Hot Topics in Total Rewards

  • 10 Jun 2019 7:29 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Forbes Human Resources Council experts share their best advice for aligning department and company-wide goals for unified success.

    POST WRITTEN BY

    Expert Panel, Forbes Human Resources Council

    Jun 5, 2019

    Strategic management planning is a vital process for every business, and making sure each department understands how their achievements fit into the bigger picture is equally important. As a key player in the smooth running of the company, the human resources team needs to ensure its own goals are in constant alignment with the company’s goals as a whole.

    In order to do this, HR managers should be taking proactive steps to check in on if their team’s policies and processes are paving the way for other departments to succeed as well. But how can managers go about this? Eight Forbes Human Resources Council experts share their suggestions on how HR managers can best align human resources goals with the greater company’s goals.

    1. Be Industry And Business Savvy

    Human resources should not exist in isolation to merely manage processes. If HR is not business savvy, then how can we help the organization reach its goals? The answer is that we cannot. As HR leaders, we need to understand our companies and industries and be knowledgeable of business in general—finance in particular. Only then will we be poised and ready to align HR and organizational goals. - Lucy Rivas-EnriquezUnion Rescue Mission - Los Angeles

    2. Communicate With All Departments

    Taking the time to visit with the leaders of each department will help to ensure they are on the right track to achieving success. Listening to leaders explain their processes and goals will help the HR manager determine if they are aligned with the overall company goals. The HR manager will have an opportunity to ask questions, gather information, make an assessment and provide recommendations. - Debi BliazisChampions School of Real Estate

    3. Be In Tune With Changes

    HR's goals need to support the achievement of the overall organization's needs, with measurements of success aligning with the company's strategic goals. A key part of successfully executing the strategic HR plan is to be in tune with the changing needs of the business. HR must be ready to evaluate, pivot and adjust, if needed, to meet the needs of the business. - Alina ShafferLivingHR, Inc.

    4. Assess the Staff's Overall Skills

    The HR manager must first assess the skills of the staff to ensure that each department can deliver on their goals. If you discover skill gaps, find training to close them. Also, forecast future staff and training needs, so when you hire new employees they can onboard quickly and start working. Often the buffer between staff and management, HR is uniquely qualified to align all company goals. - Cameron BishopSkillPath

    5. Host A Work Session With Department Heads

    Host a session for department heads where an executive reviews company goals and then outline steps for translating the company goals into departmental goals. Within the session, allow time for department heads to set at least one goal for their teams. Finish by having department heads work in groups of two to three to share their goals and gather input from one another. - Rachel ErnstReflektive

    6. Consider The Company Mission And Vision

    HR managers need to use the organization’s mission and vision as a litmus test when ensuring department goals align with company goals. Does the goal support the achievement of the mission and vision? Can it be articulated as such? HR should help leaders ensure goals are clear, concise and aligned up, down and across levels and departments, creating shared accountability and clear expectations. - Dr. Kelly LumHighgate

    7. Compare HR And Business Metrics

    Establish key HR metrics that are tracked every quarter and reported to stakeholders. Make sure those HR metrics are tightly connected to other business metrics. Show how they are critical leading indicators for the success of your business. Consider metrics like well-being, employee engagement, diversity, and turnover. - Laura HamillLimeade

    8. Focus On Increasing Retention

    One of the primary goals for businesses is to reduce operational costs. HR leaders can help ensure their goals align in this area by focusing on decreasing turnover and increasing retention. Based on the cost of replacing an employee—about 16 percent of annual salary for lower paying jobs and 213 percent for executives—HR can contribute to the company’s bottom line by conducting employee satisfaction surveys. - John FeldmannInsperity

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    Source: Forbes

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeshumanresourcescouncil/2019/06/05/hr-managers-align-your-department-and-company-goals-with-these-eight-tips/#6147c7c456c1

  • 05 Jun 2019 2:55 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Health Savings Account Limits for 2020

    Annually adjusted contribution limits and other requirements must be met if you're covering health care costs with an HSA in 2020.

    By ROCKY MENGLE, Tax Editor 
    May 29, 2019

    For many people, health savings accounts (HSAs) offer a tax-friendly way to pay medical bills. You can deduct your contributions to an HSA (even if you don't itemize), contributions made by your employer are excluded from gross income, earnings are tax free and distributions aren't taxed if you use them to pay qualified medical expenses. Plus, you can hold on to the account past your working years and use it tax-free for medical expenses in retirement. All-in-all, HSAs can be a great tool for covering your health care costs.

    There are, however, a few HSA limitations and requirements that are adjusted for inflation each year. They apply to the minimum deductible for your health insurance plan, your annual out-of-pocket expenses and the amount you can contribute to an HSA for the year. If you're not in compliance with the restrictions in place for any particular year, then you can say goodbye to the HSA tax savings for that year.

    To contribute to an HSA, you must be covered under a high deductible health plan. For 2020, the health plan must have a deductible of at least $1,400 for self-only coverage ($1,350 for 2019) or $2,800 for family coverage ($2,700 for 2019).

    The health plan must also have a limit on out-of-pocket medical expenses that you are required to pay. Out-of-pocket expenses include deductibles, copayments and other amounts, but don't include premiums. For 2020, the out-of-pocket limit for self-only coverage is $6,900 ($6,750 for 2019) or $13,800 for family coverage ($13,500 in 2019). According to the IRS, only deductibles and expenses for services within the health plan's network should be used to determine if the limit applies.

    Finally, your contributions to an HSA are limited each year, too. You can contribute up to $3,550 in 2020 if you have self-only coverage or up to $7,100 for family coverage ($3,500 and $7,000, respectively, for 2019). If you're 55 or older at the end of the year, you can contribute an extra $1,000 in 2020 (same as in 2019). However, your contribution limit is reduced by the amount of any contributions made by your employer that are excludable from your income, including amounts contributed to your HSA account through a cafeteria plan.

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    Source: The Kiplinger Washington Editors

    https://www.kiplinger.com/article/taxes/T056-C005-S001-irs-form-w4-how-many-allowances-should-i-claim.html

  • 30 May 2019 5:42 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    AUTHOR

    Valerie Bolden-Barrett

    PUBLISHED

    May 30, 2019

    Dive Brief:

    • An estimated 3.6% of workers employed by small businesses clients — those with one to 49 employees — of payroll service provider Paychex would be newly eligible for overtime pay under the U.S. Department of Labor's recently proposed update to overtime rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), according to Paychex data.
    • The proposed rule would raise the FLSA's standard salary threshold for executive, professional and administrative white-collar workers from $23,660 a year ($455 a week) to $35,308 a year ($679 a week). Per Paychex's analysis, the five industries with the highest percentage of businesses employing workers who would gain overtime eligibility include educational services (30.2%), accommodation and food services (24.9%), arts, entertainment and recreation (22.4%), wholesale trade (22.4%), and retail trade (22%).
    • On a national scale, 19.5% of small business Paychex clients would be affected by the new rule, according to the data. Regionally, the South has the highest percentage of both business clients (23.2%) and employees (4.3%) affected.

    Dive Insight:

    The Labor Dept.'s proposed overtime rule is significantly lower than the $47,476 mark proposed by the Obama administration. That figure would have effectively doubled the number of eligible U.S. workers, and small businesses opposed it heavily before it was later enjoined by a federal judge.

    Public comments from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), which stated its support for the Trump administration's update, indicate the $35,308 a year threshold may generate a more positive reaction from the private sector. But even SHRM added a few suggestions for DOL, including that the department reconsider a proposed increase for the highly compensated employee exemption and give employers at least 120 days to implement final rules.

    But the issue of implementing the new rules could give some employers pause. Alfred B. Robinson, an Ogletree Deakins​' shareholder and former acting administrator of DOL's Wage and Hour Division (WHD), previously told HR Dive he anticipates the proposal's implementation to occur in the latter half of 2019, which he said could be challenged by legal actions. Furthermore, the Obama administration's enjoined rule is technically still in play, according to another ex-acting administrator of WHD, Littler Mendelson shareholder Tammy McCutchen. A delay in DOL's implementation process — which McCutchen called "very squished" — could mean more change in the event that a new administration captures the White House.

    Politics aside, experts have advised HR leaders not to wait for the final rule before creating an action plan. Priorities for employers can include auditing the job duties of workers to ensure they're properly classified, as well as deciding how to handle projected pay increases.

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    Source: HR Dive

    https://www.hrdive.com/news/nearly-one-fifth-of-small-businesses-would-be-affected-by-overtime-rule-cha/555701/
  • 30 May 2019 5:39 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    AUTHOR

    Valerie Bolden-Barrett

    PUBLISHED

    May 30, 2019

    Dive Brief:

    • More than 60% of 18- to 34-year-olds said their productivity at work suffers due to stress over poor work-life balance or unrealistic professional demands, according to a new survey from Mental Health America (MHA) and Total Brain.
    • More than a third of the 1,000 Americans surveyed said emails, text messages and social media updates helped make them mentally unproductive at work. Half of respondents said they feel "severely or moderately mentally fatigued" by stressors currently affecting their lives.
    • "With work being such an integral part of a person's life, we can't ignore the mental health implications," MHA President and CEO Paul Gionfriddo said in a news release. "At MHA, we know it's so important for workplaces to consider physical AND mental health, and these results indicate that more employers need to pay attention to both."

    Dive Insight:

    Findings from recent research continue to indicate that mental health issues are impacting the workplace. Employers must recognize work as a common source of stress; in a 2018 netQuote study, 60% of workers said their jobs stressed them out. A more recent study from on-demand behavioral health provider Ginger found that most workers (83%) experience some form of stress once a week, but many cannot access proper care to treat their stress.

    This may pose a big problem to workers, who identified jobs, health and finances as their biggest worries in a recent Colonial Life study. As employers grapple with what appears to be an increasingly stressed out workforce, they also must cope with a costly decline in productivity. The same Colonial Life study estimated employers lose billions of dollars in productivity due to workers who are disengaged or otherwise unproductive due to stress.

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    Source: HR Dive

    https://www.hrdive.com/news/poor-work-life-balance-unrealistic-demands-stress-out-60-of-workers-stud/555758/


  • 23 May 2019 12:16 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    AUTHOR

    Lisa Burden

    PUBLISHED

    May 20, 2019


    Dive Brief:

    • Employees spend just 18 minutes on average enrolling in their benefits, far short of the four hours spent by the average consumer when deciding to purchase mobile phone, according to a report by benefits administration technology firm PlanSource. The company compiled the report based on anonymous user data from its own platform, it said in a statement, representing 92 million benefits elections made in the system.
    • PlanSource said employees also tend to wait until the end of the enrollment period to enroll, and that employers attempted to counteract this via technology that both personalizes and makes benefits more engaging. Employers are also offering a wider variety of benefits, per the report, with large companies offering a large variety of plans and benefits.
    • The report also found that the cost of providing medical insurance continues to rise; among companies using PlanSource, premiums rose 8% to 9% in 2018. Employers also increasingly offered health savings accounts (HSAs), which increased by 125% from 2016 to 2018. HSA contributions to HSAs also increased, with employers contributing $992 on average in 2018 and employees contributing $2,076, PlanSource said.

    Dive Insight:

    Many employees report that they struggle with the benefits enrollment process, particularly when there are many hoops to jump through during enrollment. In fact, more than 40% of employees in a 2018 Health Advocate survey said they found dealing with multiple benefits vendors to be confusing. At the same time, 78% of employers in the survey offered workers live support services to help navigate their benefits.

    These trends seem to reflect what experts in the benefits space have been saying for the past few years: improving benefits engagement involves making benefits easier to use, understand and elect. As a result, vendors have shifted their focus to making the process more intuitive and, in some cases, even fun.

    "The trends we see in the Benchmark Report make it clear that employees need an engaging retail shopping experience for their benefits," Nancy Sansom, chief commercial officer at PlanSource, said in a statement. "And considering the rising cost of insurance, companies need to make the most of this short window of time and create new and innovative ways to communicate with and educate employees about their benefits."

    Research shows employers may find success in improving engagement via multiple avenues. In the Health Advocate survey, employers cited strategies including intranets and newsletters (78%); events and meetings (67%); contributions to flexible spending accounts (FSAs), health savings accounts (HSAs) and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) (65%); and incentives, such as reduced insurance premiums, cash and gifts (54%). There are also tech solutions to consider. A little over one-third of respondents to a UnitedHealthcare survey said they had compared healthcare plans by doing research on the internet or on mobile apps. A study by Paychex found 73% of full-time employees want and expect to have 24/7 access to their benefits.

    Source: HR Dive

    https://www.hrdive.com/news/on-average-employees-spend-18-minutes-enrolling-in-benefits/555041/

  • 15 May 2019 11:49 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    AUTHOR

    Valerie Bolden-Barrett

    PUBLISHED

    May 14, 2019

    Dive Brief:

    • Money remains the top reason why workers quit their jobs, but it's not always what attracts them to a new opportunity, according to a PayScale study. One-quarter of respondents cited a bigger paycheck as their top reason for quitting their job, but 27% said "the opportunity to do more meaningful work" is why they accepted a new position.   
    • PayScale's Chief Economist Katie Bardaro explained the study's significance in a press statement. "We are currently experiencing a strong economy with record low unemployment which promotes more risk-taking amongst workers and increases their confidence about changing jobs," said Bardaro. "The search for more pay is a very strong driver for employees who are considering leaving, but the most interesting part of our research shows that once employees decide to leave, they also want a more fulfilling job." A Gallup poll that found only 13% of workers consider their job meaningful supports PayScale's findings, the company noted.
    • Less than one-fifth of respondents said they were unhappy at their current organization, while about the same number said increased responsibilities drove them to a new job or that more pay was the key driver for switching jobs. Women were 11% more likely than men to say flexible work options drove them to a new job, and millennials were 9% more likely to leave a job for more money than boomers, PayScale said. 

    Dive Insight:

    The importance of meaningful work is hardly a new idea; a two-year-old study by Globoforce's WorkHuman Research Institute and IBM's Smarter Workforce Institute found that meaningful work was critical to employees' happiness. A 2018 survey by the mobile coaching firm Betterup found that 90% of those polled said they would give up 23% of their salary for an opportunity that provides more meaningful work. This statistic is a powerful example of how much some employees are willing to sacrifice for a more rewarding work experience. 

    Employees' job choices at the start of their careers can be influenced by this desire, as evidenced by more college graduates selecting careers in the arts and social services over those in business and finance. Jobs in healthcare, science, social services, education and government are often seen as meaningful vocations, but recruiters must recruit for the positions that need filling — regardless of how meaningful the work is. Employers can make up for what some jobs lack in inherent meaning by offering community volunteer opportunities, supporting causes and promoting philanthropy via corporate social responsibility initiatives. 

    Although several surveys have confirmed that many want meaningful work, more money is still a priority for job seekers. Workers in an employee-driven labor market can be choosier about the positions they apply for, and that includes a desire for jobs offering the best pay. In fact, about half of all employers are now offering higher salaries in the competition for talent, as well. 

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    Source: HR Dive

    https://www.hrdive.com/news/lack-of-money-meaning-fuels-turnover-payscale-says/554593/

  • 08 May 2019 11:12 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Image result for Employers’ Association Health Plans

    Tuesday, May 7, 2019

    Last week, the Department of Labor (DOL) responded to the district court decision striking down the final regulations expanding the ability for a group of unrelated employers to form an organization in order to offer health care to its members. The DOL’s statement setting forth policy positions regarding association health plans (AHPs) indicated its intent to fight the district court decision, and offered interim relief for those employers who have obtained health coverage from AHPs relying on the DOL’s final regulations. The DOL noted that the agency is committed to taking all appropriate action within its legal authority to minimize undue consequences on employees and their families. Thus, employers participating in insured AHPs can generally maintain that coverage through the end of the plan year or, if later, the contract term. During this time, the DOL will not pursue enforcement actions involving AHP in reliance of the DOL’s final rules.

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    Source: The National Law Review

    https://www.natlawreview.com/article/dol-offers-interim-relief-employers-association-health-plans 

  • 03 May 2019 1:04 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Image result for Turn Over Pay Data

    5.3.19

    The EEOC just announced that, in order to comply with a recent shocking court order, most employers will need to turn over compensation information from both 2017 and 2018 when they submit their Component 2 pay data with their EEO-1 submission on September 30, 2019. While there is still a chance that an appeals court could put the pay data/hours worked reporting requirement on hold once again, or that a newly reconstituted EEOC Commission might modify the regulations, you should start taking action immediately under the assumption that all of this information will need to be disclosed by the recently announced due date. Meanwhile, the May 31, 2019 deadline for the traditional demographic data (now called “Component 1” data) remains firmly in place.

    How Did We Get Here?

    Employers felt a tectonic shift in early March, when a federal court in Washington, D.C. revived the Obama-era requirement that calls for employers to turn over compensation information in the EEO-1 Report along with general demographic data. The judge’s March 4 order required the pay data collection to commence immediately, but when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) unveiled its 2019 reporting system on March 18, there was no method by which employers could have included such information even if they wanted.

    In response, the court ordered the EEOC to begin collecting the pay data by September 30, 2019. And the judge took it one step further: she agreed with those advocacy organizations bringing the original lawsuit and ruled that employers should be on the hook for turning over two years’ worth of pay data. After all, the original plan from the Obama-era EEOC called for this information to be collected starting several years ago, and the judge believed the agency erred by putting a halt to this collection effort. So she gave the EEOC the option of either collecting pay data from both 2017 and 2018 information by the September 30 deadline, or collecting 2019 pay data during the 2020 reporting period, and asked the agency to choose an option by Friday, May 3.

    EEOC Picks Its Poison: Double Data To Disclosed In 2019

    In an announcement both posted on the agency’s website and released in the Federal Register, the EEOC announced that EEO-1 filers should begin preparing to submit their pay data for calendar year 2017, in addition to data for calendar year 2018, by the September 30, 2019 deadline. It also said that it expects to begin collecting this data by mid-July, which comports with its earlier announcement that the collection portal would be open for business and in a position to accept compensation information on July 15, 2019.

    The agency also reminded employers that general demographic information for 2018 is still due by May 31, 2019, and that recent events have not impacted the existing due date for the standard EEO-1 Report.

    What’s Next?

    You can expect a few things to happen in the near future. First and foremost, in order to be in a position to comply with the new requirements, the EEOC has already announced that it will offer a series of training sessions and provide detailed information to employers so you understand your obligations in advance of the September 30 due date. Be on the lookout for those in the coming weeks.

    Meanwhile, you can expect employer organizations to launch independent legal challenges against the new requirements now that the dust has settled and the obligations are set in stone. No doubt that these organizations will point out that the September 30 deadline for 2017 and 2018 information will present a difficulty for employers given that it is just a day before the 2019 data collection payroll period begins.

    Finally, it would not be surprising if the federal government also filed an appeal against the judge’s ruling that resurrected the pay data reporting requirement in the first place. While we would assume that the independent employer organizations and the federal government would ask for an indefinite delay in reporting while any appeal is pending, you cannot count on the fact that such a stay would be granted. Instead, you should operate under the assumption that you will soon be responsible for turning over a mountain of pay data – indeed, twice as big as you might have thought – by September 30.

    What Should You Do?

    For EEO-1 filers (those businesses with at least 100 employees), we can’t stress this enough: you should assume that you will need to turn over both 2017 and 2018 pay data and hours worked by the September 30, 2019 deadline. You should begin by determining how your W-2 pay data will be split into the 12 pay bands required for each of the 10 EEO-1 categories. And you need to determine how you will report your hours worked, which is also a significant undertaking, where the data is likely tracked separately from the pay data W-2 information.

    You should also make it a priority to review current pay systems and identify and address any areas of pay disparity. It is critical to take steps now to minimize increased scrutiny that may soon come your way. Ideally, you would work with counsel to conduct this initial review under the protection of the attorney-client privilege while you are assessing your workforce and the proper grouping for your employee population.

    By conducting your own audit of pay practices, you will be able to determine whether any pay gaps exist that might catch the eye of the federal government if or when you are forced to turn over this information. You may have time to determine whether any disparities that may exist can be justified by legitimate and non-discriminatory explanations, or whether you will need to take corrective action to address troublesome pay gaps. Due to the increased complications caused by varying state legislative developments, we strongly encourage you to get your attorney involved in this analysis early in the process.

    We will continue to assess the situation and provide necessary updates, so you should ensure you are subscribed to Fisher Phillips’ alert system to gather the most up-to-date information. If you have questions, please contact your Fisher Phillips attorney or any attorney in our Pay Equity Practice Group or our Affirmative Action and Federal Contract Compliance Practice Group.

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    Source: Fisher Phillips

    https://www.fisherphillips.com/resources-alerts-double-duty-you-will-soon-have-to?click_source=sitepilot06!4723!YmlsbC5icmV3ZXJAY2xlYW5jdXR0ZWsuY29t

  • 26 Apr 2019 8:34 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)


    Thursday, April 25, 2019

    As we previously reported here, on April 3, 2019, the White House Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) filed a brief with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia proposing a September 30, 2019 deadline for the EEOC to complete collection of the required 2018 EEO-1 pay data forms. The brief was filed in response to a March 4, 2019 court order lifting a 2017 stay of pay data collection, which had been implemented to allow for further review of the burdens associated with pay data collection.

    On April 25, 2019, in a ruling from the bench, a federal judge approved the September 30, 2019 deadline.  This means that employers with 100 or more employees (and federal contractors with 50 or more employees) will be required to report their employees’ 2018 W-2 compensation information and hours worked by September 30, 2019.  The goal of the collection is to reduce pay gaps based on sex, race, and ethnicity.  Remember, the deadline to submit all other EEO-1 data, such as race and gender information, remains May 31, 2019.

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    Source: The National Law Review

    https://www.natlawreview.com/article/federal-court-confirms-september-30-2019-deadline-employers-to-submit-eeo-1-pay-data

  • 26 Apr 2019 8:31 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    AUTHOR

    Valerie Bolden-Barrett

    PUBLISHED

    April 26, 2019

    Dive Brief:

    • Keller Williams Realty took the top spot on Indeed’s 2019 list of 100 top-rated companies for work-life balance; In-N-Out Burger and Capitol One followed.
    • Top companies used various strategies to create work-life balance, Indeed said, including allowing employees to set their own schedules; paying above-average wages; consistently accommodating work, school and other life responsibilities; offering alternative childcare options; offering remote work options; providing on-site medical and fitness centers; and allowing workers to swap shifts electronically.
    • According to the job board, employees might appear to be productive by putting in demanding hours, but a balanced work style makes them happier, healthier, more productive and less likely to quit. Indeed said it used its 100 million ratings and reviews to create its list.

    Dive Insight:

    As Indeed pointed out, employees with a strong work-life balance​ are said to be twice as happy, productive and loyal to their employers than workers who struggled with trying to find balance, according to a 2018 study by Robert Half. And the onus is increasingly on employers; of the 2,800 employees in the survey, 39% said employers were responsible for creating work-life balance. 

    But not all employment experts think work-life balance is achievable or even exists. Although work-life balance was cited along with salary and job location as a top employee motivator, the lines between work and non-work hours have blurred now that technology allows people to multitask nearly 24/7. Lisa Sterling, ​Ceridian's chief people and culture officer, told HR Dive in a 2018 interview: "You've got to get to a point at which work and life integrate, and you figure out organizationally and individually how to make those two things work together."  

    One common thread among the Indeed winners is flexibility. Increasingly, workers desire it within their work lives, study after study has shown. Flexibility allows for that work-life integration, allowing employees to make the choices and take the leave they need when they need it, so long as the work gets done. To adopt flexible work, employers have traditionally focused on providing remote work, telecommuting and job-sharing options.

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    Source: HR Dive

    https://www.hrdive.com/news/keller-williams-in-n-out-burger-top-work-life-balance-list/553311/

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