Employee Benefits

How to Attract & Retain Talented Workers in an Ultra-Competitive Job Market with Employee Benefits

With today’s thriving economy and competitive job market, it can be difficult to attract and retain talented employees. At Bouchard, we believe the consideration of benefits in addition to traditional health insurance plans to address this challenge is a worthwhile exercise.  Offering creative benefits packages can be a great way to keep millennial employees engaged and productive. Below are “outside the box” benefits ideas that your company may not be offering but your competitors might be.

Four Day Work Week

At many companies, the traditional 8 to 5, Monday through Friday work week is a thing of the past. Flex time and shorter work weeks can lead to a more creative, punctual, and productive workforce according to companies like Treehouse, a technology education company. Treehouse implemented a 32-hour work week in 2006 and has been praising its success ever since.

Nap Time

Many people remember nap time as a perk of kindergarten, not a perk of the real world workplace. However, companies like Google, Facebook, and even the Huffington Post have installed nap pods for employees to use at work. Older generations coined the term “sleeping on the job” as a negative stereotype, but millennials are embracing a more flexible view on responsibilities and actually find themselves more productive after catching a couple z’s on their break time.

Student Loan Repayment Programs

As the student loan debt crisis grows in America, many companies are capitalizing on this opportunity to bring real value to the lives of their employees. A recent survey by Oliver Wyman found that 45% of employees say student debt repayment is the most desirable benefit a company can offer - even more desirable that retirement contributions and health insurance.

Paid Paternal Leave

New fathers are now being considered for parental leave at some large companies including Twitter, Etsy, Netflix, and the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation. These companies offer between 20 weeks and a full year of paid paternal leave.

Free Parking & Complimentary Cars

Whether it’s a carpooling program, like Tesla offers, or Facebook’s valet service, helping employees find cost effective parking options can be a great employee benefit, especially for companies located in large cities.

Free Food

More and more companies are finding the key to a productive workforce is through their stomach. Dropbox, LinkedIn, and many other technology companies are offering free meals and snacks to employees throughout the day.

Paid & Encouraged Travel

It may come as no surprise that companies like AirBnB would offer $2,000 a year to cover travel expenses, but other companies like software-maker, Qualtrics, have jumped on board to offer employees money to spend on experiences each year.

Gym Memberships

Companies are finding innovative ways to help their employees stay healthy. Reebok, Apple, and Microsoft all offer money, memberships, or classes to employees to help them stay in shape and happy.

Remote Work

Working Remotely is quickly becoming a popular work perk. Major companies like Hilton, Dell, Amazon, and Williams-Sonoma all offer this benefit to their employees. You may be surprised to know that about 43% of Americans worked from home at least once in 2016, according to Gallop.

Game Breaks

What better way to keep your employees engaged than to offer game breaks where employees can have fun and build comradery with their fellow co-workers. We’re not talking about a foosball table, deep in the basement of an office building. Adobe Systems, for example, has a fitness center, basketball court, and even a rock climbing wall at their Utah campus.

With millennials making up the largest portion of the labor force, companies must be willing to adapt their Employee Benefits strategy to keep up with the changing desires of employees. Did you know that the average person switches jobs over 10 times during their working career? What are you doing to make your company attractive to these “job hoppers”?


About the Author

Max Miller Linkedin.jpg

Max Miller is a Sales Executive at Bouchard Insurance. Max specializes in Property & Casualty, Workers’ Compensation, and Health Benefits for large commercial accounts. | Connect on LinkedIn

Benefits Technology

In today’s world, individuals of all ages use technology as a normal part of daily life from sending emails to online banking, to filling out employment applications and scrolling through social media. This is especially true in the workplace with more and more employers transitioning functions that used to be managed “in-house” now being outsourced such as payroll, online record keeping and new-hire applications.

Photo by nortonrsx/iStock / Getty Images

Technology seems to be replacing manual processes throughout every aspect of running a business, but, believe it or not, many employers still use paper enrollment forms to enroll employees in their benefit program. When we ask why employers have not moved to an online platform, we hear many different reasons. A few of the most common responses are – their employees aren’t capable of enrolling online and/or don’t have a computer at home to do so, it’s too costly of an expense that hasn’t been budgeted for and “I wouldn’t know where to begin with considering a vendor”.  All these reasons for not taking the plunge with Benefits Technology hold validity in their corresponding circumstance, however even with these challenges, moving to a Benefits Technology platform is a way to save money and time, while enhancing efficiencies to make the organization stronger. So now, let’s talk through these common objections and why benefits technology can make sense for most employers.

‘My employees don’t know how to enroll online and don’t have computers at home to do so.’

Did you know benefits technology vendors typically offer enrollment support? This is a service that’s highly undervalued, as not only is a third party enrolling each employee, they are also providing one-on-one education, as well as a personal Q&A opportunity for every employee. This removes any potential HIPAA violations if an employee overshares their healthcare circumstances and eliminates the need to follow up with employees who submit forms that are incomplete or illegible. For these reasons, even employers who don’t face this challenge can largely benefit from one-on-one enrollments.

“This is a cost that hasn’t been budgeted for and we cannot afford to take on this year.”

Benefits Technology may not be as costly as you think. Some insurance carriers offer their benefits technology platform at no cost to an employer for simply offering Voluntary Worksite Products (think- Cancer Plan, Critical Illness Policy, etc.). These are products that are often already being offered, so why not partner with a vendor that can enroll employees electronically at no additional cost?

“Where do I even begin with choosing a vendor?”

There are organizations who have built their entire business understanding benefits technology vendors. Bouchard has an exclusive arrangement with Benefits Technology Resources (BTR) who does just that. In meeting with a vendor like BTR, employers can talk through what they anticipate needing a Benefits Technology vendor for, and then review the best viable solutions out there provided by the experts in the field.


About the Author

Candace Conforte Linkedin.jpg

Candace Conforte is a Sales Executive at Bouchard Insurance. Candace specializes in Property & Casualty, Workers’ Compensation, and Health Benefits for large commercial accounts | Connect on LinkedIn

Individual Mandate Update & Potential Impact on Employers

As a recap- the individual mandate went into effect in 2012 when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) first launched, requiring all individuals to carry some form of health insurance, or, pay a penalty fine when filing taxes for the prior year with no coverage. The penalty started at $95 or 1% of household income (greater of the two) and increased each year, leaping to the 2017 penalty of $695 or 2.5% of household income.

aca.png

Proactive employers prepared for a certain percentage of uninsured employees to join their health plan over the last 5 years as the penalty increased and ensured they budgeted appropriately for the spike in employee enrollment. With the recent announcement of the elimination of the individual mandate for the 2018 tax year and beyond, should employers plan to have that same percentage who joined their health plan drop off? It’s possible. This is something employers should remain aware of, as they could see a decrease in enrollment as a result of this change in the law. So, if fewer employees enroll in the health plan it would likely mean a smaller employer spend. This would be a good thing for employers, right? Wrong.

Those individuals who choose to go uninsured are likely the ones who do not need, or use, the health insurance system, i.e. the healthiest of your employee population. Who will choose to remain covered on your employer sponsored health insurance plan? You guessed it, it’s likely those who are unhealthy who will remain on the plan and incur claims. The change in the Individual mandate could lead to a decrease in employee enrollment, less premium dollars, and increased claims, causing medical loss ratios to sky rocket due to this unbalanced ratio and overall employer premiums to rise. As the Employer Mandate is not going away, the affordability portion of ACA will continue to limit the amount of employee dollars that can be received towards the overall plan premium.

Although you may not anticipate huge fluctuation in enrollment as a result of this change in law, consider shifting to a more consumer driven plan such as a Health Savings Account tied to a High Deductible Health Plan (HSA/HDHP), or a Health Reimbursement Account (HRA), if you don’t already have this plan structure in place. This may be a way to shift some responsibility to your employees and allow them the opportunity to be better consumers of the healthcare system. Always good to plan for the future!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Candace Conforte Linkedin.jpg

Candace Conforte is a Sales Executive at Bouchard Insurance. Candace specializes in Property & Casualty, Workers’ Compensation, and Health Benefits for large commercial accounts | Connect on LinkedIn

Properly Insuring Your Employees

Creating an environment that protects employees is essential to a good company culture. Incentivizing your employees’ well-being is a proper safeguard to both their own satisfaction and your liabilities as a company. Proper employee benefits can protect workers both on the job, and in their private lives.

Photo by nd3000/iStock / Getty Images

Most employers have to offer certain benefits and insurance to their employees. They also have to follow local employment laws. These laws help create safe working environments for employees. The law also helps make sure the company doesn’t put itself in the way of financial and personnel losses.

Employee benefits encompass both standard benefits and workers’ compensation. These types of insurance vary in when employees can receive them. However, they both seek to protect the financial well-being of employees. The better you protect your employees, the better you protect the business.

Offering Employee Benefits

In many cases, it is the law that you have to offer various forms of employee benefits. Furthermore, employees have rights. Employment law governs how you must create a fair and welcoming environment.

Most companies choose to offer insurance beyond the law’s minimum requirements. Employee benefits can vary in the options you choose to offer.

One of the most common types of employee benefits is health insurance. Many employers offer health insurance through group plans that include some or all employees. Employees can often save premium costs by enrolling in a company’s health plan. Company plans are often cheaper than private, single member plans.

Health plans might cover a variety of services depending on the employer’s offerings. Offerings may include coverage for emergency care, routine wellness checks, dental and vision care. Health insurance is a vital protection for most employees.

Businesses often offer a variety of other benefits to help safeguard employee finances. Annuities, investment plans, and 401(k) plans help safeguard income while an employee works for the company.

Make sure you follow the law when it comes to insuring your employees. Insurance law usually governs employees even if they miss work. Most employee benefit plans still protect workers during temporary leave and absence periods.

Should an employee become sick or get injured on the job, the company may also face extra insurance requirements. In these cases, you may need to provide workers’ compensation insurance.

Worker’s Compensation Requirements

Just like you probably have to offer some forms of benefits to your employees, you likely have to offer workers’ compensation.

Workers’ compensation insurance that can help you provide supplementary income to employees who get sick or injured while on the job.

If an employee experiences an on-the-job injury, he or she may have to take time off work to recover. The employee’s absence can cause a loss to operations. It may also cause a loss to the employee themselves because they cannot work and make money.

Use workers’ compensation insurance to help compensate an employee who takes extended leave. You often have to provide workers’ compensation regardless of whether the injury was the fault of the company. Employees can often use this income to help remain solvent while recovering. They might also use it to help cover extra medical bills, therapy, or any other treatment they might need.

Why should you offer worker’s compensation?

By carrying workers’ compensation insurance, you often protect your company in many ways.

Workers’ comp usually allows you to assist employees without having to dip into your reserve finances. Therefore, you will likely minimize financial losses. However, keep in mind that you need to do everything you can to reduce employee workplace risks. Negligence on the part of the company could put employees in the way of otherwise avoidable harm. Insurance could deny your workers’ compensation claim if you negligently caused an accident. You might still have to pay the employee, you just won’t be able to use insurance.

Second, workers’ comp can sometimes protect a company from legal challenges. Most employers require workers’ comp recipients to give up the right to sue a company for damages. In exchange, they offer workers’ comp to adequately compensate the victim.

Third, workers’ comp does have a relationship to improved recovery times for employees. With workers' comp, an employee can engage with services that help him or her get better faster. That way, the employee can return to work in prime shape. This adds can help a business improve your financial recovery.

Never forget that the best way to reduce workers’ comp risks is to create a safe, welcoming environment for all employees. Make sure that people don’t face glaring injury risks in places that they frequent. Also ensure that you post safety warnings in appropriate places. Employees shouldn’t operate business machinery without the proper training and safety guards.

With the right workers’ compensation insurance, you can protect your employees when unfortunate accidents do happen. You can also use this insurance as a great way to protect your business finances.