How Well Do Your Employees Know Their Benefit Options?

Colleagues Enjoying A Coffee Break

It’s no secret that potential new hire candidates care deeply about the employee benefits they will be offered upon accepting their new role. Unfortunately, not all candidates or employees fully understand the benefits being offered to them either at onboarding or open enrollment.

 

While half the battle seems to be on the benefits arm of an organization’s HR team, the other half of the battle is properly communicating the benefits in a manner that allows employees to really understand what is being offered to them.

 

Bridge your organizational benefits communication gap by first informing employees of all their options. It also helps to break these options into categories. For example, primary insurance categories could include medical, dental, life insurance, flexible spending, retirement, and leave. Secondary or voluntary benefit categories could include pet insurance, hospital indemnity, critical illness, identity theft, or student loan consolidation, among others.

 

To help employees better understand the benefit options being provided, consider taking one or more of these steps prior to and during open enrollment.

 

Survey Employees to Gauge Level of Interest and Understanding
Employee understanding of benefit options may be better or worse than your teams initially assumes. To properly gather a consensus, start by initiating an employee survey. The survey results will give a better picture of what employees like or dislike, and what they currently understand about the benefit options. For example, not all employees may be familiar with the terms FSA or HSA and how to use them if they are elected.

 

Early and Regular Communication
Before open enrollment begins, preempt the enrollment period by communicating the plan options early. Find a way to quickly and easily convey plan changes or any new plan options that have been added. By taking the time to communicate with employees early, the business is showing their commitment to a successful open enrollment period and commitment to ensuring employees have all the necessary information upfront.

 

Drive Engagement
Preparing for open enrollment is just as stressful on the employees as it is for the HR and benefits teams who coordinate the plans. “Key drivers of engagement include consistent communication, including intranet and newsletters [and] events and meetings…” Bringing employees together in an event or meeting to better understand the benefit program options. Digital tools are available, also, to aid in employees accessing the benefit plan options early, in addition to details and simplified realistic explanations.

 

Aside from offering quality benefits in which employees and candidates are interested in enrolling, ensuring employees are able to understand benefit options is crucial to open enrollment success. Contact Vensure to get assistance with open enrollment and in ensuring employees are informed prior to your open enrollment period.

Employer-Sponsored Tuition Assistance

Educational assistance programs, or tuition assistance, can come in many forms: Student loans, grants, scholarships, or tuition reimbursement via employer-sponsored education. For students or prospective students, oftentimes one of the main deciding factors on whether to return or continue with school, outside of time commitments, comes down to finances. Some people are lucky enough to work for an organization who supports continuing education and has added an educational assistance program into their employee benefits offerings.

This employee benefit is one where the employer pays for all or a portion of an employee’s educational expenses as they relate to tuition. While the benefits should be made available to all employees (or at least those with full-time status), traditionally the employer will impart certain requirements the student must satisfy to receive reimbursement for their educational expenses. For example, the employee may be required to hold a certain GPA, finish each class with a specific letter grade or higher, or that the courses and program directly relate to the employee’s current job.

Educational assistance programs are a great tool to market to top candidates and for encouraging existing employee retention. Retaining an existing employee is always a more cost-effective solution rather than recruiting, hiring, and training a new employee.

Contact Vensure Employer Services to learn more about educational assistance programs, employee retention, and recruiting services.

New Technology-Based Trends in Employee Benefits

Medical Information Available Online

Companies are always looking for ways to lower costs while improving employee happiness and health at the same time. This becomes increasingly difficult as new technologies are introduced and the number of millennials in the workforce continues to increase. Both of these elements have a direct impact on the ways employers aim to communicate with and educate employees when it comes to employer-sponsored benefits. The influx of millennials will push employers to stay competitive in role-specific technologies, which may only be available at premium prices.

 

On-the-Go Connections

Employees are looking for more direct and rapid communication when it comes to their benefits. For example, younger employees, those that fall into the millennial bucket, primarily prefer a text message or email notifications for benefit changes or enrollment information. Some health care providers now offer the option of receiving a text or email updates or appointment reminders.

 

Flexible Hours or Work from Home Option

More people consider a flexible work schedule or work from home option more valuable than other employer-sponsored benefits, healthcare aside.[1] Technology has allowed this benefit to become a reality for businesses of any size, simply by implementing a cloud-based server structure or VPN. Employees, also, are more productive in addition to hosting and attending effective meetings while being an active, focused participant,

 

Telehealth

People are more likely to book appointments online than calling a phone number, simply out of convenience. Telehealth allows employees to access healthcare services easily, including receiving care from medical specialists, digital communication with doctors and nurses, or having prescriptions refilled. Telehealth also alleviates stress for employees who typically need to take time off work to attend doctor visits. Employees who are able to access medical care remotely are more productive at work as the speed at which they are able to receive medical attention is increased through telehealth.

 

Learning and Development

“Technology is driving a new mandate for training.”[2] As artificial intelligence (AI) and other revolutionary technologies continue to seep into our professional lives, employers will work to train their existing workforce to help them better adapt to new technologies that will only make our jobs easier. Job-focused or role-based online training sessions will prepare employees for the new applications and tools they will be required to use.

 

Wellness

From Apple Watches to the Fitbit, wearable health and wellness technology has infiltrated the lives of your employees. Wellness programs are offered in addition to many general health plans. For most, as a policyholder, you simply need to complete an online profile. The system is often loaded with healthy behavior recommendations, weekly tips and tricks, and healthy recipes.

 

 

As the job market continues to stay competitive, the benefits your organization offers may make or break a prospective offer for a quality new hire candidate. Technology-based benefits, in addition to supplementary benefits, are on the rise. Before your organization starts taking a hard look at your benefit offerings, consider recent feedback regarding what is or is not working, on trend, or considered competitive in the market. Let Vensure customize an appropriate benefits package for your employees, your industry, and your business. You want to stay competitive and we can show you how.

 

 

 

[1] MAQTOOB: It’s Time for Companies to Embrace Remote Work

[2] MetLife: Thriving in a New Work-Life World

 

 

Equal Pay Act (EPA)

The Equal Pay Act (EPA) is an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act, prohibiting gender-based wage discrimination. While jobs do not need to be identical to be compliant, the EPA does outline specific factors that make up “equal work” for both men and women. Those factors include skill, effort, responsibility, working conditions, and establishment or the physical place of business. Contact us to learn more and receive access to compensation administration through Vensure.

 

 

 

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Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was put in place to ensure employee working conditions, including compensation, are executed fairly. From part-time or full-time employment to overtime and tipping—there is so much to know about FLSA.

 

This is our high-level look at the law. Learn more about FLSA through the United States Department of Labor.  Contact us to learn more and receive access to compensation administration services and support through Vensure.

 

 

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Internship Program Benefits

Companies from large to small experience a cinched budget from time to time. And while all companies strive to achieve maximum productivity and output while maintaining the minimum required number of employees, there is always room for improvement. It’s these times when the thought of adding an intern to the mix may have crossed your mind.

 

Internship programs offer a number of benefits to an organization, whether they are a startup or in the midst of a growth spurt. Programs range from traditional, unpaid internships, to paid programs. Regardless of the style of program that is right for your business, here are some of the benefits you will experience by adding an internship program to your framework.

 

Trial Period with New Talent
An internship is a relatively risk-free way of testing the potential of a new candidate. Evaluate their skills in action, experience their work ethic and views on company culture, and review their productivity on projects in real-time. If everything pans out, an intern could be a great addition to the team. At the same time, if they are not a good fit, use this opportunity to redefine the role and adjust the job description and hiring criteria before pursuing a new candidate.

 

Diverse Perspective
Bringing in a fresh face, someone new to the industry or market, and someone who has not experienced day-to-day operations at your organization could have an enlightening effect. Interns typically don’t come to the new position with a ton of on-the-job experience. This allows for fresh and diverse perspectives on your business, policies, procedures, operations, strategies, and plans. While the feedback is unsolicited, it will behoove you to take advantage of the ideas. Encourage your interns to share their thoughts, engage in brainstorming sessions, and help improve your organization.

 

Community Involvement
Opening your doors to students and recent graduates help to root your business in the neighboring community. Internships are a great way to show your community dedication to both the people and the local economy.

 

Strengthen Your Brand
Offering an internship through a local university or internship program touting one-on-one, real-world training and experience, mentoring, and opportunities to explore lesser-known industries can improve your brand awareness with interns and potential hires, alike.

 

If done properly, internship programs are a huge benefit to both the intern candidates and the business. From building strong relationships and evaluating potential talent, to taking a fresh look at your organizational framework and reinforcing your brand in the community. If you’re ready to change the way you retain talent, accomplish business goals, and improve company culture, Vensure is ready to be your partner. Contact us to learn more.

Reinventing Your Employee Onboarding Process

An employee’s first day is just as important to the employee as it is to the employer. The employee is most likely full of energy and enthusiasm for their new position and company. The employee had a great experience meeting with the recruiter or hiring manager and is eager to put names to faces of people on their team. They are anticipating a whirlwind first week filled with meeting new people, learning about the company, and the ins and outs of their new role and responsibilities.

 

Have you or any of your new employees ever had one of these experiences?

  • Your new employee walked up to the front desk to announce their arrival and the receptionist has no idea who they
    are.
  • The employee is placed in an empty conference room and told to wait for the trainer who never shows.
  • The employee is told by the recruiter to expect an invite for a first-day employee to get to know their teammates, but the invite is never extended.
  • Your new employee is shown to their new workspace that is not set-up.

 

A poor onboarding experience can leave the employee feeling disappointed about their new position. The employer may not realize that their onboarding deficiencies are causing negative vibes on the floor, or making their new hires feel less than.

 

A good onboarding experience takes time and thoughtfulness to execute with care. Successful onboarding programs have a similar framework.

 

Lessons Learned
Before getting started, evaluate what you know about your current onboarding process. You may have received direct feedback in the past that was not put into action. Now’s the time! Moving forward, what does a successful onboarding look like? Is your organization interested in creating long-term growth? What matters most, from the view of the business, to have accomplished in the first day or week?

 

Engage Early
Stressing over a new hire’s first day is not uncommon for employers. Successful onboarding programs include early engagement activities to help employees understand what they can expect during their first day, week, and month, information on the company background, and info on where to park, where their desk is, and names and photos of who is on their team.

 

Individual Attention at Any Level
Employers should not mistakenly assume that employees at a managerial or executive level are self-sufficient on their first day. When onboarding someone in a leadership position, consider their team, their employment and professional background, and their new level of responsibility at your company. Make time for the new hire to meet with their direct reports, other executives or leaders on their level, and ensure adequate face time to answer questions and build a report.

 

New Employee Buddy
Set each new hire up with a peer buddy. The buddy system ensures your new employee not only has someone to talk to, ask questions, and help with first-day jitters, but the buddy can also help your new employee stay focused and get up-to-speed faster. The buddy system is also great for transfers, contractors, and temporary employees. A strategic buddy system may not ensure that the two employees form a lifetime bond, but it will help assimilate the new employee into the organization.

 

The goal for a quality onboarding program should be to help new employees feel a sense of belonging. Ensure the company vision and goals are woven in throughout the program to keep the new employee inspired along the way. And while there are several elements that directly influence employee onboarding, morale, and job satisfaction, not all companies have the bandwidth to focus on honing these aspects of the business. Vensure Employer Services offers valuable products and services to help businesses like your stay competitive in the industry by attracting and retaining top talent. Contact Vensure to learn more.

The Three R’s of Employee Benefits

Employee happiness. While a seemingly simple theory, employee happiness is one of the primary components of running a successful business. Employees work for incentives, both monetary and those that come in your annual benefits package.

Offering added benefits for employees, outside of the basic benefits, shows renewed investment in employees, value in their productivity, and a desire to ensure their happiness and morale is high.

We developed this list to help employers understand why employee benefits are so important.

Recruiting
Your recruiting team will probably receive multiple questions from candidates regarding benefits. Try creating a snapshot of the benefits package for a mid-level employee. This will provide the best view of the company’s offerings and is a great way to highlight the company’s continuous investment in their employees. Added benefits that have a lesser impact to the company’s bottom line include scheduling a food truck or coffee cart to visit regularly, adding a foosball or pool table in the break room, on-site haircuts, or dry cleaning services.

Reduce Turnover
If your organization’s employees see your business as a revolving door rather than a place to plant roots and grow, the talent pool will reflect this, also. Investing in your employees shows that management values their interests and performance. Keeping employees for a long period can help build a strong team, which will eventually cause a ripple effect across the organization.

Restore Loyalty
Employees who are satisfied with their company’s benefits package are 71%[1] more loyal to their employers vs. employees who are not satisfied with the benefits package.  Basic benefits (e.g. medical, dental, vision) are expected these days. Organizations that go above and beyond may offer unlimited PTO, flexible workdays, pet insurance, or tuition reimbursement.

Contact Vensure Employer Services to start offering your employees added benefits.

[1] https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/benefits/pages/benefits_loyalty.aspx

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FMLA Fast Facts for Employers

FMLA provides eligible employees with unpaid, job-protected leave for specific family and medical reasons. Vensure Employer Services is well versed in FMLA for your employees and the impact on your business. Partnering with a PEO takes the stress of understanding all of the federal regulations off of you and your staff. Know your options. Let Vensure help get you there.

 

Reach out to Vensure Employer Services so we can help you find the right management solutions for your business.

What’s New in Benefits for 2018

By Chris Wrba, Venefits, LLC

Chris Wrba of Venefits LLC discusses what you can expect from 2018 health insurance plans.

Affordable health plans with low premiums and high deductibles are expected to plateau in 2018. Employers have typically relied upon these plans as a cost-controlling strategy. In an increasingly competitive market, employers will find it difficult to offer such plans, which have scaled-back benefits.

The upside is with over the counter drugs. Several patents for branded drugs have expired, bringing down the overall revenue from pharmaceutical sales in the U.S. For employers, this means that in 2018 there will be fewer opportunities to purchase less expensive generic drugs.

There is increasing pressure on Big Pharma to moderate drug prices. This scrutiny is expected to limit increases in price and bring less expensive alternatives to the market in 2018. The focus is on providing value and minimizing waste. Employers will have access to new treatments and technologies and will benefit from strategies such as limited prescription quantities.

Increased cost sharing with the consumer and lower utilization as a method of reducing medical costs will no longer be an effective strategy. Employers will have to develop new strategies to curb employee medical costs.

It is interesting that in the five years from 2011 to 2016, the insurance premium for employer-provided family coverage increased by 20 percent. With health spending continuing to outpace economic growth, the increased cost of health insurance is eroding into the ability of the consumer to pay for necessities such as food, housing, and transport. It is projected that in 2018, medical costs will continue to grow faster than the GDP and take up an even bigger share of the economy. This will lead to increasing dissatisfaction with low-premium health plans that entail a high deductible and force consumers to forgo services such as preventive healthcare. In 2018, therefore, businesses will need to tackle medical costs in the new health industry landscape with a focus on both the price of services as well as utilization rate. In 2018, employers are looking at cost strategies like raising deductibles and adding a gap plan to cover the out of pocket medical expenses associated with hospitalization and diagnostic testing for the employees.

For assistance on your benefit needs, or to see how Vensure can help solve your benefit concerns with these ever-changing issues, contact benefits@vensure.com or visit:

https://vensure.com/blog/peo-services/employee-benefits/

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