Tag: employee benefits

  • Volunteering Time Off, Part Two

    September 9, 2019

    Tags: , , , ,

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

  • Volunteering Time Off, Part 1 | CA Benefits Agency

    August 7, 2019

    Tags: , ,

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

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

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

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

  • How to Identify Employee Burnout | California Benefits Consultants

    August 5, 2019

    Tags: , ,

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

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

    Some Ways to handle employee burnout

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

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

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

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

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

    ▪  Disengagement

    ▪  Decreased productivity or quality of work

    ▪  Increased absenteeism

    ▪  Cynicism

    Some Ways to Handle Employee Burnout

    ▪  Try and get the employee to open up

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

    ▪  Allow the employee to take another position temporarily

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

    ▪  Encourage PTO

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

    By Andrew McNeil

  • Moans and Groans: About Student Loans

    June 28, 2019

    Tags: ,

    The statistics are startling:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Employer payments to employees to reduce loan balances

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

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

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

    Various studies have cited:

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

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

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

    April 16, 2019

    Tags: ,

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

    SURVEY

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

    WHO ARE YOU TRYING TO ATTRACT?

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

    WHAT ARE YOUR VALUES

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

     WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH AND WHY?

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

    ENGAGE EMPLOYEES ON AN INDIVIDUAL LEVEL

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

     

     

    ABOUT US

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

  • Volunteering Time Off, Part Two

    September 9, 2019

    Tags: , , , ,

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

  • Volunteering Time Off, Part 1 | CA Benefits Agency

    August 7, 2019

    Tags: , ,

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

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

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

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

  • How to Identify Employee Burnout | California Benefits Consultants

    August 5, 2019

    Tags: , ,

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

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

    Some Ways to handle employee burnout

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

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

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

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

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

    ▪  Disengagement

    ▪  Decreased productivity or quality of work

    ▪  Increased absenteeism

    ▪  Cynicism

    Some Ways to Handle Employee Burnout

    ▪  Try and get the employee to open up

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

    ▪  Allow the employee to take another position temporarily

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

    ▪  Encourage PTO

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

    By Andrew McNeil

  • Moans and Groans: About Student Loans

    June 28, 2019

    Tags: ,

    The statistics are startling:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Employer payments to employees to reduce loan balances

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

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

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

    Various studies have cited:

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

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

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

    April 16, 2019

    Tags: ,

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

    SURVEY

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

    WHO ARE YOU TRYING TO ATTRACT?

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

    WHAT ARE YOUR VALUES

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

     WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH AND WHY?

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

    ENGAGE EMPLOYEES ON AN INDIVIDUAL LEVEL

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

     

     

    ABOUT US

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

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