, oth­ers dis­agree “The court’s deci­sion was about restor­ing the rule of law and fed­er­al­ism by elim­i­nat­ing an ille­gal, uncon­sti­tu­tion­al fed­er­al pow­er grab” said a spokesman for the Texas Attor­ney General.

  • Heart Disease Risk and Prevention | Petaluma Employee Benefits

    February 27, 2019

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    Heart­breaks are painful, but did you know that heart dis­ease is the lead­ing cause of death in the Unit­ed States, with more than 630,000 peo­ple dying from the con­di­tion each year. This equates to one in four deaths attrib­uted to this awful dis­ease. The most com­mon form of heart dis­ease is coro­nary artery dis­ease (CAD), which is what can cause heart attacks.

    CAD is caused when a sub­stance called plaque builds up in a person’s arter­ies. As the buildup grows, the open­ing of the arter­ies grad­u­al­ly clos­es until blood flow is blocked and the patient expe­ri­ences a heart attack. While these sta­tis­tics are sober­ing, there are sev­er­al ways we can pre­vent heart dis­ease. Know­ing the “why” about this dis­ease can aid in pre­ven­tion. First, let’s learn about the big three risk fac­tors of heart disease:

    High Blood Pressure

    High blood pres­sure (HBP) is the force of blood push­ing against blood ves­sel walls. This is what your nurse checks when she puts the blood pres­sure cuff on your arm and pumps air into it at your check-up. She is lis­ten­ing for the pres­sure when your heart beats and the pres­sure for when your heart is at rest between beats. High blood pres­sure usu­al­ly has no signs or symp­toms so it is very impor­tant to keep your annu­al phys­i­cal appoint­ments with your doc­tor and to fol­low her rec­om­men­da­tions if she diag­noses you with HBP.

    High Cho­les­terol

    High cho­les­terol is when you devel­op fat­ty deposits in your blood ves­sels. These deposits can lead to nar­row ves­sels and increase your chance of a heart attack. It is deter­mined through blood tests. While high cho­les­terol can be inher­it­ed, it can also be pre­vent­ed through med­ica­tion, diet and exercise.

    Smok­ing

    Smok­ers are four times more like­ly to devel­op heart dis­ease than non-smok­ers. The nico­tine in smoke reduces your blood flow, rais­es your blood pres­sure, and speeds up your heart. Quit­ting smok­ing will not reverse the dam­age done to your heart, but it great­ly reduces the dam­age going for­ward to your heart and arteries.

    In addi­tion to the three key risk fac­tors, it’s impor­tant to explore what we can do to pre­vent it. Pre­ven­tion behav­iors can take you from the dan­ger zone of heart dis­ease and put you on the path to a healthy heart.

    Heart Dis­ease Prevention

    Healthy Diet

    Accord­ing to the Mayo Clin­ic, sim­ple tips to pre­vent heart dis­ease by diet include tips like these:  con­trol­ling por­tion size, eat­ing more veg­eta­bles and fruits, select­ing whole grains, lim­it­ing unhealthy fats, choos­ing low-fat pro­tein, reduc­ing sodi­um intake, and lim­it­ing treats.

    Healthy Weight

    Being over­weight increas­es your risk for heart dis­ease. One mea­sure used to deter­mine if your weight is in a healthy range is body mass index (BMI). If you know your weight and height, you can cal­cu­late your BMI at CDC’s Assess­ing Your Weight web­site. When in doubt, con­sult a physi­cian who can help in cal­cu­lat­ing whether your health is at risk due to weight.

    Phys­i­cal Activity

    Among the many ben­e­fits to get­ting enough phys­i­cal activ­i­ty can, it can help you main­tain a healthy weight and low­er your blood pres­sure, cho­les­terol, and sug­ar lev­els. From walk­ing, to swim­ming, to cycling, adding even mod­er­ate activ­i­ty to your rou­tine can have a great impact on your heart health. Just remem­ber, it’s always a good idea to check with your doc­tor before start­ing any new exer­cise regimen.

    Quit Smok­ing

    Smok­ing cig­a­rettes great­ly increas­es your risk for heart dis­ease. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quit­ting will low­er your risk for heart dis­ease. Your doc­tor can sug­gest ways to help you quit, and you can find many oth­er help­ful resources, includ­ing cre­at­ing a tai­lored plan to help you quit at SmokeFree.gov.

    Lim­it Alcohol

    There’s a good rea­son your doc­tor asks about rou­tine alco­hol con­sump­tion at each check-up. Drink­ing too much alco­hol can dras­ti­cal­ly raise blood pres­sure and binge drink­ing can increase heart rate. For heart health, the med­ical guide­lines state that men should have no more than two drinks per day, and women only one. Talk to your doc­tor if you aren’t sure whether or not you should drink alco­hol or how much you should drink for opti­mal heart health.

    Check out these great resources to bet­ter edu­cate your­self and oth­ers on heart health:

    Amer­i­can Heart Association—Healthy for Good

    Amer­i­can Heart Month Toolkit

    Heart Health Information

    Strate­gies to Pre­vent Heart Disease

  • Despite state support, Medicare for all isn’t playing nationally

    February 26, 2019

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    The sev­en Cal­i­for­nia Democ­rats who flipped Repub­li­can seats in the midterms cam­paigned for more gov­ern­ment fund­ed health care, are fac­ing road­blocks.  They were greet­ed by a state­ment from the senior Cal­i­for­nia states­per­son, “We need to do the things that are doable – that aren’t pie in the sky” said Sen­a­tor Dianne Fein­stein.  She got push­back from the junior Sen­a­tor Kamala Har­ris, who sup­ports Medicare for all, call­ing it “the moral and eth­i­cal thing to do.”

  • Further Mergers – lick your wounds and come back for more

    February 25, 2019

    Wal­greens, fresh off a mas­sive fine for gen­er­al malfea­sance, has decid­ed to part­ner with Microsoft to take on Ama­zon in everyone’s new favorite sport – fix­ing health care.  Microsoft is ced­ing Cloud dom­i­nance to Ama­zon, and Wal­greens to CVS (which just bought Aet­na), so now they want to leapfrog them and own the mar­ket.  Wal­greens will open up 12 dig­i­tal health cor­ners in stores that will sell health care relat­ed tools and instru­ments, while also gain­ing a lot more data about their customers.

  • How gruesome is the Newsom model going to be? Or will it be at all…in California

    February 23, 2019

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    On his first day in office, the new Cal­i­for­nia gov­er­nor unveiled a sweep­ing health plan that would prop up the ACA, expand health care for undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants and give the state new pow­ers to nego­ti­a­tion drug prices.  It would fall short of what was indi­cat­ed in his cam­paign, how­ev­er, where he hint­ed at a Sin­gle Pay­er Health Plan (adored by some, reviled by oth­ers).  His plan would rein­state the indi­vid­ual man­date by tax­ing those who do not have cov­er­age.  While stop­ping short, New­som did write to Pres­i­dent Trump and con­gres­sion­al lead­ers ask­ing for per­mis­sion for Cal­i­for­nia to pur­sue a gov­ern­ment fund­ed health care system.

  • ACA may be here to stay – the judge rules against it, but says it is in place for now

    February 21, 2019

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    There has been lots of excite­ment over the Texas deci­sion rul­ing the ACA is uncon­sti­tu­tion­al. Judge Reed O’Connor has now issued a stay of his own opin­ion, which means the law remains in effect while the inevitable (and already filed) appeals go for­ward.  Now that the Democ­rats are in charge of the White House, there will be some oth­er action on this as well, we’re sure.

  • Arrow Benefits Group, Leading Employee Benefits Firm in North Bay, Announces Major Expansion

    February 21, 2019

     

     

     

     

     

    New Nation­al Part­ner­ship Promis­es Con­tin­ued Growth

    Petaluma, CA — Arrow Ben­e­fits Group, the third largest ben­e­fits firm in the North Bay, announces a series of expan­sions and sta­tus as a found­ing agency in a new nation­al bro­ker­age. Says Stephen McNeil, Man­ag­ing Part­ner, “Arrow has tripled in size in just four years, and the cre­ation of our new nation­al part­ner­ship promis­es con­tin­ued expan­sion of our size, strength and capa­bil­i­ties. It also allows us to deep­en our already sub­stan­tial com­mit­ment to our North Bay com­mu­ni­ties.” The expan­sion includes a merg­er with Scar­bor­ough Insur­ance of San Fran­cis­co and the addi­tion of their prin­ci­pals Fred Naran­jo, Kath­leen Lemke and Barb Hen­dricks to the Arrow team. Arrow has also acquired four well-estab­lished inde­pen­dent agencies:

    • Advanced Ben­e­fits of San­ta Rosa, Til West, Principal
    • Mis­sion Ben­e­fits of Sun­ny­vale, Matthew Sohn, Principal
    • Copeland Insur­ance of San Rafael, Bob Copeland, Principal
    • Ahern Insur­ance of Nova­to, Michael Ahern, Principal

    Click here to read entire release:

    https://www.prweb.com/releases/arrow_benefits_group_leading_employee_benefits_firm_in_north_bay_announces_major_expansion/prweb16108671.htm

     

  • How Human Resource Professionals Can Enhance the Efficiency of Employee Benefits Communication

    February 20, 2019

    A lot of peo­ple have revealed that work-life ben­e­fits have a cru­cial impact on their per­for­mance at work. But how do you ensure per­for­mance and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty when most employ­ees do not know as much as they should about employ­ee ben­e­fits? The key is effi­cient com­mu­ni­ca­tion on employ­ee ben­e­fits. The human resource pro­fes­sion­als in your com­pa­ny need to know how they can bet­ter com­mu­ni­cate with team mem­bers so that they learn about the ben­e­fits your com­pa­ny pro­vides, and there­by boost effi­cien­cy and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty among employ­ees. You can get some of the best employ­ee ben­e­fit ser­vices in Sono­ma Coun­ty from a lead­ing com­pa­ny to pro­vide expert advice and per­son­al­ized HR solutions.

    How HR Pro­fes­sion­als Can Improve Com­mu­ni­ca­tion about Employ­ee Benefits

    Here is a look at some of the best ways that help HR pro­fes­sion­als to enhance the effi­cien­cy of employ­ee ben­e­fits communication.

    • Reward Employ­ees for Con­sum­ing Ben­e­fits Mes­sages: The truth is that ben­e­fits mes­sages are not exact­ly the most enter­tain­ing, which is why employ­ees do not con­sume them. Build­ing incen­tives into com­mu­ni­ca­tions is a great way to get employ­ees to learn about ben­e­fits. Reward­ing staff mem­bers for doing some­thing can go a long way in get­ting them to do it well.
    • Use Var­i­ous Chan­nels: Using a mix of chan­nels to com­mu­ni­cate mes­sages about employ­ee ben­e­fits is an effec­tive way for HR pro­fes­sion­als to improve the effi­cien­cy of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. There are a num­ber of inno­v­a­tive ways to com­mu­ni­cate with employ­ees about ben­e­fits, includ­ing emails that are com­bined with quizzes, inter­ac­tive employ­ee ben­e­fits soft­ware, and mobile HR apps. Although some com­pa­nies have suc­cess using just one chan­nel, using mul­ti­ple chan­nels increas­es the chances of your HR depart­ment suc­ceed­ing with year-round communications.
    • Con­sult Pro­fes­sion­al Employ­ee Ben­e­fit Ser­vices: Anoth­er great way to enhance com­mu­ni­ca­tion on employ­ee ben­e­fits is to seek the help of pro­fes­sion­al employ­ee ben­e­fit ser­vices in Sono­ma Coun­ty. These firms can pro­vide not just expert advice and cus­tomized HR solu­tions, but also tai­lor-made pro­grams to meet the needs of your com­pa­ny. When your HR depart­ment is strug­gling to improve ben­e­fit com­mu­ni­ca­tion with employ­ees, a reput­ed com­pa­ny can help you find effec­tive solu­tions by pro­vid­ing per­son­al­ized service.

    Get the Best Employ­ee Ben­e­fit Ser­vices in Sono­ma County

    When you need to enhance ben­e­fits com­mu­ni­ca­tion with employ­ees or improve the effi­cien­cy of the human resources depart­ment in your com­pa­ny, there is one name you can trust for unmatched employ­ee ben­e­fit ser­vices in Sono­ma Coun­ty – Arrow Ben­e­fits Group. You can gain superb ser­vices to help you in man­ag­ing the com­plex area of employ­ee ben­e­fits. To find out more, con­tact us today at 707–992-3780.

  • You Can Reduce the Risk of Workplace Violence | California Benefits Agency

    February 20, 2019

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    On Fri­day, Feb­ru­ary 15, 2019, five employ­ees of a man­u­fac­tur­er in Auro­ra, Illi­nois, were killed by an employ­ee they were about to ter­mi­nate as they met in a con­fer­ence room. Among the vic­tims were the human resources direc­tor and a young HR intern at his first day on the job. This is just the lat­est inci­dence of gun vio­lence at a workplace.

    The Occu­pa­tion­al Safe­ty and Health Admin­is­tra­tion (OSHA) esti­mates that every year, near­ly two mil­lion U.S. work­ers are vic­tims of work­place vio­lence. Accord­ing to the most recent Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics Cen­sus, homi­cide account­ed for 10 per­cent of all fatal work­place injuries in 2016. And an FBI study found that busi­ness­es were the set­ting for near­ly half of 160 active-shoot­er inci­dents over a 13-year-peri­od the agency examined.

    Work­place vio­lence takes many forms, includ­ing homi­cide, assault, stalk­ing, threat­en­ing words, threat­en­ing con­duct, and harass­ment. It results in a decline in employ­ee morale, man­age­ment inef­fi­cien­cies, and decreased pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. Employ­ers also bear the bur­den of work­place vio­lence because its con­se­quences include sig­nif­i­cant costs in lost wages, employ­ee absences, and increased ben­e­fit payments.

    Employ­ers have a duty to pro­vide a safe work­place and must pre­vent work­place vio­lence to pro­tect their employ­ees and avoid liability.

    How a Policy Can Help

    A well-writ­ten and imple­ment­ed work­place vio­lence pre­ven­tion pol­i­cy — com­bined with engi­neer­ing con­trols, admin­is­tra­tive con­trols, and train­ing — can reduce the inci­dence of work­place vio­lence. This pol­i­cy can stand on its own or be incor­po­rat­ed into an injury and ill­ness pre­ven­tion pro­gram, employ­ee hand­book, or oper­a­tions manual.

    The goals of any work­place vio­lence pre­ven­tion pol­i­cy are two-fold:

    • Reduce the prob­a­bil­i­ty of threats or acts of vio­lence in the workplace.
    • Ensure that any inci­dent, com­plaint, or report of vio­lence is imme­di­ate­ly addressed and prop­er­ly managed.

    The pri­ma­ry com­po­nents of a work­place vio­lence pre­ven­tion pol­i­cy include clear­ly defined report­ing and response pro­ce­dures, a work­place secu­ri­ty risk eval­u­a­tion, pre­ven­tion tools, manda­to­ry train­ing, and oth­er nec­es­sary sup­port ser­vices. Employ­ers must inform employ­ees of the require­ments of applic­a­ble state and fed­er­al law, the risk fac­tors in their work­place, and the loca­tion of the writ­ten work­place vio­lence pre­ven­tion program.

    It’s impor­tant that all work­ers are informed of the pol­i­cy and under­stand that man­age­ment strives to keep all employ­ees safe in the work­place and will take all con­cerns seriously.

     

    by Rachel Sobel
    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on ThinkHR.com

  • New Year Resolutions by HR Professionals & Employers That Can Help to Enact Change in Company Culture

    February 13, 2019

    Every busi­ness, big and small, needs a sol­id com­pa­ny cul­ture. It deter­mines how engaged the mem­bers of staff are, and for how long the busi­ness can retain them. It is the respon­si­bil­i­ty of employ­ers and human resources pro­fes­sion­als to help employ­ees shape the com­pa­ny cul­ture to ensure long-term sus­tain­abil­i­ty. Whether you are the employ­er or an HR pro­fes­sion­al, it is impor­tant to under­stand what your role is, and how you can improve com­pa­ny cul­ture. This can help in cre­at­ing an envi­ron­ment that your employ­ees enjoy going to every day. You should con­sult a top bro­ker­age firm for qual­i­ty ser­vices in employ­ee ben­e­fits health insur­ance in Sono­ma Coun­ty and more.

    New Year Res­o­lu­tions to Help You Change Your Com­pa­ny Culture

    Here is a look at impor­tant New Year res­o­lu­tions that employ­ers and HR pro­fes­sion­als can make to bring about change in com­pa­ny culture.

    • Fos­ter an Inclu­sive Envi­ron­ment: It is impor­tant to fos­ter an inclu­sive envi­ron­ment by putting more resources behind it. Experts say that it is easy to con­duct diver­si­ty hir­ing, but it will always be chal­leng­ing to main­tain the inclu­sion part. Ulti­mate­ly, an inclu­sive envi­ron­ment will act as a tool for diver­si­ty, and this will con­se­quent­ly help in enact­ing change in com­pa­ny culture.
    • Begin Reten­tion Efforts: You need to rec­og­nize the impor­tance of reach­ing out to more employ­ees before they actu­al­ly begin work­ing so that you can make sure that you retain them. This will also make them feel like they are part of the team right from the very start. For this res­o­lu­tion, you can have them par­tic­i­pate in train­ings, and get to know oth­er new staff mem­bers. You can also have a peer men­tor to help them in get­ting ready for their first day at work, and also set up a meet­ing with all new employ­ees about their salary, employ­ee ben­e­fits, and employ­ee ben­e­fits health insur­ance in Sono­ma Coun­ty, retire­ment plans, and more.
    • Have More Fun: No one likes to work in a dull, drea­ry envi­ron­ment. Experts say that a New Year res­o­lu­tion that employ­ers and HR pro­fes­sion­als can make to change com­pa­ny cul­ture is to bring in more fun and joy into their place of work. Orga­niz­ing team chal­lenges that incor­po­rate well­ness, giv­ing back to the com­mu­ni­ty, and using more GIFs in mes­sages are just some of the few ways that you can make employ­ees look for­ward to com­ing to work every day.

    Get Excel­lent HR Solu­tions for Your Business

    When it comes to ser­vices for employ­ee ben­e­fits health insur­ance and HR solu­tions in Sono­ma Coun­ty, there is one name you can always trust – Arrow Ben­e­fits Group. For more infor­ma­tion, call us at 707–992-3780.

  • New Year’s Resolutions That Stick | California Employee Benefits

    February 13, 2019

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    Ever won­der why the res­o­lu­tions you make in Jan­u­ary don’t stick around after March? You aren’t alone! Stud­ies show that only 8% of peo­ple keep their New Year’s res­o­lu­tions. Only 8%! Why? And how do peo­ple achieve their goals set at New Year’s? We’ve bro­ken it down for you so you can iden­ti­fy your goal-break­er as well as give you some tips on how to make those res­o­lu­tions stick.

    There are three main rea­sons that New Year’s res­o­lu­tions fail. The first goal-break­er is tak­ing on too much (too big of a goal) and expect­ing it to hap­pen too fast. Researchers have found that it takes 66 days to break a habit. That’s much high­er than the pre­vi­ous­ly pub­lished 21 days. It con­verse­ly means that it also takes 66 days to form a new habit. So, bat­tle your goal-break­er by set­ting small­er goals and not expect­ing to mas­ter those res­o­lu­tions by the end of the month.

    The sec­ond rea­son you fail to keep your res­o­lu­tion is you don’t have any­one sup­port­ing you. This could be because you sim­ply didn’t tell any­one that you have new life goals. It could also be due to fear of account­abil­i­ty. You need some life-cheer­lead­ers that root you on to vic­to­ry. These cheer­lead­ers also call you out when you are rid­ing off the tracks. Their sup­port isn’t tied to your achieve­ment of your goals but instead their sup­port is firm­ly tied to you and they want to see you succeed.

    The last goal-break­er is that you don’t believe in your­self! When you make New Year’s res­o­lu­tions that are super unat­tain­able, and then you fail, you doubt your­self. When this cycle per­sists, time and again, you fill your head up with neg­a­tive thoughts and begin believ­ing you aren’t capa­ble of accom­plish­ing any­thing. Self-doubt is powerful.

    Now, let’s steer this ship back on course with some tips on KEEPING your New Year’s resolutions.

    Remember that bigger isn’t always better. 

    Set your res­o­lu­tions as small, attain­able, goals.  With those small goals, set real­is­tic time­lines to achieve them. Avoid “I want to run the Iron­man by Novem­ber” if you’ve nev­er run more than 2 times a month. Set your goal as “I want to run a 5K by Christ­mas” and work towards increas­ing your endurance each week.

    Reward yourself along the way.

    If exer­cis­ing is your goal, reward your­self with a trip to the movies if you go to the gym 3 times a week. When you look for­ward to rewards, and you feel like they are attain­able, you are more like­ly to work hard to get them!

    Tell others about your resolutions. 

    Find­ing an account­abil­i­ty part­ner helps keep your ship on course as they can encour­age you for achieve­ments as well as guide you back to the course when you start to stray.

    Write your goals down on paper. 

    Mark Mur­phy says Writ­ing things down doesn’t just help you remem­ber, it makes your mind more effi­cient by help­ing you focus on the tru­ly impor­tant stuff. And your goals absolute­ly should qual­i­fy as tru­ly impor­tant stuff.”

    Identify your purpose. 

    Know­ing your “WHAT” (goal) is impor­tant, but know­ing “WHY” can be just as impor­tant when it comes to fol­low­ing through on your inten­tions. Why do you want to lose weight in 2019? When you put the why to the what, you are tru­ly focused on what mat­ters. “I want to lose weight so that I can play with my chil­dren with­out get­ting tired and show them that hard work is worth it.”  Now, THAT’S a great goal.

    Iden­ti­fy­ing goal-break­ers and goal-mak­ers are equal­ly impor­tant pieces to achiev­ing what you set out to accom­plish, espe­cial­ly with regards to New Year’s res­o­lu­tions. Make this the year your goals become real­i­ty by focus­ing on these five sim­ple tips.

  • The Evolving State of Employee Benefits Broker

    February 6, 2019

    More and more employ­ers are turn­ing to ben­e­fit bro­kers for help, and a change in the role of the employ­ee ben­e­fits bro­ker is occur­ring due to these new expec­ta­tions. Lead­ers of com­pa­nies are look­ing to bro­kers for com­mu­ni­ca­tion mate­ri­als per­tain­ing to employ­ee ben­e­fits as well as a wide range of new and inno­v­a­tive ser­vices that they can pro­vide as con­sul­tants. When you need assis­tance with issues involv­ing ben­e­fits, it is wise to hire the top employ­ee ben­e­fits bro­ker in San Fran­cis­co Coun­ty. Your busi­ness is sure to see many of the benefits.

    How the Employ­ee Ben­e­fits Bro­ker has Evolved

    In the past, the resources need­ed for an employ­ee ben­e­fits bro­ker in San Fran­cis­co Coun­ty to suc­ceed were sim­ple and scal­able. The pri­ma­ry roles of bro­kers included:

    • Insur­ance Trans­ac­tions: The foun­da­tion for most employ­ee ben­e­fits bro­kers was insur­ance trans­ac­tions. Many small­er bro­ker­age firms could flour­ish because they had access to a lot of car­ri­ers on the market.
    • Answer­ing Phones: It was extreme­ly impor­tant for bro­kers to answer the phone, or read fax­es, and han­dle ser­vice issues like incor­rect bills or unpaid claims. These tasks are still impor­tant today. The dif­fer­ence is that they now include reply­ing to emails and texts, check­ing apps, etc.
    • Being Com­plaint: Bro­kers had to make sure that they were in com­pli­ance with all of the rules of the indus­try. This includ­ed mak­ing sure that they under­stood COBRA, FSA and HIPAA rules.
    • Bring­ing a New Approach: In the mid-1990s, the “con­sul­ta­tive” approach that some employ­ee ben­e­fits bro­kers were using was start­ing to scratch the sur­face. How­ev­er, it was not preva­lent across the mar­ket as it is today.

    Fast for­ward to today, it is high­ly impor­tant for the employ­ee ben­e­fits bro­ker to be adept at con­sult­ing in dif­fer­ent areas in order to remain com­pet­i­tive in the mar­ket. More specif­i­cal­ly, a suc­cess­ful bro­ker must be an expert in cost man­age­ment, a maven in client reten­tion, a pun­dit in pub­lic speak­ing, a spe­cial­ist in net­work­ing, solu­tions, pre­sen­ta­tion, cus­tomer ser­vice, social media, and a genius in employ­ee engage­ment, tech­nol­o­gy, com­pli­ance, and lots more. In short, they need to be a jack of all trades.

    Get Excel­lent Employ­ee Ben­e­fits Ser­vices in San Fran­cis­co Coun­ty and Beyond

    When you need help with employ­ee ben­e­fits issues in your com­pa­ny, you should seek the help of an expe­ri­enced and high­ly knowl­edge­able employ­ee ben­e­fits bro­ker in San Fran­cis­co Coun­ty at Arrow Ben­e­fits Group. You can gain the ben­e­fits of excel­lent ser­vices of the top bro­ker­age firm in the area and beyond. For more infor­ma­tion, call us at 707–992-3780 for expert advice on HR solu­tions avail­able to you.

  • The Big-Picture View of Risk | Petaluma Benefits Group

    February 1, 2019

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    Many human resources and busi­ness lead­ers think about com­pli­ance in black-and-white terms. We sim­ply check the box­es and eval­u­ate com­pli­ance efforts using one mea­sure: “Are we doing it right or not?”

    It’s easy to fall into the trap of fail­ing to see the broad­er impli­ca­tions of our com­pli­ance efforts. We need to go beyond, “What’s the law and what should I do about it?” We need to ask ques­tions like, “How does this law inter­sect with our cul­ture?” or “What best prac­tices will sup­port this require­ment?”  We need to under­stand that risk cross­es our desks every day.

    That’s where peo­ple risk man­age­ment comes in. Peo­ple risk man­age­ment is sim­ply the strate­gic and wholis­tic view of com­pli­ance. It’s real­ly all about the end-to-end sto­ry; it’s how we deal with all the things that hap­pen in the employ­ee life­cy­cle in a way that min­i­mizes risk while max­i­miz­ing employ­ee engagement.

    It’s all about how we antic­i­pate risk, reduce the like­li­hood of risk events, and deal with them when they do hap­pen. The best com­pa­nies proac­tive­ly respond to risk in an eth­i­cal way that not just pro­tects us from lia­bil­i­ty, but also builds trust and respect among the workforce.

    People Risk Management: An Example

    Let’s say a new sex­u­al harass­ment law goes into effect in your state. This trig­ger­ing event (the new law) is just part of the issue. You need to take a big-pic­ture view of the entire sit­u­a­tion. You’ll need to know what you should antic­i­pate, what you need to do, and how to eval­u­ate your efforts to make sure you’ve addressed every risk.

    Because this law is relat­ed to how peo­ple behave, in addi­tion to admin­is­tra­tive require­ments, it can be dif­fi­cult to under­stand how to simul­ta­ne­ous­ly address both the risk of harass­ment and the risk of fail­ing to com­ply with each aspect of the law. You also need to incor­po­rate your response to this issue into your com­pa­ny cul­ture to demon­strate that you care about pro­tect­ing not just the com­pa­ny, but also your employees.

    When engage­ment and com­pli­ance issues inter­sect, and you do both well, you cre­ate a cul­ture that says you deal with stuff in a clear way, but also you pro­tect your­self from legal risks. It’s a dou­ble benefit.

     

    by Lar­ry Dunavin
    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on ThinkHR.com

  • Proposed 2020 Benefit Payment and Parameters Rule | California Benefits Group

    January 30, 2019

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    The Cen­ters for Medicare & Med­ic­aid Ser­vices (CMS) released a pro­posed rule for ben­e­fit pay­ment and para­me­ters for 2020. CMS also released its draft 2020 actu­ar­i­al val­ue cal­cu­la­tor and draft 2020 actu­ar­i­al val­ue cal­cu­la­tor method­ol­o­gy.

    Accord­ing to CMS, the pro­posed rule is intend­ed to reduce fis­cal and reg­u­la­to­ry bur­dens asso­ci­at­ed with the Patient Pro­tec­tion and Afford­able Care Act (ACA) across dif­fer­ent pro­gram areas and to pro­vide stake­hold­ers with greater flexibility.

    Although the pro­posed rule would pri­mar­i­ly affect the indi­vid­ual mar­ket and the Exchanges, the pro­posed rule address­es the fol­low­ing top­ics that may impact employ­er-spon­sored group health plans:

    • Changes relat­ed to pre­scrip­tion drug policy
    • Small Busi­ness Health Options Pro­gram (SHOP)
    • Pro­hi­bi­tion against discrimination
    • Max­i­mum annu­al lim­i­ta­tion on cost shar­ing for plan year 2020
    • Cost-shar­ing require­ments for gener­ic drugs
    • Cost-shar­ing require­ments and drug man­u­fac­tur­ers’ coupons

    CMS usu­al­ly final­izes its ben­e­fit pay­ment and para­me­ters rule in the first quar­ter of the year fol­low­ing the pro­posed rule’s release. Feb­ru­ary 19, 2019 is the due date for pub­lic com­ments on the pro­posed rule.

    The 2020 open enroll­ment peri­od will run from Novem­ber 1, 2019, to Decem­ber 15, 2019.

     

    by Karen Hsu
    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on UBABenefits.com

     

  • Attitude of Gratitude | CA Benefits Agency

    January 23, 2019

    Tags: ,

    Hav­ing a grate­ful heart impacts more than just you! When you express your grat­i­tude to oth­ers, it becomes a rip­ple effect and extends fur­ther than you can imag­ine. Watch this video to learn how to say “thank you” to others!

     

     

  • Gen Z is Coming. Is Your Workplace Ready? | Petaluma Employee Benefits

    January 17, 2019

    Tags: ,

    While it may feel like busi­ness­es are still reel­ing from adapt­ing to the work­ing mil­len­ni­al, the next gen­er­a­tion is already knock­ing on the HR door. The Soci­ety for Human Resource Man­age­ment went straight to a 16-year old source to see what is on the work­place horizon.

    Here are a few trends and some poten­tial take­aways for employers.

    Gen Z is com­pet­i­tive, raised on more per­va­sive youth sports and reg­u­lar­ly remind­ed just how  hard it is to get into elite col­leges. These go-get­ters are used to imme­di­ate feed­back. HR depart­ments will be wise to con­sid­er how to offer qual­i­ty, action­able feed­back to these employ­ees. On the one hand, rig­or­ous coach­ing and par­ent invest­ment means Gen Z can take tips on how to improve and even han­dle tough crit­i­cism, some­thing mil­len­ni­als are seen to strug­gle with. Even bet­ter, the com­pet­i­tive nature of Gen Z will make them want to work to suc­ceed. To sup­port these employ­ees, mean­ing­ful, reg­u­lar feed­back will be nec­es­sary. Now is a good time to start cre­at­ing the plans for the sys­tems and process­es that will offer per­for­mance reviews, project cri­tiques, and more. Work­ers who appre­ci­ate struc­ture and goals are great for busi­ness, but HR will also need to pro­tect young work­ers from burnout as they attempt to suc­ceed and even over­achieve in their first years working.

    As chil­dren of Gen Xers, Gen Z reflects their par­ents’ skep­ti­cism and indi­vid­u­al­ism. This is a marked shift from the ide­al­ism and col­lab­o­ra­tive approach of mil­len­ni­als. The tight labor mar­kets of recent times have meant con­cert­ed efforts to court mil­len­ni­als. Cur­rent trends toward open office plans, casu­al envi­ron­ments, and cross-dis­ci­pline teams may need to be refined as these two gen­er­a­tions being to mix around the water cool­er. The group project men­tal­i­ty of mil­len­ni­als is more the one-per­son show of Gen Z. Nei­ther world­view is inher­ent­ly bet­ter, but help­ing the youngest work­ers work well with oth­ers will be impor­tant to inte­grat­ing them into suc­cess­ful teams and pre­vent­ing con­flict. Offer­ing men­tor­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties, which pro­vide mean­ing for expe­ri­enced mil­len­ni­als and feed­back to improve­ment-hun­gry Gen Z may be one idea. At the same time, ensur­ing there are ample oppor­tu­ni­ties to shine as indi­vid­u­als will tap into Gen Z’s poten­tial and enthusiasm.

    While they hope their jobs are engag­ing, this gen­er­a­tion is seen as more prag­mat­ic and fis­cal­ly con­ser­v­a­tive. They want to feel on sol­id finan­cial foot­ing even more than they want to feel good about their work. For the future of employ­ee ben­e­fits and perks, it may be a dol­lars and cents approach which lures the most attrac­tive young work­ers rather than bring­ing a dog to work or cul­ture-build­ing ele­ments like foos­ball or ping pong.

    Whether we’re ready or not, Gen Z is com­ing. Pay­ing atten­tion to gen­er­a­tion shifts may leave employ­ers eager but feel­ing over­whelmed to keep up. Not every­thing needs to change, and you may just find some changes are good for every­one. Find ways to adapt what’s already work­ing for your com­pa­ny, adjust what can be adjust­ed to appeal to new work­ers, and be ready to imple­ment new ideas that just may help your entire work­force, too.

    by Bill Olson
    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on UBABenefits.com

     

  • Findings of PwC Health Research Institute – the future of health care in the United States | Arrow Benefits Group

    January 10, 2019

    Tags: ,

    The indus­try is, final­ly, being dis­rupt­ed, with what PwC calls the New Health Econ­o­my kick­ing into gear.  The major­i­ty of the country’s largest com­pa­nies are now involved with health­care, ven­ture cap­i­tal and pri­vate equi­ty fund­ing is up con­sid­er­ably and a num­ber of new arrange­ments were announced this year.  More­over, Amer­i­can con­sumers have told PwC since 2013 that they are eager to embrace more con­ve­nient, dig­i­tal­ly enabled and afford­able care

  • 5 Ways to Say Thank You | CA Insurance Benefits Firm

    January 9, 2019

    Tags:

    As we begin our new year of 2019, we have also closed 2018 with lots of cel­e­bra­tions, gift-giv­ing, and fam­i­ly time. Show­ing appre­ci­a­tion for oth­ers dur­ing this gen­er­ous sea­son comes sec­ond nature for some but for oth­ers, it doesn’t.  You may be look­ing for ideas on how to express your grat­i­tude effec­tive­ly to those around you and so we’ve com­piled a list of five unique ways to say “thank you” to someone.

    WRITE IT OUT

    Receiv­ing a hand­writ­ten note is a rare occur­rence in this day. Speak­ing or email­ing a thank you is more com­mon and does effec­tive­ly com­mu­ni­cate the grat­i­tude of the sender. How­ev­er, the spir­it of grate­ful­ness that is com­mu­ni­cat­ed by sit­ting down and tak­ing pen to paper to express your thank­ful­ness for the act or gift received, is a bonus to the note receiv­er. Take the extra time to write out that thank you.

    PHONE A FRIEND

    In a day and age of emails and texts and social media, we rarely get phone calls from peo­ple who aren’t ask­ing for something—billing issues, appoint­ment reminders, robo-calls.  Even if the per­son on the oth­er end of the call doesn’t pick up, leave that voice­mail telling them thank you for their thought­ful­ness for the gift you received. Be spe­cif­ic and men­tion the gift by name and what it meant to receive it. That phone call may be the bright­est part of their day!

    SAY IT ON SOCIAL MEDIA

    We spend more time scrolling through social media than we do hav­ing face-to-face con­tact with peo­ple. Instead of get­ting caught up in a heat­ed debate on NextDoor, take a few min­utes to write on a friend’s wall to tell them thank you. It’s refresh­ing to see grat­i­tude on dis­play instead of inci­vil­i­ty. And it’s always nice to see your friends get noticed for kindness!

    FLASH A SMILE

    The look of sur­prise on someone’s face is some­times the great­est thank you that you can receive! The age old say­ing of “your face says it all” is true. When you open that gift and you can tell that the giv­er spent time think­ing of the per­fect thing to give you, look up and give them the thank you of a smile!

    PAY IT FORWARD

    Were you bowled over by the thought­ful­ness of a gift or act? A beau­ti­ful way to show your grate­ful­ness is to pay it for­ward. Buy the cof­fee of the per­son behind you in line. Say three nice things to strangers on the way in to your office. Tell your child a char­ac­ter qual­i­ty you see in them that is fab­u­lous. While this act of grat­i­tude may mean that the orig­i­nal giv­er nev­er knows about the rip­ple effect of their gift, you will, and hope­ful­ly that rip­ple is car­ried on and on and on.

    These acts of grat­i­tude are sim­ple, effec­tive, and most of all, mean­ing­ful. Take the time to say thank you!

     

     

     

  • Is the ACA dead yet? The current administration would like to think so, and the courts help | Arrow Benefits Group

    January 8, 2019

    Tags: ,

    In response to a joint law­suit filed by sev­er­al attor­neys gen­er­al, the Texas Dis­trict Fed­er­al Court (NFIB vs. Sebe­lius) has now ruled that the indi­vid­ual man­date as required under the Afford­able Care Act may no longer be upheld under the Tax Pow­er (fol­low­ing pas­sage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017).  The US Supreme Court had already ruled that the indi­vid­ual man­date could not be sev­ered from the Afford­able Care Act, but “under the law as it now stands, the Indi­vid­ual Man­date no longer ‘trig­gers a tax’ begin­ning in 2019.  So long as the shared respon­si­bil­i­ty pay­ment is zero…the Indi­vid­ual Man­date can­not be upheld under Con­gress’ Tax Pow­er”  This means that the man­date is now unconstitutional.

  • Treasury, DOL, and HHS Release Two Final Rules on Contraceptive Coverage Exemptions | CA Employee Benefits

    January 4, 2019

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    The Depart­ment of the Trea­sury (Trea­sury), Depart­ment of Labor (DOL), and Depart­ment  of Health and Human Ser­vices (HHS) (col­lec­tive­ly, Depart­ments) released two final rules on con­tra­cep­tive cov­er­age exemp­tions. These rules final­ize the Depart­ments’ inter­im final rules that were pub­lished on Octo­ber 13, 2017. HHS also issued a press release and fact sheet on these final rules.

    The first final rule pro­vides an exemp­tion from the con­tra­cep­tive cov­er­age man­date to enti­ties (includ­ing cer­tain employ­ers) and indi­vid­u­als that object to ser­vices cov­ered by the man­date on the basis of sin­cere­ly held reli­gious beliefs.

    The sec­ond final rule pro­vides an exemp­tion from the con­tra­cep­tive cov­er­age man­date to non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tions, small busi­ness­es, and indi­vid­u­als that object to ser­vices cov­ered by the man­date on the basis of sin­cere­ly held moral convictions.

    The final rules will be effec­tive on Jan­u­ary 14, 2019.

    Read more about the final rules.

     

    by Karen Hsu
    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on UBABenefits.com

  • 3 Tips to Consider When Choosing a Health Insurance Plan for Your Employees

    January 3, 2019

    The chang­ing busi­ness land­scape is redefin­ing the role of employ­ers every day. Gone are the days when it was a blas­phe­my for employ­ees to expect any­thing more than get­ting paid for the job done. The mod­ern employ­ee expects their employ­er to play an active role in secur­ing their future. One of the ways in which busi­ness­es all over the world are respond­ing to this demand is by offer­ing health insur­ance to their employ­ees. When it comes to choos­ing a plan for your employ­ees, you will be spoilt for choice. Over the years, many providers have come up with numer­ous health insur­ance plans to meet the var­i­ous needs of their tar­get audi­ence. While a spe­cif­ic plan may work for anoth­er busi­ness, it may fall flat in your case. To help, we pro­vide a few tips that you should con­sid­er when choos­ing an employ­ee ben­e­fits health insur­ance plan in Sono­ma Coun­ty.

    1. Learn About your Options

    Employ­ee health plans can be broad­ly cat­e­go­rized into three groups: defined ben­e­fit plans, defined con­tri­bu­tion plans, and pro­fes­sion­al employ­er orga­ni­za­tions. Defined ben­e­fit plans are an employ­er-pro­vid­ed health­care, where­in the employ­ees can only avail the ser­vices with­in their employer’s net­work. Defined con­tri­bu­tion plans empow­er employ­ees to choose their plan. If none of these plans work for you, con­sid­er get­ting into an agree­ment with a pro­fes­sion­al employ­er orga­ni­za­tion (PEO) that will pro­vide ben­e­fits to your employ­ees on your behalf.

    2. Learn About your Com­peti­tors’ Offerings

    Pro­vid­ing in-demand ben­e­fits can help you stand out from the crowd, which is one of the most impor­tant com­mand­ments to attract and retain the right tal­ent. When select­ing a health insur­ance plan, learn about what your com­peti­tors are offer­ing. Based on your find­ings, try to match or sur­pass competition.

    3. Find Out the Pre­mi­ums, Deductibles, and Out- of- Pock­et Maximums

    Steer clear of insur­ance plans that you or your employ­ees can­not afford. The pre­mi­um cost will be shared by you and your employ­ees, which is why it is impor­tant that you look for a plan that pro­vides afford­able cov­er­age. Make sure the cost to your employ­ees does not exceed 9.5 per­cent of their house­hold income. Addi­tion­al­ly, to ensure your employ­ees’ total cost does not exceeds their bud­get, look for plans with low­er deductibles and out-of-pock­et maximums.

    Con­sid­er these tips when pick­ing the right insur­ance plan for your employ­ees. If you are expe­ri­enc­ing prob­lems nav­i­gat­ing the ben­e­fits land­scape, Arrow Ben­e­fits Group will be hap­py to help. As a rep­utable ben­e­fits con­sult­ing firm, we have tak­en upon us to help busi­ness­es stream­line their ben­e­fits pro­grams. To dis­cuss your require­ments, call 707–992-3780 or to sched­ule an appoint­ment, fill out our con­tact form.

  • It’s apparent that what is meant to be transparent needs parenting

    December 30, 2019

    Tags: ,

    To pro­mote com­pe­ti­tion and push down health­care costs, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion issued new rules in Novem­ber to require insur­ers and hos­pi­tals to dis­close upfront the actu­al prices for com­mon tests and pro­ce­dures.  Not sur­pris­ing­ly, there is an almost open revolt from the health­care indus­try.  The rules for hos­pi­tals take effect in 2021 – it is not out­lined when this applies to health insur­ance com­pa­nies.  It is expect­ed this will go to court, but in the meantime:

    Hos­pi­tals must pub­lish in a con­sumer-friend­ly man­ner nego­ti­at­ed rates for the 300 most com­mon ser­vices that can be sched­uled in advance and pub­lish all charges in a for­mat that can be read on the web.  For health insur­ance com­pa­nies, it is required that they cre­ate an online tool so pol­i­cy­hold­ers may get a real-time per­son­al­ized esti­mate of their out-of-pock­et costs, and a pub­lic dis­clo­sure of nego­ti­at­ed rates for their in-net­work providers.

    Charge lists will include:

    • Gross charge
    • Pay­er spe­cif­ic nego­ti­at­ed charge
    • Dis­count­ed cash price
    • De-iden­ti­fied min­i­mum nego­ti­at­ed charge (low­est of all prices the hos­pi­tal has)
    • De-iden­ti­fied max­i­mum nego­ti­at­ed charge

    The for­mal title is “The 2020 Out­pa­tient prospec­tive pay­ment sys­tem and ambu­la­to­ry sur­gi­cal cen­ter price trans­paren­cy require­ments for hos­pi­tals to make stan­dard charges pub­lic final rule” and it is under CMS 1717-F2 issued 11/15/19.

  • Celebrate the Season Safely

    December 16, 2019

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    Last year’s 2018 Hol­i­day Par­ty Sur­vey by Chal­lenger, Gray & Christ­mas found that just 65 per­cent of com­pa­nies were hold­ing hol­i­day fes­tiv­i­ties last year, the low­est rate since the 2009 reces­sion, and this trend is expect­ed to con­tin­ue into the 2019 hol­i­day sea­son (the 2019 report has not yet been released). While in 2009, hol­i­day par­ties were skipped for finan­cial rea­sons, today’s caus­es are more com­plex. Andrew Chal­lenger, VP of Chal­lenger, Gray & Christ­mas, spec­u­lat­ed that the two biggest fac­tors are #MeToo and an increase in the num­ber of remote employees.

    If your com­pa­ny is among those cel­e­brat­ing the hol­i­day sea­son this year, what can you do to avoid lia­bil­i­ty from sex­u­al harass­ment, alco­hol con­sump­tion, and oth­er cat­e­gories of risk?

    Risk: Harassment Allegations

    • Com­mu­ni­cate behav­ior expec­ta­tions to employ­ees ahead of time. Con­sid­er using this lan­guage to set stan­dards of con­duct. You may even choose to redis­trib­ute your sex­u­al harass­ment pol­i­cy. Be sure to empha­size that all employ­ee poli­cies apply at the par­ty, even if it is off-site or after work hours. Racial or sex­u­al jokes, inap­pro­pri­ate gag gifts, gos­sip­ing about office rela­tion­ships, and unwel­come touch­ing will not be per­mit­ted dur­ing the hol­i­day par­ty, just as they are not allowed in the office.
    • Do not allow employ­ees to get away with bad behav­ior. Remind your super­vi­sors to set a good exam­ple and keep an eye out for employ­ee behav­ior that needs man­ag­ing at the event.
    • Fol­low up imme­di­ate­ly on alle­ga­tions of inap­pro­pri­ate behav­ior and con­duct a thor­ough inves­ti­ga­tion of the facts, even if the alleged vic­tim does not file a com­plaint and you only hear about the behav­ior through the grapevine. If cor­rec­tive action is war­rant­ed, apply it promptly.
    • Invite sig­nif­i­cant oth­ers or fam­i­lies. Employ­ee behav­ior tends to improve at com­pa­ny events when spous­es or part­ners and chil­dren are present. If your bud­get allows, include the entire fam­i­ly in the cel­e­bra­tion. Be sure to review your lia­bil­i­ty cov­er­age with your bro­ker first.
    • Avoid inci­dents relat­ed to relaxed inhi­bi­tions by fol­low­ing the tips for reduc­ing alco­hol-relat­ed risks (see below).

    Risk: Alcohol-Related Incidents

    • Take steps to lim­it alco­hol con­sump­tion. If alco­hol will be served, pro­vide plen­ty of food rich in car­bo­hy­drates and pro­tein to slow the absorp­tion of alco­hol into the blood­stream. You can also have a cash bar, lim­it the num­ber of drink tick­ets, or close the bar ear­ly to deter over-con­sump­tion. Also have a good selec­tion of non­al­co­holic bev­er­ages or a tasty sig­na­ture “mock­tail” avail­able. Make sure water glass­es are refilled frequently.
    • Get bar­tenders on board. If you have under­age work­ers or invite chil­dren of employ­ees, be sure that servers ask for ID from any­one who looks under age 30. Ask servers to cut off any­one who appears to be intoxicated.
    • Make sure employ­ees get home safe­ly. Offer incen­tives to employ­ees who vol­un­teer to be des­ig­nat­ed dri­vers, offer to pay for ride shares or taxis, or arrange group trans­porta­tion or accom­mo­da­tions. Plan­ning for safe trans­porta­tion can poten­tial­ly min­i­mize your lia­bil­i­ty if an employ­ee caus­es an acci­dent while dri­ving under the influence.
    • Do not serve alco­hol if your par­ty is at the office and your poli­cies do not per­mit drink­ing on com­pa­ny premis­es or dur­ing work hours. Deter employ­ees from an infor­mal after-par­ty at a bar or restau­rant where the alco­hol could flow.

    Risk: Workers’ Compensation Claims

    • Keep the par­ty vol­un­tary and social. Typ­i­cal­ly, work­ers’ com­pen­sa­tion does not apply if the injury is “incurred in the pur­suit of an activ­i­ty, the major pur­pose of which is social or recre­ation­al.” If the car­ri­er deter­mines that the com­pa­ny par­ty was tru­ly vol­un­tary and not relat­ed to work, you may not be liable for injuries sus­tained at the party.
    • Go off­site. Host­ing your hol­i­day par­ty at an off­site loca­tion is a smart idea. Your employ­ees will be thank­ful for the change in set­ting, and this could reduce insur­ance lia­bil­i­ties for your com­pa­ny, espe­cial­ly when it comes to third-par­ty alco­hol and injury policies.
    • Check with your bro­ker before the par­ty. Review your insur­ance poli­cies and par­ty plans to make sure you do every­thing you can to avoid risk and know how to han­dle any inci­dents that result from the party.

    Risk: Perceptions of Unfairness

    • Deter­mine how to han­dle pay issues in advance of the par­ty. You’re not required to pay employ­ees who vol­un­tar­i­ly attend a par­ty after hours. How­ev­er, nonex­empt employ­ees need to be com­pen­sat­ed if they are work­ing the par­ty or if atten­dance is manda­to­ry. If the par­ty is held dur­ing reg­u­lar work hours, then all employ­ees must be paid for attend­ing the party.
    • Decide in advance whether and how to include remote employ­ees, inde­pen­dent con­trac­tors, tem­po­rary employ­ees, or agency work­ers. Be con­sis­tent in send­ing invi­ta­tions, and if a cat­e­go­ry of work­ers will not be invit­ed to the par­ty, con­sid­er oth­er ways to reward them for their hard work through­out the year, such as gifts.
    • Do not penal­ize employ­ees who choose not to attend. The mes­sage may be mis­in­ter­pret­ed and could cre­ate employ­ee rela­tions con­cerns. Be con­sid­er­ate of those who do not attend the event due to reli­gious beliefs, sobri­ety, men­tal health issues, fam­i­ly oblig­a­tions, child care con­flicts, or any oth­er rea­sons. Avoid reli­gious sym­bols or themes as they could offend indi­vid­u­als of dif­fer­ent faiths.

    By Rachel Sobel
    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on thinkhr.com

  • Holiday Travel Safety Tips

    December 9, 2019

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    Hav­ing just wrapped up Thanks­giv­ing, we are now only 2 ½ weeks out from Christ­mas! While we start plan­ning the per­fect gifts for every­one spe­cial in our lives, we are also think­ing of trav­el­ing to vis­it fam­i­ly and friends. Whether you go by car, bus, or plane, trav­el­ing dur­ing the hol­i­days needs to be safe. Fol­low these tips to help you get to your hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion safe­ly this season.

     

    Car Trav­el Safety

    • Make sure you get plen­ty of sleep the night before you trav­el. Being sleep deprived results in slow­er reac­tion times and dis­tract­ed driving.
    • Buck­le every­one up in your car—not just those in child-safe­ty seats. If you are rid­ing, you need to be buck­led in.
    • Put your phone away. That text or that phone con­ver­sa­tion can wait. If you need to com­mu­ni­cate while trav­el­ing, have your pas­sen­ger han­dle your phone.
    • Make a road­side emer­gency kit. Include essen­tials like jumper cables, phone charg­ers, flash­lights, bat­ter­ies, water, snacks, and blan­kets. Make sure your spare tire is undam­aged and you have a jack and tire iron in your vehi­cle should you need to change a tire.

     

    Apps to Help with Hol­i­day Travel

    • Hotel Tonight—If you find your­self get­ting tired as you dri­ve, con­sid­er stop­ping and get­ting some sleep. Hotel Tonight helps you find last minute hotel open­ings near you.
    • Gas­Bud­dy—Don’t spend your time dri­ving around in unfa­mil­iar areas to find the cheap­est gas prices. Use Gas­Bud­dy to find the cheap­est gas in your imme­di­ate vicinity.
    • Waze—Most every­one knows about Waze by now. This com­mu­ni­ty-dri­ven nav­i­ga­tion tool allows you to see where slow­downs are hap­pen­ing near you as well as road debris, acci­dents, and alter­nate routes.
    • iEx­it—Try­ing to remem­ber all the food places list­ed on the high­way exit signs is hard! iEx­it gives you a list of what’s near each high­way exit from food to hotels to gas stations.
    • SitOrSquat—One of the top com­plaints of hol­i­day car trav­el is find­ing clean bath­rooms when you need them. This app rates pub­lic bath­rooms by their clean­li­ness. Brilliant!

     

    Air Trav­el Safety

    • This goes with­out say­ing, but lis­ten to your flight atten­dants. They give valu­able infor­ma­tion to pas­sen­gers in case of an emer­gency. Pay atten­tion to the pre-flight instruc­tions includ­ing where to locate emer­gency exits.
    • Get up and walk around a lit­tle dur­ing long flights. This keeps the blood mov­ing in your legs that are prob­a­bly cramped into the tiny space between seats.
    • Skip the next drink of alco­hol. You want to be clear-head­ed in case an emer­gency hap­pens. Wait and have that glass of wine once you land and are safe­ly at your destination.
    • Put the oxy­gen mask on your­self first. If there hap­pens to be an emer­gency mid-flight, you need to first place the mask on your face and then help oth­ers around you. This ensures that you are able to clear­ly hear instruc­tions and are able to help some­one near­by who may not be able to get the mask on themselves.

     

    Fol­low­ing these sim­ple trav­el tips will help get you to your des­ti­na­tion safe­ly this hol­i­day sea­son. Remem­ber, sur­round­ing your­self with the ones you love and val­ue is the goal. Get to those loved ones safe­ly and your hol­i­day will be memorable!

  • Men’s Health Awareness is Lifelong

    November 25, 2019

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    Novem­ber is Men’s Health Aware­ness Month and the Movem­ber Foun­da­tion uses the month to bring aware­ness to and sup­port of those tack­ling prostate can­cer, tes­tic­u­lar can­cer, men­tal health, and sui­cide. June is Men’s Health Month; the pur­pose is to height­en the aware­ness of pre­ventable health prob­lems and encour­age ear­ly detec­tion and treat­ment of dis­ease among men and boys. The fol­low­ing are rec­om­men­da­tions that are sup­port­ed by evi­dence from schol­ar­ly jour­nals and pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions and asso­ci­a­tions to improve men’s health.

    Through­out the world, women live longer than men, although this gap varies tremen­dous­ly in less devel­oped coun­tries. Accord­ing to the CIA World Fact­book, in the Unit­ed States, aver­age longevi­ty for women is 82.2 years for women and 77.2 years for men, a five-year gap.  Many men have the men­tal­i­ty of “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” so if they can­not see or feel an exter­nal stim­u­lus, they will think there is noth­ing ever wrong.  A major­i­ty of men are just not aware of what they can do to improve their health and live health­i­er and hap­pi­er lives.

    At a very least, get vac­ci­nat­ed. Every­one needs immu­niza­tions to stay healthy, no mat­ter their age. Even if you were vac­ci­nat­ed as a child, you may need updates because immu­ni­ty can fade with time. Vac­cine rec­om­men­da­tions are based on a range of fac­tors, includ­ing age, over­all health, and your med­ical his­to­ry. Ask your health care provider or a phar­ma­cist about the rec­om­mend­ed vaccinations.

    Rec­om­men­da­tions for men’s health begin­ning at age 20 and beyond

    • Get an annu­al phys­i­cal exam by your pri­ma­ry care provider, includ­ing blood pres­sure, and height/weight checks.
    • Annu­al­ly screen for tes­tic­u­lar can­cer that includes month­ly self-exams.
    • Have cho­les­terol test­ing every five years.
    • Screen for dia­betes, thy­roid dis­ease, liv­er prob­lems, and anemia.
    • Depend­ing on risk fac­tors, screen for skin can­cer, sex­u­al­ly trans­mit­ted dis­eases and HIV infec­tion, and alco­hol and drug misuse.
    • At 30, screen for coro­nary heart dis­ease, espe­cial­ly with a strong fam­i­ly his­to­ry of the dis­ease and/or risk factors.
    • At 40, screen for thy­roid dis­ease, liv­er prob­lems, ane­mia, and prostate cancer.
    • At 50, screen for cho­les­terol every five years; annu­al­ly screen for Type II dia­betes; lipid dis­or­ders; and skin, colon, and lung can­cer. Obtain a shin­gles vaccine.
    • At 60, screen for depres­sion, osteo­poro­sis, demen­tia, Alzheimer’s dis­ease, and abdom­i­nal aor­tic aneurysm. Have a carotid artery ultrasound.
    • At 70, depend­ing on pre­vi­ous find­ings, some screen­ings may be done every six months.

    Rec­om­men­da­tions for men’s health regard­less of age

    • Men have more dif­fi­cul­ty han­dling stress than women, par­tial­ly because women have bet­ter social net­works and more friends with whom then can con­fide. Thus, men should seek out more friends, whether they are male or female.
    • Laugh­ter increas­es endor­phins, there­by increas­ing longevi­ty. Get a sense of humor and engage with oth­ers with whom you can laugh.
    • Avoid tobac­co prod­ucts and non-pre­scrip­tive drugs.
    • Avoid exces­sive sun exposure.
    • Research the reli­a­bil­i­ty of vit­a­mins or herbs before start­ing them. Make sure it is rec­om­mend­ed by pro­fes­sion­als, not just the man­u­fac­tur­er of the item.
    • Don’t become a worka­holic; it increas­es stress and can lead to health con­cerns such as hyper­ten­sion and weight gain. Get a hob­by that helps you decrease stress, exer­cise in the man­ner you pre­fer, and seek help with diet to main­tain a desir­able weight.
    • Men, espe­cial­ly young men, are known for engag­ing in risky behav­iors. Wear seat­belts, hel­mets when rid­ing bicy­cles or motor­cy­cles, don’t text or talk on the tele­phone when dri­ving, and avoid friends who encour­age illic­it drug use and high alco­hol consumption.
    • If sex­u­al­ly active, get test­ed reg­u­lar­ly for sex­u­al­ly trans­mit­ted infec­tions. You might think you are safe if you engage in sex­u­al activ­i­ty with only one per­son, but that per­son might be hav­ing sex­u­al rela­tions with oth­ers, a con­cept called ser­i­al monogamy.
    • The Guttmach­er Insti­tute reports that some boys start hav­ing sex at the age of 10 and that num­ber increas­es each year until by the age of 20, 75 per­cent of men and boys engage sex­u­al activ­i­ty by the age of 20. There­fore, start safe-sex edu­ca­tion at home and in school begin­ning at age of 10.

    Dis­claimer: The Men’s Health Aware­ness views expressed here are sole­ly those of the author(s) and do not nec­es­sar­i­ly rep­re­sent or reflect the views of Excel­sior Col­lege, its trustees, offi­cers, or employees.

    By Lar­ry Pur­nell, PhD, RN, FAAN

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on Excelsior.edu

  • Pet Insurance

    November 20, 2019

    Tags: , , ,

    We’ve all heard the say­ing “A dog is a man’s best friend” and we know it’s true! Pets give us uncon­di­tion­al love, com­pan­ion­ship, and joy. But, are we will­ing to pay the price when a hefty vet bill comes along? Pet insur­ance may help you stom­ach that unex­pect­ed emer­gency room charge due to Fluffy’s uncan­ny abil­i­ty to eat any­thing with­in reach—even if it’s rotten!

    In 2017, over $16.62B were spent on vet­eri­nar­i­an bills in the Unit­ed States. In that same year, Amer­i­cans also spent over $1B on pet insur­ance. This begs the ques­tion “is pet insur­ance worth buy­ing?” While this mar­ket con­tin­ues to grow, 99% of pet own­ers report NOT hav­ing pet insur­ance. The num­ber one rea­son? Cost. Pre­mi­ums are at their low­est when you own a pup­py or kit­ten and increase as the pet gets old­er. This results in the insured only keep­ing pet insur­ance for an aver­age of 3 years. The cost of insur­ance can increase 5‑fold between the pup­py and adult years.

    Pet insur­ance is one of the fastest grow­ing mar­kets in the US. This insur­ance can be pur­chased with increased lev­els of cov­er­age. The most basic lev­el may cov­er treat­ments for some com­mon ill­ness­es or acci­den­tal injury. The mid-range cov­er­age could cov­er pre­ven­ta­tive care as well as immu­niza­tions. An exam­ple of pre­mi­um cov­er­age is sur­gi­cal cost and lia­bil­i­ty for if the pet injured some­one. Prices for these lev­els range from $15/ month to $45/month.

    Pet insur­ance is now becom­ing a more com­mon­place employ­ee ben­e­fitContingencies.org says that 6500 employ­ers in the US and Cana­da offer pet insur­ance to its employ­ees. A report by SHRM says that of those offered pet insur­ance as an employ­ee perk, only 6% of pet own­ers uti­lized that ben­e­fit in 2012. By 2017, that num­ber rose to 9%. Employ­ees say this is an impor­tant ben­e­fit because, for many, pets are con­sid­ered part of a fam­i­ly and if you insure a human mem­ber of a fam­i­ly, why wouldn’t you also insure your pet?

    If your com­pa­ny does not offer pet insur­ance, here are some tips on what you should look for when con­sid­er­ing pur­chas­ing pet insurance:

    1. How much do my pre­mi­ums increase as my pet ages?
    2. What is cov­ered and not cov­ered? Does the plan include pre-exist­ing conditions?
    3. Can you pur­chase just acci­dent cov­er­age for if your pet injures someone?

    With our pets being a vital part of our fam­i­ly, hav­ing pet insur­ance can give you peace of mind that you don’t have to shoul­der the entire cost of an injury or ill­ness of a pet. Not hav­ing to make deci­sions for their care based on mon­ey is a bless­ing to their fam­i­lies. For over 6,000 com­pa­nies and their 80,000 employ­ees this perk is worth every penny.

  • What Diversity Looks Like in the Workplace

    November 13, 2019

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    Diver­si­ty isn’t just a moral issue.  There is a busi­ness case that can be made for pro­mot­ing diver­si­ty and inclu­sion in the work­place.  From recruit­ment to men­tor­ing, human resources has a main role in the strategy.

    Defining Diversity

    What is diver­si­ty?  That’s a two pronged answer.  There is inher­ent diver­si­ty.  It involves traits a per­son is born with… gen­der, eth­nic­i­ty, and sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion for instance.  Then there is acquired diver­si­ty.  These are traits gained from expe­ri­ence.  For instance, an employ­ee who has worked abroad will be more inclined to appre­ci­ate cul­tur­al difference.

    The Har­vard Busi­ness Review con­duct­ed a study focused on two-dimen­sion­al diver­si­ty.  A per­son with 2‑D diver­si­ty is said to have least three inher­ent and three acquired diver­si­ty traits.  In the study, com­pa­nies with 2‑D diver­si­ty out-inno­vat­ed and out-per­formed those with­out it.  Those com­pa­nies were 45% more like­ly to report growth over the pre­vi­ous year and 70% more like­ly to report cap­tur­ing a new market.

    Diversity in Practice

    Tran­sUnion con­tin­ues to focus on diver­si­ty and inclu­sion ini­tia­tives and has even made key changes in lead­er­ship.  Instead of posi­tions being held by just men, the com­pa­ny has added some women to the ranks.  But it isn’t some­thing that hap­pened overnight and the work con­tin­ues into 2019.  Debra Wasser­man is the Senior Direc­tor of Com­pen­sa­tion and Ben­e­fits at Tran­sUnion.  She said Tran­sUnion used a top-down approach.

    “We start­ed with the senior-most lead­ers and fol­lowed it down through­out the orga­ni­za­tion,” Wasser­man said.  “I think to some degree, there need­ed to be some aware­ness.  So, we had to get this front and cen­ter in front of everyone.”

    From there, Wasser­man says the com­pa­ny has start­ed look­ing at pay equi­ty.  She said some states already require this, but they’ve start­ed look­ing at it as a glob­al issue as well.

    “We don’t have all the answers.  We’re just start­ing to ask ques­tions at this point, but we’re try­ing to make a move toward a more diverse sit­u­a­tion,” Wasser­man said.

    Impacting Diversity

    Diver­si­ty and inclu­sion con­tin­ues to be one of the dom­i­nant top­ics for HR pro­fes­sion­als.  There are some way’s HR can real­ly impact change for their respec­tive companies.

    In most com­pa­nies it can be dif­fi­cult to get a clear pic­ture of what diver­si­ty is like for that par­tic­u­lar organization.

    To com­bat this, HR teams should mon­i­tor diver­si­ty.  This can be done through audits.  This should be done, not only for cur­rent employ­ees, but in recruit­ment prac­tices as well.  This will allow for progress to be mea­sured effectively.

    When it comes to diver­si­ty, HR should focus on build­ing a diverse work­force through recruit­ment or devel­op­ment. There are a myr­i­ad of ways of doing this.  Some can be through inter­nal or exter­nal partnerships.

    Like recruit­ment, men­tor­ing can be inter­nal or exter­nal. For instance, some HR pro­fes­sion­als work with schools or local youth groups. This helps with fos­ter­ing tal­ent ear­ly and mak­ing sure more diverse indi­vid­u­als are aware of the opportunities.

    HR teams should under­stand it is vital to ensure the diver­si­ty of your sup­ply chain.  Fur­ther­more, it should reflect your con­sumer base, but also that there is a busi­ness case for sup­ply chain diversity.

    In Summation

    It is clear HR has a role in diver­si­ty.  Com­pa­nies should start, if they’re not already, think­ing about mak­ing these changes to recruit­ment, but they will have to imple­ment them as soon as possible.

    That said, these steps can help pro­pel the com­pa­ny onto a pos­i­tive tra­jec­to­ry.  Even with pos­i­tive changes in recruit­ment, oth­er areas such as men­tor­ing, sup­pli­er chain diver­si­ty and pro­gres­sion and lead­er­ship still need to be focused on to ensure com­pa­nies are aid­ing eth­nic minor­i­ty pro­gres­sion with­in their organizations.

    By Mason Stevenson

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on hrexchangenetwork.com

  • New HSA Limits

    November 8, 2019

    Tags: ,

    For 2020 the min­i­mum annu­al deductible is $1,400 for an indi­vid­ual and $2,800 with depen­dents. The max­i­mum deductible and out-of-pock­et costs are $6,900 and $13,800, respec­tive­ly. The max­i­mum con­tri­bu­tions are $3,550 for an indi­vid­ual and $7,100 with depen­dents. Those aged 55 or above are still allowed to con­tribute an addi­tion­al $1,000 per year.

  • Diabetes Education and Prevention

    November 6, 2019

    Tags: , , , ,

    Dia­betes is a long-last­ing health con­di­tion that affects how your body con­verts food to ener­gy. Dia­betes patients are unable to make enough of the hor­mone called insulin or can­not use the insulin that is made in their body effi­cient­ly.  When this hap­pens, your body can respond in some seri­ous ways that include liv­er dam­age, heart dis­ease, vision loss, and kid­ney disease.

    There are two types of dia­betes. Type 1 dia­betes is an autoim­mune dis­ease where the body just stops mak­ing insulin. These patients are usu­al­ly diag­nosed as chil­dren, teens, or ear­ly adults. Type 2 dia­betes is a result of your body not using the insulin pro­duced in an effi­cient man­ner. About 90% of all dia­bet­ic patients are type 2 cas­es. But, through edu­ca­tion and pre­ven­tion, the effects of dia­betes on a person’s body can be lessened.

    How is food con­vert­ed to energy?

    When you eat food, most of it is con­vert­ed to sug­ar (glu­cose) and released into your blood­stream to pro­vide you with the ener­gy you need to do dai­ly tasks. When your blood sug­ar lev­els increase, your pan­creas is then acti­vat­ed to release insulin into your body’s cells and use it for ener­gy. Insulin not only helps con­vert glu­cose to ener­gy, but it also helps our body store glu­cose for future ener­gy use.

    Dia­betes = Bro­ken Process

    In some peo­ple, the con­ver­sion process is inter­rupt­ed and the mes­sage to the pan­creas to release insulin into the cells to use for ener­gy is done inef­fec­tive­ly. These patients have trou­ble bal­anc­ing the cor­rect amount of insulin in their cells and so there­fore have a hard­er time main­tain­ing ener­gy lev­els. Dia­bet­ic patients try to get rid of extra sug­ar (blood sug­ar lev­el of 180 +) through the kid­neys and there­fore have the need to uri­nate more often. When releas­ing large amounts of sug­ar through urine, it means that there is less avail­able to con­vert to ener­gy and leads to lethar­gy, loss of appetite, and excess burn­ing of body fat.

    Edu­ca­tion & Pre­ven­tion is Key

    For peo­ple with either type 1 or type 2 dia­betes, under­stand­ing how your body process­es sug­ar and main­tains healthy blood sug­ar lev­els is para­mount. Those with type 1 dia­betes require dai­ly insulin shots to keep blood sug­ar lev­els even. These patients are unable to reverse this autoim­mune dis­ease and sole­ly rely on insulin shots to lev­el out glu­cose lev­els. Those with type 2 dia­betes can con­trol the pro­gres­sion of this dis­ease by mak­ing healthy diet choic­es and exer­cis­ing reg­u­lar­ly. In some cas­es, type 2 dia­bet­ics also have to include insulin shots or dia­betes pills.

    Novem­ber is Nation­al Dia­betes Month and is a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to adopt healthy lifestyle habits. Main­tain­ing blood sug­ar lev­els through diet and exer­cise as well as becom­ing aware of the effects of the eat­ing choic­es you make is key to under­stand­ing this dis­ease. For more infor­ma­tion on dia­betes and how to make good choic­es, vis­it the Amer­i­can Dia­betes Asso­ci­a­tion website.

  • The big get bigger…will it provide bigger opportunities for savings on health care?

    November 6, 2019

    Tags: ,

    Humana already has a mail-order phar­ma­cy, with over 230 pri­ma­ry care clin­ics and a large home health care provider.  These ser­vices are part of Humana’s shift from “an insur­ance com­pa­ny with ele­ments of health­care to a health­care com­pa­ny with ele­ments of insur­ance” accord­ing to their chief strat­e­gy offi­cer, as they build more pri­ma­ry care clin­ics while stitch­ing togeth­er oth­er pri­ma­ry care inno­va­tors.  Now Humana is launch­ing a new dig­i­tal health and ana­lyt­ics unit, Stu­dio H, which will focus on tech­nol­o­gy designed to man­age provider work­flow, expand­ing tele­health into the home health and pri­ma­ry care set­tings and bring­ing voice recog­ni­tion tools to mem­bers in their homes.  One of those ser­vices has already been built out, a vir­tu­al pri­ma­ry care ser­vice launched with Doc­tor on Demand (now called On Hand).

  • 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Life Insurance

    October 30, 2019

    Tags:

    Life insur­ance blah blah blah. Is that what you hear when some­one men­tions it as part of your new job’s employ­ee ben­e­fits round-up or when you see some­thing about it on TV or social media? Not to wor­ry: we’ve got the low-down on what you need to know. And it’s real­ly not as over­whelm­ing (or under­whelm­ing) as you might think.

    1. It’s part of a sound finan­cial plan. You know about sav­ings, you know about retire­ment. You might know a bit about invest­ments and long-term finan­cial plan­ning for your health and hap­pi­ness. And life insur­ance helps with plan­ning for your loved ones’ long-term health and hap­pi­ness, espe­cial­ly those who depend on your income, in case some­thing were to hap­pen to you.

    2. There are dif­fer­ent kinds of life insur­ance. In addi­tion to employ­ment-based life insur­ance (which typ­i­cal­ly only lasts as long as your employ­ment at your job), there’s term and per­ma­nent life insurance.

    Term life insur­ance: You typ­i­cal­ly pay low­er pre­mi­ums for term life insur­ance, but your cov­er­age is just for a spec­i­fied amount of time, say 20 years, for exam­ple. At the end of the term, your insur­ance cov­er­age ends.

    Per­ma­nent life insur­ance: With per­ma­nent life insur­ance (whole, uni­ver­sal, vari­able) you typ­i­cal­ly pay high­er pre­mi­ums in the short term, but then these poli­cies gen­er­al­ly allow you to accu­mu­late cash val­ue over time. Your cov­er­age is designed to last as long as you con­tin­ue to pay premiums.

    3. Life insur­ance is sur­pris­ing­ly afford­able for most peo­ple. Sure, there are forms of life insur­ance that get prici­er the more fea­tures you add on to it, and the price goes up if you’re a smok­er or deal­ing with health prob­lems. But most peo­ple think life insur­ance costs about three times as much as it real­ly does, accord­ing to the Insur­ance Barom­e­ter Study by Life Hap­pens and LIMRA. Just as a gen­er­al guide, a healthy non­smok­ing 30-year-old man can get a $250,000 20-year lev­el term pol­i­cy for about $16 a month.

    4. Key life events are often the best time to get on board. Get­ting mar­ried? Hav­ing kids? Chang­ing jobs? Bought a house? Sig­nif­i­cant life events are often the time you become most aware of the need for life insurance—and on that note…

    5. You can change your life insur­ance. Per­haps you have a life insur­ance pol­i­cy that your par­ents got for you when you were a baby. Per­haps you have a term pol­i­cy from when you bought your house but now you have a big­ger fam­i­ly and you’re con­cerned about get­ting them all through col­lege. Or per­haps you want to bump up your cov­er­age because your over­all cost of liv­ing has changed. And on *that* note …

    6. You may well need more cov­er­age than you think. Some­times peo­ple think life insur­ance is to pay off their own debts and funer­al expens­es. But a key advan­tage of hav­ing life insur­ance is to ensure that the peo­ple who depend on you will be OK with their ongo­ing and future finan­cial needs if some­thing hap­pens to you. Need help fig­ur­ing this out how much? Go to this online cal­cu­la­tor: www.lifehappens.org/howmuch.

    7. Life insur­ance pays out quick­ly. Because life insur­ance doesn’t get tan­gled up in estate claims, it gen­er­al­ly pays out quick­ly, some­times in days or weeks, usu­al­ly inside of a month.

    8. Life insur­ance pro­ceeds are gen­er­al­ly tax-free. Com­pare this to, say, crowd­fund­ing options like “GoFundMe” that have become so pop­u­lar yet cre­ate tax con­se­quences for the peo­ple they’re meant to help (to say noth­ing of fees and the lack of guar­an­teed ben­e­fit). It’s also help­ful when you’re try­ing to cre­ate an inher­i­tance for a beneficiary.

    9. Life insur­ance pro­tects your fam­i­ly, but only if you let it. Keep your pre­mi­ums paid up and your ben­e­fi­cia­ries up to date, and the door with your agent open so that your loved ones know who to call if they need to. Keep your paper­work with your oth­er vital documents.

    10. Life insur­ance can be more than just life insur­ance. Using “rid­ers,” or an adden­dum to a life insur­ance con­tract, or even a spe­cif­ic kind of pol­i­cy, life insur­ance ben­e­fits can become “liv­ing ben­e­fits,” mon­ey you can access before you die, or use to pay for long-term care, as two examples.

    If you still need help get­ting a han­dle on all this, talk to an agent. They can help you under­stand the ins and outs and the best pol­i­cy for your bud­get and needs. Because of course—the most impor­tant thing to know about life insur­ance is that it’s there to help the peo­ple you love the most.

    By Helen Mosher

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on lifehappens.org

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