Posts

Strengthening the Employee Holistically

Employees have lives and needs outside the workplace—needs beyond a paycheck and benefits. The needs were always there – what is trending is the conviction that if their current employer isn’t fulfilling their needs, they’ll leave their jobs to work for an employer that will.

Employers can see increased talent retention and performance by understanding the importance of employees’ holistic wellbeing and learning how to design a positive employee experience.

Think holistically and strengthen the employee experience

Employers need a deeper understanding of what employee needs look like and how they can help their employees outside the workplace. Supporting employees’ holistic wellbeing includes providing support in these key areas:

  • Physical health:  Level of illness, injury, preventative care, and general lifestyle.
  • Financial health: State of personal and family financial security.
  • Mental health:  Condition of psychological and emotional wellbeing.
  • Social health: The ability to form satisfying interpersonal relationships with others.

If you want to support your employees’ physical, mental, financial, and social health, you’ll need a compelling employee experience. According to Met Life’s recent study, there are five key areas that will contribute to a good experience:

Purposeful work

Purposeful work is a top driver for employee mental, social, and physical health. Employees are interested in their employers having a clear purpose and a positive impact, which significantly influences retention. People also want to feel valued at their organization, so it is not only about contributing to purposeful work but also being valuable.

Flexibility and work-life balance

Flexibility and work-life balance have become a priority. Seven in ten employees rank work-life management benefits and programs like flexible hours and financial allowance for their home office as their top needs. It’s essential to recognize that flexibility means different things to different people. The key factors include:

  • Where they work (remote, hybrid, in-person)
  • When they work (setting working hours and “protecting” pockets of time)
  • What they wear
  • How Paid Time Off (PTO) can be used

Employees who are satisfied with the flexibility their employers provide are twice as likely to stay with their current organization for as long as possible or until retirement, and 82 percent of employees feel mentally healthy. 

Social and supportive cultures

Strong cultures bring people together and increase social health, resilience, and loyalty. People thrive off their connections with others, but it takes strong leadership and managerial support to bring that culture to life. For instance, 77 percent of employees with supportive managers say they feel mentally healthy versus only 47 percent of workers who do not feel supported.

Career development and training

Employees are serious about growing and advancing their careers and are not afraid to seek employers that will support their careers. Job seekers look for roles that offer development, training, and advancement opportunities and see them as a must-have. The number of job seekers looking for jobs with those coveted benefits has grown by 8 percent since 2020; employers that offer these opportunities are more likely to have successful employees.

Wellness programs and benefits

Regarding mental health, wellness programs and benefits are the best route. This may include fertility benefits, parental leave policies, pet insurance, and employee-assisted programs (i.e., mental health counseling, legal support, and credit counseling). These benefits support the inner workings of employees’ personal lives, produce resilience, and improve overall mental health.

Why it matters

Employers face a tight labor market marked by declining job satisfaction and loyalty. Only 66 percent of employees say they are satisfied at their place of work (a 20-year low). If you’re thinking, “Well, I know my employees are loyal and satisfied,” be cautious. There is a significant gap in employer and employee perceptions. While 86 percent of employers believe their employees are loyal and satisfied: 

  • 55 percent of employees say their employer has their best interests in mind
  • 39 percent of employees would recommend their employer as a place to work
  • More employees are quitting their jobs to work for an employer that meets their needs

The same study found that holistically healthy employees are more likely to be satisfied with their current job, feel engaged and productive, and intend to stay with the company for at least 12 months. Understanding the value of supporting your people can make a huge difference.

Pursuing wellbeing is good business

It is safe to say that employees expect more support from their employers in many areas, at work and beyond. The good news? Positive wellbeing is good business.

Organizations that care for their employees’ wellbeing, offer compelling benefits, and provide an attractive employee experience will seize the win-win opportunity. They will attract talent that will enable the organization to perform at its highest level. After all, employees are more engaged, loyal, and productive when their needs are met.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by stockbroker

What is Health Insurance? Why is It Important?

As an employer, if you’re shopping around for the best health insurance plan for your employees and wondering, “what exactly is insurance? And why is it important?” you are not alone. Insurance can be confusing—you may wonder how it works, the benefits of insurance, and how you can find the best plan and benefits for your employees.

Let’s dive in.

What is health insurance?

Simply put, health insurance is a safety net that helps your employees and their loved ones stay healthy with preventative care and medications, as well as help them recover after something like an illness or an accident. When your employees experience something covered by their insurance, and they file a claim, the insurance pays the provider based on the terms of the policy.

You want employees to feel protected and to be proactive about their health. Not doing so can lead to greater health risks long-term and cost them financial security. Insurance protects them from this risk. You hope your employees spend more time using their insurance for preventative care than catastrophic care, but if they have no insurance, either scenario will put them in a difficult financial situation.

How does insurance work?

Insurance is, essentially, a “rainy day fund” that is shared by your employees and managed by what is called an insurance carrier. The insurance carrier uses the money collected, called a premium, to help fulfill its promise to your employees when a claim is filed. Insurance also has a policy limit, the maximum amount the carrier will pay under the policy, and a deductible, the amount your employees must pay themselves, out of pocket, before the carrier pays a claim.

What are the benefits of insurance?

Having insurance allows your employees to manage life events that inevitably come up. Insurance helps keep your employees’ lives on track as much as possible after something happens. Insurance also:

  • Helps your employees live their lives with fewer worries. Employees know they’ll receive financial assistance after an accident and have support to recover, and it provides protection for when the worst happens.
  • Increases employee retention rates. When you offer health insurance to your current employees, it shows that you care about their wellbeing—and when you offer it to potential employees, you widen your pool of candidates.
  • Helps maintain your employees’ current standard of living. If they become disabled or have a critical illness, insurance can cover their day-to-day costs and other expenses while they focus on their health and recovery.
  • Helps give your employees peace of mind. A study shows that when needed health care, such as medications, increased in price by ten dollars, people stopped buying those medications. Life happens, and your employees cannot anticipate what might come up.

How do I choose an insurance advisor?

Consider the following when choosing an insurance agency and advisor to help secure coverage for your employees:

  • Type of coverage. What kind of insurance does the agency offer? Can they advise and educate on a spectrum of policies such as fully insured, level-funded, or self-funded? Do they offer additional insurance options such as life insurance or ancillary benefits? The more you know, the better position you’ll be in to make educated decisions for your business and your employees.
  • Education and resources. What resources does the agency offer to help you manage your insurance and benefits program? Do they proactively share information and materials? Do they make resources readily available?
  • Customer service. Do others recommend this agency? What do others say about them? Look them up online to see Google reviews, explore testimonials and case studies on their website, and review their LinkedIn profiles.

Taking the time to research a company before engaging in a sales conversation is common for buyers today. But be sure you are also making time in your process to spend quality time getting to know your future advisor.

Great insurance agencies and advisors will take the time to educate you about different options. Get a sense of how capable they are at informing and educating, so you can feel confident and informed about a potentially unfamiliar topic. Make your advisor selection based on building a relationship with someone who will work collaboratively to help you make the best decisions for your business.

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by fizkes

Why (and How) You Should Care About Employee Health

The month of May, deemed Global Employee Health and Fitness Month (GEHFM), is a time to observe how the benefits of health and a healthy workplace make a difference in employers’ and employees’ lives. Employees in good health, both physically and mentally, are more likely to give their all to their organization. When employees have health-related issues, and nothing is done to help them, it affects their lives and costs businesses money. An estimated $530 billion a year, in fact.

The good news is that improving employee health is not an impossible feat. It’s quite possible! Show your employees you care about their health and wellbeing with these tips you can implement in your workplace.

Give employees autonomy

Research done by McKinsey Quarterly shows that the higher someone’s rank is in a company, the lower the instances of health issues such as stress and cardiovascular disease.

Why? The higher the rank, the lower the stress and chances for illness.

But why?

Even though these high-ranked employees faced many demands in their job, they enjoyed more control over their tasks, how they did them, and when.

This kind of autonomy needs to apply to all your employees. Instead of looking over their shoulders and being a helicopter, give your employees control over their tasks. You can still provide priorities and task deadlines but let them choose what tasks to work on during their day—and how they do them.

Encourage physical activity

A sedentary lifestyle at home and work can lead to health-related issues such as back pain, which 8 out of 10 people experience at some point in their life. Encourage your employees to get up and move during the day—taking a walk, stretching at their desks, and doing yoga are all good options. If your office is onsite, provide workstations with ergonomic chairs and standing desks. If your employees work remotely, consider giving them a stipend that they can use to make their at-home workstation ergonomic.

Help avoid digital eyestrain

Thirteen hours. That is how much time the average person spends daily in front of a digital screen (computer, phone, television), including both personal and work screen time, according to the Screen Time Report. In the same report, 71% of employers estimate their employees spend three or more hours staring at a screen—and 10% estimate their employees spend ten or more hours staring at a screen.

Your employees are locked in to some kind of screen during most of their day, so encourage them to give their eyes a rest by following the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take a break and stare at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Give a shoulder to cry on

Having social support—family and friends you can count on—directly affects health. The same is true for workplace support. Having a competitive culture that pits people against one another weakens social support. Also, having a transactional culture, where people feel like they’re just a number instead of a valued employee, further weakens that support.

Let your employees know that you and their fellow employees have their back and make your company culture one of support and empathy. This lets them know they can trust one another and leads to happier employees.

Don’t make people choose

Life is a trade-off between work and family commitments. Parents have school and sports commitments for their children; people have aging relatives they might need to take to doctor’s appointments. But for many people, these are stress-inducing events because they feel forced to choose between one or the other—work or family.

Make sure your employees know that family and other personal commitments are a part of life. Give them flexible schedules so they don’t miss out on important moments or appointments—because when people feel happy and fulfilled at home, it will reflect in their work.

Encourage employees to actually end the day

 

Multiple studies show that the number of hours worked does not necessarily equate to productivity. Once the workday is done, encourage your employees to clock out and enjoy their evenings and weekends with their friends and family. If your employees work remotely, encourage them to do the same and to log off their computers when the workday is done.

Invest in your employees’ health

When you show that you care about the health and wellbeing of your employees, they will notice. Give them access to health insurance, health and wellness programs, annual health screenings, and health education with practical, straightforward advice that your employees can put into practice. By providing these, you give employees the chance to take charge of their health.

Try “office recess”

Remember recess as a kid? It was a time to play, recharge, and have fun. Office recess is the same concept, where you encourage employees to “take a recess”—to pause and do something for themselves. This gives employees a mid-day energy boost and gets them started on the path to relaxation.

Be healthy, be happy

Employee health is a good investment. When you take the time to make sure they are healthy and happy—both physically and mentally—they will remember it and give their all for you. Use this month to spend time considering how you can make positive, forward-thinking changes to your company that promotes the health and wellbeing of your employees. Even small changes can make a difference. As you work to make these improvements, empowering employees to make healthy decisions for themselves, your culture, productivity, and internal relationships will improve—along with employee health.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by eakrinr

Why Employee Benefits Are Important

Employees are the backbone of your organization, the people that keep things running smoothly and keep your clients happy—and a generous benefits package goes a long way toward keeping employees happy. But long gone are the days when only employee compensation, free lunches, foosball tables, and nap rooms met people’s needs.

The pandemic happened. And with it came the Great Resignation, where 4.5 million US workers left their jobs voluntarily in 2021. Wanting a different lifestyle, high healthcare costs, rising inflation, the financial challenges posed by the pandemic, and needing to feel rewarded and appreciated for their work are a few reasons people left their previous positions.

People want and expect more from their position and employee benefits and believe they can get more, so they are. It’s time to start paying attention to the current feelings behind employee benefits—and why you should offer not just good but great benefits.

Employee attraction and retention

Let’s throw some percentages up in the air: 49%, 78%, and 40%.

  • 49% of your employees will start looking for new work in the next 12 months if they aren’t happy with their job or benefits.
  • 78% of them will stay with your company if your benefits package is attractive.
  • 40% of potential new employees will seriously consider your company if your benefits package addresses their wants and needs.

Employees want to work in a caring company culture where they get more from their job than a place to work and a paycheck. With excellent benefits, you show you value people, and you will not only attract new employees but also retain your current ones.

Work/life balance

Blending the demands of work and life can leave employees feeling frazzled at the end of the day. There are projects to finish, deadlines to meet, dinner to make, sick kids to take to the doctor —all these demands can feel like balancing a wobbly stack of plates ready to crash.

With the rise in remote work, people are spending more time working than ever; nearly 70% say they are spending more time working on the weekends because of the pandemic and the transition to remote work. Also, 45% of people now spend more time at work than ever before because of remote work. Providing substantial employee benefits like flexible schedules and paid time off gives them the support needed to help build the bridge between work and life.

Overall mental health and wellness

One in five adults will have mental health issues, but only one in three who need help will get it. And when employees don’t get the help they need, their work suffers: The World Health Organization estimates that mental health issues cost companies $1 trillion a year in lost productivity, but prioritizing employees’ mental health gives a return of $4 per person in improved health and productivity.

Despite money lost or money gained, people want a more open culture surrounding mental health and training on where to find assistance or resources. Focusing on overall mental health and wellbeing helps with overall morale.

Increased productivity

When employees wake up and come to work each day, you want them to feel fulfilled and ready to tackle any projects and challenges that come their way. When there is a robust benefits package to take care of employees, they will feel that they’re taken care of and will give back to you by being productive in their roles, providing excellent customer service, and being more engaged.

Improved financial security

Whether your employees are just starting their career or thinking about retirement, they want to have their immediate, short-term, and long-term financial security assured.

  • Immediate: Vital parts of immediate financial security are an employee’s paycheck, tuition reimbursement for their learning and education, monthly stipend reimbursements, and quality health insurance. Providing these immediate financial needs pushes worries to the back of your employees’ minds and gives them comfort and focus.
  • Short-term: This kind of security comes with offering a disability and life insurance plan. If your employees have family and the unexpected happens, the ability to earn income will be stalled or lost entirely. A disability and life insurance plan is important for when life, well…happens.
  • Long-term: Employees will, in the years ahead, want to fully retire or work part-time, which naturally leads to a reduction in income. Offering a good retirement plan (either a 401(k) or an IRA) builds up an employee’s net worth and gives them a solid nest egg to fall back on.

Giving employees assurance that these three forms of security will be taken care of is important—employees bring their home life with them to work, along with their worries. Alleviating those worries goes a long way.

Show them you care

Actions speak louder than words. A company should have values written down and also put those values into practice to show employees they care about them and their wellbeing. Giving employees a robust benefits package complements those values, leading to a positive culture and a pleasant workplace for all.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by fizkes

 

Three Employee Benefits to Help Your Employees Achieve Their Dreams

When employees feel supported by their organization, they’re much likelier to want to stick around. They’ll also feel more comfortable being themselves at work, which will help your company’s culture and sense of belonging. People who feel like they belong will work harder to protect and uplift their community than those who feel uncomfortable and unseen.

One great way to build trust and reliance that leads to long-lasting employee/employer relationships is enabling employees to pursue their personal goals outside of work. Employee benefits can play a vital role in helping you achieve this. Here are three benefits to consider that will make a lasting positive impact on the lives of your employees.  

Family planning benefits

Choosing to start a family is one of the biggest decisions a person can make during their life. Starting a family is expensive and scary—to build a healthy family, you need time and money. And without support from your job, it can be stressful to maintain a career. Making it easier for your employees to start a family can reduce stress, give peace of mind, and create stability. Offering these benefits to all your employees, regardless of relationship status or sexual orientation, is a great way to improve Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) within your company.

Whether it’s paid parental leave, adoption aid, or fertility treatments, benefits that make it easier for your employees to start a family send a clear message: You care about the personal goals of your employees and want to make it easier for them to get what they want out of life.

Student loan support

Last year, a study found that the likelihood of high school students going to a four-year college plummeted by almost 20%, from 71% – 53%. People are worried about the cost and want to avoid debt. Since 1980, the cost of going to college has risen by 169%, yet the average pay for workers between the ages of 22 and 27 has only increased by 19%. It’s harder than ever for people to justify going to college, considering the debt they can expect to accrue.

Student loan or tuition support can make or break someone’s dream to go back to school. This benefit will not only empower your employees to educate themselves without the burden of debt, but also education will make a lasting impact on the rest of their lives, opening doors that would otherwise be shut.

Community engagement

 

When people volunteer and engage with their community, it can have positive effects on their health and mental wellbeing. It also gives them a sense of purpose that can be hard to get otherwise.

Consider offering benefits such as paid time off for community engagement. This will make it easier for your employees to set aside volunteer time. Finding the time to volunteer at their local voting office, old folks’ home, animal shelter, or community garden can be difficult with only two days off a week.

Offering paid time off specifically set aside for community engagement will give your employees that extra room to go do something they’re passionate about, whether it’s protesting, cleaning up their local nature reserve, or helping out a neighbor in need.

Their happiness is your success

 

The more fulfilled your employees feel, the happier they’ll be, and the stronger their relationship with your company will become. Creating an organization that empowers people to build their dreams isn’t just a fantastic way to leave a positive legacy in the world— it’s how powerful businesses are made. Talk to your benefits advisor to learn about other employee benefits that will help your employees achieve their goals.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by pandorapictures

Just the Facts: Employee Healthcare Literacy

As mentioned in the previous week’s blog—only 4 to 14% of adults in the United States have a basic understanding of health insurance.

What does this mean? It means out of the current US population of 329.5 million, only 13.2 to 46.1 million people have the knowledge to understand their health insurance fully!

Instead of leaving your employees out in the cold and leaving their decisions about health insurance and healthcare to chance, help your employees understand why healthcare literacy is so important, so it can empower them to make good decisions.

The first step? Understanding what healthcare literacy is.

What is healthcare literacy?

It is how people interpret or act on health information and services. For example, receiving medication from a doctor and knowing how to read the label to decipher how much medicine to take or understanding and interpreting a medical invoice is considered a form of healthcare literacy.

There are two different types:

  • Personal healthcare literacy, or how well someone can find and understand health information/services needed.
  • Organizational healthcare literacy, or how well businesses/organizations help their employees find health information/services required.

Both types are about using health information and services to make the best health decisions possible.

What can affect healthcare literacy?

Many factors can affect someone’s healthcare literacy. For instance, if someone does not understand medical terms, they may not be able to understand or interpret a doctor’s diagnosis. Other factors that could potentially affect healthcare literacy are lacking an understanding of the healthcare system and how it works and other personal factors such as age, income, education, culture, language abilities, reading skills, writing skills, and math skills.

What happens if someone has poor healthcare literacy?

A person with poor healthcare literacy will often delay or avoid care, will not understand the costs associated with out-of-network care, will not ask their employer questions about their health insurance plan, and will be less likely to use preventive services and care, such as getting a flu shot.

Why is employee healthcare literacy important?

At some point, your employees will need to use their health insurance to access and understand health information and services like prescription services.

Their level of healthcare literacy affects:

  • The ability to navigate their health insurance plan and the healthcare system to find needed doctors and services.
  • Knowing when to share personal information with healthcare providers.
  • Practicing self-care and at-home procedures, as well as using preventative health services.
  • Understanding concepts such as cost-benefit ratios (weighing the risks and benefits of receiving medical treatment).

Having strong healthcare literacy lets your employees find the information and services they need, effectively communicate with their healthcare providers about needs/preferences, and understand their health condition and choices they have about treatments and doctors so they can decide what services and options are the best for them.

How can you, as an employer, help improve healthcare literacy?

A good step on the path to improving literacy is to ask your employees about their understanding of health insurance terms and concepts. You can use their answers and thoughts to specifically address areas where knowledge might be lacking.

Also, be sure to lean on and use your broker or advisor as a resource. Look at what they offer in terms of support to members in understanding their benefits and being healthcare literate. This can include resources, online portals, and mobile apps.

Understanding is one of many steps

Understanding healthcare literacy and what it is will help your employees understand what it is as well. Increasing healthcare literacy in your organization will, in turn, create well-informed and knowledgeable employees who feel confident and take charge of their healthcare decisions. And, as they say, knowledge is power.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by dolgachov

Breaking Down Full-Coverage Health Insurance

When it comes to attracting and retaining employees with various employee benefits, health insurance is at the top of their minds. A survey shows that “56% of U.S. adults with employer-sponsored health benefits said that whether or not they like their health coverage is a key factor in deciding to stay at their current job.” The same survey shows that “46% said health insurance was either the deciding factor or a positive influence in choosing their current job.”

With health insurance, the type of coverage is important. You may have heard the terms full-coverage health insurance or comprehensive coverage. Learn more about what this type of health insurance is, and why you should consider offering it to your employees.

What is full-coverage health insurance?  

Full-coverage health insurance, also known as major medical health insurance or comprehensive coverage, is a health insurance plan that provides overarching, broad coverage of a variety of healthcare services such as doctor visits, hospital visits, and emergency room visits.

In contrast to full coverage, limited-benefit plans (or supplemental policies) may cover only specific conditions (e.g., cancer) or specific types of services (e.g., hospitalization), or have a dollar cap on coverage. These plans are not considered comprehensive, nor are they considered minimum essential coverage, and are not regulated by the Affordable Care Act. However, they can be a good supplement to a full-coverage health insurance plan.

What should be included in a full-coverage health insurance plan?

At the minimum, a full-coverage health insurance policy, which includes all new individual/family and small-group major medical health insurance policies sold after January 1, 2014, must cover the ten essential health benefits outlined in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with no annual or lifetime benefit caps:

  • Hospitalization
  • Ambulatory services (visits to doctors and other healthcare professionals and outpatient hospital care)
  • Emergency services
  • Maternity and newborn care
  • Mental health and substance abuse treatment
  • Prescription drugs
  • Lab tests
  • Chronic disease management, “well” services, and preventive services
  • Pediatric dental and vision care
  • Rehabilitative and “habilitative” services

What is considered a full-coverage health insurance plan?

  • Most group health insurance plans
  • ACA-compliant policies purchased in a state’s health insurance exchange/marketplace
  • ACA-compliant plans purchased off-exchange (purchased directly from an insurance company or through an agent or broker, outside of the ACA-created health insurance exchange)
  • Medicaid and Child’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) plans (Medicaid has some exceptions. Some people qualify for limited-benefit Medicaid coverage; this is not considered comprehensive coverage.)
  • Medicare (either Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage, although Original Medicare is typically combined with a Medigap plan and Part D plan to provide comprehensive coverage)

Be aware that the term “comprehensive” regarding health insurance plans is like the term “natural” regarding groceries. It’s not an officially defined term and has no official marketing rules associated with its use.

A variety of full-coverage plans

Employers can offer different types of full-coverage plans to cover specific needs. Here are some examples, as given by the official government healthcare website:

  • Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO):  A managed care plan where services are covered only if you use doctors, specialists, or hospitals in the plan’s network.
  • Health Maintenance Organization (HMO): Usually limits coverage to care from doctors who work for or contract with the HMO, and it generally won’t cover out-of-network care except in an emergency. An HMO may require you to live or work in its service area to be eligible for coverage.
  • Point of Service (POS):  A health plan where you pay less if you use doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers that belong to the plan’s network. POS plans require you to get a referral from your primary care doctor to see a specialist.
  • Preferred Provider Organization (PPO):  A type of health plan where you pay less if you use providers in the plan’s network. You can use doctors, hospitals, and providers outside of the network without a referral for an additional cost.

Be well-informed and do your research

Buying health insurance means you should always do your research. It’s important to work with your advisor and legal counsel to help you understand the fine print and terminology (such as essential health benefits and minimum essential coverage) before offering plans to your employees. Full-coverage health insurance is what employees want from their employers, and implementing such a plan will lead to employee attraction, retention, and satisfaction.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by yavdat1

6 Employee Benefits to Consider for 2022

Employee priorities have changed because of the pandemic, which has led employers to examine their employee benefits offerings for 2022. Key concerns brought up by employees include physical wellbeing, peace of mind, and financial health—huge issues challenging employers to consider benefits they might have ignored in the past.

Here are six employee benefits trends to consider for 2022.

Paid Time Off (PTO)

The balance of work and personal life is an essential consideration for employees in today’s workplace. SHRM states that US workers rank Paid Time Off (PTO) as the second most important benefit after healthcare. Also, according to Project: Time Off, employees who work for companies that encourage PTO are happier with their jobs. If PTO is something you want to consider for your employees, decide what works best for them and your organization.

Flexible work hours and location

When a whopping 40% of workers would consider quitting if their jobs offered no flexible hours or the opportunity to work from home at least a few days a week, it shows how vital remote work has become. Remote work benefits, such as time saved commuting, more personal time, better sleep, and better overall health can be attractive options to employees. Employers who want to attract and retain the best talent might offer flexible hours and remote work locations as an employee benefit.

Financial wellness

Financial stress skyrocketed during the pandemic, as 32% of people said the pandemic still affects their finances. Stressed employees are more distracted and less productive, making it a lose/lose situation for both employees and employers.

However, 80% of people who feel employers are committed to helping strengthen their financial resiliency are more likely to stay with their company. If, as an employer, you want to show your company is people-centered, a financial wellness benefit is something to think about.

Family planning

Currently, 10% of employers with 50 employees or less offer family planning and fertility benefits, and more than 30% of employers with 500 or more employees provide these benefits. Considering millennials are the largest generation in the US workforce today, and many are at the age where family planning plays an important role in their lives, offering family-focused benefits could be a smart move for employers. Employers who create strategic benefits plans that meet the current needs of their workforce will have an easier time attracting and retaining talent.

Student loan repayment

The number of people in the United who currently have an outstanding student loan debt is 44.7 million. A student loan repayment benefit aims to reduce the burden this debt has on employees and could attract millennial employees, as 28.9 million people in this age group are indebted borrowers.

Such a benefit would help with loyalty and retention, as 4 in 5 young people would commit to employers for 5 years if the employer helped pay their student loans. 

Mental health and wellbeing

During the pandemic, mental health issues such as anxiety and depression rose when the United States first went into lockdown. This is not an issue to ignore, both for the sake of employees’ mental health and an employer’s bottom line—depression, for instance, costs employers about $17 million to $44 million in lost productivity. With this in mind, think about expanding your employee health and wellness benefits to go beyond offering employee assistance programs (EAPs). An EAP is a type of employee benefits program that helps employees with personal and/or work-related problems that may impact their job performance and overall physical/mental wellbeing. For example, Joey Price, CEO of JumpstartHR, explained how companies are investing in mindfulness apps “to help employees balance the tension of work from home and life from home.”

Let your employees be the driver of your decisions

Now, more than ever, benefits that help with overall wellbeing and wellness are key trends to consider in 2022. But the best way to know what benefits your employees want? Ask them.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by imagehitevo

Is a Pharmacy Carve-out Right for Your Group Health Plan?

Pharmacy spend in the US is significant. Six in ten adults tell KFF.org they are currently taking at least one prescription drug and a quarter say they currently take four or more prescription medications.

PwC’s Behind the Numbers predicts a 6.5% medical cost trend in 2022, while drug cost trend reports show ongoing increases year over year and make up 20% of overall medical costs for employers.

Besides the cost burden on employers, employees can find that certain medications are not covered by their health plan. This increases pressure on employers to develop a sustainable strategy that provides cost-effective pharmacy benefits.

As a solution, many employers consider pharmacy carve-out plans as an option; however, carve-out plans are debated vigorously by health plan experts. By understanding what a pharmacy carve-out is and considering important factors, employers and brokers can work together to make the right decision.

What is a pharmacy carve-out?

A pharmacy carve-out is when an employer separates (carves out) their prescription drug benefits from their medical plan and contracts directly with a pharmacy benefit manager (PBM). A pharmacy carve-out is commonly used under the self-insured model. In comparison, fully insured medical plans typically have the pharmacy benefit as a built-in feature (bundle).

Advantages

Pharmacy carve-outs can provide transparency, flexibility, control, and accessibility to employers in the form of:

  • Better control over pharmacy benefit costs.
  • Access to the costs and data to evaluate program performance.
  • Greater flexibility to customize solutions in plan design and clinical programs to help reduce costs.
  • Standardized language in the PBM contract to allow increased transparency into pharmacy benefits, allowing employers to better understand and control spending, negotiate better deals, and ensure the program performs as promised. The contract itself can allow:
    • Access to pharmacy claims data.
    • Audit rights, such as a claims audit, operational assessment, and rebate audit.
    • Annual review to ensure rates are competitive.
    • Service performance guarantees.
    • Credits to help cover administration expenses or costs incurred when switching to a new vendor.

Disadvantages

There are a lot of variables that affect whether a pharmacy carve-out is the right solution for your company. It’s critical to understand the disadvantages of carve-outs before making your next move:

  • Carved-out plans offer short-term savings, though the savings might not be beneficial to an employer over the long term.
    • A July 2021 study compared the costs of bundled and carve-out plans and found that bundled pharmacy benefits are associated with reduced medical expenditures over the long term, resulting in annual per-member, per-month savings compared with a carve-out.
    • Another study found that savings from a carve-out plan may seem beneficial on the surface, but medical costs are 7.5 times higher in the long run. Therefore, any savings promised by a carve-out should be weighed against potential increases in medical spending by employers.
    • Managed Healthcare Executive also reported carve-outs could deliver short-term savings, but not long-term savings, due to PBM vendors’ approach to utilization management. For example, many employees are denied access to their prescribed medications and are unlikely to have their denial overturned on appeal. This results in employees paying for medicine out-of-pocket, added costs for employers if they pay multiple vendors, and a poor member experience overall.

Besides long-term costs, carve-out contracts for medical and pharmacy require multiple vendors, increasing the administrative burden on the employer.

Thoughtful considerations

After reflecting on the advantages and disadvantages of carve-outs, making the decision may still be no small feat. Fortunately, you can ask yourself important questions to help you with your decision.

  1. How much are pharmacy benefits currently costing your plan?
  2. How are you currently overseeing the pharmacy benefits program?
  3. What changes would be necessary for the new arrangement?
  4. How will the fees from your medical health plan vendor be impacted?
  5. Is now the right time to search for a PBM vendor (and possibly a medical health plan request for approval)?

When deciding to carve-out pharmacy benefit programs, employers and brokers should work together to consider critical factors such as internal staff expertise, current and future costs, and appropriate timing. However, your top consideration should be, “Does this make the most sense for our organization and our employees?”

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by volody10

Protect Your Small Business from Cybersecurity Threats

Is your business doing enough to protect itself from cyberattacks?

Cyber-attacks on small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have seen a sharp rise in the last few years. A 2019 report by the Ponemon Institute found that cyberattacks increased by over 20% between 2016 and 2019.

Data breaches cost not only time but also money. The FBI’s Internet 2020 Internet Crime Report found that the total cost of cybercrimes in the US in 2020 reached 2.7 billion, and with an average cost of a data breach for an SBM being $149,000 (2019), small business leaders must take the necessary steps to improve their risk mitigation for cyberattacks.

The first step is to familiarize yourself with the many different types of cyber threats that exist.

What are the most common forms of cyber-attacks on SBMs?

  • Phishing: Phishing attacks come in the form of communications disguised as coming from a reliable source. They can be emails that look like correspondence from company leaders or departments like the CEO, CFO, or Payroll. They can also be made to look like they come from a legitimate organization and prompt you to download a file, open a link, or provide sensitive information which will allow attackers access to your device.
  • Man-in-the-middle (MitM): MitM attackers intercept a two-party transaction. This usually happens when someone uses their device on an unsecured network such as public Wi-Fi. Attackers intercept the connection and steal information from the vulnerable computer, such as credit card numbers, bank account information, or passwords.
  • Malware: Malware is an umbrella term for many different attacks such as viruses, trojans, and spyware. Malware can be downloaded on a device by clicking a link that will install software onto the device. This “software” is designed to steal information or data, control the device, or otherwise impede the device’s functioning. Here are a few common types of malware:
    • Ransomware will gain access to sensitive files or data and deny the victim access unless a ransom is paid, often threatening to expose it, sell it, or delete it entirely.
    • Trojans are an attack using software that plants itself within an app or a program—often used to give attackers access to the device.
    • Spyware is software designed to track users on their devices and send the sensitive information it collects to a third-party attacker.
  • Denial of service: Denial of Service (DoS) cyberattacks target and overload a server’s capacity and bandwidth, resulting in a server crash that takes it offline from actual customers who want to visit the website or purchase something from it. This is done by overloading the server with requests so it can’t process legitimate requests.

How can you protect your business?

There are multiple cybersecurity platforms available for businesses that are easily found with a quick Google search. There are also many options for free cybersecurity software that can be upgraded with subscription services. Aside from implementing company-wide cybersecurity software on all company-linked devices, there are some standard practices that any business should be using, whether or not they have access to protective software.

1. Create a password policy

According to the
Ponemon report, 54% of SMBs have no insight into their employees’ password practices. Terrible password habits equate to seriously increased vulnerability to cyberattacks. Consider implementing
1Password or other password protection software programs that can be downloaded on every computer associated with your organization.

Ensure your employees aren’t saving their passwords in easily accessed folders. Have employees use password-generating programs to increase their passwords’ strength and ensure they don’t use the same password twice. A common way for cyberattacks to find saved passwords on devices is to do a device-wide search for words that are 8, 12, 16, and 24 characters long, meaning that even if employees save their passwords in a nondescript file, it’s easy enough to identify them. This is where secure folders and password protection programs come in handy.

2. Create a software update policy

Another common issue that causes device vulnerability is outdated software. Create a policy that requires employees to update their software as soon as a new update is released. Software updates are often released to fix security issues and vulnerabilities, so it’s critical employees don’t wait to update their devices.

3. Education and training

Finally, organizations must educate and train their employees to identify and protect themselves from potential cyberattacks. Start with including a training session during onboarding to ensure employees start with good practices from the beginning. Hold company-wide training sessions, and ensure you revisit the topic throughout the year.

 

Take a proactive approach

You may not be able to stop cyberattacks from targeting your business, but there’s a lot you can do to thwart them. By taking a proactive approach, educating your employees, and developing up-to-date risk management policies, you can save your business from dealing with damaging costs, harm to your reputation, and potential lawsuits. Take action early, and rest easy knowing you are protected.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by thodonal