Hot Topics in Total Rewards

  • 24 Oct 2019 3:12 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    AUTHOR

    Jennifer Carsen

    PUBLISHED

    Oct. 22, 2019


    The NCAA has March Madness, and HR has its own brand of Fall Madness: open enrollment. It's a busy and stressful time for practitioners, but a good benefits broker or consultant can mean the difference between a successful, smoothly executed process and months of frantic nail biting, confusion and muddled deadlines. 

    What's the best way to find the right benefits partner? And how does HR best leverage and maximize that business relationship?

    Businesses first must clarify their own needs and priorities, according to Donna Miracle, executive human resources consultant at HR Strategy Group.

    "[A]re you a startup that will be growing rapidly? Are you an organization with a workforce that is virtual and spread across the country?" she said to HR Dive in an email. "In the marketplace today, brokers are looking for ways to differentiate themselves. Some are focusing on technology, others wellness, others employee engagement, etc. What is most important to your organization? What value added service will be the most beneficial to your employees?"

    8 interview questions

    Once an employer is clear on the top priorities, research is crucial. Shelley McLean, principal at OneDigital Health and Benefits, said it's important for employers to interview multiple firms and ask a lot of questions.

    Miracle suggested employers seek out a broker that specializes in employee benefits — you don't want it to be their "other thing," she noted via email. "Just as you would want a professional accountant, you want a professional broker."

    She advised handling the broker selection process like an employee interview, with prepared questions such as the following:

    • Describe for me the renewal process with your firm. When should I expect to begin the process? What information will you need from me and when? How do you approach the marketplace? What tools do you have in place to help us make a decision?
    • How does your firm handle problems? Is there a team assigned to our company? Can employees contact your firm directly? 
    • How often should I expect to hear from your firm before and during the renewal period? 
    • What resources do you offer to help us stay informed about changes and reporting requirements?
    • How often should we expect your firm to be in touch with us when we are not in the renewal season?

    McLean offered these questions to ask:

    • Do you provide the backbone to look at a benefits package with a holistic approach? How will you bring that to my employees?
    • What resources do you provide outside of benefits? Is there an expanded footprint?
    • How are you, consultant, going to help us build a strategy?

    Both McLean and Misty Guinn, director of benefits & wellness at Benefitfocus, mentioned the importance of long-range, multi-year strategic plans.

    "When creating 1- 3- or 5-year strategic plans, can the broker help map out the strategy? Can they help model different plans with a variety of voluntary solutions to meet the overall budget number from the CFO? These tools and modeling capabilities should be a deciding factor and can be a great asset when presenting your benefit plan designs to your executive team," said Guinn via email.

    McLean noted that a data-driven strategy is a key differentiator: "Everyone can say they have data, but do they have data that can provide an actionable plan, and understand what the data means?"

    It's also important to find a broker that knows the days of cookie-cutter benefits are over. "Employers should find a broker partner that offers creative solutions to make sure the company is maximizing their current offerings through plan designs and carrier programs and offer new solutions as part of the overall benefits strategy, rather than just another shiny toy to add on top of the benefits package," said Guinn.

    The world of employee benefits is ever-changing, and it is fast, McLean said. "It's not the HR team's job to stay in front of that — it's our job. [We] need to know all the strategies out there and sort them" into what is most and least likely to work for the client, she said. She advised finding a consultant who is a "student of the industry" so that employers hear important news from their benefits partner before they hear it from anyone else. 

    A true partnership

    The experts all espoused the need for a real partnership between employer and benefits broker.

    "Treat them the same as a valued member of your team," said Miracle via email. You want someone, said McLean, who will challenge you and help you to be "best in class as an HR department." Your broker is a partner, an extension of your team who will make you better, she said. 

    Brokers "must become strategic partners; someone who acts as a true extension of a company's internal HR and benefits team while using their expertise to strengthen the company's objectives and key results," said Guinn. "Brokers must strive to closely align and enhance their collaborations with a company's benefit technology provider, carriers, vendors and other key players in the benefits industry."

    Among other things, communication will be key, the experts said. "Your broker is one of your best resources for information and assistance," said Miracle, so "don't just talk to them two months before it's time for a new plan." Ongoing communication is particularly important for small HR departments that don't have a lot of other resources to turn to, she said. "That broker is there to help you."

    "Frequent and ongoing communication is key to success," said McLean. The "one ask" OneDigital has of its clients, she said, is to outline expectations — the goals and objectives of the company — and how frequently OneDigital and the client will communicate.

    Guinn advised that HR pros set up regular meetings throughout the entire year with the broker partner to discuss strategy — not just in the time period leading up to traditional open enrollment. She encouraged strategic sessions at least once a quarter along with shorter tactical biweekly discussions leading up to open enrollment events.

    Common pain points

    To steer clear of any pitfalls, Miracle said, employers should first gather the census information requested by their broker in a complete and timely manner. "For many small and mid-size businesses, getting renewal information is a pain point. There is sometimes not as much time as we would like between when we receive our renewal information and when we need to have employees enrolled. It is important to have a plan in place to evaluate the renewal data, gather the decision makers and make a decision as efficiently as possible. This will allow the time employees need to evaluate the plan offerings and enroll without getting too close to the deadline."

    Guinn echoed the importance of early planning: "While open enrollment traditionally takes place in the fall, the information and data gathering process should begin early in Q1," she said. "One thing I've done with my broker partners is to arrange for a carrier summit early in the year, where vendors and carriers for all of our benefits, including medical, dental, and voluntary benefit providers come and meet with my team."

    Another potential pitfall can occur when a broker develops a relationship directly with a company's CFO, resulting in the benefits director being left out of decisions or discussions, said Guinn. She recommended that benefits directors establish themselves early on as the main contact for all communication and reporting, to avoid this problem and prevent confusion about objectives and results.

    The big picture

    Open enrollment is certainly about benefits and the benefit cost, said McLean, but it's also about the employee experience.

    Employers should strive to find a firm that will fit the mission and vision of an employer's desired employee benefits experience and one that truly understands the convergence of HR, technology and the various requirements that come into play, she said. "When the entire benefits ecosystem comes together — the employer, broker, carrier, employees — everyone is a winner."

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    Source: HR Dive

    https://www.hrdive.com/news/open-enrollment-2019-8-questions-to-ask-your-broker/565034/

  • 08 Oct 2019 11:26 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Image result for Are Americans Satisfied With

    Oct 7, 2019, 07:08am

    Niall McCarthy | Contributor 

    Business

    Data journalist covering technological, societal and media topics

    Employers added 136,000 jobs to the U.S. economy in September, resulting in the unemployment rate falling to 3.5%, its lowest level since 1969. While most Americans are no doubt satisfied with the state of the economy, how do they feel about their working conditions? Gallup has been measuring U.S. worker satisfaction across a range of different characteristics for the past two decades. According to its 2019 edition of the research, American workers are generally satisfied with most aspects of their jobs, though there are some areas where improvements could be made.

    Satisfaction was highest with the physical safety conditions of the workplace with 74% of those polled saying they were completely satisfied, along with 20% who felt somewhat satisfied. The fractious political landscape doesn't seem to be having an impact on friendships at work and 92% of Americans were positive about relations with their co-workers. Despite warnings of a recession lying just around the corner, most people were also upbeat about their job security with 90% saying they were completely or somewhat satisfied.

    When it comes to the areas that need improvement, health insurance benefits offered by employers was cited as the area with the least satisfaction with 64% of Americans content. Likewise, 36% of those polled said they were completely satisfied with the retirement plan offered by their employer with 30% stating they were somewhat satisfied. There is also a sense of frustration in some quarters when it comes to moving up the ladder. 44% felt completely satisfied with their chances for promotion while 29% were somewhat satisfied.

    *Click below to enlarge (charted by Statista)

    Are Americans Satisfied With Their Working Conditions?

    Share of U.S. workers satisfied with the following in August 2019 (in percent). 

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    Source: Forbes

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2019/10/07/how-satisfied-are-americans-with-their-working-conditions-infographic/#740e47866b7d

  • 01 Oct 2019 10:30 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)
    Image result for Fast and Easy G&A Cuts Won’t Cut It in the Next Downturn

    September 30, 2019

    Michael Heric and Pamela Yee, Bain & Company


    More than half of executives who lead general and administrative (G&A) functions, including finance, expect a downturn this year or next, a new Bain & Company survey shows.

    The good news is that most believe the next downturn will be shallower and shorter than the last one, and will require a lower level of savings — about half that of 2008. The bad news is that two-thirds said it will be as hard or harder to find these more modest savings than the last time around.

    To understand the challenge companies may face, Bain surveyed 650 executives and professionals across finance and other G&A departments, and analyzed the G&A spending patterns of more than 450 U.S.-based companies with more than $100 million in annual revenue from 2003 to 2017.

    In past recessions, many companies turned to G&A for fast, easy cuts. However, our analysis found that the track record of most companies in managing G&A spending over the entire economic cycle has been mediocre at best.

    While half of companies in a given year improved their G&A efficiency (G&A as a percentage of revenue) from the prior year, the gains were transitory: Only 6% of companies achieved efficiency gains for four straight years during the period. On average, G&A efficiency deteriorated by 20 basis points, from 6.9% in 2003 to 7.1% in 2017.

    Support-function leaders relied on labor cuts, without changing the underlying work, to find fully half of the savings made in 2008 and 2009. They learned the hard way that overly deep cuts take years to recover from, because of reduced service levels and lost institutional knowledge.

    The stakes are high, as successful support functions help create a competitive advantage. For the average public company among the world’s 1,000 largest, we estimate that every 1% reduction in G&A spending translates to a 10% improvement in operating margin. The most efficient quartile of performers in our analysis increased EBIT 1.5 times more than bottom-quartile performers through the cycle.

    To achieve greater efficiency, support-function leaders will need to step up their game on four fronts.


    1. Understand your costs in detail, including their causes.

    Many support functions don’t manage costs with the same rigor with which sales, manufacturing, and operations costs are managed. For example, only 54% of survey respondents tracked functional headcount in detail, and only 47% had management dashboards to measure and track efficiency and effectiveness.

    Worse, many companies don’t have a complete view of support-function costs. Only 18% of survey respondents said their companies track “shadow costs” — namely, people in distributed business units performing activities that duplicate those performed by the support functions.

    Full visibility requires identifying costs at every level inside and outside corporate headquarters. When managers know and measure all the costs for each process, they can target cost reductions surgically rather than spread cuts evenly.


    2. Look for alternative ways of working.

    To move beyond incremental improvements, companies benefit from taking a clean-sheet approach to redesigning how work gets done. This method sets aggressive cost targets, defines what the future should look like, and then works backward on how to achieve it, reinventing from the ground up rather than optimizing current ways of working.

    Defining the future state involves four dimensions:

    • Clear roles aligned with customers’ priorities
    • A service portfolio and service levels that make the appropriate trade-offs between which activities should be best-in-class and which should be best-in-cost
    • A service-delivery model that balances efficiency with value added to the business
    • The right talent, processes and systems

    3. Get full value from existing digital technologies.

    Reinventing how work is done inevitably requires smart investments in digital technologies. Digital yields benefits beyond cost savings, including faster decision making and improved service, business insights, and financial controls.

    But while almost 90% of survey respondents are investing in digital today, more than half said they aren’t getting the benefits they’d expected.

    Top-performing support functions, by contrast, have learned how to get tangible business benefits from their digital investments.

    A good example is Microsoft’s finance function. In the early 2000s, Microsoft faced a proliferation of internal data, inflexible technology systems with static reporting, overly manual processes, and increased regulations. Through a decade-long effort, the company’s finance group patiently invested in a digital transformation through the recession and a change in corporate leadership.

    Digital enhanced virtually every corner of finance, from global business reviews on a KPI data lake to machine learning in accounts receivables, allowing finance professionals to spend more time on higher-value activities. In parallel, relative costs fell: From 2009 to 2018, Microsoft’s finance headcount grew by 14% while revenue grew by 89%.


    4. Expect the best, plan for the worst.

    Reducing costs by 5% to 10% might be challenging, but what if the situation calls for 30% or more in savings? Rather than wait and possibly get backed into a corner during crisis or disruption, it pays to plan early for restructuring functions to take out massive costs, whether through eliminated work, redesigned processes, shared services, or digital tools.

    Caterpillar, which provides heavy equipment and related services, put contingency planning to good use. As part of its 2005 strategic plan, every business unit developed a detailed plan that could be initiated quickly during an economic downturn. Once the recession started, prior planning allowed the company to take rapid, bold steps to immediately align the G&A structure with lower volumes and revenue.

    When revenue declined by 37% in 2009, Caterpillar had already started to execute contingency plans the year earlier, reducing selling, general, and administrative costs by 17%.

    Come the next downturn, leaders that make the hard investments early — eliminating low-value work, reinventing processes, and making the most of digital technology — will fare better than others. They’ll provide fuel for reinvestment to go on offense and emerge from the recession in a winning position.

    Michael Heric and Pamela Yee are partners with Bain & Company.

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    Source: CFO.com 

    https://www.cfo.com/cost-management/2019/09/fast-and-easy-ga-cuts-wont-cut-it-in-the-next-downturn/

  • 30 Sep 2019 12:10 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Related image

    September 03, 2019

    CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (Sept. 3, 2019) — Employee benefits provider Unum (NYSE: UNM) finds that 38% of U.S. adults rate their ability to manage finances as average, poor, or very poor. An additional 40% of respondents say they don’t have or don’t know if they have a life insurance policy to financially protect their loved ones. These findings and more are part of an online poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted by Unum in August. These consumer insights coincide with Life Insurance Awareness Month, promoted annually by the nonprofit organization, Life Happens.

    The same study highlighted additional financial exposure and anxiety, including:

    • 35% say thinking about what would happen to their family should they die unexpectedly was a top cause of anxiety; only going to the dentist (40%) rated higher.
    • If the family’s primary wage-earner were to die unexpectedly, 32% of those in their prime working years (25-64) would feel the financial impact within a month.
    • 34% think they need just one or two times their annual salary in life insurance to financially protect their family.

    According to life insurance industry group, LIMRA, nearly half of U.S. households are underinsured, with an average coverage gap of $200,000. Additionally, the group recommends an individual have seven to 10 times their salary in life insurance1.

    “While it’s not surprising that so many adults aren’t confident in their financial planning abilities, it’s concerning that such a large percentage are leaving their families financially unprotected,” said personal finance expert, Laura Adams. “For most people, their ability to earn an income throughout their life is the biggest asset they have, and term life insurance is a relatively inexpensive way to protect that asset until they retire, or their family financial obligations decrease.”

    Of survey respondents working full-time, 46% purchase life insurance through their employer, most often during an open enrollment period in the fall. However, according to a separate survey by Unum of 1,512 working adults also conducted in August, 50% spend 30 minutes or less reviewing all their benefit options prior to enrolling.

    The most important reason for having a life insurance policy is to financially protect loved ones. If they count on the primary wage-earner’s income or other financial resources, life insurance helps assure they’re covered if that individual passes away. It can also cover funeral expenses, pay off debt, pay estate taxes and for things like a child’s education, student loans, or a home mortgage.

    In 2018, Unum’s group life insurance plans paid $1.1 billion in claims to more than 24,000 families. Visit Unum’s life insurance page for more information.

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    Source: Unum Group

    https://www.unum.com/about/newsroom/2019/september/liam-2019

  • 24 Sep 2019 11:03 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    On September 18, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill 5, which establishes a three-part test that a business must prove to maintain that a worker is an independent contractor for employment purposes in the state. Some professions — including doctors, insurance agents, and artists — are exempt from AB5, which takes effect January 1, 2020. But transportation network company drivers and potentially other marketplace contractors are not.

    The law establishes stricter criteria, known as the ABC test, to maintain a worker as an independent contractor. Specifically, a business must prove that:

    1. The worker is free from the company’s control.
    2. The duties performed by the worker are not central to the company’s core business.
    3. The worker is customarily engaged in an independently established business, trade, or industry.

    Workers that do not satisfy all three criteria will be reclassified as employees, which could allow them to start earning a minimum wage and qualify for overtime pay and paid leave, among other benefits.

    New Costs and Liabilities

    For employers, AB5 could represent a costly change and expansion of risk profiles. Among other effects, AB5 will affect:

    • Workers’ compensation programs. Beyond the fact that more individuals will now be eligible for statutory workers’ compensation benefits in the event of work-related injuries, the reclassification of independent contractors will almost certainly increase insurance purchasing costs for many employers. If premiums increase to an extent that businesses will no longer be able to absorb their costs and instead pass them on to customers, revenues could be adversely affected.
    • Employment practices liability and wage and hour risks. Misclassification of workers who are eligible for overtime could result in significant legal exposure in a state that was already at the forefront of costly wage and hour litigation and well known for the broad protections provided to its workers. California’s expansive civil rights laws will also now apply to a much larger population of workers, providing protections for oft-filed claims of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. Any company with operations in California that uses independent contractors can expect to face more frequent wage and hour and employment litigation to unemployment insurance for these newly reclassified workers.

    Take Action Now

    There is still debate on the effect the new legislation will have on workers themselves, and not all have endorsed it amidst fear that new regulations will lead to the companies they work for restricting their working hours or, worse, cut them off completely. Some workers for app-based businesses worry that the new law will take away their flexibility.

    Although AB5 is expected to face legal challenges and there remain some unanswered questions, including whether Dynamex applies retroactively, businesses should begin preparations to adapt to the new law. Employers should take steps now to carefully review the classification of any independent contractors in California, ideally in concert with counsel to ensure the results are protected by the attorney-client privilege. They should also consider how the reclassification of workers — including the potential for employee status to be awarded retroactively — could affect:

    • Insurance programs, including workers’ compensation, employment practices liability and wage and hour liability.
    • Human resources.
    • Payroll.
    • Benefits.

    While AB5 is restricted to California, the Golden State is known as a workplace protections trailblazer, and lawmakers in other states have expressed interest in passing similar legislation, as have labor groups. That means even businesses not directly affected by the new law should keep an eye on its progress and consider how similar legislation elsewhere could affect their organizations. 

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    Source: Marsh LLC (“Marsh”)

    https://www.marsh.com/us/insights/research/california-ab5-impact-on-contractors.html

  • 24 Sep 2019 11:01 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)


    AUTHOR

    Ryan Golden@RyanTGolden

    PUBLISHED

    Sept. 24, 2019

    Dive Brief:

    • The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced today it will publish a final overtime rule, setting the minimum salary threshold for overtime eligibility at $35,568. The regulations implement the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)'s overtime mandate and, according to a senior DOL official, will make an estimated 1.3 million additional U.S. workers eligible for overtime pay. The final rule will be effective Jan. 1.
    • The threshold is slightly higher than the $35,308 proposed in the initial draft of the rule and also will allow employers to count non-discretionary bonuses, incentives and commissions as up to 10% of an employee's salary level, as long as those bonuses are paid annually. The FLSA's exemption threshold for highly-compensated employees will be set at $107,432, lower than in DOL's initial draft but still higher than the previous threshold of $100,000.
    • A DOL official said Tuesday the agency "has not set out a time frame" for any automatic updates to the overtime eligibility threshold beyond what is included in the final rule. The official also said the final rule released Tuesday will not make changes to the FLSA's "duties test."

    Dive Insight:

    This is perhaps one of the most anticipated final rulemakings from DOL, and it likely won't be the last before the end of the year. Acting Secretary of Labor Patrick Pizzella told attendees at a recent DOL event to expect several proposed and final rules before the year's end, Bloomberg Law reported.

    Pizzella also recognized the possibility of DOL's regs facing lawsuits ahead of implementation, Bloomberg Law said. DOL will likely face legal action of the overtime rule specifically, Tammy McCutchen, shareholder at Littler Mendelson and former wage and hour administrator in the Bush administration, told HR Dive in an earlier interview.

    "It's inevitable," McCutchen said, "but that's another reason to get it out as soon as possible." 

    Some stakeholders took issue with the department's methodology for calculating the new threshold announced in the draft of the rule, which was the same as that used when the threshold was last updated in 2004. That measurement ties the salary level to the 20th percentile of earnings of full-time salaried workers in the retail sector within the lowest-wage census region, the U.S. south.

    McCutchen, an author of public comment submitted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the group objected to this methodology because it included parts of Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., which are also three of the highest wage-earning areas in the U.S. "Because of that, this data should be excluded," McCutchen said. "If they did that, they would end up closer to $32,000 [per year]."

    Employee advocates think the new threshold was too low and have spoken out against it for being lower than that proposed by the Obama administration in 2015. Heidi Shierholz, former chief economist at DOL during the Obama administration and current senior economist at progressive think tank Economic Policy Institute, wrote in a blog last month that the DOL's proposal "is a dramatic weakening of a rule published just three years ago." The group estimates more than 8 million workers who would have been eligible for overtime under the enjoined rule would not be under the new rule.

    Also at issue was the rule's new minimum threshold for highly-compensated executive employees. McCutchen and others objected to the new, higher threshold for similar methodological reasons, and she noted that small businesses would likely be unable to take advantage of it. Employer groups argued that increases to this threshold should instead be implemented "more gradually over a number of years," McCutchen said.

    Employers now have 99 days to comply with the rule.

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    Source: HR Dive

    https://www.hrdive.com/news/breaking-dol-finalizes-35k-overtime-threshold/562000/

  • 18 Sep 2019 8:33 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

    September 18, 2019 – Each day brings new headlines about artificial intelligence, from an AI system passing an eighth-grade science test to fears of the technology replacing human workers. According to Gartner, enterprise use of AI has grown by 270 percent over the last four years. Despite this acceleration toward AI, many HR leaders feel unprepared.

    Spencer Stuart recently surveyed a sample of Fortune 500 CHROs to take their pulse on how far their organizations are in the AI journey, their biggest concerns and what they see as key opportunities. While many of these HR leaders anticipate that the technology will enable strides in the personalization of the employee experience, reallocation of resources to more value-adding projects and improvement in talent retention, the vast majority, 83 percent, believe their organizations face a readiness gap when it comes to AI.

    For some, it’s financial. “Fifty-three percent 53 percent of our respondents reported that their organizations do not have a budget set aside for AI,” said Fleur Segal, author of the report and a member of Spencer Stuart’s human resources practice. “For others, it’s people: Almost half of the CHROs listed change management and employee experience/receptiveness as top concerns for AI integration. The good news is that HR leaders can greatly influence how the technology is applied in their organizations by focusing on a few key areas.”

    Battling Bias

    A few CHROs commented in the Spencer Stuart survey that they are worried that AI will reinforce bias. AI, for example, can be used to help identify candidates with attributes similar to executives who have been successful in the organization. But if these successful executives all have similar backgrounds, then the technology could potentially limit diversity.

    “Instead, HR leaders can help put safeguards in place to ensure AI works to eliminate bias by challenging assumptions with data (for example, that only candidates with experience in the organization’s specific industry can contribute meaningfully) and participating in the development of robust leadership assessment processes,” said Ms. Segal.

    Protecting the Employee Experience

    The impact on the employee experience emerged as a top issue in the Spencer Stuart survey. While it’s natural to be concerned about what this technology will do to the human element of work, AI can actually be used to enhance the employee experience and improve employee engagement.

    “AI can make the onboarding process more tailored and create a sense of belonging for remote workers,” Ms. Segal said. “Additionally, it can free up time previously taken up by administrative tasks so that employees can focus on more strategic work and career growth opportunities.”

    Honoring the Human Element

    Workforce readiness and adoption — and the lack thereof — are also on the minds of CHROs. Resistance can often be the result of fear (for example, will AI replace my job?)

    “HR leaders can help ease these anxieties by clearly communicating how AI will directly affect employees, as well as helping to shape the overall cultural journey that often goes along with AI implementation,” said Ms. Segal. “We’ve seen organizations make shifts to more learning-oriented cultures in response to digital disruption; two-thirds of CHROs say they are most likely to use AI for learning and development purposes.”

    Spencer Stuart said that in this environment CHROs should be asking: How do we enable learning? How do we ensure there is psychological safety for people to fail fast and learn?

    “Ultimately, HR will be charged with understanding the people side of AI, from its role in the employee experience to the impact on the organizational culture,” Ms. Segal said. “And they need to be ready.”

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    Source: Hunt Scanlon Media

    https://huntscanlon.com/hr-leaders-report-readiness-gap-when-it-comes-to-ai/

  • 16 Sep 2019 12:09 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Image result for EEOC pay data collection

    Friday, September 13, 2019

    To the surprise of no one who’s been following this story, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced on September 11, 2019, that it would not renew its request for authorization from the Office of Management and Budget to collect EEO-1 Component 2 pay data after the current authorization expires. If you saw this news and are hoping it means you can skip filing your 2017 and 2018 EEO-1 Component 2 data by the current September 30 deadline, we’re here to both burst your bubble and tell you there’s hope for the future.

    Bad news first — the Notice of Information Collection regarding the Employer Information Report (EEO-1) published in the Federal Register on September 11 does not affect the obligation of EEO-1 filers to submit Component 2 data for calendar years 2017 and 2018 by September 30, 2019. However, in the same notice, the EEOC said it would seek authorization only to continue collecting EEO-1 Component 1 data, as it has been since 1966. Thus, the good news is that the EEOC will not collect Component 2 pay data beyond what’s due on September 30 because, according to the EEOC in the notice, the “unproven utility” of the pay data is “far outweighed by the burden imposed on employers that must comply with the reporting obligation.”

    So if you’re one of the estimated 90,000 EEO-1 filers, you’re still on the hook to submit your 2017 and 2018 Component 2 pay data by the September 30 deadline, but there’s hope you won’t have to go through this wasteful exercise again, at least not when you file your next EEO-1 report in March 2020. In the meantime, if you have any questions about submission of your Component 2 pay data, consult your employment counsel, as the clock is ticking.

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    Source: The National Law Review

    https://www.natlawreview.com/article/eeoc-cans-component-2-pay-data-collection-rule-after-september-30

  • 11 Sep 2019 5:02 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    AUTHOR

    Katie Clarey@kclarey21

    PUBLISHED

    Sept. 11, 2019

    A total transformation of its policies and offerings allowed the company to give employees highly individualized, creative and untraditional options.

    When Reddit brought Katelin Holloway on as its VP of people and culture in early 2016, she kicked off her tenure with a listening tour about benefits. "By asking people what they wanted, it affirmed my thesis that people want choices," Holloway told HR Dive in an interview.

    Her listening tour gave way to a number of benefits-focused projects Holloway said she built with Reddit Co-Founder and CEO Steve Huffman, who "was very open to doing things differently," Holloway said.

    Though creative and non-traditional, Huffman and Holloway designed Reddit's benefits to prioritize growth. "Towards this end, many of our benefits are designed to help our people grow, whether they're starting a family, learning more professional skills, or even taking on a new hobby," Huffman told HR Dive in an email.

    With an overarching goal and buy-in from a founder, Holloway could implement her thesis, giving Reddit workers access to a highly flexible benefits model. "It has become of the people, by the people, for the people," she said. "It is very much owned by the employees in terms of sharing and getting people to opt in."

    A holistic approach to leave

    When Holloway joined Reddit, she expanded and individualized its leave programming. "We blew up everything, not just parental leave programming," she said. Holloway and her team formalized leave options for miscarriage, domestic abuse, military service and military spouses. "We thought about a lot of different life circumstances," she said. "It's a very holistic approach to leave."

    These additional options made leave accessible to more people, and Holloway expanded the flexibility around the company's leave programming to make it even more approachable. Reddit employees can work with their teams and supervisors to craft a leave plan that best addresses their individual circumstances, Holloway said.

    Reddit uses a service called LeaveLogic "to help individuals plan potential leaves without having to inform their managers or even HR," she said. "This empowers employees to understand their company benefits, state and federal benefits and how they might work in concert."

    Reddit uses another service, Cleo, which enables parents taking family leave to plan their transitions out of and back into the office. "All transition plans are reviewed with the employee, their manager and their colleagues for group sign off," Holloway said.

    Making benefits accessible

    As it competed for talent in Silicon Valley, Reddit had picked up a wide and "weird" array of perks and benefits by the time Holloway joined the company. "It was very much the Silicon Valley arms race for benefits," she said. The resulting model, while generated by employee demand, didn't allow for much individualization. Reddit offered a gym stipend as one of its wellness perks, for example. But this benefit, while common, excluded some people — people like Holloway's little brother, she said, who would rather surf than go to the gym.

    Holloway needed a way to consolidate Reddit's slew of benefits and somehow make them adaptable. "Every person, every family is different. How can I serve the needs of 75 people when they all have very different needs?" Holloway asked. "If you can't actually utilize your benefits, what's the point?"

    Holloway divided benefits usage into two categories: personal development and professional development. Reddit workers receive stipends for each area and have flexibility in how they use them.

    Employees can use their personal development stipends for anything that helps them become "better, healthier" people, Holloway said. The gym rat can use it to fund a membership. Someone like Holloway's brother can put it toward new surf gear. Employees can use their professional development stipends to go to conferences or take courses that relate to their jobs. "It's about choice," Holloway said. "Because of that, our utilization rates have gone way up."

    The pursuit of flexibility: a culture-dependent quest

    The spike in Reddit's benefits usage rates did not shock Julie Stich, vice president of content at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. "I do think what they're doing is incredibly flexible," she said. "The more individualized you make it, the more appealing it is to employees."

    Individualized plans like Reddit's reap other benefits, too. "With the job market the way it is, employers are looking for ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors or from others in the same area, in the same region and city looking to hire employees," Stich said. "Benefits are always a great attraction and retention device and can be a great way to increase loyalty and morale."

    Still, highly flexible models may not work for every employer. "It really depends on your company culture," according to Stich. In addition to its other individualized benefits, Reddit also offers unlimited vacation — "a neat idea if it works for your company culture," Stich said. But at another company, in another industry, such policies may not work as well. A manufacturing company, she said, may not be able to coordinate an unlimited vacation policy with the demands of scheduling and production.

    Managers must cultivate trust with the people they supervise to ensure these ultra-individualized benefits are being used. Workers sometimes take less vacation than they need after a company implements an unlimited vacation time policy, she said. Companies discovered employees feared retribution for taking too much time off.

    "When a policy like this is put into place, the company culture has to support it and managers have to support it as well," Stich said. "Convince people that you mean it."

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    Source: HR Dive

    https://www.hrdive.com/news/its-about-choice-how-reddits-katelin-holloway-made-benefits-by-the-pe/562546/
  • 09 Sep 2019 4:12 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Image result for Starbucks plans to improve US employees' mental health benefits

    By Danielle Wiener-BronnerCNN Business

    Updated 8:39 AM ET, Thu September 5, 2019


    Chicago (CNN Business)Starbucks is planning to improve mental health benefits for US employees in one of its latest bids to attract and retain talent in a tight labor market.

    In a letter to employees Thursday, CEO Kevin Johnson announced the initiative along with others designed to improve employee productivity and engagement. The announcement came as Starbucks hosted a massive leadership conference in Chicago, at which 12,000 store managers participated.

    Although Starbucks (SBUX) did not announce any specific new benefits, it hopes to encourage more employees to take advantage of the company's mental health care package. And the company will engage employees to help tailor a new suite of benefits to their needs.

    Keeping partners — Starbucks' term for employees — well and happy is critical to the company's business. To execute its ambitious expansion plan, the coffee company needs to hire rapidly. That has been challenging for the entire retail and food service industries, as the US unemployment rate remains at an historic low. Competition for workers is fierce.

    Should you be ready to sell everything in a downturn?

    One way to attract talent is by offering robust benefits and unique services.

    "The more thoughtful we are about creating a range of benefits that matter to our partners — that helps us attract new partners," Johnson told CNN Business. "Over this past year, one of the things that partners have highlighted is the need for increased focus on mental health."

    Spotlight on mental health

    Mental health services are not new for Starbucks. Through its health insurance, Starbucks offers inpatient and outpatient mental health care, as well as six free visits with a mental health provider through its Employee Assistance Program

    The offerings are "very comprehensive," according to John Kelly, senior vice president of global public affairs and social impact for Starbucks. But, he noted, just 4% to 5% of employees actually use it.

    Every Starbucks growth strategy is working


    To raise that participation rate, Starbucks will spend the next several months working with employees to figure out a better plan, Kelly said.

    He suspects Starbucks employees aren't taking full advantage of what is currently being offered because they may want something different or more tailored to their needs, such as the ability to text therapists instead of calling or setting up an appoint.

    With its new efforts, Starbucks is also hoping to "break the stigma," said Kelly, "and really normalize that your mental health is just as important as your physical health."

    During the Chicago conference, Starbucks is running a "mental health matters" session with a clinical psychologist. The training is designed to help educate managers about the range of mental health problems, identify signs that someone may be struggling and offer tips on how to approach them in the right way. Starbucks will continue to offer similar training to managers moving forward, Kelly said.

    The company has already taken steps to improve mental health benefits in other markets. In 2016, Starbucks Canada started offering $5,000 toward mental health benefits annually.

    Burger King has a message for McDonald's: Not every meal is happy


    The increase was a sector-leading move, according to Paula Allen, vice president, of research, analytics and innovation for the Toronto-based human resources company Morneau Shepell, noting that the average plan is about $500 a year.

    "That investment was quite well received," she said, adding that in Canada, other companies followed Starbucks' lead.

    The changes the company has made in Canada could help guide what happens in the United States, said Kelly.

    Labor crunch

    Starbucks has launched a number of employee benefits and programs to keep and attract workers. In 2014, the company introduced the Starbucks College Achievement Program, which gives employees a full, free ride to Arizona State University. The company offers stock options to workers, and last year started testing a program that allow some employees to spend half of their workweek at a local nonprofit.

    Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Global Retailing Conference Wednesday, Chief Financial Officer Patrick J. Grismer called the company's benefits "an important asset" to attract and retain employees.

    Events like the ones held in Chicago can make store managers feel good about their jobs. At the Chicago event Wednesday, employees were welcomed by cheering, pom-pom waving greeters. They listened to high-profile speakers and learned more about the company and its philanthropic efforts.

    Starbucks wants to improve mental health benefits for employees.


    "In a lot of ways, the most important role in the company is the store manager," Johnson said. Managers are responsible for hiring and taking care of staff, and for ensuring that Starbucks locations maintain the atmosphere of a "third place" after home and work, he said.

    And Starbucks has to do more than just hold on to employees. In the 12 months ended in July, the company opened 641 net new stores in the Americas. To manage and staff those new locations, Starbucks needs to be able to hire aggressively.

    It's not alone in seeking ways to bring on new talent. Taco Bell has thrown hiring parties and McDonald's (MCD) targeted a new, older demographic by partnering with AARP. Chipotle (CMG) CEO Brian Niccol has called 2019 "the year of the general manager."

    By focusing on mental health, Starbucks is highlighting yet another type of benefit.

    Improving mental health among employees is also just good business. Many companies are trying to figure out creative ways to help their workers.

    "This is an area that, as HR professionals, we weren't talking about quite as much until recent years," said Tracie Sponenberg, chief people officer for The Granite Group and a panelist on the Society for Human Resource Managment's HR Disciplines Special Expertise Panel.

      Increasingly, companies are encouraging mental health with counselors, meditation sessions, campaigns designed to reduce stigma and more.

      If employees don't get the support they need, there could be "significant" costs to employers, Allen said. Employees suffering from mental health issues are less productive. And in the service industry, where employees may deal with particularly stressful situations, mental health support is especially important, she added.

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      Source: Cable News Network

      https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/05/business/starbucks-mental-health/index.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twbusiness&utm_content=2019-09-05T13%3A00%3A04&utm_term=link

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