Yearly Archives: 2022

  • Benefits Education 101 for Employees

    June 29, 2022

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    Com­pa­nies spend a large amount of time and mon­ey cre­at­ing valu­able ben­e­fits plans for employ­ees.  But after all that work, they often get low par­tic­i­pa­tion.  Good ben­e­fit choic­es require an effort from employ­ers to ensure that employ­ees have help in under­stand­ing their ben­e­fits options.  To make things even more com­plex, employ­ers are hav­ing to con­sid­er options for a span of 4 gen­er­a­tions in the work­place which can look very dif­fer­ent.  Pro­vid­ing ben­e­fits for a multi­gen­er­a­tional work­place can be chal­leng­ing but it is impor­tant for employ­ers to sim­pli­fy the process by deliv­er­ing edu­ca­tion through the right chan­nels while avoid­ing a one-size-fits-all approach.

    Under­stand­ing your audi­ence and how to effec­tive­ly com­mu­ni­cate with them is the first step in cre­at­ing your ben­e­fits mes­sag­ing. For exam­ple, what are the demo­graph­ics of your work­place? Do you need to pro­vide mul­ti­ple mes­sages across var­i­ous chan­nels? Does your work­place speak Eng­lish, or will you need bilin­gual messaging?

    A recent sur­vey indi­cates that 83% of employ­ers believe that com­mu­ni­ca­tion, employ­ee edu­ca­tion and engage­ment are key for employ­ee participation.

    Here are 5 tips on edu­cat­ing your employ­ees about their ben­e­fits to encour­age ben­e­fits participation:

    1. Break Down Health Insur­ance Options
    • Dis­trib­ute a sim­ple guide that explains the key things employ­ees should know about their health insur­ance and basic ter­mi­nol­o­gy
    • Explain in sim­ple terms about provider net­work, cov­ered pre­scrip­tions, month­ly pre­mi­ums, deductibles, and addi­tion­al plan ben­e­fits, if applicable
    • Have an effi­cient way for employ­ees to man­age ben­e­fits and ask questions
    1. Auto­mate the Process
    1. Make Plans Customizable
    • Pro­vide plen­ty of ben­e­fits options includ­ing med­ical, den­tal and vision from lead­ing carriers
    • Offer a lifestyle ben­e­fits pro­gram that allows employ­ees to per­son­al­ize their plan accord­ing to their needs
    • Con­sid­er offer­ing perks like com­muter ben­e­fits or health club mem­ber­ships to reduce finan­cial bur­dens and encour­age a healthy lifestyle
    1. Pro­vide Mul­ti­ple Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Strategies
    • Offer edu­ca­tion­al tools and chan­nels pre­ferred by employ­ees so they can stay informed year-round to make bet­ter pur­chas­ing decisions
    • Uti­lize effec­tive ben­e­fits edu­ca­tion tools that include in-per­son and vir­tu­al meet­ings, dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tion or print media
    • You can uti­lize a short video to explain key con­cepts; use graphs and images or cre­ate short quizzes for employ­ees to ensure they have read and under­stand the material
    1. Make it Easy to Sign-Up
    • Invest in updat­ed HR and Ben­e­fits tech­nol­o­gy that includes easy mes­sage capa­bil­i­ties such as email, text mes­sage alerts, video sup­port, and live chat integration
    • Pro­vide a Ben­e­fits mobile app
    • Offer a ben­e­fits web­site which hous­es ben­e­fit infor­ma­tion, HR infor­ma­tion, and enroll­ment mate­r­i­al such as “Ben­e­fit­sEasy

    Although you may use one or more of the tips above, it is vital to keep the infor­ma­tion flow­ing through­out the year. A fun way to do this is to pose a month­ly triv­ia ques­tion to your staff relat­ed to the ben­e­fits and well­ness pro­grams you offer and award a prize to the per­son who sub­mits the cor­rect answer. High­light­ing dif­fer­ent fea­tures of your ben­e­fits or well­ness pro­grams each month will keep your employ­ees engaged and informed!

     

  • How to Build a Learning Culture

    June 20, 2022

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    Most HR lead­ers agree that build­ing a strong learn­ing cul­ture is the foun­da­tion for achiev­ing pos­i­tive busi­ness out­comes and effec­tive­ly con­fronting the future of work. In addi­tion, a younger gen­er­a­tion of work­ers is demand­ing more of employ­ers, and they expect career devel­op­ment and con­tin­u­ous learn­ing to be the norm. As a result, learn­ing cul­ture influ­ences employ­ee engage­ment and expe­ri­ence, too.

    There­fore, no one is sur­prised that cre­at­ing a learn­ing cul­ture is a top pri­or­i­ty for CHROs and their teams. Recent­ly, learn­ing experts have shared their best advice on devel­op­ing such a cul­ture with HR Exchange Network:

    Get Leadership Buy-In

    At the HR Exchange Net­work Cor­po­rate Learn­ing Spring online event, Rashim Mogha, Skill­soft Gen­er­al Man­ag­er, Lead­er­ship & Busi­ness Port­fo­lio, talked about how to effec­tive­ly train peo­ple to be bet­ter lead­ers. One of the moti­va­tions for focus­ing on this kind of edu­ca­tion is to ensure lead­ers mod­el the kind of behav­ior that rever­ber­ates in the orga­ni­za­tion and encour­ages oth­ers to spend time on learning.

    In fact, at the Cor­po­rate Learn­ing Spring event, Mogha sug­gest­ed hav­ing lead­ers be the first among those using the organization’s learn­ing pro­grams. She pre­sent­ed the idea of launch­ing a new learn­ing pro­gram by offer­ing it to the lead­er­ship bench, for example.

    “Even­tu­al­ly, you have to scale it,” she added. “That’s how you build a cul­ture of con­tin­u­ous learn­ing, but you have to start small.”

    Make the Case

    Get­ting lead­er­ship to under­stand the ben­e­fits of edu­ca­tion is a great first step. HR lead­ers, how­ev­er, must also help them under­stand the impact of pro­vid­ing learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties. After all, any time learn­ing pro­fes­sion­als can demon­strate a link between tal­ent receiv­ing upskilling or reskilling and then going out and mak­ing more mon­ey for the com­pa­ny, edu­ca­tion is winning.

    “In order to pro­mote a healthy, busi­ness-focused cul­ture of life­long learn­ing, per­for­mance and inno­va­tion, an orga­ni­za­tion needs to trans­par­ent­ly and clear­ly under­stand, rec­og­nize and pro­mote the impor­tance of learn­ing and inno­va­tion in regard to busi­ness per­for­mance and suc­cess,” says Markus Bern­hardt, Chief Evan­ge­list at OBRIZUM and learn­ing expert, who is active on LinkedIn. “This link is key. Learn­ing and pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment needs to be viewed as busi­ness crit­i­cal, and learn­ing needs to move from being a ‘cost cen­ter’ to being a ‘valu­able busi­ness per­for­mance investment.’”

    Provide Learning Opportunities

    Get­ting lead­ers to under­stand the impor­tance of learn­ing and devel­op­ment is not enough. They also have to be will­ing to allo­cate resources to L&D. Sonia Malik, Glob­al Pro­gram Lead, Edu­ca­tion and Work­force Devel­op­ment at IBM, says that beyond mod­el­ing the growth mind­set and life­long learn­ing behav­iors, lead­ers must “pro­vide an infra­struc­ture and the abil­i­ty to become a life­long learner.”

    “You can’t say we want you to learn stuff and not pro­vide access to infra­struc­ture, con­tent, or time to learn,” she says.

    Focus on Curriculum

    Large com­pa­nies are cre­at­ing their own pro­grams that run like small uni­ver­si­ties. The Dis­ney Insti­tute and AT&T Uni­ver­si­ty come to mind. What is impor­tant is to deter­mine the organization’s skills gap and try to fill those holes. Being inten­tion­al and strate­gic helps ele­vate the cul­ture of learn­ing. It could also fac­tor into moti­vat­ing peo­ple because they may expe­ri­ence suc­cess of their own, too. In addi­tion, it could pre­vent them from becom­ing redundant.

    “Our com­pa­ny has had to rein­vent itself time and time again across 140-plus years of exis­tence,” says Robert Sto­janows­ki, Direc­tor of Learn­ing and Inno­va­tion Labs at AT&T. “Con­tin­u­ous learn­ing and reskilling is embed­ded in the cul­ture because it has to be. Mov­ing from tra­di­tion­al phone ser­vice to the inter­net to mobil­i­ty ser­vices, cyber­se­cu­ri­ty, or con­sult­ing requires a vast set of skills.”

    Convince the Employees

    Cer­tain­ly, employ­ees are show­ing an inter­est in career devel­op­ment and learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties more than ever before. How­ev­er, some might not feel as moti­vat­ed as oth­ers. Or they may feel chal­lenged by hav­ing to divide their time between their work tasks and learning.

    As a result, per­son­al­ized edu­ca­tion is becom­ing more pop­u­lar. Giv­ing peo­ple the chance to grow in a way that sup­ports their own per­son­al goals as well as those of the orga­ni­za­tion can improve job sat­is­fac­tion and performance.

    “Tying that learn­ing curve with that earn­ing curve and per­son­al­iz­ing the learn­ing jour­ney for indi­vid­u­als are keys to estab­lish­ing that learn­ing cul­ture,” says Malik.

    Learning while Working

    Among cor­po­rate edu­ca­tors, a phi­los­o­phy about learn­ing while work­ing is emerg­ing. Basi­cal­ly, the sug­ges­tion is to build learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties into people’s day-to-day jobs. Some of this learn­ing hap­pens organ­i­cal­ly. After all, employ­ees might need to learn a par­tic­u­lar pro­gram to com­plete assign­ments or tasks. There may be oppor­tu­ni­ties to shad­ow a men­tor or leader. In oth­er cas­es, learn­ing lead­ers might have to allow for the allot­ment of time nec­es­sary to com­plete a les­son, for exam­ple, and imme­di­ate­ly try to apply it on the job.

    Ulti­mate­ly, life­long learn­ing is going to sep­a­rate the win­ners from the losers in the work­force and among orga­ni­za­tions. The future of work has arrived in many ways, and the skills gap is catch­ing up to every­one. There­fore, devel­op­ing a learn­ing cul­ture is not just a nice thing to do for employ­ees. It’s a busi­ness necessity.

    By Francesca Di Meglio

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on HR Exchange Network

  • 5 Tips to Save Money on Health Care: Part 2

    June 13, 2022

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    Smart spend­ing can keep your health care from cost­ing an arm and a leg.  With costs ris­ing on every­thing from gas to food, every pen­ny counts. It pays to shop smart – that is why it helps to learn how to take steps to lim­it your out-of-pock­et health care costs.

    1. Save Mon­ey on Prescriptions
    • Go gener­ic – Always ask your doc­tor or phar­ma­cist if you can switch to gener­ic med­i­cines. They have the same active ingre­di­ents but cost less than brand name drugs.
    • Split pills – ask your doc­tor or phar­ma­cist if your pre­scrip­tion comes in a high­er dose that is safe to split. You may be able to get a 2‑month sup­ply of med­i­cine in dou­ble the dose that you need for the price of a 1‑month sup­ply, cut­ting your pre­scrip­tion cost in half.
    • Use a pre­ferred phar­ma­cy – A pre­ferred phar­ma­cy has pre-nego­ti­at­ed low­er prices on pre­scrip­tions for a par­tic­u­lar insur­ance plan. You can also sign up for home deliv­ery on pre­scrip­tions that you take on a reg­u­lar basis.
    1. Tune in to Telehealth

    With telemed­i­cine, you don’t have to dri­ve to the doctor’s office or sit in a wait­ing room when you’re sick.  Vir­tu­al vis­its can be eas­i­er to fit into your busy sched­ule and you may not even have to arrange for child­care.  Doc­tors also can use tele­health appoint­ments to lessen expo­sure to oth­er people’s germs.

    1. Brush Up on HSA & FSA Eli­gi­ble Expenses

    You can with­draw HSA and FSA mon­ey tax-free to pay for deductibles and co-pay­ments or coin­sur­ance, as well as for a vari­ety of oth­er expens­es includ­ing vision expens­es and ortho­don­tia.  You can also use it for every­thing from sun­screen and con­tact solu­tion to baby mon­i­tors and over-the-counter med­i­cine like Ibupro­fen or cold medicine.

    1. Save for Retire­ment with Your HSA

    HSA funds don’t expire which makes an HSA a great way to put away mon­ey for med­ical expens­es in retire­ment.  An HSA offers a hat trick of tax advantages:

    • Con­tri­bu­tions to your account are made pre-tax, low­er­ing your tax­able income today
    • Invest­ments grow tax-free while they are kept in the account
    • With­drawals are free of income tax, as long as you use the mon­ey for qual­i­fied med­ical expenses.

    Age 65 is when you can use HSA mon­ey to pay for non-med­ical expens­es — includ­ing day-to-day costs or for home ren­o­va­tions.  Those pay­outs aren’t tax-free but are taxed at the same rate as dis­tri­b­u­tions from a tra­di­tion­al IRA.  You’ll sim­ply owe income tax­es on what­ev­er you withdraw.

    1. Review Bills and Insur­ance Expla­na­tions of Benefits

    Billing mis­takes can hap­pen.  In fact, did you know that up to 80% of med­ical bills con­tain at least one error?  Billing mis­takes hap­pen eas­i­ly when deal­ing with large num­bers of patients, ever-chang­ing med­ical codes, and pay­ments crossed in the mail and health insur­ance companies.

    The por­tion of your bud­get devot­ed to med­ical care is always on the rise so it’s nev­er a bad idea to find mon­e­tary short­cuts where you can.   Knowl­edge is POWER and when you spend time find­ing ways to save mon­ey on health care, you are empow­er­ing your­self!  Exer­cis­ing due dili­gence to plan for you and your family’s med­ical needs will save you mon­ey and give you con­fi­dence in your deci­sions for care.

  • 4 Ways Inflation and Higher Costs Impact HR

    June 6, 2022

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    U.S. Pres­i­dent Joe Biden recent­ly laid out his plans to com­bat infla­tion and the high cost of liv­ing. The aver­age fam­i­ly is spend­ing an addi­tion­al $327 per month com­pared to pre-pan­dem­ic costs, accord­ing to a CNN broad­cast May 10. At the time, the nation­al aver­age price of gas was $4.37. While the Fed­er­al Reserve can do more to influ­ence infla­tion than the Pres­i­dent, his announce­ment is wel­come because peo­ple are suf­fer­ing and some econ­o­mists believe a reces­sion is looming.

    Under nor­mal cir­cum­stances, the econ­o­my can cause bur­dens for HR lead­ers. In this case, busi­ness­es are still con­fronting uncer­tain­ty that comes from an ongo­ing pan­dem­ic, war in Europe, and a labor short­age. This is not to men­tion a men­tal health cri­sis and increased oblig­a­tions for employ­ers when it comes to employ­ee engage­ment and expe­ri­ence.

    The first step in address­ing the neg­a­tive impact of the econ­o­my is being real­is­tic about the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion and under­stand­ing how it impacts HR:

    Some Can’t Afford RTO

    Many com­pa­nies are final­ly deploy­ing their return to office (RTO) plans from 2020. Employ­ees and lead­er­ship are at odds, in many cas­es, about whether to return or con­tin­ue to work from home. One of the argu­ments work­ers have about WFH is that it is cheaper.

    Some employ­ees are quit­ting because they can­not afford the com­mute or lunch costs that come with return­ing to the office. Child­care, which has always been a prob­lem for work­ing par­ents, is anoth­er huge expense. In some cas­es, peo­ple end up pay­ing to work, and it becomes more afford­able to quit. HR must keep this in mind when con­sid­er­ing wages and salaries.

    Compensation and Benefits Packages

    Dur­ing this time of his­toric labor short­age, HR lead­ers are reassess­ing their com­pen­sa­tion and ben­e­fits pack­ages because they want to be com­pet­i­tive. Employ­ees have lever­age and high­er wages has been one of the most request­ed ben­e­fits for obvi­ous reasons.

    “The tal­ent short­age has boost­ed pay, but not enough to keep up with infla­tion,” accord­ing to The New York Times. “Wages grew 5.6% in the last year.”

    Anoth­er obsta­cle for HR pro­fes­sion­als is that increas­ing offers for new hires end­ed up cre­at­ing an uneven divide between them and their vet­er­an coun­ter­parts. Now, in some cas­es, loy­al employ­ees who stayed with their employ­ers are earn­ing less than new hires. With this kind of infla­tion, they may be lured by the prospect of high­er pay else­where, which could con­tin­ue the cycle of the Great Res­ig­na­tion.

    Budget Concerns

    Mon­ey is obvi­ous­ly not going as far as it used to go. There­fore, HR pro­fes­sion­als should wor­ry that this eco­nom­ic real­i­ty could cause bud­get cuts. For now, 79% of cor­po­rate finance exec­u­tives say their bud­gets will be larg­er in 2022 than in 2021, accord­ing to Billing Plat­forms annu­al 2022 Trends in Finance Sur­vey. With infla­tion as high as it is, they should pre­pare for cuts at some point. This could mean few­er resources for learn­ing and devel­op­ment, employ­ee engage­ment and expe­ri­ence ini­tia­tives, com­pen­sa­tion and ben­e­fits pack­ages, and more.

    Travel Constraints

    At the moment, most head­lines point to Amer­i­cans’ desire to get back on the road and see peo­ple face to face for per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al meet­ings. How­ev­er, with gas prices and infla­tion this high, many bud­get con­scious employ­ers may pull back on trav­el budgets.

    The Unit­ed States is also prepar­ing to con­front anoth­er surge in COVID-19 cas­es. RTO pos­es risks, espe­cial­ly for vul­ner­a­ble employ­ees with comor­bod­i­ties or those who live with at-risk peo­ple. In addi­tion, par­ents of chil­dren under 5, who are not yet eli­gi­ble for vac­ci­na­tion, have expressed con­cerns about both RTO and hav­ing to trav­el for work.

    Solutions

    Every depart­ment in every busi­ness must face the real­i­ty of infla­tion and high­er costs. HR is no excep­tion. In the case of HR lead­ers, ris­ing costs is a peo­ple prob­lem. Employ­ees will need more mon­ey to sup­port their fam­i­lies and to make work valu­able to them. In addi­tion, the busi­ness itself will have to con­strain spend­ing in areas like trav­el and perks. Maybe those free lunch­es will have to stop.

    Still, there are some solu­tions avail­able to HR. Pro­mot­ing peo­ple from with­in the com­pa­ny as opposed to hir­ing new employ­ees is a way to save mon­ey and improve reten­tion. Being trans­par­ent about the lim­i­ta­tions on wage increas­es and offer­ing oth­er less expen­sive ben­e­fits to com­pen­sate are oth­er ways to address the problem.

    Of course, trav­el can be replaced with video­con­fer­enc­ing and dig­i­tal events that can be con­duct­ed from home. HR lead­ers have had to stretch resources before and will cer­tain­ly have to do it again in the future.

    By Francesca Di Meglio

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on HR Exchange Network

  • Best Practices for Employee Appreciation

    May 30, 2022

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    As HR lead­ers work hard to retain tal­ent dur­ing a his­toric labor short­age, they are try­ing to show employ­ee appre­ci­a­tion. At the HR Exchange Net­work Employ­ee Engage­ment and Expe­ri­ence online event, Mary Shel­ley, Chief Peo­ple Offi­cer at Tan­go Card, shared best prac­tices for reward­ing employ­ees to inform them of their val­ue to the organization.

    In the ses­sion, 5 Ques­tions to Ask When Build­ing an Employ­ee Appre­ci­a­tion Strat­e­gy to Last, Shel­ley admit­ted there are chal­lenges to cre­at­ing a rewards pro­gram. In fact, a poll revealed that 31% of audi­ence par­tic­i­pants feel their inad­e­quate bud­get is an obsta­cle. Near­ly 30% said no orga­ni­za­tion­al enage­ment was pro­hib­i­tive when try­ing to launch a rewards pro­gram. Oth­er prob­lems includ­ed being time inten­sive (12.1%), too com­pli­cat­ed (13.8%), or some­thing else (13.8%).

    Dis­cov­er how to launch an employ­ee appre­ci­a­tion program:

    Start Small

    Shel­ley sug­gests HR lead­ers come up with one thing they can do right now to move the nee­dle. For instance, they could talk to employ­ees to deter­mine what kinds of rewards would moti­vate indi­vid­u­als on the team. The reward should be mean­ing­ful or else it won’t pro­duce that sense of incentive.

    “Learn about what each per­son finds moti­vat­ing,” says Shelley.

    Balance Informal and Formal Recognition

    Some­times peo­ple mis­tak­en­ly believe that they have to invest a lot of mon­ey or time into offer­ing a reward. But there are sim­pler ways to rec­og­nize col­leagues for their hard work and ded­i­ca­tion. For instance, some com­pa­nies leave thank you cards out in the office, so peers can write them and deliv­er them to each oth­er’s desk. It’s a small cost in time and mon­ey, and it can reap great rewards as Shel­ley, who has done this, attests.

    Diversify Rewards

    Offer dif­fer­ent kinds of rewards to appeal to a larg­er group of peo­ple. To keep peo­ple engaged in the process, there should be dif­fer­ent prizes to try and attain. As com­pa­nies diver­si­fy rewards options, how­ev­er, they should also be transparent.

    “Employ­ees and man­agers should know how to give and receive rewards,” says Shelley.

    In oth­er words, they should know exact­ly what is expect­ed of them if they want to win rewards XYZ. Employ­ees should also know how they could offer recog­ni­tion to a col­league who has impressed them with their work.

    Build in Anticipation

    “Antic­i­pa­tion is every­thing,” says Shel­ley. In fact, some employ­ees say the antic­i­pa­tion can be greater than the reward itself, she adds. Talk about what it will be like if a team or indi­vid­ual achieves the require­ments to win the reward. Dis­cuss the expe­ri­ences of those who have won before to help oth­ers dream about it.

    Automate

    Automa­tion is a great way to inte­grate rewards pro­grams in hybrid and remote work­places. For exam­ple, some com­pa­nies have a “giveku­dos” Slack chan­nel, where team­mates can give shout outs to those who have done well or helped them, and they auto­mat­i­cal­ly get a $10 gift card.

    Avoid Pitfalls

    HR lead­ers can eas­i­ly fall into com­mon traps when dol­ing out rewards. A big mis­take is to just hand out rewards as a means of “check­ing the box,” warns Shel­ley. After all, peo­ple real­ize when some­thing is giv­en to them ingenuously.

    Anoth­er error is mak­ing the pro­gram over­com­pli­cat­ed. Shel­ley shared the sto­ry of a col­league who cre­at­ed a rewards pro­gram with dif­fer­ent lev­els and lots of qual­i­fi­ca­tions. It was too cum­ber­some, and no one under­stood how to give or receive rewards. So, they had to pare it down and simplify.

    Being one-dimen­sion­al with­out giv­ing thought to all the pos­si­bil­i­ties is a pit­fall that HR lead­ers can avoid by think­ing out­side the box. Over­com­pen­sat­ing to make up for low appre­ci­a­tion scores is anoth­er way to defeat the pur­pose of a rewards pro­gram. Employ­ees should feel spe­cial and appreciated.

    Final­ly, employ­ers should assess whether they are reward­ing the cor­rect behav­iors. Shel­ley shares the sto­ry of a pre­vi­ous employ­er, who hand­ed out awards to hard work­ers who had been burn­ing the mid­night oil. But the com­pa­ny includ­ed a val­ue about main­tain­ing work-life bal­ance. It did­n’t match with their mis­sion, and it sent the wrong message.

    By Francesca Di Meglio

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on HR Exchange Network

  • Transparency in Coverage

    May 25, 2022

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    Health plan price trans­paren­cy helps con­sumers know the cost of a cov­ered item or ser­vice before receiv­ing care. Begin­ning July 1, 2022, most group health plans and issuers of group or indi­vid­ual health insur­ance will begin post­ing pric­ing infor­ma­tion for cov­ered items and ser­vices. This pric­ing infor­ma­tion can be used by third par­ties, such as researchers and app devel­op­ers to help con­sumers bet­ter under­stand the costs asso­ci­at­ed with their health care. More require­ments will go into effect start­ing on Jan­u­ary 1, 2023, and Jan­u­ary 1, 2024 which will pro­vide addi­tion­al access to pric­ing infor­ma­tion and enhance con­sumers’ abil­i­ty to shop for the health care that best meet their needs.

    Mak­ing pric­ing infor­ma­tion avail­able to the public

    In three stages, most group health plans and issuers of group or indi­vid­ual health insur­ance are required to dis­close pric­ing information.

    1.    Machine-Read­able Files con­tain­ing the fol­low­ing sets of costs for items and services

    • In-Net­work Rate File: rates for all cov­ered items and ser­vices between the plan or issuer and in-net­work providers.
    • Allowed Amount File: allowed amounts for, and billed charges from, out-of-net­work providers.

    2.    Inter­net-based price com­par­i­son tool (or dis­clo­sure on paper, upon request) allow­ing an indi­vid­ual to receive an esti­mate of their cost-shar­ing respon­si­bil­i­ty for a spe­cif­ic item or ser­vice from a spe­cif­ic provider or providers, for 500 items and services.

    3.    Inter­net-based price com­par­i­son tool (or dis­clo­sure on paper, upon request) allow­ing an indi­vid­ual to receive an esti­mate of their cost-shar­ing respon­si­bil­i­ty for a spe­cif­ic item or ser­vice from a spe­cif­ic provider or providers, for all items and services.

    Stay tuned for more! Phase 2 and Phase 3 go into effect in 2023 and 2024.

    By plan or pol­i­cy years begin­ning on or after Jan­u­ary 1, 2023, most group health plans and issuers of group or indi­vid­ual health insur­ance cov­er­age are required to dis­close per­son­al­ized pric­ing infor­ma­tion for all cov­ered items and ser­vice to their par­tic­i­pants, ben­e­fi­cia­ries, and enrollees through an online con­sumer tool, or in paper form, upon request. Cost esti­mates must be pro­vid­ed in real-time based on cost-shar­ing infor­ma­tion that is accu­rate at the time of the request.

    Read More »

  • Mental Health is Wealth, So Start Saving Up Now!

    May 17, 2022

    Tags: ,

    “Suck it up,” “cheer up,” “snap out of it,” “but you don’t look sick”- these are just some of the phras­es that well-mean­ing friends and fam­i­ly tell loved ones strug­gling with men­tal health issues. Research shows that one in five adults strug­gle with men­tal health con­di­tions.  Men­tal health strug­gles include depres­sion, bipo­lar dis­or­der, anx­i­ety, schiz­o­phre­nia, and eat­ing disorders.

    Men­tal ill­ness is also becom­ing increas­ing­ly com­mon among teenagers; stud­ies indi­cate that approx­i­mate­ly one in five teens between ages twelve and eigh­teen are diag­nosed with a men­tal health dis­or­der.  These issues deeply impact day-to-day liv­ing and may also affect the abil­i­ty to relate to oth­ers.  When your men­tal health suf­fers, every­thing in your life will suf­fer as a result.

    What is Men­tal Health?

    Men­tal health includes our emo­tion­al, psy­cho­log­i­cal, and social well-being.  It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps deter­mine how we han­dle stress, relate to oth­ers, and make choices.

    The fact is, a men­tal ill­ness is a dis­or­der of the brain – your body’s most impor­tant organ.   Like most dis­eases of the body, men­tal ill­ness has many caus­es – from genet­ics to oth­er bio­log­i­cal, envi­ron­men­tal and social/cultural fac­tors.  And just as with most dis­eases, men­tal ill­ness­es are no one’s fault.  For many peo­ple, recov­ery – includ­ing hav­ing mean­ing­ful roles in social life, work and school – is pos­si­ble, espe­cial­ly when you start treat­ment ear­ly and play a strong role in your own recov­ery process.

    What Are the Warn­ing Signs?

    Each ill­ness has its own symp­toms, but com­mon signs of men­tal ill­ness can include the following:

    • Avoid­ing friends and social activities
    • Feel­ing exces­sive­ly sad or low
    • Feel­ing help­less or hopeless
    • Extreme mood changes
    • Think­ing of harm­ing your­self or others
    • Inabil­i­ty to per­form dai­ly tasks like tak­ing care of your kids or get­ting to work or school
    • Feel­ing numb or like noth­ing matters
    • Overuse of sub­stances like alco­hol or drugs
    • Hav­ing unex­plained aches and pains such as headaches or stom­ach aches
    • Changes in sleep­ing habits or feel­ing tired and low energy
    • Feel­ing unusu­al­ly con­fused, for­get­ful, on edge, angry, upset, wor­ried, or scared

    What Are Some Things You Can Do to Look After Your Men­tal Health?

    • Talk About Your Feel­ings – Just being lis­tened to can help you feel sup­port­ed and less alone. Talk­ing with a friend or loved one is help­ful but remem­ber, ther­a­pists are not only for those in the mid­dle of cri­sis — they’re incred­i­bly ben­e­fi­cial for peo­ple in all stages of life
    • Exer­cise reg­u­lar­ly – Exer­cise releas­es endor­phins, which have mood-boost­ing effects. Aim to exer­cise about 30+ min­utes at least five days per week
    • Eat Well – Your brain needs a mix of nutri­ents to stay healthy and func­tion well, just like the oth­er organs in your body
    • Stay Con­nect­ed with Fam­i­ly and Friends – Close, qual­i­ty rela­tion­ships are key for a hap­py, healthy life
    • Take a Break – a change of scenery or pace is good for your men­tal health
    • Get Out­side to Enjoy 15 Min­utes of Sun­shine – Sun­light syn­the­sizes Vit­a­min D which experts believe is a mood elevator
    • Send a Thank You Note – Let some­one know why you appre­ci­ate them. Writ­ten expres­sions of grat­i­tude are linked to increased happiness
    • Prac­tice For­give­ness – Peo­ple who for­give have bet­ter men­tal health and report being more sat­is­fied with their lives
    • Pur­sue Your Pas­sions – Enjoy­ing your­self can help beat stress and achiev­ing some­thing boosts your self-esteem
    • Sleep – Most adults need around 8 hours of sleep each night so try to make sure you’re get­ting enough shut-eye

    Men­tal health is undoubt­ed­ly just as inte­gral as phys­i­cal health but it’s some­thing that we often don’t pri­or­i­tize.  We all expe­ri­ence times when we feel stressed or over­whelmed but if these feel­ings per­sist, it’s time to slow down and re-eval­u­ate your men­tal wellbeing.

    Most peo­ple are afraid to ask for help, but seek­ing help is actu­al­ly a sign of strength, not weak­ness.  If you or some­one you know is strug­gling with their men­tal health, please reach out to a local men­tal health professional.

  • What is Mental Health and Wellness in HR?

    May 9, 2022

    Tags: , ,

    Men­tal health and well­ness in HR are becom­ing top pri­or­i­ties for employ­ers. In fact, HR lead­ers named men­tal health and well­be­ing as their third biggest prob­lem, behind the labor short­age and retain­ing tal­ent, in the lat­est HR Exchange Net­work State of HR report. In addi­tion, those sur­veyed also said burnout was the top con­se­quence of the pan­dem­ic. “Blur­ring of work and per­son­al life” and “burnout” tied, with 28% of the vote each, as the biggest chal­lenges to employ­ee engage­ment. And 30%  of respon­dents said employ­ee engage­ment and expe­ri­ence was their top priority.

    Clear­ly, men­tal health and well­ness is relat­ed to the employ­ee expe­ri­ence, and the expec­ta­tions in the new nor­mal require HR lead­ers to pro­vide sup­port, empa­thy, and guid­ance for help­ing those who need it. To begin, they need to under­stand the nuances of men­tal health and well­ness.

    Defining Mental Health and Wellness

    A first step for HR lead­ers is to break­down men­tal health and well­ness to under­stand the dif­fer­ences, so they can best address “men­tal health” and “well­ness.”

    What Is Mental Health?

    The U.S. gov­ern­ment defines men­tal health as the emo­tion­al, psy­cho­log­i­cal, and social well­be­ing of an indi­vid­ual. Obvi­ous­ly, one’s men­tal health con­tributes to how he thinks, feels, and acts, and it relates to his resilien­cy and rela­tion­ships with others.

    Con­sid­er­ing this def­i­n­i­tion, HR lead­ers can focus on insur­ance that cov­ers men­tal health con­di­tions and con­nect­ing peo­ple to appro­pri­ate spe­cial­ists just as they would for employ­ees with phys­i­cal ail­ments, for exam­ple. Tend­ing to men­tal health needs is slight­ly dif­fer­ent than those of wellness.

    What Is Wellness?

    On the oth­er hand, well­ness refers to the total­i­ty of health – both men­tal and phys­i­cal – of an employ­ee, accord­ing to the Soci­ety for Human Resource Man­age­ment. When employ­ers focus on well­ness, they are aim­ing to pro­vide employ­ees with pre­ven­ta­tive solu­tions to avoid ill­ness­es and long-term health prob­lems. For exam­ple, gym mem­ber­ships, yoga class­es, and med­i­ta­tion ses­sions are among the ways HR lead­ers may sup­port the well­ness of workers.

    Men­tal health refers to the con­di­tion of an employee’s state of mind, where­as well­ness refers to his or her gen­er­al health. Some­times, even those in HR use the word well­be­ing inter­change­ably with well­ness, but there is a dis­tinc­tion. Well­be­ing refers to job sat­is­fac­tion or one’s con­tent­ment at work. Cer­tain­ly, well­be­ing is relat­ed to men­tal health and well­ness. If employ­ees are expe­ri­enc­ing anx­i­ety, high stress, or burnout, which are asso­ci­at­ed with both men­tal health and well­ness, they may expe­ri­ence neg­a­tive feel­ings at work. There­fore, their well­be­ing also will be at risk.

    HR’s Responsibility for Mental Health and Wellness

    The pan­dem­ic revealed the need for men­tal health and well­ness pro­grams at work­places. Both mind and body need­ed sooth­ing, and HR pro­fes­sion­als took the lead in pro­vid­ing solu­tions to work­ers. More than two years after the start of the pan­dem­ic, they are con­tin­u­ing to enhance their offerings.

    Here are some rel­e­vant ben­e­fits that employ­ers may pro­vide, and HR lead­ers can consider:

    Medical Insurance that Covers Mental Health

    This first ben­e­fit is the most obvi­ous one, and it refers to the employ­er choos­ing insur­ance options that cov­er men­tal health as robust­ly as they do phys­i­cal health.

    Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)

    The U.S. gov­ern­ment defines an EAP as a “vol­un­tary, work-based pro­gram that offers free and con­fi­den­tial assess­ments, short-term coun­sel­ing, refer­rals, and fol­low-up ser­vices to employ­ees who have per­son­al and/or work-relat­ed prob­lems.” These pro­grams may address stress, sub­stance abuse, or fam­i­ly dis­cord, for example.

    Mental Health First Aiders

    This is a pro­fes­sion­al who works on staff or on call for a busi­ness, so employ­ees always have some­one to sup­port them with any men­tal health con­cerns, accord­ing to verywellhealth.

    Training for Managers, Leaders, and Peers

    Some com­pa­nies are train­ing their teams to rec­og­nize poten­tial men­tal health issues in their col­leagues and to devel­op empa­thy and emo­tion­al IQ.

    Yoga, Meditation, Workshops, Zen Rooms, etc.

    These are a few exam­ples of pro­grams designed to help employ­ees relieve stress and stay focused.

    Mental Health Days

    Some com­pa­nies are includ­ing men­tal health days in their paid time off menu. This allows peo­ple the chance to stay home as they would for a sick day.

    Parameters around Work Hours/Flexibility/Respecting People’s Time

    Many employ­ers are shar­ing guide­lines about allow­ing employ­ees flex­i­bil­i­ty around when and where they work or dur­ing what hours they can com­mu­ni­cate with them about work, etc. The idea is to help peo­ple bet­ter bal­ance work and life to give them the time and space nec­es­sary to recharge.

    Why Should HR Leaders Care about Mental Health and Wellness?

    The answer about why any leader should care about employ­ees’ well­ness seems obvi­ous. It’s the right thing to do. But it also relates to busi­ness out­comes. Poor men­tal health and well­ness among employ­ees can pose grave risks to an employ­er. These are the threats:

    • Decreased Pro­duc­tiv­i­ty – Peo­ple are not as inter­est­ed in get­ting the job done if their deal­ing with men­tal health issues.
    • Res­ig­na­tion – Men­tal health and well­ness is clear­ly con­nect­ed to job sat­is­fac­tion and well­be­ing. Peo­ple might quit if they are suffering.
    • Neg­a­tive Impact on the Bot­tom Line – If employ­ees are not pro­duc­tive or engaged, the com­pa­ny will not be as suc­cess­ful. If there is much turnover, the com­pa­ny will lose mon­ey in recruit­ing, hir­ing, train­ing, and patient­ly wait­ing for new hires to get up to speed. All these con­se­quences can influ­ence rev­enue and busi­ness outcomes.

    How Work Can Affect Employee Wellness

    Employ­ees spend a large amount of time work­ing. Tox­ic work­places obvi­ous­ly can dam­age one’s men­tal state, where­as a psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly safe envi­ron­ment can moti­vate peo­ple. Any­one expe­ri­enc­ing bul­ly­ing or harass­ment at work may feel more anx­i­ety or stress. That’s undoubt­ed­ly true. But hav­ing heavy work­loads, tight dead­lines, and oth­er stress­ful per­son­al sit­u­a­tions can lead to burnout. Poten­tial­ly, these fac­tors cut into the psy­cho­log­i­cal con­tract between employ­ee and employ­er. This is con­cern­ing to HR leaders.

    The Mayo Clin­ic says job burnout is a type of work-relat­ed stress that results in a state of phys­i­cal or emo­tion­al exhaus­tion that can influ­ence an employee’s self-worth and sense of iden­ti­ty. The pan­dem­ic and con­se­quen­tial labor short­age put burnout in the spot­light and forced employ­ers to con­front it. Now, HR lead­ers are work­ing to com­bat and pre­vent burnout as part of their over­all men­tal health and well­ness strategies.

    Tak­ing steps to reduce hours and work­loads, man­ag­ing expec­ta­tions, and train­ing man­agers to be bet­ter, more empa­thet­ic lead­ers are among the ways they are address­ing the prob­lem. HR Exchange Net­work rec­og­nized this new oblig­a­tion of Human Resources in its recent tal­ent man­age­ment report:

    Com­pa­nies that show they tru­ly care about the men­tal health and well­ness of their employ­ees will get noticed. Those who are flex­i­ble and under­stand­ing when peo­ple are hav­ing a tough time per­son­al­ly will win hearts. “Com­pa­nies need to switch their focus on engage­ment to expe­ri­ence. Maya Angelou said it the best, ‘Peo­ple for­get what you tell them. They don’t for­get how you make them feel,’ ” says Sebastien Girard, Chief Peo­ple Offi­cer at Cen­tu­ra Health.

    HR lead­ers are helm­ing efforts to address men­tal health and well­ness of employ­ees. They are con­fronting these issues to improve employ­ee engage­ment and expe­ri­ence and the work cul­ture. Employ­ers rec­og­nize the link between the men­tal health and well­ness of their employ­ees and the suc­cess of their business.

    In addi­tion, they real­ize this is the right thing to do, which is vital at a time when employ­er brand is of the utmost impor­tance, and every­one is try­ing to bet­ter main­tain work-life bal­ance. The pan­dem­ic was the spark for employ­ers giv­ing atten­tion to these issues, but the focus on help­ing employ­ees main­tain their men­tal health and well­ness will continue.

    By Francesca Di Meglio

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on HR Exchange Network

  • The 4 W’s of Lifestyle Benefits

    May 2, 2022

    Tags: , ,

    Com­pet­i­tive wages are no longer enough to sat­is­fy and sup­port val­ued employ­ees. Today, a vari­ety of ben­e­fits and perks play an essen­tial role in attract­ing and retain­ing tal­ent. Lifestyle ben­e­fits, some­times referred to as employ­ee perks, are non-salary ben­e­fits giv­en to employ­ees to improve their over­all lifestyle that go above and beyond stan­dard med­ical, den­tal and vision ben­e­fits. These lifestyle ben­e­fits are rapid­ly becom­ing the future of employ­ee benefits.

    Around 60% of employ­ees say ben­e­fit offer­ings are a sig­nif­i­cant fac­tor in their deci­sion on whether or not to take a new job. That’s why an increas­ing num­ber of employ­ers are uti­liz­ing lifestyle ben­e­fit plans to entice high-qual­i­­ty appli­cants.  In fact, stud­ies show that 80% of employ­ees would select more ben­e­fits above a pay increase. More­over, younger employ­ees, like Mil­len­ni­als, are more apt to change jobs than their old­er Baby Boomer coun­ter­parts if they are dis­sat­is­fied with the employ­ee ben­e­fits offer­ings avail­able to them.

    Lifestyle ben­e­fits are ben­e­fits to enjoy now.  These are mean­ing­ful ser­vices that meet the needs of employ­ees today.  Not tomor­row, next week or even ten years from now.  Employ­ees don’t have to be sick, deceased, dis­abled or over 65 to use them.

    In this arti­cle, we will explore the 4 “W’s”—Who, What, When, and Why—of lifestyle ben­e­fits to explain how you can use this tool to improve your ben­e­fits package!

    Who Are Lifestyle Ben­e­fits For?

    Even com­pa­nies with gen­er­ous over­all ben­e­fits pack­ages can suf­fer from low employ­ee engage­ment and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty which can be exac­er­bat­ed by the mas­sive shift to remote work. Offer­ing perks that are cus­tomized to your people’s unique needs is huge­ly ben­e­fi­cial for com­pa­nies want­i­ng to increase employ­ee engage­ment and reten­tion.  In the increas­ing­ly com­pet­i­tive job mar­ket, this real­ly sets employ­ers apart because it demon­strates a vest­ed inter­est on the part of the employ­er to pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ties for per­son­al, as well as pro­fes­sion­al growth.   Lifestyle ben­e­fits, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the form of flex­i­ble perk stipends, are an ide­al way to offer per­son­al­iza­tion and also pro­mote an inclu­sive com­pa­ny culture.

    What Lifestyle Ben­e­fits Can Employ­ers Offer?

    Lifestyle ben­e­fits can be cus­tomized to meet many dif­fer­ent types of needs. For instance, an employ­ee might be send­ing their child to col­lege for the first time. If they want advi­sors or finan­cial plan­ners, a lifestyle ben­e­fits account can cov­er it. Or what if an employ­ee wants to take advan­tage of a gym mem­ber­ship or health app?  This could also be cov­ered through a lifestyle ben­e­fits pro­gram. Every­one ben­e­fits from a calm, hap­py, and val­ued employ­ee!  Oth­er exam­ples of offer­ings you can include in a lifestyle ben­e­fits pro­gram include:

    When Should You Offer Lifestyle Benefits?

    Real­ly the answer to the ques­tion of when you should offer lifestyle ben­e­fits is-now!  Now is the right time to make the most of lifestyle ben­e­fits by set­ting employ­ees up and edu­cat­ing them of their perks.When orga­ni­za­tions offer lifestyle ben­e­fits, it’s about build­ing pos­i­tive, long-term rela­tion­ships between exec­u­tives, super­vi­sors and employ­ees.  It’s about invest­ment and ded­i­ca­tion to employ­ee well-being.

    Why Pro­vide Lifestyle Ben­e­fits at Your Com­pa­ny 

    There are so many rea­sons to pro­vide lifestyle ben­e­fits but it pri­mar­i­ly boils down to one thing: employ­ee sat­is­fac­tion.  Employ­ees want to feel val­ued by their employ­ers and if this can be achieved by help­ing them afford the lifestyle they enjoy and envi­sion for them­selves, then do it!

    We are, after all, liv­ing in the age of per­son­al­iza­tion.  Every­thing in our lives, from our Net­flix sub­scrip­tions to Spo­ti­fy playlists is cus­tomized to us and our pref­er­ences.  Lifestyle ben­e­fits can be designed in a way that address­es the var­i­ous needs of your diverse work­force, whether that means sup­port­ing a 22-year-old recent grad­u­ate liv­ing in the city, or a 45-year-old exec­u­tive with three kids in a home in the sub­urbs, lifestyle ben­e­fits are ide­al for that type of per­son­al­iza­tion and inclu­siv­i­ty, espe­cial­ly in the form of flex­i­ble perk stipends.

    If com­pa­nies want the best poten­tial can­di­dates, they have to think out­side the box with per­son­al­ized ben­e­fit offer­ings.  Every­one wins with a flex­i­ble lifestyle ben­e­fits plat­form. After all, phys­i­cal­ly and men­tal­ly healthy employ­ees are more pro­duc­tive, which is bet­ter for the bot­tom line.

  • 5 Tips to Save Money on Health Care: Part 1

    April 25, 2022

    Tags: ,

    Health insur­ance is essen­tial to pro­tect­ing your health but the high cost of cov­er­age may leave you feel­ing sick.  Even after employ­ers pick up a sub­stan­tial amount of the cost, every year Amer­i­cans spend thou­sands of dol­lars on health­care while costs are con­tin­u­ing to rise. By tak­ing cer­tain steps, you can stretch your health­care dol­lars and still receive the care you need to stay healthy.

    1. Under­stand How Your Health Plan Works

    Review your plan to learn how to max­i­mize your ben­e­fits.  You need to know what is cov­ered (and what is not!) and what pro­ce­dures you need to fol­low to ensure your claims will get paid.  Know what your copay­ment, coin­sur­ance and deductible costs are before your visit.

    Most health insur­ance plans cov­er more of your costs if you use their pre­ferred or in-net­work doc­tors.  If you vis­it an out-of-net­work doc­tor or med­ical facil­i­ty, you’ll pay more and may end up being respon­si­ble for 100% of the bill.  Use your insurer’s online tools to search for in-net­work providers.

    1. Choose the Right Places to Get Care

    Run­ning to the emer­gency room when you get sick after hours could drain your wal­let. All too often, those suf­fer­ing from minor ill­ness­es or injuries vis­it the ER when they don’t need to.  The ER should be your last resort — con­sid­er using more afford­able options like telemed­i­cine or an urgent care cen­ter instead.  You can still get the care you require in off-hours with­out hav­ing to sched­ule an appointment.

    If you need surgery, you may save mon­ey by hav­ing it done at an ambu­la­to­ry sur­gi­cal cen­ter (ASC) which is a mod­ern health­care facil­i­ty focused on same-day sur­gi­cal care, includ­ing diag­nos­tic and pre­ven­tive pro­ce­dures.  Typ­i­cal­ly, these cen­ters charge less than a hospital.

    1. Use a Health Sav­ings Account (HSA) or Flex­i­ble Spend­ing Account (FSA)

    Open­ing a HSA  or an FSA is a handy way to save for med­ical expens­es and reduce your tax­able income. They are like per­son­al sav­ings accounts but the mon­ey in them is used to pay for health care expens­es. HSAs are owned by you, earn inter­est, and can be trans­ferred to a new employ­er.  FSAs are owned by your employ­er, do not earn inter­est, and must be used with­in the cal­en­dar year.

    1. Ask Your Doc­tor About Remote Patient Mon­i­tor­ing (RPM)

    RPM is the use of dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies to mon­i­tor and ana­lyze med­ical and oth­er health data from patients and elec­tron­i­cal­ly trans­mit this infor­ma­tion to health­care providers for assess­ment and, when nec­es­sary, rec­om­men­da­tions and instruc­tions. This type of mon­i­tor­ing is often used to man­age high-risk patients, such as those with acute or chron­ic health con­di­tions such as those with dia­betes, hyper­ten­sion and heart conditions.

    1. Use Your Pre­ven­tive Care Benefits

    Many health plans pay the full cost for impor­tant pre­ven­tive care.  These reg­u­lar screen­ings, exams, and immu­niza­tions help detect or pre­vent dis­eases and med­ical prob­lems ear­ly when they are eas­i­er to treat.  Annu­al check-ups, mam­mo­grams (usu­al­ly after the age of 40), flu shots and colono­scopies (usu­al­ly 1 every 10 years after the age of 50) are exam­ples of pre­ven­tive care.  These checks can save you a lot of mon­ey because they catch prob­lems early.

    Health insur­ance isn’t manda­to­ry — there’s no law requir­ing you to buy it — but, health insur­ance is an impor­tant part of stay­ing healthy, finan­cial­ly and phys­i­cal­ly.  Since most peo­ple who don’t have insur­ance made that deci­sion based on mon­ey instead of what is best for their health, they usu­al­ly don’t have doc­tor appoint­ments for the same rea­son – it’s too expen­sive.  But skip­ping rou­tine care can end up being more expen­sive than your pre­mi­ums, espe­cial­ly if you have seri­ous health issues that aren’t caught ear­ly.  Think of it like care main­te­nance: reg­u­lar­ly chang­ing your oil might be a has­sle but it is essen­tial to pre­vent a major break­down down the road.

     

  • As Cybercriminals Act More Like Businesses, Insurers Must Think More Like Criminals

    April 20, 2022

    Tags: ,

    Cyber­se­cu­ri­ty is no longer an emerg­ing risk but a clear and present one for orga­ni­za­tions of all sizes, pan­elists on a pan­el at Triple‑I’s Joint Indus­try Forum (JIF) said. This is due in large part to the fact that cyber­crim­i­nals are increas­ing­ly think­ing and behav­ing like businesspeople.

    “We’ve seen a large increase in ran­somware attacks for the sen­si­ble eco­nom­ic rea­son that they are lucra­tive,” said Mil­li­man man­ag­ing direc­tor Chris Beck. Cyber­crim­i­nals also are becom­ing more sophis­ti­cat­ed, adapt­ing their tech­niques to every move insur­ers, insureds, and reg­u­la­tors make in response to the lat­est attack trends. “Because this is a lucra­tive area for cyber bad actors to be in, spe­cial­iza­tion is hap­pen­ing. The peo­ple behind these attacks are becom­ing bet­ter at their jobs.”

    As a result, the chal­lenges fac­ing insur­ers and the cus­tomers are increas­ing and becom­ing more com­plex and cost­ly. Cyber insur­ance pur­chase rates reflect the grow­ing aware­ness of this risk, with one glob­al insur­ance bro­ker find­ing that the per­cent­age of its clients who pur­chased this cov­er­age rose from 26 per­cent in 2016 to 47 per­cent in 2020, the U.S. Gov­ern­ment Account­abil­i­ty Office (GAO) stat­ed in a May 2021 report.

    Pan­el mod­er­a­tor Dale Por­fil­io, Triple‑I’s chief insur­ance offi­cer, asked whether cyber is even an insur­able risk for the pri­vate mar­ket. Pan­elist Paul Miskovich, glob­al busi­ness leader for the Pan­go Group, said cyber insur­ance has been prof­itable almost every year for most insur­ers. Most cyber risk has been man­aged through more con­trols in under­writ­ing, changes in cyber­se­cu­ri­ty tools, and mod­i­fi­ca­tions in IT main­te­nance for employ­ees, he said.

    By 2026, pro­jec­tions indi­cate insur­ers will be writ­ing $28 bil­lion annu­al­ly in gross writ­ten pre­mi­um for cyber insur­ance, accord­ing to Miskovich. He said he believes all the pieces are in place for insur­ers to adapt to the chal­lenges pre­sent­ed by cyber and that part of the industry’s evo­lu­tion will rely on recruit­ing new talent.

    “I think the first step is bring­ing more young peo­ple into the indus­try who are more facile with tech­nol­o­gy,” he said. “Where insur­ance com­pa­nies can’t move fast enough, we need part­ner­ships with man­ag­ing gen­er­al agents, with tech­nol­o­gy and data ana­lyt­ics, who are going to bring in data and new information.”

    “Rein­sur­ers are in the game,” said Cather­ine Mul­li­gan, Aon’s glob­al head of cyber, stress­ing that rein­sur­ers have been doing a lot of work to advance their under­stand­ing of cyber issues. “The attack vec­tors have large­ly remained unchanged over the last few years, and that’s good news because under­writ­ers can pay more atten­tion to those par­tic­u­lar expo­sures and can close that gap in cybersecurity.”

    Mul­li­gan said rein­sur­ers are com­mit­ted to the cyber insur­ance space and believe it is insur­able. “Let’s just keep refin­ing our under­stand­ing of the risk,” she said.

    When think­ing about the future, Milliman’s Beck stressed the impor­tance of under­stand­ing the busi­ness-dri­ven log­ic of the cybercriminals.

    If, for exam­ple, “insur­ance con­tracts will not pay if the insured pays the ran­som, the log­ic for the bad actor is, ‘I need to come up with a ran­som schema that I’m still mak­ing mon­ey’,” but the insured can still pay with­out using the insur­ance contract.

    This could lead to a sce­nario in which the ran­som demands become small­er, but the fre­quen­cy of attacks increas­es. Under such cir­cum­stances, insur­ers might have to respond to demand for a new kind of product.

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on Insur­ance Infor­ma­tion Institute

  • What Employees Want: Hybrid Work and Flexibility

    April 11, 2022

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    2021 was quit­tin’ time in Amer­i­ca.  Last year alone over 47.4 mil­lion Amer­i­cans quit their jobs. This year, employ­ees seem­ing­ly have the upper hand against employ­ers.  The Turnover Tsuna­mi, a.k.a. The Great Res­ig­na­tion, has forced a reck­on­ing with the work­place and few employ­ers have come away unscathed.  Orga­ni­za­tions are now shift­ing pri­or­i­ties to make employ­ee well-being and reten­tion the pri­or­i­ty.  The fact of the mat­ter is, after health insur­ance, the most desir­able perks and ben­e­fits are those that offer flex­i­bil­i­ty while improv­ing work/life bal­ance. So, what is it that employ­ees real­ly want to achieve a bet­ter work/life balance?

    • Hybrid Work – Work­ing remote­ly some days in the week and at a phys­i­cal office on others
    • Flex­i­bil­i­ty– Being able to occa­sion­al­ly shift hours that best fit an employee’s life

    Why Hybrid Work?

    In 2020, peo­ple had to change the way they worked overnight and turned their kitchen tables into a ful­ly func­tion­ing office.  Many employ­ees dis­cov­ered they were more pro­duc­tive at home.  On the oth­er hand, some miss the social nature of the office and work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly in per­son.  Because of these mixed perks of in office vs. work­ing at home, hybrid work can offer the best of both worlds.

    Accord­ing to a sur­vey by the Inter­na­tion­al Work­place Group, 72% of office work­ers would pre­fer a hybrid way of work­ing to a full-time return to the office – even if revert­ing to Mon­day – Fri­day rou­tine meant earn­ing more money.

    Why Flex­i­ble Work?

    When the work­force went home because of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, it caused a change in the expec­ta­tions of employ­ees and there­fore the way com­pa­nies approach their work envi­ron­ments.  The pan­dem­ic prompt­ed job seek­ers to seek flex­i­bil­i­ty that allows them some lev­el of con­trol of their time.  Gene Lan­zoni at Guardian said “Time is the most impor­tant ben­e­fit an employ­er can pro­vide.  For many of us the pan­dem­ic afford­ed us more time, and we’re real­ly not will­ing to give that back.  We had a taste of a more bal­anced life.”

    Bal­ance has nev­er been more impor­tant.  60% of fam­i­lies with chil­dren have both par­ents work­ing and for these fam­i­lies, being able to work from home with flex­i­bil­i­ty is non­nego­tiable. Flex­i­bil­i­ty can allow care­givers to log off from 3 p.m. – 8 p.m. and then come back and do some work after the kids are in bed.  When employ­ees have more con­trol of their work sched­ules, they can free up time to take care of things that pop up in their per­son­al lives – whether it’s run­ning an errand, tak­ing a child to the den­tist, or being home for a delivery.

    In the end, a flex­i­ble sched­ule con­tributes to a high­er qual­i­ty of life.  Employ­ees don’t have to put their careers on hold to focus on their fam­i­lies or edu­ca­tion.  This free­dom is more valu­able in the long run than a paycheck.

    Work­er reten­tion is more impor­tant than ever in 2022.  Build­ing a good work­place cul­ture based on the cur­rent inter­ests of employ­ees plays a sig­nif­i­cant role for the suc­cess of the com­pa­ny.  Busi­ness­es now live in an employ­ee-dri­ven job mar­ket.  It is essen­tial that as an employ­er you know what ben­e­fits your employ­ees val­ue to keep them hap­py, healthy and work­ing for you.

  • Generational Myths Part 2: Millennials

    April 6, 2022

    Tags: ,

    Today’s offices poten­tial­ly span five full gen­er­a­tions rang­ing from Gen­er­a­tion Z to the Silent Gen­er­a­tion. A cowork­er could just as eas­i­ly be raised with a smart phone in hand as they could have used a type­writer at their first job. Some see dif­fer­ences between gen­er­a­tional col­leagues as an annoy­ance (“kids these days!”) and many rely on gen­er­a­tional stereo­types as fact. Truth of that mat­ter is that gen­er­a­tional stereo­types have about as many holes in them as a piece of Swiss cheese. Cur­rent research ques­tions the valid­i­ty of gen­er­a­tional stereo­types. This series uncov­ers top gen­er­a­tional myths as a strat­e­gy to sup­port a diverse and healthy employ­ee population.

    Next, we progress to a group whose eldest mem­bers reached adult­hood in the year 2000: Mil­len­ni­als (also known as Gen­er­a­tion Y). This cohort was born between 1981 and 1996. The top three myths of Mil­len­ni­als include:

    1. They are the lazi­est gen­er­a­tion at work. Mil­len­ni­als have been called the “tro­phy” gen­er­a­tion with the impli­ca­tion that they receive acco­lades for just show­ing up. The impres­sion this leaves in the work­force is that they are lack­ing moti­va­tion to go above and beyond, and may be com­fort­able phon­ing it in. The data doesn’t sup­port this crit­i­cal gen­er­al­iza­tion! Most Mil­len­ni­als are inspired by big, hairy goals at work. In fact, 59% of Mil­len­ni­als report­ed that com­pe­ti­tion is “what gets them up in the morning.”
    2. Mil­len­ni­al employ­ees need life instruc­tions on “adult­ing.” Chil­dren of the ‘80s and ‘90s were raised with a teacher, coach, or par­ent near­by to instruct or help them fig­ure out a solu­tion. For that rea­son, they often get labeled as inca­pable. This may lead you to believe that this gen­er­a­tion is lack­ing smarts, and this couldn’t be fur­ther from the truth. Close to 40% of adults aged 25 to 37 have a bach­e­lor’s degree, a per­cent­age that over­shad­ows both Baby Boomers and Gen­er­a­tion Y at this same point in their life. Mil­len­ni­als are more edu­cat­ed and more tech­nol­o­gy savvy than pri­or gen­er­a­tions. One sign of their life skills apti­tude? Check out their retire­ment accounts. Dave Ram­sey, per­son­al finance guru, summed it up like this: “Even though Mil­len­ni­als have had less 20 years to build their retire­ment wealth, they are not that far behind many of those who are clos­est to retire­ment.” Yes, they may ask a lot of ques­tions, but don’t let this fool you.
    3. They are job hop­pers. They don’t com­mit to com­pa­nies. They leave jobs at the drop of a hat. This tune may sound famil­iar because you have heard it before. A Pew Research study showed that when you freeze data for age, Gen­er­a­tions X and Mil­len­ni­als had sim­i­lar tenures at work. Work­ers in the first few decades of their career are more open to look­ing for new oppor­tu­ni­ties to explore new jobs and learn. The data show that this sen­ti­ment is more close­ly aligned with a stage in life that all gen­er­a­tions have expe­ri­enced. So, let’s give Mil­len­ni­als a break here. Just because they don’t intend to stick around at one com­pa­ny to receive a glass retire­ment plaque doesn’t mean they have any less val­ue than oth­er generations.

    Despite what you may have heard, Mil­len­ni­als are hard work­ers with the know-how to quick­ly pick up new knowl­edge or skills. They val­ue sta­bil­i­ty just as much, or more, than pri­or generations.

     

  • Understanding Your EOB

    March 30, 2022

    Tags: , ,

    Let’s say that you vis­it­ed the doc­tor and you are won­der­ing how much that vis­it is going to cost.  A short while lat­er, you receive some­thing in the mail that looks like a bill – and even says “amount you owe” at the bot­tom.  How­ev­er, it doesn’t have a return enve­lope or tear-off por­tion for the bill.  Con­fused?  You’re not the only one!

    Most like­ly, you’ve just received an Expla­na­tion of Ben­e­fits (EOB) from your insur­ance com­pa­ny.  The most impor­tant thing for you to remem­ber is that an EOB is NOT a bill.  It is essen­tial­ly “one big receipt” that explains your vis­it.  It shows what was billed, how much you can expect your health plan to pay, and what you — the patient — have to pay. It is always impor­tant to review your EOB to make sure it is correct.

    An EOB is a tool that shows you the val­ue of your health plan.  It will detail the cost of the ser­vices you received and how much your insur­ance will pay.

    How do EOB’s work?

    The health care provider will bill your insur­ance com­pa­ny after your doc­tor vis­it.  Then, your insur­ance com­pa­ny will send your EOB.  Lat­er, you will receive a bill for the amount you owe.  How­ev­er, if the bill does arrive before the EOB, don’t pay it yet.  Wait until you have the EOB in hand so you can com­pare it to your med­ical bill.

    While an EOB will dif­fer from one insur­ance com­pa­ny to anoth­er, they typ­i­cal­ly all include the fol­low­ing information:

    • The Account Sum­ma­ry – lists your account infor­ma­tion with details like the patient’s name, date(s), and claim number.
    • The Claim Details – lists the ser­vices pro­vid­ed and the dates of the services.
    • The Amounts Billed – details the cost of the ser­vices and what costs your health plan did not cov­er. It will also include any out­stand­ing amount you are respon­si­ble for pay­ing.  If there is a por­tion that is not cov­ered by insur­ance, the rea­son why will also be listed.

    Remem­ber, insur­ance com­pa­nies rarely pay 100% of the bill.  You will need to pay any applic­a­ble deductible, copay and coinsurance.

    Deductible: The amount you pay for health care ser­vices before your insur­ance begins to pay anything.

    Copay: A flat fee that you pay on the spot each time you go to your doc­tor or fill a prescription.

    Coin­sur­ance: The por­tion of the med­ical cost you pay after your deductible has been met.  Coin­sur­ance is a way of say­ing that you and your insur­ance car­ri­er each pay a share of eli­gi­ble costs that add up to 100%.

    Why is Your EOB important?

    Med­ical billing com­pa­nies some­times make billing errors.  Your EOB is a win­dow into your med­ical billing his­to­ry.  Review it care­ful­ly to make sure that you did receive the ser­vice being billed and that your pro­ce­dure and diag­no­sis are list­ed and cod­ed correctly.

    EOBs can help you under­stand how the health insur­ance sys­tem works and pro­vide trans­paren­cy in the com­pli­cat­ed finances of health care.  While the EOB may be com­pli­cat­ed, under­stand­ing it can help ensure that you and your fam­i­ly get the most out of your health insur­ance.  Know­ing what an EOB is and what is includ­ed on the state­ment ensures that you stay in con­trol of your health care finances.

  • Generational Myths Part 1 – Generation Z

    March 23, 2022

    Tags: ,

    Today’s offices poten­tial­ly span five full gen­er­a­tions rang­ing from Gen­er­a­tion Z to the Silent Gen­er­a­tion. A cowork­er could just as eas­i­ly be raised with a smart phone in hand as they could have used a type­writer at their first job. Some see dif­fer­ences between gen­er­a­tional col­leagues as an annoy­ance (“kids these days!”) and many rely on gen­er­a­tional stereo­types as fact. The truth of that mat­ter is that gen­er­a­tional stereo­types have about as many holes in them as a piece of Swiss cheese. Cur­rent research ques­tions the valid­i­ty of gen­er­a­tional stereo­types. This five-part series uncov­ers top gen­er­a­tional myths as a strat­e­gy to sup­port a diverse and healthy employ­ee population.

    Let’s start with the green­est part of the work­force: Gen­er­a­tion Z. This cohort was born between 1997 and 2012 and the elders of this group turn 25 this year. The top three myths of Gen Z include:

    1. Their inter­est in work­place flex­i­bil­i­ty is fueled by the desire for remote work. Work­place flex­i­bil­i­ty refers to how, when and where work gets accom­plished. His­tor­i­cal lit­er­a­ture pegs Gen­er­a­tion Z as a group keen to choose when and where they com­plete their work. A recent sur­vey com­plet­ed by Annemarie Hayek, Pres­i­dent and Founder of Glob­al Mosa­ic, refut­ed this pri­or claim with data. It showed less than a third want a ful­ly remote posi­tion. More excit­ing to Gen­er­a­tion Z? Com­pen­sa­tion and hav­ing their opin­ions heard by leadership.
    2. Men­tal health ben­e­fits fall into the “nice to have” cat­e­go­ry. Gen­er­a­tion Z felt the effects of the pan­dem­ic men­tal health cri­sis and val­ue qual­i­ty health­care. The Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health study pre­dicts that one third of today’s teenagers will expe­ri­ence men­tal health dif­fi­cul­ties relat­ed to anx­i­ety. Pri­or gen­er­a­tions may hear “men­tal health” and think of fluffy well­ness pro­grams, but Gen Z sees it as so much more than a webi­nar on work-life bal­ance. While this attribute is shared with Mil­len­ni­al col­leagues, this group is more active in com­mu­ni­cat­ing their needs with man­agers and peers. No shy­ing away from uncom­fort­able con­ver­sa­tions here! Men­tal health was an ongo­ing con­ver­sa­tion in their youth. For this rea­son, they are real­is­tic about the hard costs and pri­or­i­tize ther­a­py and paid time off benefits.
    3. They are uncom­fort­able with face-to-face con­ver­sa­tions. This gen­er­a­tion was raised with tech­nol­o­gy at their fin­ger­tips and social media omnipresent, so many assume they rely on text for all pro­fes­sion­al com­mu­ni­ca­tions. This com­mon mis­con­cep­tion does not pan out, says Ryan Jenk­ins, Inc. colum­nist and gen­er­a­tional expert. Data shows that 84% of Gen Z favor live com­mu­ni­ca­tion with their boss­es. This group does not hide behind a screen in or out of the office. Gen­er­a­tion Z was raised in an ever-chang­ing sociopo­lit­i­cal envi­ron­ment that includ­ed school shoot­ings, eco­nom­ic reces­sions, and increased focus on cli­mate change. Because of this ear­ly expo­sure, they are com­fort­able activists, and they bring this social aware­ness to work.

    Despite what you may have heard, the major­i­ty of Gen­er­a­tion Z isn’t opposed to work­ing in the office. They pri­or­i­tize “hard” men­tal health ben­e­fits and pre­fer live con­ver­sa­tions with their managers.

    © UBA. All rights reserved.

  • Benefits for a Multigenerational Workforce

    March 10, 2022

    Tags: , ,

    If only every­one val­ued the same things, ben­e­fits plan­ning would be a lot eas­i­er.  If. Only.

    How­ev­er, most employ­ers have five gen­er­a­tions of employ­ees active in the work­place who want dif­fer­ent things.  With gen­er­a­tion gaps span­ning more than 75 years, find­ing a one-size-fits-all ben­e­fits pack­age can be chal­leng­ing.  How­ev­er, there are cer­tain things to con­sid­er to tai­lor employ­ee ben­e­fits for each generation.

    The Five Gen­er­a­tions in the Workforce:

    Gen­er­a­tion Z: 1997–2012, (5% of workforce)
    Mil­len­ni­als: 1981–1996, (35% of workforce)
    Gen­er­a­tion X: 1965–1980, (33% of workforce)
    Baby Boomers: 1946–1964, (25% of workforce)
    Tra­di­tion­al­ists or The Silent Gen­er­a­tion: 1928–1945, (2% of workforce)

    Regard­less of their gen­er­a­tion, every employ­ee wants tra­di­tion­al ben­e­fits like time off, health­care insur­ance, and retire­ment plan­ning. To cre­ate a ben­e­fits pro­gram with multi­gen­er­a­tional appeal, employ­ers should first think about their employ­ees’ shared con­cerns and vary­ing needs.

    One strat­e­gy for man­ag­ing mul­ti­ple gen­er­a­tion is cus­tomiz­ing ben­e­fits offer­ings to core demo­graph­ics.  For exam­ple, would your staff val­ue on-site child-care?  Would a retire­ment plan that high­lights the need for sav­ing ear­ly or tuition assis­tance be rel­e­vant for your employ­ees? Think about who your employ­ees are and which ben­e­fits are most like­ly going to sup­port their success.

    Many employ­ees are con­cerned about their finan­cial well­ness.  Sev­en out of 10 new col­lege grad­u­ates each owe $37,000 or more.  These unprece­dent­ed lev­els of stu­dent debt make finan­cial con­cerns a pri­ma­ry con­cern for Mil­len­ni­als and Gen Z.  Gen Xers share finan­cial con­cerns as they look to pay for their children’s edu­ca­tion. While fear of not sav­ing enough for retire­ment is a con­cern for all age groups, it is most con­cern­ing to Baby Boomers and Tra­di­tion­al­ists for whom retire­ment is around the corner.

    Gen X val­ues ben­e­fits that sup­port bet­ter work-life bal­ance, such as care­tak­er sup­port, flex time, well-being and sup­port and finan­cial pro­tec­tion.  Mean­while, Gen Zers favor ben­e­fits that sup­port career growth, men­tal health and diver­si­ty, equi­ty, and inclu­sion pro­grams and perks that relate to job secu­ri­ty, a key con­cern for this generation.

    While every gen­er­a­tion faces uncer­tain­ty at dif­fer­ent stages of life, Mil­len­ni­als are more like­ly to pur­chase legal insur­ance com­pared to oth­er gen­er­a­tions. Many Mil­len­ni­als start­ed work­ing dur­ing a reces­sion which has great­ly affect­ed how they view their long-term careers. Mil­len­ni­als have adopt­ed an “any­thing can hap­pen” men­tal­i­ty and are will­ing to pay for peace of mind to be finan­cial­ly stable.

    To han­dle the unex­pect­ed, health, den­tal, vision and life insur­ance are all val­ued tra­di­tion­al ben­e­fits and are espe­cial­ly impor­tant to Baby Boomers and Tra­di­tion­al­ists.   Some Tra­di­tion­al­ists and Boomers may not be full-time employ­ees.  Com­pa­nies employ­ing more of this gen­er­a­tion of work­ers should offer some sort of well­ness ben­e­fits like gym mem­ber­ships or health services.

    Beyond the core offer­ings like health care and retire­ment sav­ings plans, employ­ers can offer a menu of non-med­ical vol­un­tary ben­e­fits that employ­ees can select based on their indi­vid­ual needs.  Those might include legal insur­ance, care­giv­er leave, stu­dent debt assis­tance or tuition reim­burse­ment, on-site child-care, pet insur­ance, finan­cial coun­sel­ing, acci­dent insur­ance and more.

    Whether a Boomer or a Gen Xer, all employ­ees want to feel con­fi­dent and informed about their health­care deci­sions. Qual­i­ty health­care that is acces­si­ble and afford­able is a pri­or­i­ty for all gen­er­a­tions.  Cre­at­ing a cus­tomiz­able ben­e­fits expe­ri­ence that rec­og­nizes the diver­si­ty across the multi­gen­er­a­tional work­force will like­ly result in employ­ee reten­tion and increased job sat­is­fac­tion as well as mak­ing recruit­ing top tal­ent eas­i­er.  By focus­ing on com­mu­ni­ca­tion, the ben­e­fits mix, and under­stand­ing what is impor­tant to each gen­er­a­tion, your com­pa­ny may well be on its way to a suc­cess­ful ben­e­fits strategy.

  • 6 Ways to Reduce Burnout When You’re Understaffed

    March 7, 2022

    Tags: , , ,

    Question

    We’ve been both super busy and under­staffed recent­ly. Is there any­thing we can do dur­ing this time to help our employ­ees avoid extra stress or burnout before we can hire more employees?

    Answer

    Yes. Here are a few things you can do to make this time run as smooth­ly and stress-free as possible:

    Remove nonessen­tial work duties: For the posi­tions that seem most stretched, make a list of tasks that could be put on hold (or per­haps reas­signed). You can invite input from employ­ees, too, but I’d rec­om­mend acknowl­edg­ing that they’re over­whelmed and say­ing that you’ll do your best to alle­vi­ate some of the pres­sure. Then hold off on nonessen­tial tasks until busi­ness slows down or you’ve increased your headcount.

    Allow for flex­i­ble sched­ul­ing: If employ­ees need to work longer hours on some days dur­ing the week, con­sid­er allow­ing them to work few­er hours on oth­er days of the week. Note that some states have dai­ly over­time, spread-of-hours, or split-shift laws.

    Bud­get for over­time: Employ­ees may need to work extra hours to keep up with the cur­rent demands of their job, so allow them to work over­time if you (and they) can swing it. If you’re pret­ty sure over­time will be nec­es­sary, inform employ­ees of that ahead of time, so they can plan accordingly.

    Ensure all equip­ment is fast and reli­able: It’s impor­tant to iden­ti­fy, trou­bleshoot, and cor­rect any slow or non­work­ing equip­ment issues (such as lap­tops, inter­net hard­ware, cash reg­is­ters, or vehi­cles). If not resolved, these issues can slow down work and add to everyone’s stress.

    Look for ways to auto­mate: Con­sid­er whether any of your employ­ees’ man­u­al and time-con­sum­ing tasks could be elim­i­nat­ed or sim­pli­fied with the use of new or dif­fer­ent technology.

    Increase safe­ty pro­to­cols: Employ­ee absences relat­ed to COVID have cre­at­ed a sig­nif­i­cant strain for many employ­ers dur­ing the pan­dem­ic. Shoring up your safe­ty pro­to­cols may reduce the risk of COVID-relat­ed absences because of sick­ness or expo­sure. Depend­ing on your cir­cum­stances, exam­ples include improv­ing ven­ti­la­tion, encour­ag­ing or requir­ing vac­ci­na­tion, requir­ing employ­ees to wear masks, and allow­ing employ­ees to work remote­ly when possible.

    By Megan Lemire

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on Mineral

  • Show Your Heart Some Love

    February 28, 2022

    Tags: ,

    Feb­ru­ary is Amer­i­can Heart Month, a time when all peo­ple can focus on their car­dio­vas­cu­lar health. Do you know how to keep your heart healthy? You can take an active role in reduc­ing your risk for heart dis­ease by eat­ing a healthy diet, engag­ing in phys­i­cal activ­i­ty, and man­ag­ing your cho­les­terol and blood pressure.

    Heart dis­ease accounts for near­ly one-third of all deaths world­wide. Stud­ies and experts rec­om­mend exer­cise as an impor­tant way to main­tain­ing a healthy heart, but your diet plays a major role in heart health and can impact your risk of heart dis­ease. The most impor­tant fac­tor in healthy eat­ing is hav­ing a bal­anced diet, watch­ing por­tions, and eat­ing foods you actu­al­ly enjoy. This will allow you to stick with it for the long term.

    Let’s take a clos­er look at the 4 key fac­tors for a heart healthy diet and exam­ples of how you can incor­po­rate them into your dai­ly life:

    1. Fruits and Vegetables:
    Leafy green veg­eta­bles are well known for their wealth of vit­a­mins, min­er­als, and antiox­i­dants. An analy­sis of eight stud­ies found that increas­ing leafy green veg­etable intake was asso­ci­at­ed with up to a 16% low­er inci­dence of heart disease.

    2. Healthy Proteins:
    Lean meat, poul­try and fish, low-fat dairy prod­ucts and eggs are some of your best sources of pro­tein. Legumes – beans, peas and lentils – are good, low-fat sources of pro­tein and are a good sub­sti­tute for meat. Also, sub­sti­tut­ing plant pro­tein for ani­mal pro­tein – ie. a black bean burg­er for a ham­burg­er – will reduce your fat & cho­les­terol intake and increase your fiber intake.

    3. Healthy Fats:
    Not all fats are bad. Foods with monoun­sat­u­rat­ed and polyun­sat­u­rat­ed fats are impor­tant for your brain and heart. Lim­it foods with trans-fats, which increase the risk for heart disease.

    4. Whole Grains:
    Whole grains are good sources of fiber and oth­er nutri­ents that play a role in reg­u­lat­ing blood pres­sure and heart health.

    Eat­ing heart healthy is a lifestyle, it’s about nutri­tion, bal­ance and retrain­ing our mind to make bet­ter food choic­es. What you eat can influ­ence almost every aspect of heart health, from blood pres­sure and inflam­ma­tion to cho­les­terol lev­els and triglyc­erides. A well-bal­anced diet can help keep your heart in good shape and min­i­mize your risk of heart dis­ease. With plan­ning and a few sim­ple sub­sti­tu­tions, you can eat with your heart in mind!

  • Pros and Cons of the Gig Economy

    February 22, 2022

    Tags: , , ,

    Since the start of the pan­dem­ic, the gig econ­o­my has become more ubiq­ui­tous. Human Resources lead­ers need to under­stand the new kind of work­er attract­ed to the world of gigs, and learn how to make that kind of non-tra­di­tion­al work­er fit into their teams.

    Some mis­tak­en­ly believe that the gig econ­o­my, also known as the shared econ­o­my, only refers to on-demand jobs like dri­ving for Uber or Lyft or mak­ing Ama­zon deliv­er­ies. How­ev­er, it is also applic­a­ble to white-col­lar jobs. It’s becom­ing a solu­tion for employ­ees, who need more flex­i­bil­i­ty, and employ­ers, who need tal­ent dur­ing a his­toric labor short­age. The HR Exchange Net­work’s State of HR Report revealed that HR lead­ers hold flex­i­ble work cul­ture as a top pri­or­i­ty, sec­ond only to employ­ee engage­ment and expe­ri­ence. Buy­ing into gig work might be a way to address both those priorities.

    What Is the Gig Economy?

    “The gig econ­o­my is a free mar­ket sys­tem in which tem­po­rary, flex­i­ble jobs are com­mon­place and com­pa­nies bring on inde­pen­dent con­trac­tors and free­lancers instead of full-time employ­ees, and in many cas­es, for short-term engage­ments,” accord­ing to Embro­ker.

    A look at the num­bers demon­strates how impor­tant it is for HR lead­ers to pay atten­tion and get up to speed on how this new kind of work arrange­ment could influ­ence their busi­ness. By 2023, the glob­al gig econ­o­my is expect­ed to be a $455 bil­lion indus­try, accord­ing to Har­vard Busi­ness Review. Two mil­lion new work­ers joined the U.S. free­lance work­force in 2020. In fact, one in three work­ing Amer­i­cans rely on free­lanc­ing for all or part of their income. Gallup esti­mates rough­ly 57 mil­lion Amer­i­cans are gig work­ers, accord­ing to Forbes.

    “The rapid­ly accel­er­at­ing growth of the gig econ­o­my rep­re­sents one of the most sig­nif­i­cant and all-encom­pass­ing chal­lenges faced by Human Resources pro­fes­sion­als,” accord­ing to SHRM. “The fun­da­men­tal ques­tion is whether Human Resources can demon­strate the agili­ty to lead the change in cul­ture, pro­grams, process­es, and poli­cies orig­i­nal­ly designed for work com­plet­ed by full-time employ­ees to a new era when more of the work is being com­plet­ed by a tal­ent port­fo­lio increas­ing­ly rep­re­sent­ed by con­tin­gent work­ers (also referred to as gig­sters, free agents, tem­po­rary help, agency work­ers, on-call work­ers, con­tract work­ers, inde­pen­dent con­trac­tors, or freelancers).”

    Pros of the Gig Economy

    Affordable Labor

    A full-time employ­ee requires a salary and ben­e­fits. You have to make hefty invest­ments in train­ing and career pro­gres­sion. Hir­ing an on-demand work­er elim­i­nates the need for all that. You pay them per project or on an hourly basis for as long as you need them. They usu­al­ly can work remote­ly or only need to come into an office or place of busi­ness on a lim­it­ed basis.

    Specific Skills or Talents

    Some­times, you need an expert in an area for one or two projects and not on a reg­u­lar basis. Being able to hire con­tract work­ers as you need them means you can look for exact­ly what you need at that moment. You don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly have to wor­ry about well-round­ed skills like you might with a full-time hire.

    Flexibility

    Free­lancers and on-demand hires offer flex­i­bil­i­ty. Even if you’re renew­ing a con­tract with one of them on a reg­u­lar basis, you only have to pay them for the work they actu­al­ly do. You can turn to them when the work demands more help or when their par­tic­u­lar ser­vice will enhance outcomes.

    Cons of the Gig Economy

    Carousel of Workers

    Team dynam­ics can be hard to pin down when you are always work­ing with dif­fer­ent peo­ple. Even if you con­sis­tent­ly work with the same free­lancers, they are not bound by the same par­tic­i­pa­tion expec­ta­tions as full-time work­ers. This can make it even more chal­leng­ing to define a cul­ture or help teams bet­ter collaborate.

    Different Kind of Relationships

    There’s more of a hier­ar­chy when you are work­ing with full-time employ­ees. Man­agers and super­vi­sors over­see their work and usu­al­ly pro­vide some sort of per­for­mance mea­sure­ments to track their progress. With free­lancers, you are their client. They are still work­ing for you, but it changes the dynam­ic of the relationship.

    This becomes most com­pli­cat­ed with con­tin­gent work­ers, who work con­sis­tent­ly for a com­pa­ny but with­out job secu­ri­ty or tra­di­tion­al ben­e­fits. They do this for a num­ber of rea­sons, includ­ing hav­ing more free­dom over their sched­ules, being able to work for oth­ers, and being their own boss. As a result, the con­tract dic­tates their work more than the man­ag­er does. How­ev­er, the man­ag­er or com­pa­ny could end up being a dis­sat­is­fied cus­tomer, and con­tin­gent work­ers can be let go at any time and you don’t have to prove they deserved to be fired.

    Lack of Routine

    If you’re work­ing with a blend­ed team – full-time employ­ees and free­lancers or con­tin­gent work­ers – you might have a hard time cre­at­ing a sol­id sched­ule or rou­tine for the group. Poten­tial­ly you could still get the job done, but full-time employ­ees might feel incon­ve­nienced or maybe even a bit resent­ful. They have to be in one place for a cer­tain amount of time, where­as their free­lance coun­ter­parts are free to work on their own clock.

    Obvi­ous­ly, there are pros and cons to the gig econ­o­my. But HR lead­ers can’t afford to ignore the fact that there is a soci­etal shift toward this kind of work­place, where peo­ple have more free­dom over their sched­ules, the kind of work they do, and even the rela­tion­ship they have with employ­ers. There’s still so much we have to fig­ure out when it comes to the gig economy.

    “Online gig work has grown increas­ing­ly com­mon in recent years – and yet there’s still lim­it­ed under­stand­ing of how to effec­tive­ly sup­port these non-tra­di­tion­al work­ers,” accord­ing to Har­vard Busi­ness Review. “While gig work­ers can ben­e­fit from greater flex­i­bil­i­ty and auton­o­my than tra­di­tion­al employ­ees, they also face unique chal­lenges: less job secu­ri­ty, few­er resources for career devel­op­ment, and often, a strong sense of alien­ation and dif­fi­cul­ty find­ing mean­ing in their work.”

    In fact, many reports have sug­gest­ed that HR lead­ers in the future will pro­vide access to resources regard­ing ben­e­fits like med­ical insur­ance instead of pay­ing for it as they would for a full-time employ­ee. Com­pa­nies may begin to sup­port co-work­ing spaces to pre­vent iso­la­tion of their con­tin­gent or free­lance work­ers. The point is that change is afoot, and HR lead­ers are paving the way for this new work paradigm.

    By Francesca Di Meglio

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on HR Exchange Network

  • What Employees Want: Well-Being Programs

    February 16, 2022

    Tags: , ,

    Work­place well­ness pro­grams have increased in the past sev­er­al years to pro­mote healthy diets and lifestyle, exer­cise and oth­er behav­iors such as quit­ting smok­ing.  As of 2020, most employ­ers had well­ness pro­grams of some kind, includ­ing 53% of small firms (those with 3–200 employ­ees) and 81% of large com­pa­nies.  Since employ­ees spend most of their wak­ing hours on the job, well­ness pro­grams seem to be a nat­ur­al fit to try to pro­mote healthy changes in behav­ior.  But, in 2022, employ­ees want more; many work­ers are look­ing for employ­ers who show authen­tic con­cern for their well-being.

    Well-being is about how our lives are going.  It’s not only about health and hap­pi­ness but also about liv­ing life to its fullest poten­tial.  In fact, data shows that employ­ees of all gen­er­a­tions rank “the orga­ni­za­tion cares about the employ­ees’ well-being” in their top three criteria.

    Finan­cial stress soared dur­ing the pan­dem­ic but so did reg­u­lar stress, too.  Men­tal health strug­gles such as anx­i­ety, depres­sion, and sub­stance abuse are also climb­ing.  These are expen­sive issues to ignore both in terms of the human suf­fer­ing but also the company’s bot­tom line: Depres­sion alone costs an esti­mat­ed $210.5 bil­lion per year.  These costs are due to absen­teeism (missed work days) and pre­sen­teeism (reduced pro­duc­tiv­i­ty at work) as well as direct med­ical costs (out­pa­tient and inpa­tient med­ical ser­vices and phar­ma­cy costs).

    Employ­ers must rec­og­nize the inter­re­la­tion­ship between the phys­i­cal, finan­cial, work and well-being com­po­nents of employ­ees’ lives.  For exam­ple, employ­ees who need help with their finan­cial well-being are sig­nif­i­cant­ly less like­ly to be phys­i­cal­ly healthy and more like­ly to report feel­ing stressed or anx­ious which can impact pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and job per­for­mance.  Vice Pres­i­dent for Com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Fideli­ty Invest­ments in Boston, Mike Sham­rell,  rec­og­nizes the need for all dimen­sions of well­ness.  “It’s tough to be well in one area when you’re unwell in anoth­er,” he said.

    Well-being is often asso­ci­at­ed with gym mem­ber­ships and green smooth­ies but it is much more than that; it is a result of many dif­fer­ent aspects of one’s life.  Here are 5 com­mon dimen­sions of well-being that can be addressed through a work­place well­ness program:

    • Emotional/Mental Health – Under­stand­ing your feel­ings and cop­ing with stress.
    • Phys­i­cal Health – Dis­cov­er­ing how self-care can improve your life and productivity.
    • Finan­cial Health – Suc­cess­ful­ly man­ag­ing your money.
    • Social Con­nect­ed­ness – Cre­at­ing and being a part of a sup­port network.
    • Occu­pa­tion­al Well-Being– Feel­ing appre­ci­at­ed at work and sat­is­fied in your contributions.

    Great employ­ees want great employ­ers.  Com­pa­nies that want cre­ative, high-per­form­ing teams must be will­ing to sup­port work­ers both in and out of the office.  Well-being has a major influ­ence on an employee’s per­for­mance and sat­is­fac­tion; employ­ees who feel val­ued and appre­ci­at­ed are more invest­ed in their com­pa­ny in return.

  • What You Need to Know About Healthcare Benefits in 2022

    February 8, 2022

    Tags: , ,

    While the new year feels like a fresh start for most work­ers, it’s also expect­ed to come with a spike in health insur­ance pre­mi­ums. Pre­mi­ums and deductibles have been steadi­ly increas­ing for years. The Kaiser Fam­i­ly Foun­da­tion (KFF) found that pre­mi­ums for a fam­i­ly rose 4% in 2021, accord­ing to a sur­vey focused on employ­er-spon­sored benefits.

    The aver­age fam­i­ly pays $22,221 in pre­mi­ums, accord­ing to KFF. Work­ers con­tributed $5,969 toward their cov­er­age, while employ­ers paid the rest. In fact, since 2011 the aver­age fam­i­ly pre­mi­ums have increased 47%, which KFF found was more than wages (31%) and infla­tion (19%).

    Not only is this a finan­cial hard­ship for Amer­i­can fam­i­lies, but it’s also drain­ing com­pa­nies that are strug­gling to main­tain employ­ee cov­er­age. To com­pli­cate the mat­ter, sev­er­al fed­er­al pro­grams pro­vid­ing sup­port for health­care are due to expire in 2022.

    What to Expect in Healthcare Coverage

    Ris­ing health­care pre­mi­ums are only part of the prob­lem. Deductibles are also sky­rock­et­ing. This is the amount work­ers have to pay before insur­ance kicks in and could make a huge finan­cial dif­fer­ence for fam­i­lies deal­ing with a seri­ous health issue.

    The aver­age sin­gle deductible has dou­bled in the last decade to $1,669. For the more afford­able health­care plans, deductibles can be as high as $8,000. Over­all, 85% of the 155 Amer­i­cans with employ­er-spon­sored cov­er­age have a deductible.

    Anoth­er sur­vey con­duct­ed by the Busi­ness Group on Health antic­i­pates health­care costs increas­ing by as much as 6% in 2022. Ana­lysts point­ed out that 2021 rates actu­al­ly flat­tened out slight­ly because many Amer­i­cans avoid­ed treat­ments dur­ing the pan­dem­ic. That’s expect­ed to end in 2022, which will dri­ve up prices. Of all employ­ers sur­veyed by BGOH, 94% expect­ed high­er med­ical costs because of delays in treatment.

    Expiring Federal Support Programs

    Fed­er­al leg­is­la­tion is also expir­ing in Jan­u­ary 2022. The Coro­n­avirus Aid, Relief, and Eco­nom­ic Secu­ri­ty (CARES) Act was one of the first bills signed in 2020 to help work­ers. It gave mon­ey to busi­ness­es, enhanced unem­ploy­ment pro­grams, and fund­ed hospitals.

    One pro­vi­sion known as “safe har­bor” allowed high-deductible health plans to cov­er tele­health and remote care ser­vices at lit­tle to no cost. The CARES act expired on Decem­ber 31 and will now impact who is eli­gi­ble for tele­health services.

    Anoth­er rule under the Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan Act (ARPA) in 2021 allowed for mid-year elec­tion changes for Depen­dent Care Reim­burse­ment Accounts (DCRA). This allowed work­ers to elect high­er lim­its to help pay for child­care pre-tax. The ARPA also expires on Decem­ber 31. If the new high­er exclu­sion lim­it is not extend­ed into 2022, fam­i­lies will have to con­tend with the pre­vi­ous $5,000 limit.

    Around 30 mil­lion Amer­i­cans get their health cov­er­age from the Mar­ket­place, which was estab­lished by the Afford­able Care Act. With more enrollees and more avail­able plans in 2022, experts antic­i­pate a change in pre­mi­um sub­si­dies that could increase the total price peo­ple have to pay.

    Navigating the Future

    Regard­less of what employ­ers decide to do, HR depart­ments need to be proac­tive in guid­ing employ­ees through the process. Health­care deci­sions are com­plex and no com­pa­ny wants dis­grun­tled work­ers as a result of cut­ting or switch­ing plans with­out notice. Clear com­mu­ni­ca­tion and assis­tance are nec­es­sary to ensure a smooth tran­si­tion that is ben­e­fi­cial for everyone.

    Com­pa­nies and HR depart­ments should also keep in mind that the ben­e­fits they ulti­mate­ly choose will define future recruit­ing. Health­care ben­e­fits are a top deci­sion-mak­ing fac­tor for most prospects.

    By Mcken­zie Cassidy

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on HR Exchange Network

  • Pros and Cons of the Gig Economy

    January 31, 2022

    Tags: ,

    Since the start of the pan­dem­ic, the gig econ­o­my has become more ubiq­ui­tous. Human Resources lead­ers need to under­stand the new kind of work­er attract­ed to the world of gigs, and learn how to make that kind of non-tra­di­tion­al work­er fit into their teams.

    Some mis­tak­en­ly believe that the gig econ­o­my, also known as the shared econ­o­my, only refers to on-demand jobs like dri­ving for Uber or Lyft or mak­ing Ama­zon deliv­er­ies. How­ev­er, it is also applic­a­ble to white-col­lar jobs. It’s becom­ing a solu­tion for employ­ees, who need more flex­i­bil­i­ty, and employ­ers, who need tal­ent dur­ing a his­toric labor short­age. The HR Exchange Net­work’s State of HR Report revealed that HR lead­ers hold flex­i­ble work cul­ture as a top pri­or­i­ty, sec­ond only to employ­ee engage­ment and expe­ri­ence. Buy­ing into gig work might be a way to address both those priorities.

    What Is the Gig Economy?

    “The gig econ­o­my is a free mar­ket sys­tem in which tem­po­rary, flex­i­ble jobs are com­mon­place and com­pa­nies bring on inde­pen­dent con­trac­tors and free­lancers instead of full-time employ­ees, and in many cas­es, for short-term engage­ments,” accord­ing to Embro­ker.

    A look at the num­bers demon­strates how impor­tant it is for HR lead­ers to pay atten­tion and get up to speed on how this new kind of work arrange­ment could influ­ence their busi­ness. By 2023, the glob­al gig econ­o­my is expect­ed to be a $455 bil­lion indus­try, accord­ing to Har­vard Busi­ness Review. Two mil­lion new work­ers joined the U.S. free­lance work­force in 2020. In fact, one in three work­ing Amer­i­cans rely on free­lanc­ing for all or part of their income. Gallup esti­mates rough­ly 57 mil­lion Amer­i­cans are gig work­ers, accord­ing to Forbes.

    “The rapid­ly accel­er­at­ing growth of the gig econ­o­my rep­re­sents one of the most sig­nif­i­cant and all-encom­pass­ing chal­lenges faced by Human Resources pro­fes­sion­als,” accord­ing to SHRM. “The fun­da­men­tal ques­tion is whether Human Resources can demon­strate the agili­ty to lead the change in cul­ture, pro­grams, process­es, and poli­cies orig­i­nal­ly designed for work com­plet­ed by full-time employ­ees to a new era when more of the work is being com­plet­ed by a tal­ent port­fo­lio increas­ing­ly rep­re­sent­ed by con­tin­gent work­ers (also referred to as gig­sters, free agents, tem­po­rary help, agency work­ers, on-call work­ers, con­tract work­ers, inde­pen­dent con­trac­tors, or freelancers).”

    Pros of the Gig Economy

    Affordable Labor

    A full-time employ­ee requires a salary and ben­e­fits. You have to make hefty invest­ments in train­ing and career pro­gres­sion. Hir­ing an on-demand work­er elim­i­nates the need for all that. You pay them per project or on an hourly basis for as long as you need them. They usu­al­ly can work remote­ly or only need to come into an office or place of busi­ness on a lim­it­ed basis.

    Specific Skills or Talents

    Some­times, you need an expert in an area for one or two projects and not on a reg­u­lar basis. Being able to hire con­tract work­ers as you need them means you can look for exact­ly what you need at that moment. You don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly have to wor­ry about well-round­ed skills like you might with a full-time hire.

    Flexibility

    Free­lancers and on-demand hires offer flex­i­bil­i­ty. Even if you’re renew­ing a con­tract with one of them on a reg­u­lar basis, you only have to pay them for the work they actu­al­ly do. You can turn to them when the work demands more help or when their par­tic­u­lar ser­vice will enhance outcomes.

    Cons of the Gig Economy

    Carousel of Workers

    Team dynam­ics can be hard to pin down when you are always work­ing with dif­fer­ent peo­ple. Even if you con­sis­tent­ly work with the same free­lancers, they are not bound by the same par­tic­i­pa­tion expec­ta­tions as full-time work­ers. This can make it even more chal­leng­ing to define a cul­ture or help teams bet­ter collaborate.

    Different Kind of Relationships

    There’s more of a hier­ar­chy when you are work­ing with full-time employ­ees. Man­agers and super­vi­sors over­see their work and usu­al­ly pro­vide some sort of per­for­mance mea­sure­ments to track their progress. With free­lancers, you are their client. They are still work­ing for you, but it changes the dynam­ic of the relationship.

    This becomes most com­pli­cat­ed with con­tin­gent work­ers, who work con­sis­tent­ly for a com­pa­ny but with­out job secu­ri­ty or tra­di­tion­al ben­e­fits. They do this for a num­ber of rea­sons, includ­ing hav­ing more free­dom over their sched­ules, being able to work for oth­ers, and being their own boss. As a result, the con­tract dic­tates their work more than the man­ag­er does. How­ev­er, the man­ag­er or com­pa­ny could end up being a dis­sat­is­fied cus­tomer, and con­tin­gent work­ers can be let go at any time and you don’t have to prove they deserved to be fired.

    Lack of Routine

    If you’re work­ing with a blend­ed team – full-time employ­ees and free­lancers or con­tin­gent work­ers – you might have a hard time cre­at­ing a sol­id sched­ule or rou­tine for the group. Poten­tial­ly you could still get the job done, but full-time employ­ees might feel incon­ve­nienced or maybe even a bit resent­ful. They have to be in one place for a cer­tain amount of time, where­as their free­lance coun­ter­parts are free to work on their own clock.

    Obvi­ous­ly, there are pros and cons to the gig econ­o­my. But HR lead­ers can’t afford to ignore the fact that there is a soci­etal shift toward this kind of work­place, where peo­ple have more free­dom over their sched­ules, the kind of work they do, and even the rela­tion­ship they have with employ­ers. There’s still so much we have to fig­ure out when it comes to the gig economy.

    “Online gig work has grown increas­ing­ly com­mon in recent years – and yet there’s still lim­it­ed under­stand­ing of how to effec­tive­ly sup­port these non-tra­di­tion­al work­ers,” accord­ing to Har­vard Busi­ness Review. “While gig work­ers can ben­e­fit from greater flex­i­bil­i­ty and auton­o­my than tra­di­tion­al employ­ees, they also face unique chal­lenges: less job secu­ri­ty, few­er resources for career devel­op­ment, and often, a strong sense of alien­ation and dif­fi­cul­ty find­ing mean­ing in their work.”

    In fact, many reports have sug­gest­ed that HR lead­ers in the future will pro­vide access to resources regard­ing ben­e­fits like med­ical insur­ance instead of pay­ing for it as they would for a full-time employ­ee. Com­pa­nies may begin to sup­port co-work­ing spaces to pre­vent iso­la­tion of their con­tin­gent or free­lance work­ers. The point is that change is afoot, and HR lead­ers are paving the way for this new work paradigm.

    By Francesca Di Meglio

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on HR Exchange Network

  • Healthy Eating Tips

    January 24, 2022

    Tags:

    It can some­times feel as if we’re bom­bard­ed with infor­ma­tion about the lat­est eat­ing trend or buzz­wor­thy ingre­di­ent. But good nutri­tion is real­ly about hav­ing a well-round­ed diet, and it’s eas­i­er to do than you may think. In fact, liv­ing a nutri­tious lifestyle can be easy and fun.

    Nutri­tion is about more than vitamins—it also includes fiber and healthy fats. Now is a per­fect time to learn sim­ple ways to help your whole fam­i­ly eat healthier.

    Need tips specif­i­cal­ly for young chil­dren? Learn how to intro­duce kids to healthy foods.

    Add healthy fats.

    Not all fats are bad. Foods with monoun­sat­u­rat­ed and polyun­sat­u­rat­ed fats are impor­tant for your brain and heart. Lim­it foods with trans fats, which increase the risk for heart dis­ease. Good sources of healthy fats include olive oil, nuts, seeds, cer­tain types of fish, and avocados.

    Try this:

    • Top lean meats with sliced avo­ca­do, or try some avo­ca­do in your morn­ing smoothie.
    • Sprin­kle nuts or seeds (like sliv­ered almonds or pump­kin seeds) on soups or salads.
    • Add a fish with healthy fats, like salmon or tuna, into your meals twice a week.
    • Swap processed oils (like canola or soy­bean oil) for oils that are cold-pressed, like extra-vir­gin olive oil and sesame oil.

    Cut the sodium.

    Good nutri­tion is about bal­ance, and that means not get­ting too much of cer­tain ingre­di­ents, such as sodi­um (salt). Sodi­um increas­es blood pres­sure, which rais­es the risk for heart dis­ease and stroke. About 90% of Amer­i­cans 2 years old or old­er con­sume too much sodi­um. For most peo­ple ages 14 years and old­er, sodi­um should not exceed 2,300 mg per day.

    Try this:

    • Avoid processed and prepack­aged food, which can be full of hid­den sodi­um. Many com­mon foods, includ­ing breads, piz­za, and deli meats, can be sources of hid­den sodium.
    • At the gro­cery store, look for prod­ucts that say “low sodium.”
    • At restau­rants, ask for sauces and dress­ings on the side. Get more tips for low­er­ing sodi­um while eat­ing out.
    • Instead of using salt, add deli­cious fla­vor to your meals with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a dash of no-salt spice blends, or fresh herbs.

    Bump up your fiber.

    Fiber in your diet not only keeps you reg­u­lar, it also helps you feel fuller longer. Fiber also helps con­trol blood sug­ar and low­ers cho­les­terol lev­els.3,4 Fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles, whole grains, and legumes (beans and peas) are good sources of fiber.

    Try this:

    • Slice up raw veg­gies and keep them in to-go bag­gies to use as quick snacks.
    • Start your day off with a high-fiber break­fast like whole grain oat­meal sprin­kled with pecans or macadamia nuts.
    • Steam veg­gies rather than boil­ing them. When buy­ing frozen veg­gies, look for ones that have been “flash frozen.”
    • Add half a cup of beans or peas to your sal­ad to add fiber, tex­ture, and flavor.

    Aim for a variety of colors on your plate.

    Foods like dark, leafy greens, oranges, and tomatoes—even fresh herbs—are loaded with vit­a­mins, fiber, and minerals.

    Try this:

    • Sprin­kle fresh herbs over a sal­ad or whole wheat pasta.
    • Make a red sauce using canned toma­toes (look for “low sodi­um” or “no salt added”), fresh herbs, and spices.
    • Add diced veg­gies like pep­pers, broc­coli, or onions to stews and omelets to give them a boost of col­or and nutrients.

    Are you eat­ing healthy to help you get to a healthy weight? Learn more about bal­anced eat­ing.

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC)

  • Healthy Teeth, Healthy Mouth, Healthy You!

    January 18, 2022

    Tags: ,

    Did you know that prob­lems in your mouth can affect the rest of your body? Or that your den­tal health offers clues about your over­all health?  Poor den­tal health con­tributes to major sys­temic health prob­lems. Con­verse­ly, good den­tal hygiene can help improve your over­all health.  As a bonus, main­tain­ing good oral health can even REDUCE your health­care costs!

    Researchers have shown us that there is a close-knit rela­tion­ship between oral health and over­all well­ness. With over 700 types of bac­te­ria in your mouth, it’s no sur­prise that when even one of those types of bac­te­ria enter your blood­stream that a prob­lem can arise in your body. Oral bac­te­ria can con­tribute to:

    1. Endo­cardi­tis—The infec­tion of the inner lin­ing of the heart can be caused by bac­te­ria that start­ed in your mouth.
    2. Car­dio­vas­cu­lar Dis­ease—Heart dis­ease, as well as clogged arter­ies and even stroke, can be traced back to oral bacteria.
    3. Low birth weight—Poor oral health has been linked to pre­ma­ture birth and low birth weight of newborns.

    Over $45 bil­lion is lost in pro­duc­tiv­i­ty in the Unit­ed States each year because of untreat­ed oral health prob­lems.  These oral dis­eases can result in the need for cost­ly emer­gency room vis­its, hos­pi­tal stays, and med­ica­tions, not to men­tion loss of work time. The pain and dis­com­fort from infect­ed teeth and gums can lead to poor pro­duc­tiv­i­ty in the work­place, and even loss of income. Chil­dren with poor oral health are more prone to ill­ness and may require a par­ent to stay home from work to care for them and take them to cost­ly den­tal appoint­ments.  In fact, over 34 mil­lion school hours are lost each year because of emer­gency den­tal care.

    So, how do you pre­vent this night­mare of pain, dis­ease, and increased health­care costs? It’s sim­ple! By fol­low­ing through with your rou­tine year­ly den­tal check-ups and dai­ly pre­ven­ta­tive care, you will give your body a big boost in its gen­er­al health. Check out these tips for a healthy mouth:

    • Main­tain a reg­u­lar brushing/flossing routine—Brush and floss teeth twice dai­ly to remove food and plaque from your teeth, and in between your teeth where bac­te­ria thrive.
    • Use the right toothbrush—When your bris­tles are mashed and bent, you aren’t using the best instru­ment for clean­ing your teeth. Make sure to buy a new tooth­brush every three months. If you have braces, get a tooth­brush that can eas­i­ly clean around the brack­ets on your teeth.
    • Vis­it your dentist—Visit your den­tist for a check-up every 6 months. He/she will be able to look into that win­dow to your body and keep your mouth clear of bac­te­ria. Your den­tist will also be able to alert you to prob­lems they see as a pos­si­ble warn­ing sign to oth­er health issues, like dia­betes, that have a major impact on your over­all health and health­care costs.
    • Eat a healthy diet—Staying away from sug­ary foods and drinks will pre­vent cav­i­ties and tooth decay from the acids pro­duced when bac­te­ria in your mouth comes in con­tact with sug­ar. Starch­es have a sim­i­lar effect. Eat­ing healthy will reduce your out of pock­et costs of fill­ings, hav­ing decayed teeth pulled, and will keep you from the increased health costs of dia­betes, obe­si­ty-relat­ed dis­eases, and oth­er chron­ic conditions.
    • Drink more water—Water is the best bev­er­age for your over­all health—including oral health. Drink­ing water after every meal can help wash out some of the neg­a­tive effects of sticky and acidic foods and bev­er­ages in between brushes.

    A healthy oral hygiene rou­tine will do won­ders for your teeth, mouth, and smile from a den­tal per­spec­tive.  Oral health is also a key indi­ca­tor of over­all health and well-being.  That should keep the rest of your body smil­ing as well!

  • How to Make (and Keep!) a New Year’s Resolution

    January 10, 2022

    Tags: , ,

    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. 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, achiev­able goals to focus your ener­gies on rather than spread­ing your­self too thin on lofty goals.

    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 set­ting a goal that is too vague.  You can’t get to your des­ti­na­tion if you don’t know where you are going.   A goal like “I want to try hard­er at work” or “I want to save more mon­ey this year” is too gen­er­al a notion that does not give you some­thing spe­cif­ic to work towards or a well-defined path to fol­low.  And if you can’t pro­vide spe­cif­ic bench­marks, you can’t mea­sure your progress.

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

    Plan Ahead

    To ensure suc­cess, plan ahead so you can have the resources avail­able when you need them.  Then, you won’t have excus­es for why you can’t fol­low through.  Here are a few things you can do to prepare:

    • Read up on it – Get books on the sub­ject. Whether it’s tak­ing up run­ning or becom­ing a veg­e­tar­i­an, there are books to help you pre­pare for it.
    • Plan for suc­cess – Get every­thing you need so things will go smooth­ly. If you are tak­ing up run­ning, make sure you have the clothes, shoes, and playlists so that you are ready to get started.
    Reward Yourself Along the Way

    Small rewards are great encour­age­ment to keep you going dur­ing the hard­est first days.  After that, you can try to reward your­self once a week with a lunch with a friend, a nap, or what­ev­er makes you tick.  Lat­er, you can change the rewards to month­ly and even pick an anniver­sary reward!

    Write Your Goals Down on Paper

    Writ­ing estab­lish­es inten­tion but action needs to be tak­en to achieve your res­o­lu­tion.  Have a writ­ten account of your goals is a con­stant reminder to take action.  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.” 

    Start When You’re Ready

    When you launch your res­o­lu­tion on Jan­u­ary 1st, you are mak­ing a change based on a cal­en­dar date.  What are the chances that you’re going to be ready for a life change at exact­ly the same time the cal­en­dar rolls over to a new year?  There’s no need to launch your res­o­lu­tion on Jan­u­ary 1st or even in Jan­u­ary.  Start work­ing on your goal when you’re ready.  That’s not to say that you need to wait until you feel ful­ly con­fi­dent before start­ing (that may nev­er hap­pen).  Delay­ing your goal a few weeks or a few months is bet­ter than aban­don­ing it altogether.

    Identify Your Purpose

    Know­ing your “WHAT” (goal) is impor­tant but know­ing your “WHY” can be just as impor­tant when it comes to fol­low­ing through on your inten­tions. Why do you want to lose weight in 2022? 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. Com­mit to mak­ing this year the year that your res­o­lu­tion is going to stick!

  • HR Trends to Watch in 2022

    January 5, 2022

    Tags: , , ,

    Human Resources lead­ers are always being asked to look into a crys­tal ball and pre­dict the future. You prob­a­bly don’t have any super pow­ers. But your Spidey sense might be telling you that a few trends that are sur­fac­ing are like­ly to stick around through the new year, 2022.

    The coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic has changed your work and life. Slow­ly, things are improv­ing and you’re get­ting your orga­ni­za­tion (not to men­tion your­self) used to the new nor­mal. While you’re set­tling in (and still hav­ing an occa­sion­al pan­ic attack, no judg­ment), you might want to pay spe­cial atten­tion to what’s com­ing next.

    Transformation of Human Resources

    There’s no doubt that the biggest sto­ry of 2021, the Great Res­ig­na­tion, will spill over into 2022. When the pan­dem­ic began in 2020, HR lead­ers sud­den­ly had a seat at the table. You were charged with being the light as peo­ple nav­i­gat­ed safe­ty pro­to­col and tran­si­tioned to remote teams in the dark­ness. Your stature only con­tin­ued to grow.

    Then, peo­ple start­ed quit­ting jobs in droves. In 2021, you fig­ured out why this was hap­pen­ing. Peo­ple were tired of low wages, lack of child care and health­care, and an over­all malaise about the kind of work they were doing. Some renamed the era the Great Reshuf­fling because peo­ple were seek­ing a bet­ter fit in their work and more work-life bal­ance. In 2022, you will be deter­min­ing the best ways to recruit and retain top tal­ent. These strate­gies won’t be as basic they once were. It will def­i­nite­ly be a case of out with the old and in with the new.

    Four-Day Workweek

    In the wake of the pan­dem­ic, employ­ees learned how to be ultra-pro­duc­tive at home. They used the extra time that remote work afford­ed (with­out a com­mute) to enjoy their fam­i­lies, pur­sue their hob­bies, and get in a lit­tle me time. Peo­ple don’t want to give that up. Employ­ees have the lever­age now, and they are ask­ing for more flex­i­bil­i­ty in their sched­ules. While that’s already hap­pen­ing, some are talk­ing about tak­ing flex­i­bil­i­ty even further.

    All this prompt­ed dis­cus­sions about the four-day work­week, a con­cept that has come up before. The debate will con­tin­ue on into 2022, and some com­pa­nies may adapt to this sched­ule to woo recruits and retain employ­ees dur­ing what con­tin­ues to be an his­toric labor shortage.

    Mental Health and Wellness

    The pan­dem­ic revealed that men­tal health and well­ness is impor­tant to every­one. No one is immune to stress, espe­cial­ly dur­ing uncer­tain times. Busi­ness­es are rec­og­niz­ing this fact and pro­vid­ing employ­ees with tools for reliev­ing stress, address­ing men­tal ill­ness­es, and pre­vent­ing burnout. Some com­pa­nies are offer­ing more flex­i­bil­i­ty, but they also pro­vide pro­grams. Maybe the employ­er offers a yoga class or med­i­ta­tion time. Some pro­vide men­tal health days as part of paid time off (PTO). Employ­ers are going to get more cre­ative and pay more atten­tion to the men­tal health of their employ­ees mov­ing for­ward. This will only become a big­ger part of HR leadership’s responsibilities.

    Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

    At the height of the pan­dem­ic, the world watched the Black Lives Mat­ter protests unfold before their eyes. Many demand­ed that busi­ness­es take a stand and show their sup­port for the move­ment. By putting the spot­light on injus­tices relat­ed to polic­ing, peo­ple began rec­og­niz­ing the lack of rep­re­sen­ta­tion in lead­er­ship and man­age­ment and even at junior levels.

    While diver­si­ty had been on the minds of HR lead­ers for some time already, DEI strate­gies have risen in terms of pri­or­i­ty. In 2022, you can expect DEI to remain at the fore­front of recruit­ing and reten­tion strategies.

    The Possibility of More Variants

    The Omi­cron vari­ant swept the nation dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son, and it upend­ed plans for a return to the office for many employ­ers. While some tra­di­tion­al­ists are hold­ing out for in-office-only work­ers and some occu­pa­tions require going to a phys­i­cal loca­tion to get the job done, the real­i­ty is that most com­pa­nies will have to keep some lev­el of remote work as an option because of the var­i­ous COVID vari­ants that might sur­face. Until the pan­dem­ic turns into an endem­ic, some com­pa­nies will be remote only. Oth­ers will remain hybrid workplaces.

    Com­ing up with suf­fi­cient strate­gies on how to col­lab­o­rate, forge bonds, con­duct per­for­mance mea­sures, and attain desired results is a must. Of course, there are dread­ed con­ver­sa­tions to be had about mask­ing up and get­ting vac­ci­nat­ed. Take a holis­tic approach, make sure the strat­e­gy match­es your val­ues, and con­sid­er the risks asso­ci­at­ed with what­ev­er deci­sions you make.

    Generational Differences

    For the first time in his­to­ry, four gen­er­a­tions (Boomers, Gen­er­a­tion X, Mil­len­ni­als, and Gen Z) are in the work­force at the same time. The dif­fer­ences among the gen­er­a­tions – from pop cul­ture ref­er­ences to tech savvy – pop up at the water cool­er on a dai­ly basis. The real­i­ty is that Mil­len­ni­als and Gen Z hold most of the pow­er. The Boomers are retir­ing and Gen Xers are the small­est group and often get ignored or forgotten.

    In any case, many HR experts focused on the gen­er­a­tional dif­fer­ences that influ­ence the suc­cess of orga­ni­za­tions. The pan­dem­ic real­ly brought out some of the pro­found dis­agree­ments, like whether to per­mit work­ing from home in any city you choose or push­ing or a return to the office. Gen Z report­ed­ly del­e­gates to their old­er supe­ri­ors, while Mil­len­ni­als take a more mid­dle-of-the-road and even prac­ti­cal approach as they gain esteem and rise to pow­er. These gen­er­a­tional gaps will con­tin­ue into 2022, and you might notice more dif­fer­ences. Cer­tain­ly, HR lead­ers are going to be work­ing hard to unite all these groups. After all, DEI efforts should include age vari­a­tions, too.

    By Francesca Di Meglio

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on HR Exchange Network

  • Benefits Education 101 for Employees

    June 29, 2022

    Tags: ,

    Com­pa­nies spend a large amount of time and mon­ey cre­at­ing valu­able ben­e­fits plans for employ­ees.  But after all that work, they often get low par­tic­i­pa­tion.  Good ben­e­fit choic­es require an effort from employ­ers to ensure that employ­ees have help in under­stand­ing their ben­e­fits options.  To make things even more com­plex, employ­ers are hav­ing to con­sid­er options for a span of 4 gen­er­a­tions in the work­place which can look very dif­fer­ent.  Pro­vid­ing ben­e­fits for a multi­gen­er­a­tional work­place can be chal­leng­ing but it is impor­tant for employ­ers to sim­pli­fy the process by deliv­er­ing edu­ca­tion through the right chan­nels while avoid­ing a one-size-fits-all approach.

    Under­stand­ing your audi­ence and how to effec­tive­ly com­mu­ni­cate with them is the first step in cre­at­ing your ben­e­fits mes­sag­ing. For exam­ple, what are the demo­graph­ics of your work­place? Do you need to pro­vide mul­ti­ple mes­sages across var­i­ous chan­nels? Does your work­place speak Eng­lish, or will you need bilin­gual messaging?

    A recent sur­vey indi­cates that 83% of employ­ers believe that com­mu­ni­ca­tion, employ­ee edu­ca­tion and engage­ment are key for employ­ee participation.

    Here are 5 tips on edu­cat­ing your employ­ees about their ben­e­fits to encour­age ben­e­fits participation:

    1. Break Down Health Insur­ance Options
    • Dis­trib­ute a sim­ple guide that explains the key things employ­ees should know about their health insur­ance and basic ter­mi­nol­o­gy
    • Explain in sim­ple terms about provider net­work, cov­ered pre­scrip­tions, month­ly pre­mi­ums, deductibles, and addi­tion­al plan ben­e­fits, if applicable
    • Have an effi­cient way for employ­ees to man­age ben­e­fits and ask questions
    1. Auto­mate the Process
    1. Make Plans Customizable
    • Pro­vide plen­ty of ben­e­fits options includ­ing med­ical, den­tal and vision from lead­ing carriers
    • Offer a lifestyle ben­e­fits pro­gram that allows employ­ees to per­son­al­ize their plan accord­ing to their needs
    • Con­sid­er offer­ing perks like com­muter ben­e­fits or health club mem­ber­ships to reduce finan­cial bur­dens and encour­age a healthy lifestyle
    1. Pro­vide Mul­ti­ple Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Strategies
    • Offer edu­ca­tion­al tools and chan­nels pre­ferred by employ­ees so they can stay informed year-round to make bet­ter pur­chas­ing decisions
    • Uti­lize effec­tive ben­e­fits edu­ca­tion tools that include in-per­son and vir­tu­al meet­ings, dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tion or print media
    • You can uti­lize a short video to explain key con­cepts; use graphs and images or cre­ate short quizzes for employ­ees to ensure they have read and under­stand the material
    1. Make it Easy to Sign-Up
    • Invest in updat­ed HR and Ben­e­fits tech­nol­o­gy that includes easy mes­sage capa­bil­i­ties such as email, text mes­sage alerts, video sup­port, and live chat integration
    • Pro­vide a Ben­e­fits mobile app
    • Offer a ben­e­fits web­site which hous­es ben­e­fit infor­ma­tion, HR infor­ma­tion, and enroll­ment mate­r­i­al such as “Ben­e­fit­sEasy

    Although you may use one or more of the tips above, it is vital to keep the infor­ma­tion flow­ing through­out the year. A fun way to do this is to pose a month­ly triv­ia ques­tion to your staff relat­ed to the ben­e­fits and well­ness pro­grams you offer and award a prize to the per­son who sub­mits the cor­rect answer. High­light­ing dif­fer­ent fea­tures of your ben­e­fits or well­ness pro­grams each month will keep your employ­ees engaged and informed!

     

  • How to Build a Learning Culture

    June 20, 2022

    Tags: , ,

    Most HR lead­ers agree that build­ing a strong learn­ing cul­ture is the foun­da­tion for achiev­ing pos­i­tive busi­ness out­comes and effec­tive­ly con­fronting the future of work. In addi­tion, a younger gen­er­a­tion of work­ers is demand­ing more of employ­ers, and they expect career devel­op­ment and con­tin­u­ous learn­ing to be the norm. As a result, learn­ing cul­ture influ­ences employ­ee engage­ment and expe­ri­ence, too.

    There­fore, no one is sur­prised that cre­at­ing a learn­ing cul­ture is a top pri­or­i­ty for CHROs and their teams. Recent­ly, learn­ing experts have shared their best advice on devel­op­ing such a cul­ture with HR Exchange Network:

    Get Leadership Buy-In

    At the HR Exchange Net­work Cor­po­rate Learn­ing Spring online event, Rashim Mogha, Skill­soft Gen­er­al Man­ag­er, Lead­er­ship & Busi­ness Port­fo­lio, talked about how to effec­tive­ly train peo­ple to be bet­ter lead­ers. One of the moti­va­tions for focus­ing on this kind of edu­ca­tion is to ensure lead­ers mod­el the kind of behav­ior that rever­ber­ates in the orga­ni­za­tion and encour­ages oth­ers to spend time on learning.

    In fact, at the Cor­po­rate Learn­ing Spring event, Mogha sug­gest­ed hav­ing lead­ers be the first among those using the organization’s learn­ing pro­grams. She pre­sent­ed the idea of launch­ing a new learn­ing pro­gram by offer­ing it to the lead­er­ship bench, for example.

    “Even­tu­al­ly, you have to scale it,” she added. “That’s how you build a cul­ture of con­tin­u­ous learn­ing, but you have to start small.”

    Make the Case

    Get­ting lead­er­ship to under­stand the ben­e­fits of edu­ca­tion is a great first step. HR lead­ers, how­ev­er, must also help them under­stand the impact of pro­vid­ing learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties. After all, any time learn­ing pro­fes­sion­als can demon­strate a link between tal­ent receiv­ing upskilling or reskilling and then going out and mak­ing more mon­ey for the com­pa­ny, edu­ca­tion is winning.

    “In order to pro­mote a healthy, busi­ness-focused cul­ture of life­long learn­ing, per­for­mance and inno­va­tion, an orga­ni­za­tion needs to trans­par­ent­ly and clear­ly under­stand, rec­og­nize and pro­mote the impor­tance of learn­ing and inno­va­tion in regard to busi­ness per­for­mance and suc­cess,” says Markus Bern­hardt, Chief Evan­ge­list at OBRIZUM and learn­ing expert, who is active on LinkedIn. “This link is key. Learn­ing and pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment needs to be viewed as busi­ness crit­i­cal, and learn­ing needs to move from being a ‘cost cen­ter’ to being a ‘valu­able busi­ness per­for­mance investment.’”

    Provide Learning Opportunities

    Get­ting lead­ers to under­stand the impor­tance of learn­ing and devel­op­ment is not enough. They also have to be will­ing to allo­cate resources to L&D. Sonia Malik, Glob­al Pro­gram Lead, Edu­ca­tion and Work­force Devel­op­ment at IBM, says that beyond mod­el­ing the growth mind­set and life­long learn­ing behav­iors, lead­ers must “pro­vide an infra­struc­ture and the abil­i­ty to become a life­long learner.”

    “You can’t say we want you to learn stuff and not pro­vide access to infra­struc­ture, con­tent, or time to learn,” she says.

    Focus on Curriculum

    Large com­pa­nies are cre­at­ing their own pro­grams that run like small uni­ver­si­ties. The Dis­ney Insti­tute and AT&T Uni­ver­si­ty come to mind. What is impor­tant is to deter­mine the organization’s skills gap and try to fill those holes. Being inten­tion­al and strate­gic helps ele­vate the cul­ture of learn­ing. It could also fac­tor into moti­vat­ing peo­ple because they may expe­ri­ence suc­cess of their own, too. In addi­tion, it could pre­vent them from becom­ing redundant.

    “Our com­pa­ny has had to rein­vent itself time and time again across 140-plus years of exis­tence,” says Robert Sto­janows­ki, Direc­tor of Learn­ing and Inno­va­tion Labs at AT&T. “Con­tin­u­ous learn­ing and reskilling is embed­ded in the cul­ture because it has to be. Mov­ing from tra­di­tion­al phone ser­vice to the inter­net to mobil­i­ty ser­vices, cyber­se­cu­ri­ty, or con­sult­ing requires a vast set of skills.”

    Convince the Employees

    Cer­tain­ly, employ­ees are show­ing an inter­est in career devel­op­ment and learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties more than ever before. How­ev­er, some might not feel as moti­vat­ed as oth­ers. Or they may feel chal­lenged by hav­ing to divide their time between their work tasks and learning.

    As a result, per­son­al­ized edu­ca­tion is becom­ing more pop­u­lar. Giv­ing peo­ple the chance to grow in a way that sup­ports their own per­son­al goals as well as those of the orga­ni­za­tion can improve job sat­is­fac­tion and performance.

    “Tying that learn­ing curve with that earn­ing curve and per­son­al­iz­ing the learn­ing jour­ney for indi­vid­u­als are keys to estab­lish­ing that learn­ing cul­ture,” says Malik.

    Learning while Working

    Among cor­po­rate edu­ca­tors, a phi­los­o­phy about learn­ing while work­ing is emerg­ing. Basi­cal­ly, the sug­ges­tion is to build learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties into people’s day-to-day jobs. Some of this learn­ing hap­pens organ­i­cal­ly. After all, employ­ees might need to learn a par­tic­u­lar pro­gram to com­plete assign­ments or tasks. There may be oppor­tu­ni­ties to shad­ow a men­tor or leader. In oth­er cas­es, learn­ing lead­ers might have to allow for the allot­ment of time nec­es­sary to com­plete a les­son, for exam­ple, and imme­di­ate­ly try to apply it on the job.

    Ulti­mate­ly, life­long learn­ing is going to sep­a­rate the win­ners from the losers in the work­force and among orga­ni­za­tions. The future of work has arrived in many ways, and the skills gap is catch­ing up to every­one. There­fore, devel­op­ing a learn­ing cul­ture is not just a nice thing to do for employ­ees. It’s a busi­ness necessity.

    By Francesca Di Meglio

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on HR Exchange Network

  • 5 Tips to Save Money on Health Care: Part 2

    June 13, 2022

    Tags: ,

    Smart spend­ing can keep your health care from cost­ing an arm and a leg.  With costs ris­ing on every­thing from gas to food, every pen­ny counts. It pays to shop smart – that is why it helps to learn how to take steps to lim­it your out-of-pock­et health care costs.

    1. Save Mon­ey on Prescriptions
    • Go gener­ic – Always ask your doc­tor or phar­ma­cist if you can switch to gener­ic med­i­cines. They have the same active ingre­di­ents but cost less than brand name drugs.
    • Split pills – ask your doc­tor or phar­ma­cist if your pre­scrip­tion comes in a high­er dose that is safe to split. You may be able to get a 2‑month sup­ply of med­i­cine in dou­ble the dose that you need for the price of a 1‑month sup­ply, cut­ting your pre­scrip­tion cost in half.
    • Use a pre­ferred phar­ma­cy – A pre­ferred phar­ma­cy has pre-nego­ti­at­ed low­er prices on pre­scrip­tions for a par­tic­u­lar insur­ance plan. You can also sign up for home deliv­ery on pre­scrip­tions that you take on a reg­u­lar basis.
    1. Tune in to Telehealth

    With telemed­i­cine, you don’t have to dri­ve to the doctor’s office or sit in a wait­ing room when you’re sick.  Vir­tu­al vis­its can be eas­i­er to fit into your busy sched­ule and you may not even have to arrange for child­care.  Doc­tors also can use tele­health appoint­ments to lessen expo­sure to oth­er people’s germs.

    1. Brush Up on HSA & FSA Eli­gi­ble Expenses

    You can with­draw HSA and FSA mon­ey tax-free to pay for deductibles and co-pay­ments or coin­sur­ance, as well as for a vari­ety of oth­er expens­es includ­ing vision expens­es and ortho­don­tia.  You can also use it for every­thing from sun­screen and con­tact solu­tion to baby mon­i­tors and over-the-counter med­i­cine like Ibupro­fen or cold medicine.

    1. Save for Retire­ment with Your HSA

    HSA funds don’t expire which makes an HSA a great way to put away mon­ey for med­ical expens­es in retire­ment.  An HSA offers a hat trick of tax advantages:

    • Con­tri­bu­tions to your account are made pre-tax, low­er­ing your tax­able income today
    • Invest­ments grow tax-free while they are kept in the account
    • With­drawals are free of income tax, as long as you use the mon­ey for qual­i­fied med­ical expenses.

    Age 65 is when you can use HSA mon­ey to pay for non-med­ical expens­es — includ­ing day-to-day costs or for home ren­o­va­tions.  Those pay­outs aren’t tax-free but are taxed at the same rate as dis­tri­b­u­tions from a tra­di­tion­al IRA.  You’ll sim­ply owe income tax­es on what­ev­er you withdraw.

    1. Review Bills and Insur­ance Expla­na­tions of Benefits

    Billing mis­takes can hap­pen.  In fact, did you know that up to 80% of med­ical bills con­tain at least one error?  Billing mis­takes hap­pen eas­i­ly when deal­ing with large num­bers of patients, ever-chang­ing med­ical codes, and pay­ments crossed in the mail and health insur­ance companies.

    The por­tion of your bud­get devot­ed to med­ical care is always on the rise so it’s nev­er a bad idea to find mon­e­tary short­cuts where you can.   Knowl­edge is POWER and when you spend time find­ing ways to save mon­ey on health care, you are empow­er­ing your­self!  Exer­cis­ing due dili­gence to plan for you and your family’s med­ical needs will save you mon­ey and give you con­fi­dence in your deci­sions for care.

  • 4 Ways Inflation and Higher Costs Impact HR

    June 6, 2022

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    U.S. Pres­i­dent Joe Biden recent­ly laid out his plans to com­bat infla­tion and the high cost of liv­ing. The aver­age fam­i­ly is spend­ing an addi­tion­al $327 per month com­pared to pre-pan­dem­ic costs, accord­ing to a CNN broad­cast May 10. At the time, the nation­al aver­age price of gas was $4.37. While the Fed­er­al Reserve can do more to influ­ence infla­tion than the Pres­i­dent, his announce­ment is wel­come because peo­ple are suf­fer­ing and some econ­o­mists believe a reces­sion is looming.

    Under nor­mal cir­cum­stances, the econ­o­my can cause bur­dens for HR lead­ers. In this case, busi­ness­es are still con­fronting uncer­tain­ty that comes from an ongo­ing pan­dem­ic, war in Europe, and a labor short­age. This is not to men­tion a men­tal health cri­sis and increased oblig­a­tions for employ­ers when it comes to employ­ee engage­ment and expe­ri­ence.

    The first step in address­ing the neg­a­tive impact of the econ­o­my is being real­is­tic about the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion and under­stand­ing how it impacts HR:

    Some Can’t Afford RTO

    Many com­pa­nies are final­ly deploy­ing their return to office (RTO) plans from 2020. Employ­ees and lead­er­ship are at odds, in many cas­es, about whether to return or con­tin­ue to work from home. One of the argu­ments work­ers have about WFH is that it is cheaper.

    Some employ­ees are quit­ting because they can­not afford the com­mute or lunch costs that come with return­ing to the office. Child­care, which has always been a prob­lem for work­ing par­ents, is anoth­er huge expense. In some cas­es, peo­ple end up pay­ing to work, and it becomes more afford­able to quit. HR must keep this in mind when con­sid­er­ing wages and salaries.

    Compensation and Benefits Packages

    Dur­ing this time of his­toric labor short­age, HR lead­ers are reassess­ing their com­pen­sa­tion and ben­e­fits pack­ages because they want to be com­pet­i­tive. Employ­ees have lever­age and high­er wages has been one of the most request­ed ben­e­fits for obvi­ous reasons.

    “The tal­ent short­age has boost­ed pay, but not enough to keep up with infla­tion,” accord­ing to The New York Times. “Wages grew 5.6% in the last year.”

    Anoth­er obsta­cle for HR pro­fes­sion­als is that increas­ing offers for new hires end­ed up cre­at­ing an uneven divide between them and their vet­er­an coun­ter­parts. Now, in some cas­es, loy­al employ­ees who stayed with their employ­ers are earn­ing less than new hires. With this kind of infla­tion, they may be lured by the prospect of high­er pay else­where, which could con­tin­ue the cycle of the Great Res­ig­na­tion.

    Budget Concerns

    Mon­ey is obvi­ous­ly not going as far as it used to go. There­fore, HR pro­fes­sion­als should wor­ry that this eco­nom­ic real­i­ty could cause bud­get cuts. For now, 79% of cor­po­rate finance exec­u­tives say their bud­gets will be larg­er in 2022 than in 2021, accord­ing to Billing Plat­forms annu­al 2022 Trends in Finance Sur­vey. With infla­tion as high as it is, they should pre­pare for cuts at some point. This could mean few­er resources for learn­ing and devel­op­ment, employ­ee engage­ment and expe­ri­ence ini­tia­tives, com­pen­sa­tion and ben­e­fits pack­ages, and more.

    Travel Constraints

    At the moment, most head­lines point to Amer­i­cans’ desire to get back on the road and see peo­ple face to face for per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al meet­ings. How­ev­er, with gas prices and infla­tion this high, many bud­get con­scious employ­ers may pull back on trav­el budgets.

    The Unit­ed States is also prepar­ing to con­front anoth­er surge in COVID-19 cas­es. RTO pos­es risks, espe­cial­ly for vul­ner­a­ble employ­ees with comor­bod­i­ties or those who live with at-risk peo­ple. In addi­tion, par­ents of chil­dren under 5, who are not yet eli­gi­ble for vac­ci­na­tion, have expressed con­cerns about both RTO and hav­ing to trav­el for work.

    Solutions

    Every depart­ment in every busi­ness must face the real­i­ty of infla­tion and high­er costs. HR is no excep­tion. In the case of HR lead­ers, ris­ing costs is a peo­ple prob­lem. Employ­ees will need more mon­ey to sup­port their fam­i­lies and to make work valu­able to them. In addi­tion, the busi­ness itself will have to con­strain spend­ing in areas like trav­el and perks. Maybe those free lunch­es will have to stop.

    Still, there are some solu­tions avail­able to HR. Pro­mot­ing peo­ple from with­in the com­pa­ny as opposed to hir­ing new employ­ees is a way to save mon­ey and improve reten­tion. Being trans­par­ent about the lim­i­ta­tions on wage increas­es and offer­ing oth­er less expen­sive ben­e­fits to com­pen­sate are oth­er ways to address the problem.

    Of course, trav­el can be replaced with video­con­fer­enc­ing and dig­i­tal events that can be con­duct­ed from home. HR lead­ers have had to stretch resources before and will cer­tain­ly have to do it again in the future.

    By Francesca Di Meglio

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on HR Exchange Network

  • Best Practices for Employee Appreciation

    May 30, 2022

    Tags: , ,

    As HR lead­ers work hard to retain tal­ent dur­ing a his­toric labor short­age, they are try­ing to show employ­ee appre­ci­a­tion. At the HR Exchange Net­work Employ­ee Engage­ment and Expe­ri­ence online event, Mary Shel­ley, Chief Peo­ple Offi­cer at Tan­go Card, shared best prac­tices for reward­ing employ­ees to inform them of their val­ue to the organization.

    In the ses­sion, 5 Ques­tions to Ask When Build­ing an Employ­ee Appre­ci­a­tion Strat­e­gy to Last, Shel­ley admit­ted there are chal­lenges to cre­at­ing a rewards pro­gram. In fact, a poll revealed that 31% of audi­ence par­tic­i­pants feel their inad­e­quate bud­get is an obsta­cle. Near­ly 30% said no orga­ni­za­tion­al enage­ment was pro­hib­i­tive when try­ing to launch a rewards pro­gram. Oth­er prob­lems includ­ed being time inten­sive (12.1%), too com­pli­cat­ed (13.8%), or some­thing else (13.8%).

    Dis­cov­er how to launch an employ­ee appre­ci­a­tion program:

    Start Small

    Shel­ley sug­gests HR lead­ers come up with one thing they can do right now to move the nee­dle. For instance, they could talk to employ­ees to deter­mine what kinds of rewards would moti­vate indi­vid­u­als on the team. The reward should be mean­ing­ful or else it won’t pro­duce that sense of incentive.

    “Learn about what each per­son finds moti­vat­ing,” says Shelley.

    Balance Informal and Formal Recognition

    Some­times peo­ple mis­tak­en­ly believe that they have to invest a lot of mon­ey or time into offer­ing a reward. But there are sim­pler ways to rec­og­nize col­leagues for their hard work and ded­i­ca­tion. For instance, some com­pa­nies leave thank you cards out in the office, so peers can write them and deliv­er them to each oth­er’s desk. It’s a small cost in time and mon­ey, and it can reap great rewards as Shel­ley, who has done this, attests.

    Diversify Rewards

    Offer dif­fer­ent kinds of rewards to appeal to a larg­er group of peo­ple. To keep peo­ple engaged in the process, there should be dif­fer­ent prizes to try and attain. As com­pa­nies diver­si­fy rewards options, how­ev­er, they should also be transparent.

    “Employ­ees and man­agers should know how to give and receive rewards,” says Shelley.

    In oth­er words, they should know exact­ly what is expect­ed of them if they want to win rewards XYZ. Employ­ees should also know how they could offer recog­ni­tion to a col­league who has impressed them with their work.

    Build in Anticipation

    “Antic­i­pa­tion is every­thing,” says Shel­ley. In fact, some employ­ees say the antic­i­pa­tion can be greater than the reward itself, she adds. Talk about what it will be like if a team or indi­vid­ual achieves the require­ments to win the reward. Dis­cuss the expe­ri­ences of those who have won before to help oth­ers dream about it.

    Automate

    Automa­tion is a great way to inte­grate rewards pro­grams in hybrid and remote work­places. For exam­ple, some com­pa­nies have a “giveku­dos” Slack chan­nel, where team­mates can give shout outs to those who have done well or helped them, and they auto­mat­i­cal­ly get a $10 gift card.

    Avoid Pitfalls

    HR lead­ers can eas­i­ly fall into com­mon traps when dol­ing out rewards. A big mis­take is to just hand out rewards as a means of “check­ing the box,” warns Shel­ley. After all, peo­ple real­ize when some­thing is giv­en to them ingenuously.

    Anoth­er error is mak­ing the pro­gram over­com­pli­cat­ed. Shel­ley shared the sto­ry of a col­league who cre­at­ed a rewards pro­gram with dif­fer­ent lev­els and lots of qual­i­fi­ca­tions. It was too cum­ber­some, and no one under­stood how to give or receive rewards. So, they had to pare it down and simplify.

    Being one-dimen­sion­al with­out giv­ing thought to all the pos­si­bil­i­ties is a pit­fall that HR lead­ers can avoid by think­ing out­side the box. Over­com­pen­sat­ing to make up for low appre­ci­a­tion scores is anoth­er way to defeat the pur­pose of a rewards pro­gram. Employ­ees should feel spe­cial and appreciated.

    Final­ly, employ­ers should assess whether they are reward­ing the cor­rect behav­iors. Shel­ley shares the sto­ry of a pre­vi­ous employ­er, who hand­ed out awards to hard work­ers who had been burn­ing the mid­night oil. But the com­pa­ny includ­ed a val­ue about main­tain­ing work-life bal­ance. It did­n’t match with their mis­sion, and it sent the wrong message.

    By Francesca Di Meglio

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on HR Exchange Network

  • Transparency in Coverage

    May 25, 2022

    Tags: ,

    Health plan price trans­paren­cy helps con­sumers know the cost of a cov­ered item or ser­vice before receiv­ing care. Begin­ning July 1, 2022, most group health plans and issuers of group or indi­vid­ual health insur­ance will begin post­ing pric­ing infor­ma­tion for cov­ered items and ser­vices. This pric­ing infor­ma­tion can be used by third par­ties, such as researchers and app devel­op­ers to help con­sumers bet­ter under­stand the costs asso­ci­at­ed with their health care. More require­ments will go into effect start­ing on Jan­u­ary 1, 2023, and Jan­u­ary 1, 2024 which will pro­vide addi­tion­al access to pric­ing infor­ma­tion and enhance con­sumers’ abil­i­ty to shop for the health care that best meet their needs.

    Mak­ing pric­ing infor­ma­tion avail­able to the public

    In three stages, most group health plans and issuers of group or indi­vid­ual health insur­ance are required to dis­close pric­ing information.

    1.    Machine-Read­able Files con­tain­ing the fol­low­ing sets of costs for items and services

    • In-Net­work Rate File: rates for all cov­ered items and ser­vices between the plan or issuer and in-net­work providers.
    • Allowed Amount File: allowed amounts for, and billed charges from, out-of-net­work providers.

    2.    Inter­net-based price com­par­i­son tool (or dis­clo­sure on paper, upon request) allow­ing an indi­vid­ual to receive an esti­mate of their cost-shar­ing respon­si­bil­i­ty for a spe­cif­ic item or ser­vice from a spe­cif­ic provider or providers, for 500 items and services.

    3.    Inter­net-based price com­par­i­son tool (or dis­clo­sure on paper, upon request) allow­ing an indi­vid­ual to receive an esti­mate of their cost-shar­ing respon­si­bil­i­ty for a spe­cif­ic item or ser­vice from a spe­cif­ic provider or providers, for all items and services.

    Stay tuned for more! Phase 2 and Phase 3 go into effect in 2023 and 2024.

    By plan or pol­i­cy years begin­ning on or after Jan­u­ary 1, 2023, most group health plans and issuers of group or indi­vid­ual health insur­ance cov­er­age are required to dis­close per­son­al­ized pric­ing infor­ma­tion for all cov­ered items and ser­vice to their par­tic­i­pants, ben­e­fi­cia­ries, and enrollees through an online con­sumer tool, or in paper form, upon request. Cost esti­mates must be pro­vid­ed in real-time based on cost-shar­ing infor­ma­tion that is accu­rate at the time of the request.

    Read More »

  • Mental Health is Wealth, So Start Saving Up Now!

    May 17, 2022

    Tags: ,

    “Suck it up,” “cheer up,” “snap out of it,” “but you don’t look sick”- these are just some of the phras­es that well-mean­ing friends and fam­i­ly tell loved ones strug­gling with men­tal health issues. Research shows that one in five adults strug­gle with men­tal health con­di­tions.  Men­tal health strug­gles include depres­sion, bipo­lar dis­or­der, anx­i­ety, schiz­o­phre­nia, and eat­ing disorders.

    Men­tal ill­ness is also becom­ing increas­ing­ly com­mon among teenagers; stud­ies indi­cate that approx­i­mate­ly one in five teens between ages twelve and eigh­teen are diag­nosed with a men­tal health dis­or­der.  These issues deeply impact day-to-day liv­ing and may also affect the abil­i­ty to relate to oth­ers.  When your men­tal health suf­fers, every­thing in your life will suf­fer as a result.

    What is Men­tal Health?

    Men­tal health includes our emo­tion­al, psy­cho­log­i­cal, and social well-being.  It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps deter­mine how we han­dle stress, relate to oth­ers, and make choices.

    The fact is, a men­tal ill­ness is a dis­or­der of the brain – your body’s most impor­tant organ.   Like most dis­eases of the body, men­tal ill­ness has many caus­es – from genet­ics to oth­er bio­log­i­cal, envi­ron­men­tal and social/cultural fac­tors.  And just as with most dis­eases, men­tal ill­ness­es are no one’s fault.  For many peo­ple, recov­ery – includ­ing hav­ing mean­ing­ful roles in social life, work and school – is pos­si­ble, espe­cial­ly when you start treat­ment ear­ly and play a strong role in your own recov­ery process.

    What Are the Warn­ing Signs?

    Each ill­ness has its own symp­toms, but com­mon signs of men­tal ill­ness can include the following:

    • Avoid­ing friends and social activities
    • Feel­ing exces­sive­ly sad or low
    • Feel­ing help­less or hopeless
    • Extreme mood changes
    • Think­ing of harm­ing your­self or others
    • Inabil­i­ty to per­form dai­ly tasks like tak­ing care of your kids or get­ting to work or school
    • Feel­ing numb or like noth­ing matters
    • Overuse of sub­stances like alco­hol or drugs
    • Hav­ing unex­plained aches and pains such as headaches or stom­ach aches
    • Changes in sleep­ing habits or feel­ing tired and low energy
    • Feel­ing unusu­al­ly con­fused, for­get­ful, on edge, angry, upset, wor­ried, or scared

    What Are Some Things You Can Do to Look After Your Men­tal Health?

    • Talk About Your Feel­ings – Just being lis­tened to can help you feel sup­port­ed and less alone. Talk­ing with a friend or loved one is help­ful but remem­ber, ther­a­pists are not only for those in the mid­dle of cri­sis — they’re incred­i­bly ben­e­fi­cial for peo­ple in all stages of life
    • Exer­cise reg­u­lar­ly – Exer­cise releas­es endor­phins, which have mood-boost­ing effects. Aim to exer­cise about 30+ min­utes at least five days per week
    • Eat Well – Your brain needs a mix of nutri­ents to stay healthy and func­tion well, just like the oth­er organs in your body
    • Stay Con­nect­ed with Fam­i­ly and Friends – Close, qual­i­ty rela­tion­ships are key for a hap­py, healthy life
    • Take a Break – a change of scenery or pace is good for your men­tal health
    • Get Out­side to Enjoy 15 Min­utes of Sun­shine – Sun­light syn­the­sizes Vit­a­min D which experts believe is a mood elevator
    • Send a Thank You Note – Let some­one know why you appre­ci­ate them. Writ­ten expres­sions of grat­i­tude are linked to increased happiness
    • Prac­tice For­give­ness – Peo­ple who for­give have bet­ter men­tal health and report being more sat­is­fied with their lives
    • Pur­sue Your Pas­sions – Enjoy­ing your­self can help beat stress and achiev­ing some­thing boosts your self-esteem
    • Sleep – Most adults need around 8 hours of sleep each night so try to make sure you’re get­ting enough shut-eye

    Men­tal health is undoubt­ed­ly just as inte­gral as phys­i­cal health but it’s some­thing that we often don’t pri­or­i­tize.  We all expe­ri­ence times when we feel stressed or over­whelmed but if these feel­ings per­sist, it’s time to slow down and re-eval­u­ate your men­tal wellbeing.

    Most peo­ple are afraid to ask for help, but seek­ing help is actu­al­ly a sign of strength, not weak­ness.  If you or some­one you know is strug­gling with their men­tal health, please reach out to a local men­tal health professional.

  • What is Mental Health and Wellness in HR?

    May 9, 2022

    Tags: , ,

    Men­tal health and well­ness in HR are becom­ing top pri­or­i­ties for employ­ers. In fact, HR lead­ers named men­tal health and well­be­ing as their third biggest prob­lem, behind the labor short­age and retain­ing tal­ent, in the lat­est HR Exchange Net­work State of HR report. In addi­tion, those sur­veyed also said burnout was the top con­se­quence of the pan­dem­ic. “Blur­ring of work and per­son­al life” and “burnout” tied, with 28% of the vote each, as the biggest chal­lenges to employ­ee engage­ment. And 30%  of respon­dents said employ­ee engage­ment and expe­ri­ence was their top priority.

    Clear­ly, men­tal health and well­ness is relat­ed to the employ­ee expe­ri­ence, and the expec­ta­tions in the new nor­mal require HR lead­ers to pro­vide sup­port, empa­thy, and guid­ance for help­ing those who need it. To begin, they need to under­stand the nuances of men­tal health and well­ness.

    Defining Mental Health and Wellness

    A first step for HR lead­ers is to break­down men­tal health and well­ness to under­stand the dif­fer­ences, so they can best address “men­tal health” and “well­ness.”

    What Is Mental Health?

    The U.S. gov­ern­ment defines men­tal health as the emo­tion­al, psy­cho­log­i­cal, and social well­be­ing of an indi­vid­ual. Obvi­ous­ly, one’s men­tal health con­tributes to how he thinks, feels, and acts, and it relates to his resilien­cy and rela­tion­ships with others.

    Con­sid­er­ing this def­i­n­i­tion, HR lead­ers can focus on insur­ance that cov­ers men­tal health con­di­tions and con­nect­ing peo­ple to appro­pri­ate spe­cial­ists just as they would for employ­ees with phys­i­cal ail­ments, for exam­ple. Tend­ing to men­tal health needs is slight­ly dif­fer­ent than those of wellness.

    What Is Wellness?

    On the oth­er hand, well­ness refers to the total­i­ty of health – both men­tal and phys­i­cal – of an employ­ee, accord­ing to the Soci­ety for Human Resource Man­age­ment. When employ­ers focus on well­ness, they are aim­ing to pro­vide employ­ees with pre­ven­ta­tive solu­tions to avoid ill­ness­es and long-term health prob­lems. For exam­ple, gym mem­ber­ships, yoga class­es, and med­i­ta­tion ses­sions are among the ways HR lead­ers may sup­port the well­ness of workers.

    Men­tal health refers to the con­di­tion of an employee’s state of mind, where­as well­ness refers to his or her gen­er­al health. Some­times, even those in HR use the word well­be­ing inter­change­ably with well­ness, but there is a dis­tinc­tion. Well­be­ing refers to job sat­is­fac­tion or one’s con­tent­ment at work. Cer­tain­ly, well­be­ing is relat­ed to men­tal health and well­ness. If employ­ees are expe­ri­enc­ing anx­i­ety, high stress, or burnout, which are asso­ci­at­ed with both men­tal health and well­ness, they may expe­ri­ence neg­a­tive feel­ings at work. There­fore, their well­be­ing also will be at risk.

    HR’s Responsibility for Mental Health and Wellness

    The pan­dem­ic revealed the need for men­tal health and well­ness pro­grams at work­places. Both mind and body need­ed sooth­ing, and HR pro­fes­sion­als took the lead in pro­vid­ing solu­tions to work­ers. More than two years after the start of the pan­dem­ic, they are con­tin­u­ing to enhance their offerings.

    Here are some rel­e­vant ben­e­fits that employ­ers may pro­vide, and HR lead­ers can consider:

    Medical Insurance that Covers Mental Health

    This first ben­e­fit is the most obvi­ous one, and it refers to the employ­er choos­ing insur­ance options that cov­er men­tal health as robust­ly as they do phys­i­cal health.

    Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)

    The U.S. gov­ern­ment defines an EAP as a “vol­un­tary, work-based pro­gram that offers free and con­fi­den­tial assess­ments, short-term coun­sel­ing, refer­rals, and fol­low-up ser­vices to employ­ees who have per­son­al and/or work-relat­ed prob­lems.” These pro­grams may address stress, sub­stance abuse, or fam­i­ly dis­cord, for example.

    Mental Health First Aiders

    This is a pro­fes­sion­al who works on staff or on call for a busi­ness, so employ­ees always have some­one to sup­port them with any men­tal health con­cerns, accord­ing to verywellhealth.

    Training for Managers, Leaders, and Peers

    Some com­pa­nies are train­ing their teams to rec­og­nize poten­tial men­tal health issues in their col­leagues and to devel­op empa­thy and emo­tion­al IQ.

    Yoga, Meditation, Workshops, Zen Rooms, etc.

    These are a few exam­ples of pro­grams designed to help employ­ees relieve stress and stay focused.

    Mental Health Days

    Some com­pa­nies are includ­ing men­tal health days in their paid time off menu. This allows peo­ple the chance to stay home as they would for a sick day.

    Parameters around Work Hours/Flexibility/Respecting People’s Time

    Many employ­ers are shar­ing guide­lines about allow­ing employ­ees flex­i­bil­i­ty around when and where they work or dur­ing what hours they can com­mu­ni­cate with them about work, etc. The idea is to help peo­ple bet­ter bal­ance work and life to give them the time and space nec­es­sary to recharge.

    Why Should HR Leaders Care about Mental Health and Wellness?

    The answer about why any leader should care about employ­ees’ well­ness seems obvi­ous. It’s the right thing to do. But it also relates to busi­ness out­comes. Poor men­tal health and well­ness among employ­ees can pose grave risks to an employ­er. These are the threats:

    • Decreased Pro­duc­tiv­i­ty – Peo­ple are not as inter­est­ed in get­ting the job done if their deal­ing with men­tal health issues.
    • Res­ig­na­tion – Men­tal health and well­ness is clear­ly con­nect­ed to job sat­is­fac­tion and well­be­ing. Peo­ple might quit if they are suffering.
    • Neg­a­tive Impact on the Bot­tom Line – If employ­ees are not pro­duc­tive or engaged, the com­pa­ny will not be as suc­cess­ful. If there is much turnover, the com­pa­ny will lose mon­ey in recruit­ing, hir­ing, train­ing, and patient­ly wait­ing for new hires to get up to speed. All these con­se­quences can influ­ence rev­enue and busi­ness outcomes.

    How Work Can Affect Employee Wellness

    Employ­ees spend a large amount of time work­ing. Tox­ic work­places obvi­ous­ly can dam­age one’s men­tal state, where­as a psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly safe envi­ron­ment can moti­vate peo­ple. Any­one expe­ri­enc­ing bul­ly­ing or harass­ment at work may feel more anx­i­ety or stress. That’s undoubt­ed­ly true. But hav­ing heavy work­loads, tight dead­lines, and oth­er stress­ful per­son­al sit­u­a­tions can lead to burnout. Poten­tial­ly, these fac­tors cut into the psy­cho­log­i­cal con­tract between employ­ee and employ­er. This is con­cern­ing to HR leaders.

    The Mayo Clin­ic says job burnout is a type of work-relat­ed stress that results in a state of phys­i­cal or emo­tion­al exhaus­tion that can influ­ence an employee’s self-worth and sense of iden­ti­ty. The pan­dem­ic and con­se­quen­tial labor short­age put burnout in the spot­light and forced employ­ers to con­front it. Now, HR lead­ers are work­ing to com­bat and pre­vent burnout as part of their over­all men­tal health and well­ness strategies.

    Tak­ing steps to reduce hours and work­loads, man­ag­ing expec­ta­tions, and train­ing man­agers to be bet­ter, more empa­thet­ic lead­ers are among the ways they are address­ing the prob­lem. HR Exchange Net­work rec­og­nized this new oblig­a­tion of Human Resources in its recent tal­ent man­age­ment report:

    Com­pa­nies that show they tru­ly care about the men­tal health and well­ness of their employ­ees will get noticed. Those who are flex­i­ble and under­stand­ing when peo­ple are hav­ing a tough time per­son­al­ly will win hearts. “Com­pa­nies need to switch their focus on engage­ment to expe­ri­ence. Maya Angelou said it the best, ‘Peo­ple for­get what you tell them. They don’t for­get how you make them feel,’ ” says Sebastien Girard, Chief Peo­ple Offi­cer at Cen­tu­ra Health.

    HR lead­ers are helm­ing efforts to address men­tal health and well­ness of employ­ees. They are con­fronting these issues to improve employ­ee engage­ment and expe­ri­ence and the work cul­ture. Employ­ers rec­og­nize the link between the men­tal health and well­ness of their employ­ees and the suc­cess of their business.

    In addi­tion, they real­ize this is the right thing to do, which is vital at a time when employ­er brand is of the utmost impor­tance, and every­one is try­ing to bet­ter main­tain work-life bal­ance. The pan­dem­ic was the spark for employ­ers giv­ing atten­tion to these issues, but the focus on help­ing employ­ees main­tain their men­tal health and well­ness will continue.

    By Francesca Di Meglio

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on HR Exchange Network

  • The 4 W’s of Lifestyle Benefits

    May 2, 2022

    Tags: , ,

    Com­pet­i­tive wages are no longer enough to sat­is­fy and sup­port val­ued employ­ees. Today, a vari­ety of ben­e­fits and perks play an essen­tial role in attract­ing and retain­ing tal­ent. Lifestyle ben­e­fits, some­times referred to as employ­ee perks, are non-salary ben­e­fits giv­en to employ­ees to improve their over­all lifestyle that go above and beyond stan­dard med­ical, den­tal and vision ben­e­fits. These lifestyle ben­e­fits are rapid­ly becom­ing the future of employ­ee benefits.

    Around 60% of employ­ees say ben­e­fit offer­ings are a sig­nif­i­cant fac­tor in their deci­sion on whether or not to take a new job. That’s why an increas­ing num­ber of employ­ers are uti­liz­ing lifestyle ben­e­fit plans to entice high-qual­i­­ty appli­cants.  In fact, stud­ies show that 80% of employ­ees would select more ben­e­fits above a pay increase. More­over, younger employ­ees, like Mil­len­ni­als, are more apt to change jobs than their old­er Baby Boomer coun­ter­parts if they are dis­sat­is­fied with the employ­ee ben­e­fits offer­ings avail­able to them.

    Lifestyle ben­e­fits are ben­e­fits to enjoy now.  These are mean­ing­ful ser­vices that meet the needs of employ­ees today.  Not tomor­row, next week or even ten years from now.  Employ­ees don’t have to be sick, deceased, dis­abled or over 65 to use them.

    In this arti­cle, we will explore the 4 “W’s”—Who, What, When, and Why—of lifestyle ben­e­fits to explain how you can use this tool to improve your ben­e­fits package!

    Who Are Lifestyle Ben­e­fits For?

    Even com­pa­nies with gen­er­ous over­all ben­e­fits pack­ages can suf­fer from low employ­ee engage­ment and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty which can be exac­er­bat­ed by the mas­sive shift to remote work. Offer­ing perks that are cus­tomized to your people’s unique needs is huge­ly ben­e­fi­cial for com­pa­nies want­i­ng to increase employ­ee engage­ment and reten­tion.  In the increas­ing­ly com­pet­i­tive job mar­ket, this real­ly sets employ­ers apart because it demon­strates a vest­ed inter­est on the part of the employ­er to pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ties for per­son­al, as well as pro­fes­sion­al growth.   Lifestyle ben­e­fits, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the form of flex­i­ble perk stipends, are an ide­al way to offer per­son­al­iza­tion and also pro­mote an inclu­sive com­pa­ny culture.

    What Lifestyle Ben­e­fits Can Employ­ers Offer?

    Lifestyle ben­e­fits can be cus­tomized to meet many dif­fer­ent types of needs. For instance, an employ­ee might be send­ing their child to col­lege for the first time. If they want advi­sors or finan­cial plan­ners, a lifestyle ben­e­fits account can cov­er it. Or what if an employ­ee wants to take advan­tage of a gym mem­ber­ship or health app?  This could also be cov­ered through a lifestyle ben­e­fits pro­gram. Every­one ben­e­fits from a calm, hap­py, and val­ued employ­ee!  Oth­er exam­ples of offer­ings you can include in a lifestyle ben­e­fits pro­gram include:

    When Should You Offer Lifestyle Benefits?

    Real­ly the answer to the ques­tion of when you should offer lifestyle ben­e­fits is-now!  Now is the right time to make the most of lifestyle ben­e­fits by set­ting employ­ees up and edu­cat­ing them of their perks.When orga­ni­za­tions offer lifestyle ben­e­fits, it’s about build­ing pos­i­tive, long-term rela­tion­ships between exec­u­tives, super­vi­sors and employ­ees.  It’s about invest­ment and ded­i­ca­tion to employ­ee well-being.

    Why Pro­vide Lifestyle Ben­e­fits at Your Com­pa­ny 

    There are so many rea­sons to pro­vide lifestyle ben­e­fits but it pri­mar­i­ly boils down to one thing: employ­ee sat­is­fac­tion.  Employ­ees want to feel val­ued by their employ­ers and if this can be achieved by help­ing them afford the lifestyle they enjoy and envi­sion for them­selves, then do it!

    We are, after all, liv­ing in the age of per­son­al­iza­tion.  Every­thing in our lives, from our Net­flix sub­scrip­tions to Spo­ti­fy playlists is cus­tomized to us and our pref­er­ences.  Lifestyle ben­e­fits can be designed in a way that address­es the var­i­ous needs of your diverse work­force, whether that means sup­port­ing a 22-year-old recent grad­u­ate liv­ing in the city, or a 45-year-old exec­u­tive with three kids in a home in the sub­urbs, lifestyle ben­e­fits are ide­al for that type of per­son­al­iza­tion and inclu­siv­i­ty, espe­cial­ly in the form of flex­i­ble perk stipends.

    If com­pa­nies want the best poten­tial can­di­dates, they have to think out­side the box with per­son­al­ized ben­e­fit offer­ings.  Every­one wins with a flex­i­ble lifestyle ben­e­fits plat­form. After all, phys­i­cal­ly and men­tal­ly healthy employ­ees are more pro­duc­tive, which is bet­ter for the bot­tom line.

  • 5 Tips to Save Money on Health Care: Part 1

    April 25, 2022

    Tags: ,

    Health insur­ance is essen­tial to pro­tect­ing your health but the high cost of cov­er­age may leave you feel­ing sick.  Even after employ­ers pick up a sub­stan­tial amount of the cost, every year Amer­i­cans spend thou­sands of dol­lars on health­care while costs are con­tin­u­ing to rise. By tak­ing cer­tain steps, you can stretch your health­care dol­lars and still receive the care you need to stay healthy.

    1. Under­stand How Your Health Plan Works

    Review your plan to learn how to max­i­mize your ben­e­fits.  You need to know what is cov­ered (and what is not!) and what pro­ce­dures you need to fol­low to ensure your claims will get paid.  Know what your copay­ment, coin­sur­ance and deductible costs are before your visit.

    Most health insur­ance plans cov­er more of your costs if you use their pre­ferred or in-net­work doc­tors.  If you vis­it an out-of-net­work doc­tor or med­ical facil­i­ty, you’ll pay more and may end up being respon­si­ble for 100% of the bill.  Use your insurer’s online tools to search for in-net­work providers.

    1. Choose the Right Places to Get Care

    Run­ning to the emer­gency room when you get sick after hours could drain your wal­let. All too often, those suf­fer­ing from minor ill­ness­es or injuries vis­it the ER when they don’t need to.  The ER should be your last resort — con­sid­er using more afford­able options like telemed­i­cine or an urgent care cen­ter instead.  You can still get the care you require in off-hours with­out hav­ing to sched­ule an appointment.

    If you need surgery, you may save mon­ey by hav­ing it done at an ambu­la­to­ry sur­gi­cal cen­ter (ASC) which is a mod­ern health­care facil­i­ty focused on same-day sur­gi­cal care, includ­ing diag­nos­tic and pre­ven­tive pro­ce­dures.  Typ­i­cal­ly, these cen­ters charge less than a hospital.

    1. Use a Health Sav­ings Account (HSA) or Flex­i­ble Spend­ing Account (FSA)

    Open­ing a HSA  or an FSA is a handy way to save for med­ical expens­es and reduce your tax­able income. They are like per­son­al sav­ings accounts but the mon­ey in them is used to pay for health care expens­es. HSAs are owned by you, earn inter­est, and can be trans­ferred to a new employ­er.  FSAs are owned by your employ­er, do not earn inter­est, and must be used with­in the cal­en­dar year.

    1. Ask Your Doc­tor About Remote Patient Mon­i­tor­ing (RPM)

    RPM is the use of dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies to mon­i­tor and ana­lyze med­ical and oth­er health data from patients and elec­tron­i­cal­ly trans­mit this infor­ma­tion to health­care providers for assess­ment and, when nec­es­sary, rec­om­men­da­tions and instruc­tions. This type of mon­i­tor­ing is often used to man­age high-risk patients, such as those with acute or chron­ic health con­di­tions such as those with dia­betes, hyper­ten­sion and heart conditions.

    1. Use Your Pre­ven­tive Care Benefits

    Many health plans pay the full cost for impor­tant pre­ven­tive care.  These reg­u­lar screen­ings, exams, and immu­niza­tions help detect or pre­vent dis­eases and med­ical prob­lems ear­ly when they are eas­i­er to treat.  Annu­al check-ups, mam­mo­grams (usu­al­ly after the age of 40), flu shots and colono­scopies (usu­al­ly 1 every 10 years after the age of 50) are exam­ples of pre­ven­tive care.  These checks can save you a lot of mon­ey because they catch prob­lems early.

    Health insur­ance isn’t manda­to­ry — there’s no law requir­ing you to buy it — but, health insur­ance is an impor­tant part of stay­ing healthy, finan­cial­ly and phys­i­cal­ly.  Since most peo­ple who don’t have insur­ance made that deci­sion based on mon­ey instead of what is best for their health, they usu­al­ly don’t have doc­tor appoint­ments for the same rea­son – it’s too expen­sive.  But skip­ping rou­tine care can end up being more expen­sive than your pre­mi­ums, espe­cial­ly if you have seri­ous health issues that aren’t caught ear­ly.  Think of it like care main­te­nance: reg­u­lar­ly chang­ing your oil might be a has­sle but it is essen­tial to pre­vent a major break­down down the road.

     

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