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Building Tomorrow’s Workforce

Government agencies face an uphill climb in attracting younger generations to civil service.

 

Some of the aspects that once made public sector jobs attractive — including defined benefit pension plans and health coverage — are being scaled back. At the same time, the private sector is upping its game with more lucrative offers, flexible work schedules and the opportunity for remote employment — all things millennials care about.

 

So what can budget-strapped agencies do to compete for the best talent and create their workforce of the future?

 

The Governing Institute and Colonial Life partnered on a guide for state and local government leaders. “Building Your Public Workforce of the Future” was created through interviews with leaders throughout the country.

 

Download the guide by clicking the image below.

 

Colonial Life, The BeneChoice Companies, Stacia Robinson, insurance, education, community, contribution, employer, employee, benefit, benefits, benefit administration, benefit administrator, life, health, accident, long term disability, workers compensation, planning, The BeneChoice Companies, workplace, employees, turnover, benefits, insurance, turnover, Stacia Robinson, Montgomery, AL, Colonial, accidental, voluntary, communicate

 

About Colonial Life

The BeneChoice Companies is a Colonial Life & Accident Insurance provider.

Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company is a market leader in providing financial protection benefits through the workplace, including disability, life, accident, dental, cancer, critical illness and hospital confinement indemnity insurance. The company’s benefit services and education, innovative enrollment technology and personal service support more than 90,000 businesses and organizations, representing more than 3.8 million of America’s workers and their families.

 

Highest regards,

Stacia

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Voluntary Benefit Questions

Administration and cost

How much administration is incurred by offering voluntary benefits?
If you find a good carrier, very little. Many offer administrative services such as online billing and payments at little or no cost.

Can employees add coverage throughout the year, or is this limited to an annual enrollment window?
This decision is partly up to the employer. For benefits paid on a pre-tax basis, changes are only allowed annually. Otherwise, an employer can decide how often they would like to make benefits available.

Can employees take their benefits with them if they leave the company?
Many carriers offer voluntary benefits that are portable, meaning employees can take the coverage with them if they change jobs or retire – as long as the premiums continue to be paid.

How much do voluntary benefits cost?
Voluntary benefits range in cost. This can vary based on the type of product, the age of the applicant, their use of tobacco and other factors. Voluntary benefits are designed to be affordable for a wide range of incomes.

What are the tax implications of voluntary benefits?
Some voluntary benefits can be deducted from paychecks before tax – offering savings for employees – whereas others must be paid for after. Your accountant will be best suited to talk to you about the tax savings and implications in offering voluntary benefits.

Health care and voluntary benefits

How do voluntary benefits tie in to the Affordable Care Act (ACA)?
Most voluntary products are considered “excepted benefits” under the current ACA regulations, so are not impacted. A voluntary carrier experienced in benefits communication and education can help educate your employees on their health options – including how this varies by state – and review their individual situation to identify any gaps they may want to fill with voluntary benefits.

Is health insurance available as a voluntary benefit?
No. Health insurance is not a part of voluntary benefits. However, supplemental health benefits can help alleviate some of the out-of-pocket costs that major medical plans may not cover.

Can voluntary benefits be offered if health insurance is not?
Yes. They can and often are. However, it’s important that your employees understand the coverage is limited and is not health insurance.

Does an existing cafeteria plan need to be modified to allow for additional voluntary benefit plan options?
It depends if voluntary benefits will be paid for with pre-tax or post-tax dollars. If paid via post-tax dollars, the plan would normally not need to be modified. If premium is paid pre-tax, the plan would need to be modified.

Highest regards,

 

Stacia

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FAQ’s on Voluntary Benefits

Frequently Asked Questions

Got a question about voluntary benefits? Here are some frequently asked questions to help you.

Who can get voluntary benefits?

Is there a minimum number or percentage of employees that must participate in voluntary benefits for them to be viable?
Minimum participation requirements depend on several factors, such as the number of eligible employees and what products are offered. Typically, the minimum number would begin with three to five employees.

Can part-time workers buy or receive voluntary benefits?
Generally yes, as long as they work a minimum number of hours to meet the eligibility criteria for coverage.

Can a contractor be added to voluntary benefits?
Typically, independent contractors cannot be covered under the employer’s policy. However, individual policies for some benefits are available.

Can non-profit organizations offer voluntary benefits?
Yes, non-profit and charitable organizations can offer voluntary benefits to their employees.

As a business owner, can I also receive coverage through the voluntary benefits that I am offering to my employees?
Yes. A business owner can apply for voluntary benefits coverage – just like their employees would do.

Are family members able to get voluntary benefits?
Yes. Many voluntary benefits provide the ability to cover your spouse and eligible dependent children.

Are there age limits for certain voluntary benefits?
Each product will have its own unique age requirements. These limits are designed to be flexible to allow the majority of employees actively at work the ability to apply for coverage.

Can home-based or remote workers receive voluntary benefits?
Yes, if they meet the requirements of being full-time eligible employees.

If you already have an existing medical condition can you get coverage?
It depends on the type of product. Some products will require eligible employees to be medically underwritten before they are issued coverage. Other products offer guaranteed-issue coverage, meaning employees can get coverage without answering any medical questions. Certain products may have a pre-existing condition limitation, which means a certain period of time must pass before the person is covered. It’s important to understand any limitations or exclusions specific to the product.

More on this next week.

Highest regards,

Stacia

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Why Small Businesses Don’t Offer Voluntary Benefits

Busting the myths of voluntary benefits

Many small business owners are just plain unaware that they are able to offer their staff this kind of benefit, thinking they are just for the bigger players. The vast majority of smaller companies may have never had a conversation with anyone about employee benefits. All these points have led to the creation and perpetuation of a number of widely-held beliefs that are untrue.

What myths have you heard? We’ll share what we have heard most commonly.

Myth Affordability

Small businesses believe they can’t afford to pay for voluntary benefits, even if they see the positives in offering them.

Truth – Voluntary employee benefits can be partially-funded or even fully-funded by the employee. It means that the company has complete control on how much they decide to spend and what options they choose to add.

Myth Not enough employees to qualify.

Truth – While it does depend on the carrier and the product, many voluntary benefits are available to businesses with single-figure numbers of staff, and some have no minimum requirements.

Myth Administering a voluntary benefits plan is costly and complex.

Truth – Certain benefits provide tax advantages and are tax-deductible. Some can be paid for through payroll deduction. Many qualified carriers will be pleased to help with education of employees and can provide easy enrollment and administration, usually at no direct cost – allowing the employer to get on with running their business.

Myth Employees don’t value it.

Truth – This misperception often stems from employers themselves. While most employers believe employees value take-home pay over benefits, employees actually value non-medical insurance benefits and voluntary benefits almost twice as much as employers believe.2

1 “Small Businesses Face Operational, Regulatory Challenges.” Gallup Economy, 28 Feb. 2014. Web. 4 Apr. 2014.
2 “Small Business, Big Benefits: Sharpening the competitive edge with voluntary benefits.” Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company, May 2014.

Highest regards,

 

Stacia

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How businesses and employees benefit from voluntary benefits

Benefits to the business

No or low cost

Employers can offer voluntary benefits at no direct cost (i.e. 100% employee-paid), leaving them with just the cost of administration.

A way to control rising health care costs

With the cost of health care on the rise, employers are starting to shy away from providing top end, ‘cover all’ primary health care benefits. Instead, they are choosing less expensive coverage and offering workers a wider range of voluntary health benefits to help fill the gaps.

Attracting and keeping top talent

Employers, especially small businesses where key members of staff can be crucial to the success of the company, are looking for effective ways to retain their staff and recruit the best talent. In fact, according to Gallup economy, employee hiring and retention remains among the top five most important challenges facing business owners1.

Voluntary benefit plans help smaller businesses compete with larger competitors by enabling the provision of a variety of benefits to help them stand out in the war for talent. They can also be a useful tool in employee retention: a benefits package that an employee has chosen and that’s tailored to their changing needs is difficult to give up.

Help with telling your staff – at no direct cost

There’s no point offering benefits if your employees don’t know about them. Communicating employee benefits can be tricky, but with voluntary benefits, some carriers will gladly help with communicating the benefit offerings to employees, either by using tried and trusted support tools, visiting the business for group meetings, or even meeting one-on-one with each employee to help review their own personal needs and best matches for benefits. These meetings may include details about what the benefit provides, a Q&A session and helping both the employer and employee with the actual enrollment process — usually at no direct cost to the employer.

 

Highest regards,

Stacia

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A Simple Guide to Voluntary Benefits

You can offer voluntary benefits to your employees at no direct cost to you. And, contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be a big company to offer them — some plans require an employer to have a minimum of just two to five employees to qualify and others have no minimum requirement. Here’s all you need to know about a voluntary benefits plan and what it can do for your employees and your business.

What are voluntary benefits?

Sometimes called supplemental insurance or employee-paid benefits, voluntary benefits are offered by the employer through the workplace where employees can choose to buy them in addition to the core employee benefits they may get as part of a benefits package.

Payment options are typically flexible. To suit their budget, companies can choose whether voluntary employee benefits are:

  • Fully employee-funded
  • Part-funded by both employee and employer

In their Voluntary Benefits and Services (VBS) survey, Willis Towers Watson highlighted four critical life needs that voluntary benefits fulfill:

  • Health – typically helping employee well-being, while minimizing health risk at a reasonable cost
  • Wealth accumulation – protecting income and assets (Willis Towers Watson calls this one Wealth, but arguably a more relevant term is “Lifestyle”)
  • Security – protecting our survivors, vulnerable people or even people’s identities
  • Personal – products that cover what’s important to the individual interests and needs of the person

What voluntary benefits are available?

There’s a huge range of voluntary insurance plans out there in the market. Some examples include disability insurance, accident insurance, dental insurance or ‘softer’ benefits that may include retail or ticket discounts, gym memberships or concierge services like collecting dry cleaning.

According to Willis Towers Watson’s 2013 survey, the most common voluntary benefits under the four banners of health, wealth, security and personal are:

Health

Vision insurance

Regular eye exams help maintain healthy vision and are the first line of defense in detecting more serious eye conditions, such as glaucoma, high blood pressure and diabetes. Vision insurance typically helps pay for eye exams, glasses and contact lenses. They may also offer discounts on treatments such as laser eye surgery or eyecare accessories.

Dental insurance

Dental insurance can provide benefits for both routine and more expensive dental procedures that are not covered by most health insurance plans. They typically include cleaning, fillings, sealants, tooth removal, crowns and dentures – and may also provide benefits for regular dental appointments.

Accident insurance

Accident insurance plans can help offset the unexpected medical expenses that may result from a covered accidental injury. Typically, they help cover some of the expenses for initial care, surgery, transportation and lodging, and follow-up care.

Critical Illness insurance

Critical illness insurance can complement major medical coverage by providing a lump-sum benefit for an employee diagnosed with a covered critical illness, such as heart attack, stroke, coronary artery bypass surgery, end-stage renal failure or major organ transplant – among others. Benefits are typically paid directly to the employee, so they can be used where they’re most needed.

Hospital indemnity insurance

Hospital confinement indemnity insurance provides a lump-sum benefit to help with out-of-pocket costs related to a hospital stay. This may include outpatient surgery, diagnostic tests, doctor’s appointments and emergency room trips.

Wealth/Lifestyle

Disability insurance

Disability insurance replaces a percentage of an employee’s income if they become disabled as a result of a covered accident or sickness, to help them continue to make ends meet while they’re out of work.

Legal

Legal typically gives employees access to qualified attorneys at a reduced cost. Coverage usually applies to the most common personal legal matters including family, vehicle, real estate, civil lawsuits and wills.

Financial counseling

Financial counseling helps employees manage their finances. Traditionally, this has mainly focused on retirement plans, but as baby boomers approach the end of their working careers, financial counseling now also includes a range of topics such as credit card debt, investment advice, tax advice, saving and budgeting.

Security

Life insurance

Life insurance pays out a lump sum to help provide financial protection for an employee’s family members in the event of the employee’s death. Coverage can be updated to reflect changes in life such as getting married, buying a home or having a child. Most plans offer spouse and child coverage.

Personal travel accident insurance

Travel accident insurance is designed to provide extra protection while travelling internationally, supplementing coverage typically provided by an accidental death or dismemberment policy. It typically covers emergency medical and legal fees.

Identity theft protection

Identify theft protection does not cover any financial loss as the result of identity theft. Instead, it may include monitoring public records and alerting the employee to any fraudulent use of their personal details, including attempted loans and credit applications. It also covers the cost of repairing the person’s credit history.

Personal

Personal voluntary benefits are those softer offerings that help meet an employee’s particular lifestyle needs. These may include:

  • Discount merchandise
  • Automobile, homeowners or pet insurance
  • Concierge services – anything from help booking holidays, shopping, finding tradesmen or picking up dry cleaning
  • Umbrella insurance – extra liability insurance against claims and lawsuits above and beyond that typically provided by homeowners or automobile insurance

Identity theft protection, critical illness, pet insurance and even student loan repayment programs are likely to see the fastest growth in the next few years.

Highest regards,

 

Stacia

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Are You Causing High Turnover?

5 things you do that cause high employee turnover

For me and, after talking to other small businesses, for others too, employee turnover is a huge issue. When you only employ a handful of people, if one of them leaves it creates a real hole. And that’s before you even get started on the cost of replacing them and the productivity issues and lower morale caused by others having to cover their work. So the more we, as businesses, can do to keep our top talent, the better, right? But how?

While it will probably come as no surprise to hear that base pay is still top of the list of drivers for both employee attraction and retention, the good news is that many of the things we can do to reduce turnover are relatively simple to implement. The even better news is that most of them needn’t cost a fortune.

Obviously, you can’t retain 100% of your staff (although it would be nice if we could). But you can start to think about trying to change some of the things that may be causing high employee turnover. Here are five things that employees cite as things their employers do that cause them to quit and some thoughts and ideas on how to avoid them.

Being a horrible boss

With 28% of employees saying they would rather have a better boss than a $5,000 raise, it’s clear that a good boss is something employees rate highly. But what is being a good boss all about?

While different people are likely to have differing opinions on what makes a good boss – for some the human element is most important, whereas for others it could be their boss’s ability to push them to achieve new things – I think there are several characteristics that are universal in good bosses.

When I think back to my first few jobs, how much I liked and respected my boss played a huge role in how high my morale was and, ultimately, how long I stuck with the company. Looking back, for me, “liking” my boss was about me trusting him or her and all the things that go with that: being treated with respect, knowing my manager had my back, being listened to and encouraged, being treated as an adult (I’d had a couple of positions where my manager thought I was their child!) and not being micro-managed.

Interestingly, according to a 2015 Society for Human Resource (SHRM) survey, being a good boss may not be as complicated as we may think.

  • Respectful treatment of all employees at all levelstopped the chart as the leading contributor to job satisfaction. Nearly three-fourths (72%) of employees deemed this aspect to be “very important” to their job satisfaction.
  • 64% of employees reported thattrust between employees and senior managementwas “very important” to their job satisfaction, making it the second highest contributor to job satisfaction.

In my experience, strong leaders inspire hard work, and good managers who are open and honest and listen to thoughts and opinions tend to run effective teams.

Oh, and don’t underestimate how far a bit of recognition goes – everyone likes a shout-out for a job well done. Some people may like a public shout-out, while others may prefer a quiet “thank you”. Knowing your team is what it’s all about.

What is the difference between being a good and an amazing boss? Tune in next week.

Highest regards,

 

Stacia

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Benefits: 10 Key Take Aways

Over the last several weeks we went over the no or low-cost ways to make your company a great place to work. We went over many tips on what you can do right as far as offering benefits to your staff to make them want to work with you and your company. 

We talked about:

  • Why you need to look after your employees
  • Good leadership
  • Creating the right environment
  • Challenges, training and development
  • Employee perks
  • Company benefits
  • Choosing the right benefits
  • Communicating benefits correctly
  • Ways to get benefits wrong

In a nutshell, here are 10 most popular takeaways from this series on benefits.

  1. It pays to make your company a great place to work. Although base pay is still vitally important, it is not the only thing talented employees are looking for.
  2. Good leadership is vital. 27% of people who don’t trust their managers, don’t plan to stick around.
  3. Workplace culture starts at the top. To created a culture of communication, collaboration, fun and respect, the boss has to lead by example.
  4. Millennials rank training and progression opportunities as a top reason to stay in their job.
  5. Flexible working is a popular perk and could improve your employees’ productivity.
  6. Voluntary benefits enable you to offer attractive benefits at no or low cost.
  7. The benefits employees want are dependent on their circumstances and their outlook – so flexibility is key.
  8. Company-offered benefits such as accident insurance and hospital indemnity insurance can fill in the gaps in health care coverage.
  9. With paid time off plans and incentives to reduce unscheduled leave, offering paid leave can be a cheaper and more realistic option for small businesses.
  10. By effectively communicating benefits to your employees you help them understand the value of offering, which helps them get the most out of it. Voluntary benefits providers can help with this.

 

Highest regards,

 

 

Stacia

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Ways To Get Benefits Wrong

Unfortunately, choosing which employee benefits to offer isn’t an exact science and there are some common mistakes businesses make, especially when first establishing their benefits package.

Here are four to avoid:

Not choosing exclusive benefits

Things like discounted gym memberships are great sta benefits, as long as they go above and beyond what your team could get if they just walked into a branch themselves. Make sure your benefits are exclusives rather than things employees could easily access or they won’t have the same impact.

Choosing perks nobody wants

Offering benefits and sta perks just so you can say you do is a costly mistake that won’t do anything to boost morale and may even have the opposite e ect. Some bosses just have a knack for choosing “perks” that actually really irritate their sta . For example, one manager had music pumped into the o ice, despite the fact that the sta hated her choice of tunes.

Not consulting staff

Don’t just presume you know best. It’s worth consulting your staff about what benefits they’d like to see offered, or why they haven’t taken up a particular benefit.

Taking benefits away

As we said before, many companies make mistakes when initially setting up their benefits package and may find themselves with low participation as a result. But it’s important to be careful about withdrawing even unpopular benefits, as it gives the impression you are taking things away from sta and may even have a negative impact on morale. If you do want to withdraw a benefit, seek professional advice before you do so, make it clear why you are doing so and highlight anything you are offering in its place.

Consult with The BeneChoice Companies to learn what other employers in your industry segment are offering to that you stay competitive in the marketplace.

Highest regards,

 

Stacia

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Companies Are Getting Benefits Right

There are some companies who’ve clearly thought about their benefits packages. They are usually the businesses you’ll see receiving rave reviews from their employees and topping lists of best places to work.

Here are a few businesses — of all sizes, covering a wide variety of industries — that seem to be getting it right when it comes to offering benefits.

Colonial Life, The BeneChoice Companies, Stacia Robinson, insurance, education, community, contribution, employer, employee, benefit, benefits, benefit administration, benefit administrator, life, health, accident, long term disability, workers compensation, planning, The BeneChoice Companies, workplace, employees, turnover, benefits, insurance, turnover, Stacia Robinson, Montgomery, AL, Colonial, accidental, voluntary, communicate

Radio Flyer
There’s a reason this toy-wagon maker has been going for almost a century. It attracts and retains employees with a wide range of great benefits like flexible working and generous maternity leave as well as some fun perks like free fitness classes.

 

Facebook
Facebook’s employee benefits are widely praised, even those they o er interns. They provide interns with a competitive benefits package which includes health care coverage and free housing.

 

PPR Talent Management
Staff at this recruiting firm benefit from unlimited paid time off, as well as salary continuation up to four weeks for personal sickness, disability, injury or medical leave.

 

Etsy
Etsy came in 6th on the 2015 Great Places to Work medium company list. Sta enjoy a great mix of quirky and practical benefits – from dog-friendly o ices (their employee directory even has a page dedicated to employees’ dogs!) to paid sabbaticals, blood pressure screening and 100% employer-paid standard medical and dental plans for both employees and their dependents.

 

Insomniac Games
Following in the footsteps of tech giants like Google and Facebook, this gaming company uses a range of unusual perks to keep its employees happy. On-site massage therapy, free lunches, fitness classes, car washes and dry cleaning services are all offered.

 

Snagajob
The company benefits are surely one of the reasons why a massive 97% of employees at Snagajob say they feel proud to work there. In addition to three free days of backup childcare a year, workers are matched up to 6% in their 401(k) plans.

 

Follow their lead!

 

Highest regards,

Stacia

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