• What Diversity Looks Like in the Workplace

    November 13, 2019

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

    Defining Diversity

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

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

    Diversity in Practice

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

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

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

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

    Impacting Diversity

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

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

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

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

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

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

    In Summation

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

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

    By Mason Stevenson

    Originally posted on

  • New HSA Limits

    November 8, 2019

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

  • Diabetes Education and Prevention

    November 6, 2019

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

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

    How is food converted to energy?

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

    Diabetes = Broken Process

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

    Education & Prevention is Key

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

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

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

    November 6, 2019

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

  • 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Life Insurance

    October 30, 2019


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Helen Mosher

    Originally posted on

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

    October 29, 2019

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

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

    October 28, 2019

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

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

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

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

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


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

    October 25, 2019

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

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

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

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

    October 24, 2019

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

  • How to be an Open Enrollment Rockstar

    October 22, 2019

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    It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

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

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



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



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



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



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

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

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