workforce, 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

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

Source

[USM_plus_form]

 

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

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

Source

[USM_plus_form]

 

 

Voluntary 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

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

Source

[USM_plus_form]

 

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

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

[USM_plus_form]

 

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

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

[USM_plus_form]

 

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

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

[USM_plus_form]

 

 

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

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

[USM_plus_form]

 

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

Communicate Your Benefits Effectively

For employees, understanding their benefits can be intimidating. It takes a whole lot of math – probabilities, prices, copays and deductibles — not to mention trying to weigh up the other options outside of what their employer o ers. So what do they really need to know? And how can you help?

 

Make sure staff know the value of their benefits

To get the credit you deserve for sta benefits, you need to communicate effectively about what you’re offering.

 

Not many people could accurately tell you what their health care package costs their employer. Not many know that, on average, their benefits package makes up just under a third of their compensation (31.7%).29 The better employees understand the value of their benefits, the more likely they are to judge their employer as a good place to work.

 

Help people get the most out of their benefits

Most employees don’t feel informed. They don’t feel comfortable making decisions about their benefits. It’s especially a problem for people with lower household incomes. And that means they don’t make the most out of the benefits offered to them.

 

Giving people reading material doesn’t work unless they’re already engaged and enthusiastic. More likely, that email will be deleted, or the booklet will end up forgotten under a pile of paperwork. Combining these methods with more direct benefits communication is usually the most effective option.

 

Keep your staff informed. Do your employees know the value of their benefits?

 

Highest regards,

Stacia

[USM_plus_form]

 

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

What Is Your Retirement Plan?

A good retirement plan can be the difference between a comfortable old age and slipping into poverty – yet one in four U.S. working adults has no retirement savings.

 

More and more employees are looking ahead and wondering what their future holds. Less than half of workers are confident they’ll be able to retire when they want.

 

48% of millennials expect their 401(k), 403(b) or IRAs to be their primary source of retirement income.

 

Workplace retirement plans are the major way that people save successfully. Without a workplace retirement plan, fewer than 10% of workers contribute to retirement savings on their own.  It’s not just older workers who care about retirement.

 

90% of millennials and Generation X employees and 87% of baby boomers all believe that a 401(k) plan is an important employee benefit.

Government assistance and tax credits

According to the IRS, small businesses may be able to claim a tax credit for some of the costs of starting a retirement plan if:

  • You had 100 or fewer employees who received at least $5,000 in compensation from you for the preceding year.
  • You had at least one plan participant who was a non-highly compensated employee.
  • In the three tax years before the first year you’re eligible for the credit, your employees weren’t substantially the same employees who received contributions or accrued benefits in another plan sponsored by you, a member of a controlled group that includes you, or a predecessor of either.

 

Take a look at the IRS website or talk with your tax advisor for full details.

Highest regards,

 

Stacia

[USM_plus_form]

 

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, paid, parental leave

Do You Offer Paid Parental Leave?

Parental leave has been a hot topic in the United States in recent years with the federal government starting to offer paid parental leave and San Francisco becoming the first U.S. city to mandate full paid parental leave in Spring 2016.

 

However, only a minority of America’s workers have dedicated paid parental leave according to the the Paid Family and Medical Leave Fact Sheet produced by the United States Department of Labor.

 

Most have to patch together different types of paid leave if they want any time to recover from childbirth and bond with their children. It means that even if they do come back to work, they’ll be struggling to manage parenthood without any sick leave or vacation time remaining, which isn’t healthy for them or your company.

 

While offering paid parental leave may not be right for every business – and small businesses in particular understandably have concerns over the cost implications – it is worth weighing the pros and cons carefully.

 

If you make paid maternity available, it’s more likely that a mother will come back to her job after the birth of her child, according to the Office of Management and Budget of the US Government, saving you recruitment and training costs down that line. In addition, if moms are returning to work soon after their child is born due  to financial pressures, there is a risk that they’ll be distracted and less productive. Offering some paid leave could help ensure that whey they do return, they are fit for work and at their most productive.

 

And it’s not just for mothers.

 

All parents benefit from time off to bond with their child. It can lead to better health for the child, a better family life, reduced stress and increased happiness and productivity.

 

Highest regards,

Stacia

[USM_plus_form]