In case you weren’t aware, March 31st 2015 was cast as Vacation Commitment Day, brought to you by the Take Back Your Time nonprofit. The organization is devoted to helping workers across America focus on taking more of the vacation that they have available, because we are notorious for accruing, but not using, our leave.
This sounds like a great idea, but the timing is interesting.
This is an intriguing coincidence because just last week I was reading a new study from Accountemps about the top benefits employees are asking for in 2015. Want to know what topped the list?
More vacation time.
So what gives? We want more vacation time, but we also don’t use all of the time that we accrue.
As if that wasn’t enough, the federal government is now attempting to introduce legislation that will force small companies to offer paid leave to employees. Continue reading
According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, more than half of workers over age 60 plan to continue working in some capacity after retiring from their current career. I’ve read about the “graying of the workforce” and the impending “brain drain” for years, and it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the topic’s sheer magnitude. And while it might be your first instinct to think that the shift is toward part-time work, the population of individuals over 65 who are pursuing full-time work has been on the rise for years. Today I’d like to share a short anecdote to help illustrate how this can play out in the real world and to teach a lesson in retaining older workers.
The Risk of Employee Retirement
When I was working as an HR Director several years back, an employee called me and told me he planned to quit. When pressed, he admitted that he liked the job and his coworkers, but he wanted to spend time with his grandchildren and pursue some hobbies.
At the time, several things were running through my head simultaneously: Continue reading
Recently I asked for some help in preparing for a local session on HR compensation challenges. I had some good responses and wanted to share some of the insights and advice with everyone. I’ll be sharing two blogs on the topic: determining what to offer employees and how to get managers on board.
The second most cited HR compensation challenge faced is how to keep managers in line and/or get managers on board with decisions. In the video below I discuss some of the ways to accomplish that. A few ideas:
- Do you have a written compensation policy or process? When I started putting things in writing with clear instructions it helped to reduce issues.
- Also, it helps to explain the structure/process because not all managers understand how compensation “works.”
- Give them a sense of the budget, what decisions are made, how a single change affects others, and what your responsibilities are to ensure accurate information across the company.
- Above all else, be a partner, not just a gatekeeper. Explain how the guidelines aren’t there to give them a hard time–they’re there to protect them, the budget, and the company.
Recently I asked for some help in preparing for a local session on employee compensation challenges. I had some good responses and wanted to share some of the insights and advice with everyone. I’ll be sharing two blogs on the topic: determining what to offer employees and how to get managers on board.
The number one response that HR professionals said was most difficult was figuring out what to offer. In the video I talk about some of the key ways to determine that information, including using local salary surveys for the cheapest and most accurate information. I would encourage companies to avoid using free, unverified tools like salary.com for building compensation structures. In addition, I discuss the importance of having an overarching compensation strategy to drive decisions from a high level. Check it out!
Employee compensation challenges video
(email subscribers click through to view) Continue reading
The term “average” is used commonly, but we sometimes forget what it means. The “average” score is made up of the highest and lowest scores. The “average” experience is made up of the best and worst experiences. And the “average” HR person is a mix of the best, most engaged and innovative professionals out there and the laziest, most unhelpful people you’ll meet.
This is a story about the latter. It’s also a reminder of the importance of not only what you are doing, but how you are doing it as well.
I have experience administering health benefits for an employee population, both local and dispersed, so I understand the intricacies of putting that together and taking care of employees. I also am acutely aware of the problems and the need to communicate carefully and kindly with employees who are having trouble with their benefits.
In case you were not aware, the number one reason of bankruptcy in the US is due to medical emergencies–not having the coverage in place or having problems with it could be catastrophic for a family to deal with. That is why I am fanatical about having this taken care of appropriately for the employees in my care.
Please never do this to your employees
If you’re an in-the-trenches HR pro, the Affordable Care Act has brought multiple emotions to bear: frustration, worry, and more. I know exactly how it feels, but I have also come to appreciate a particular side effect of the law.
The “good old days”
The creepiest thing I could find referencing the ACA online.
Five or ten years ago, the benefits administrator for a fully insured organization would receive a rate renewal notification from the insurance company with the new premiums for the coming plan year. In most cases, that rate was set in stone and the organization had to grin and bear it. We’ve been over the ACA health insurance premium increases before, but that’s not what we’re focusing on today.
I was speaking with a friend earlier this week about some changes his organization’s leadership team is debating related to health insurance for employees. There was a time in the past where this type of internal discussion would have made me a little uncomfortable; however, with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, it would be crazy not to spend some time talking about how the market is changing, what trends are evident, and how to develop a strategy for moving forward.
The single most important result of the ACA is this: perspectives are finally changing.
Click here to continue reading about the best change as a result of the Affordable Care Act.
Before I jump in, I realize that there is some cost associated with everything. My love of economics doesn’t allow me to get away with the idea of a “free lunch” without mentioning that; however, I’m talking about increasing the perceived value without increasing the direct cost of the various options offered. Hang with me, there’s good stuff to share.
My first SHRM 2014 session focused on benefit communication best practices and was presented by Mary Shafer at ADP. Here are nine tips, ideas, and concepts for improving your benefits communication.
- What’s the key to crafting a communication plan? Understand your objective and your audience and communicate with multiple media.
- If you want to increase the perceived value of an item (your benefits package), you need to help the customer (your employees) better understand the offerings and how they can help them to achieve their life goals.
- Think about targeted, timely messages. As an example, “Hey, it’s two months until the end of the plan year. You still have some of your FSA funds remaining. Here are a few ideas for how you could utilize those funds before they expire…”
- Talk in laymen’s terms, not HR-speak. Think about someone in your life that might have trouble understanding the message, and make sure you could explain it to them (a teen, parent, grandparent, etc.).
- Mix up the media you use–email and/or brochures are not the only options! Consider postcards, posters (bonus tip: include QR codes for smartphone scanning), mailings, video, podcasts, text, external websites, or even social media.
- Use employee stories (with permission) to make the options personal and help others relate. Maybe a new parent talking about how the maternity benefits helped them, an employee who utilized the short term disability coverage, or someone who transitioned to a high deductible plan and realized cost savings.
- This topic was recently covered in part in “Are your employees clueless about their benefits?”
- Be sure to measure, refine, and follow up. Results are the key here, not just activity.
- Pro tip: use short one minute videos to answer questions in an FAQ format and post them internally for employees to access. Not sure how to start? Imagine an employee calls you with a question about their benefits. Now, consider your response to that question. Take a few moments to write down some key thoughts, then shoot a video of your response (or just record the audio as a podcast, if you’re video shy!). That is all it takes! Do five to ten of those, then post them. As you get other frequent/recurring requests, create more of those short snippets to help answer questions.
So, what has worked for your organization? How do you communicate benefits to your staff? Are any of the suggestions above of particular interest to you?