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Level-funded plan uptake trickling down market

What are level-funded plans, and why are they becoming so popular? Allow this article to break down the facts for you.

A brighter light is being cast on level-funded group health plans as benefits decision-makers tackle open-enrollment season. Several industry observers say the trend is more pronounced given that the Affordable Care Act remains largely intact — for now.

There has been an ebb and flow to these self-insured underwritten plans over the past 18 months, says Michael Levin, CEO and co-founder of the healthcare data services firm Vericred. But with a fixed monthly rate for more predictability, he says they can drive 25% to 35% savings relative to fully-insured ACA plans that must comply with the medical loss ratio for a certain segment of the market.

Level funding typically leverages an aggregate and/or specific stop-loss product to cap exposure to catastrophic claims. These plans are offered by an independent third-party administrator or health insurance carrier through an administrative-services-only contract.

It’s best suited for companies with a very low risk profile comprised of young or healthy populations, according to Levin. And with low attachment, stop-loss coverage in most states, he explains that the plans have “very little downside risk from the group’s perspective.” Two exceptions are California and New York whose constraints on the stop-loss attachment point “essentially preclude level-funded plans from being offered” there, he adds.

The arrangement is trickling down market. “We’ve heard from carriers that will go down to seven employees, plus dependents, while others cut it off at 20 or 25,” he says.

David Reid, CEO of EaseCentral, sees a “resurgence of level funding” across more than 38,000 employers with less than 500 lives that his SaaS platform targets through about 6,000 health insurance brokers and 1,000 agencies. His average group is about 30 employees.

He’s also seeing more customers using individual-market plans rather than group coverage through Hixme’s digital healthcare benefits consulting platform. Under this approach, health plans are bundled with other specific types of insurance and financing as a line of credit to fill coverage gaps. Employer contributions are earmarked for individual-market plans, which are purchased through payroll deduction.

Read further.

Shutan B. (17 November 2017). "Level-funded plan uptake trickling down market" [Web Blog Post]. Retrieved from address


Here’s What the Health Insurance Renewals Process Looks Like

Between rising costs and health care reform, there are a lot of factors to consider for your renewal. With our visual presentation, it’s easy to understand all your options – and legal obligations – simplifying the conversation.

However, we understand you may be new to the renewal process or need a refresher on what it looks like, so we pulled this article from Just Works:

If your company provides health insurance plans to employees, or is considering offering it for the first time, you’ll have to become familiar with the annual renewals process.

Health insurance renewals are a yearly occurrence in which companies adjust their rates and offerings and allow employers to select the best plans. The process includes insurance companies, employers, and employees at various stages.

Why Do Health Insurance Renewals Happen Every Year?

For employees, renewals occur annually to allow you to change your plan based on your current needs. As an employee of your company, you’ll have the opportunity to switch plans, add a dependent, or opt out if needed. You can also keep things the same as they were in the previous year.

As an employer, renewals are an opportunity to change which plans your employees will have access to and your company’s contribution.

For insurance carriers, renewals happen annually to make sure plans are up-to-date with rules and regulations, adjust pricing to take into account inflation in the health insurance industry, and reassess risk.

What Does the Renewals Process Look Like?

  • Reassessment stage. Insurance companies reassess pricing for the upcoming year and then decide on any altered costs and services to the employer. These costs generally rise year-to-year with inflation rates in the healthcare industry due to technology, research, administrative costs, and other factors.
  • Presentation stage. Insurance providers present available plans to companies. You will be presented with the options your employees will have access to and pricing for the upcoming year.

  • Selection stage. You’ll have the opportunity to select the plans your employees will have access to. Your employees can have access to up to four plans, and you can make your selections online. Once you make your selections, you’ll choose your contribution amount (how much you want to contribute per plan for each of your employees).
  • Employee enrollment stage. Once you’ve selected which group plans your employees will have access to, open enrollment will begin for your employees. They’ll be presented the plans you’ve selected to be available for them. This is their opportunity to switch due to different life circumstances and based on their budgets.
  • Completion stage. Once your employees have selected their plans, coverage is effective on the date your insurance provider or PEO stipulates.

What is the Timeframe for Renewals?

Not all plans renew on the same calendar year schedule. If you’re with a PEO, you’re on a master policy that must renew at a specified time, regardless of when your company signed on. Although you can’t choose the renewal date, master policies are what allow PEOs to give small businesses enterprise-level rates.



JustWorks (1 September 2017). "Here’s What the Health Insurance Renewals Process Looks Like" [Web Blog Post]. Retrieved from address

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Compliance Recap - December 2017

December was a relatively busy month in the employee benefits world.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) delayed the reporting deadlines in 2018 for the 1095-B and 1095-C forms to individuals. President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance on accommodation revocation notices.

A U.S. District Court vacated U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) wellness rules effective January 1, 2019. The U.S Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) issued Frequently Asked Questions to address employers’ duties regarding medical support notices.

The IRS released Form 8941 instructions regarding credit for small employer health insurance premiums and Form W-2 reporting guidance for Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangements (QSEHRAs).

UBA Updates

UBA updated existing guidance: Contraception Mandate Rolled Back for Employers

IRS Extends 2018 Deadlines for 1095-B and 1095-C Forms to Individuals

On December 22, 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2018-06, delaying the reporting deadlines in 2018 for the 1095-B and 1095-C forms to individuals. The 1095-B form is now due to the individual identified as the “responsible individual” on the form by March 2, 2018. The 1095-C form is now due to employees by March 2, 2018.

There is no delay for the 1094-C and 1094-B forms, or for forms due to the IRS.

Read more about the IRS Notice.

President Trump Signs Tax Bill

On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (Act) that, among other items, eliminates the individual mandate penalty under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Act reduces the penalty associated with the individual shared responsibility provision to zero, effective in 2019.

Per the Congressional Research Service’s summary, the bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to reduce tax rates and modify policies, credits, and deductions for individuals and businesses.

For businesses, the bill:

  • Reduces the corporate tax rate from a maximum of 35 percent to a flat 20 percent rate (25 percent for personal services corporations).
  • Allows increased expensing of the costs of certain property.
  • Limits the deductibility of net interest expenses to 30 percent of the business's adjusted taxable income.
  • Repeals the work opportunity tax credit.
  • Terminates the exclusion for interest on private activity bonds.
  • Modifies or repeals various energy-related deductions and credits.
  • Modifies the taxation of foreign income.
  • Imposes an excise tax on certain payments from domestic corporations to related foreign corporations.

The bill also repeals or modifies several additional credits and deductions for individuals and businesses.

In particular, the Act eliminates the business deduction for qualified mass transit and parking benefits starting in 2018, and eliminates the exclusion for bicycle commuting expenses for tax years 2018 through 2025. These benefits (except for bicycle commuting) will continue to be tax-exempt to employees. For 2018, employees can contribute up to a maximum of $260 per month for both qualified mass transit and parking expenses through an employer-sponsored qualified transportation plan under Section 132(f).

The Act’s elimination of the business deduction for qualified mass transit and parking benefits means that employers will be taxed on the value of providing qualified transportation fringe benefits.

CMS Releases Guidance on Accommodation Revocation Notices

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that non-grandfathered group health plans and health insurance issuers offering non-grandfathered group or individual health insurance coverage provide coverage of certain specified preventive services without cost sharing. Under the ACA and interim final regulations, objecting entities could use an accommodation process as part of the exemption from the ACA’s requirement to provide contraceptive coverage.

If an entity wants to revoke the accommodation, then the regulations require that written notification be given to participants and beneficiaries. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance on the two methods that can be used to provide accommodation revocation notices.

Read more about CMS’ guidance.

U.S. District Court Vacates EEOC Wellness Rules Effective January 1, 2019

On August 22, 2017, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia held that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) failed to provide a reasoned explanation for its decision to adopt 30 percent incentive levels for employer-sponsored wellness programs under both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) rules and Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) rules.

At that time, the court declined to vacate the EEOC’s rules because of the significant disruptive effect it would have. However, the court remanded the rules to the EEOC for reconsideration.

In September 2017, the EEOC filed a status report indicating its schedule to comply with the court order, including issuing a proposed rule by August 2018 and a final rule by October 2019. It stated that it did not expect to require employers to comply with a new rule before 2021.

The court found the EEOC’s process of not generating applicable rules until 2021 to be unacceptable. Instead, the court determined that one year was ample time for employers to adjust to new EEOC rules. The court vacated the EEOC rule effective January 1, 2019, and ordered the EEOC to promulgate any new proposed rules by August 31, 2018.

OCSE Issues FAQs Regarding Employers’ Duties Regarding Medical Support Notices

The U.S Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) issued its “Medical Support – Answers to Employers’ Questions” FAQs, which instruct employers and plan administrators how to complete Parts A and B of the National Medical Support Notice (NMSN). The FAQs also provide, among other items, the following guidance:

  • When a plan receives a request for information by a child support agency that issued an NMSN, the plan administrator is permitted to disclose protected health information in response to the NMSN under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).
  • Even if a recently terminated employee has elected self-only COBRA continuation coverage, a plan should enforce the NMSN to cover the child of that former employee. If the plan is subject to COBRA and if the child loses coverage due to a qualifying event, then the child is a qualified beneficiary with the right to elect COBRA continuation coverage.
  • A plan administrator may take all necessary steps to enroll the child named in the NMSN if coverage is available and the premiums can be deducted with the limits of the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA). Such steps may include changing an employee’s coverage to a different option, even if it affects the employee’s premiums.

IRS Releases Form 8941 Instructions: Credit for Small Employer Health Insurance Premiums

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released its instructions for Form 8941 which eligible small employers use to figure the credit for health insurance premiums for tax years beginning after 2009. For tax years beginning after 2013, the credit is only available for period of two consecutive tax years. Generally, the maximum credit is a percentage of premiums that the employer has paid during the tax year for health insurance coverage that the employer provided to certain employees enrolled in a qualified health plan offered through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace.

IRS Releases Form W-2 Reporting Guidance for QSEHRAs

The IRS released its Form 8962 with instructions. Form 8962 is used by individual taxpayers to calculate and report a premium tax credit. The instructions provide a reminder to employers who provided a Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangement (QSEHRA) to their eligible employees. For each employee covered under its QSEHRA, the employer should report the annual permitted benefit by indicating Code FF in Box 12 of the employee’s Form W-2.

Question of the Month

What code should an employer use for Form 1095-C Line 14 if:

  • the employer offers minimum essential coverage (MEC) providing minimum value (MV) to a full-time employee that is affordable (using the Federal Poverty Level safe harbor for affordability) and
  • the employer offers at least MEC to the employee’s spouse and dependents?

Does the code change if the employee declines coverage because the employee is covered by the spouse’s group health plan?

The employer should use Code 1A in Line 14. The code doesn’t change if the employee waives coverage.


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Prepare your workforce for flu season

It's that time of the year - flu season (yuck!). Protect and prevent the flu from taking over your workplace with this helpful article from Employee Benefit Advisor.

The flu doesn’t discriminate as to who it will infect, which is why it’s important to make sure your workforce is prepared for flu season — which is now in full force. While there are simple personal health practices everyone can adopt to help stay germ-free, getting an annual flu shot is the most effective way to protect against the virus.

Employees miss an average of five workdays per year due to the flu, at a cost of about $200 per person for each lost day. That means for a workforce of 250 employees, flu season could cost $250,000 in missed workdays every year. And, with between 140,000 to 710,000 hospitalizations from the flu each year, adopting preventative steps to cut your company’s exposure is vitally important for your employees’ health and your bottom line.

[Image: Bloomberg]

[Image: Bloomberg]

One of the most convenient options employers have in preventing the flu is on-site clinics. Some healthcare companies offer this option as part of a worksite wellness program in which they administer flu shots and provide educational materials. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on-site vaccines increase productivity and decrease absenteeism in the workplace.

Business leaders also can help increase employee participation in on-site flu shot clinics by educating their workplace on the importance of the flu shot and helping to dispel common misconceptions associated with the shot. As a physician, here are some of the most common “myths” I’ve come across:

The flu shot will make me sick. This is probably the most common flu shot misconception employees have. While a flu shot can sometimes produce minor side effects, like headache or low-grade fever, the vaccine contains inactive flu viruses that cannot cause illness.

Statistically speaking, some people will come down with the flu shortly after getting the flu shot — but, again, the illness isn’t caused by the vaccine itself. The most logical explanation for this is that the person was already exposed to flu viruses shortly before, or within two weeks after, getting vaccinated. It typically takes two weeks for the body’s immune system to fully protect itself after getting vaccinated, so it’s possible to come down with the flu in that period of time.

It’s too late to get vaccinated. It’s never too late to get a shot. Because flu season typically peaks between December and February and could last until late May, you still have time to schedule an on-site flu clinic. However, don’t wait too long. Even if employees receive the vaccination very early on in flu season (September or October), they will still benefit from protection lasting well into 2018. As always, the earlier the better.

I don’t really need a flu shot. While the vaccine’s effectiveness can vary from year to year depending on what strain is going around, research continues to support the recommendation that working adults should get vaccinated every fall. The CDC agrees, stating that a flu shot can reduce the risk of contracting the virus by between 40% and 60% if the dominant flu strain matches the vaccine.

For a healthy person, the flu often just means using a couple sick days to recover. But receiving a vaccine also prevents the spread of germs to other people, keeping the virus out of the workplace completely. Getting a flu shot protects not only the person getting vaccinated, but also his or her coworkers.

Of course, there’s always room for simple, yet effective prevention practices for the entire workforce. Wiping down surfaces with anti-bacterial wipes kills many different viruses, including the flu. Hand sanitizer also limits the spread of flu, especially if it contains at least 60% ethyl alcohol. This percentage ensures the product will have maximum effectiveness in killing germs.

There’s no better time than now to start preparing for flu season. On-site clinics go a long way in making sure employees are healthier and happier this fall and winter. And that’s a win-win for both worker and employer.



Erickson R. (3 January 2018). "Prepare your workforce for flu season" [web blog post]. Retrieved from address

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Safety Focused Newsletter - January 2018

Common Reasons Workplace Hazards Go Unreported

In order to ensure a safe and healthy workplace, organizations rely on their employees to report safety concerns. While hazard reporting is critical for discovering and addressing risks, many employees avoid it. The following are some reasons why workplace hazards go unreported:

  • Employees lack the time. It can be easy to be distracted by daily work and not take the time to fulfil extra responsibilities. However, if you notice a hazard, it’s important to notify your supervisor to ensure the safety of you and your co-workers.
  • Employees don’t know how to report the hazard. Sometimes employees may notice a safety issue, but don’t report it because they don’t know how. In these instances, it’s important to ask your supervisor to teach you hazard reporting processes.
  • Employees are concerned about getting in trouble. If a hazard is the result of negligence, employees may worry about repercussions for identifying an issue. However, hazard reporting isn’t about discipline, but rather prevention and correction. Employees should feel empowered to speak with their supervisors about workplace issues without worrying about getting in trouble.

When it comes to hazard reporting, employees should be proactive instead of waiting for an inspection to take place.

Working Safely in the Cold

Employees that work outside in the winter months are at risk of serious health problems, including hypothermia, frostbite, dehydration and muscle injuries. What’s more, frigid temperatures can also cause additional pain for those who suffer from arthritis and rheumatism.

Common symptoms of cold-related illnesses and injuries include uncontrollable shivering, slurred speech, clumsy movements, fatigue, confusion, white or grayish skin, skin that feels waxy and numbness.

To reduce the risk of cold-induced injuries, consider doing the following:

  • Layer clothing to keep warm enough to be safe, but cool enough to avoid perspiring excessively. Layered clothing should contain the following:
    • An inner layer of synthetic weave to keep perspiration away from the body
    • A middle layer of wool or synthetic fabric to absorb sweat and retain body heat
    • An outer layer designed to protect from wind chill and allow for ventilation
  • Wear a hat.
  • Place heat packets in gloves, vests, boots and hats to add heat to the body.

It’s important to note that many people do not notice they are suffering from cold-related illnesses because their tissue is numb. Therefore, it is wise for employees to check on each other periodically when working outdoors in the cold.

If employees experience any symptoms of cold-related illnesses and injuries, they should get indoors, alert their supervisor and call for medical attention if symptoms do not subside.

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Understanding W-2 Reporting under the ACA

From our partner, UBA Benefits, let's take a look at W-2 Reporting under the ACA (Affordable Care Act) and how to better understand it:

The ACA requires employers to report the cost of coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan. Reporting the cost of health care coverage on Form W-2 does not mean that the coverage is taxable.

Employers that provide "applicable employer-sponsored coverage" under a group health plan are subject to the reporting requirement. This includes businesses, tax-exempt organizations, and federal, state and local government entities (except with respect to plans maintained primarily for members of the military and their families). Federally recognized Indian tribal governments are not subject to this requirement.

Employers that are subject to this requirement should report the value of the health care coverage in Box 12 of Form W-2, with Code DD to identify the amount. There is no reporting on Form W-3 of the total of these amounts for all the employer's employees.

In general, the amount reported should include both the portion paid by the employer and the portion paid by the employee. See the chart below from the IRS' webpage and its questions and answers for more information.

The chart below illustrates the types of coverage that employers must report on Form W-2. Certain items are listed as "optional" based on transition relief provided by Notice 2012-9 (restating and clarifying Notice 2011-28). Future guidance may revise reporting requirements but will not be applicable until the tax year beginning at least six months after the date of issuance of such guidance.

  Form W-2, Box 12, Code DD
Coverage Type Report Do Not
Major medical X    
Dental or vision plan not integrated into another medical or health plan     X
Dental or vision plan which gives the choice of declining or electing and paying an additional premium     X
Health flexible spending arrangement (FSA) funded solely by salary-reduction amounts   X  
Health FSA value for the plan year in excess of employee's cafeteria plan salary reductions for all qualified benefits X    
Health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) contributions     X
Health savings account (HSA) contributions (employer or employee)   X  
Archer Medical Savings Account (Archer MSA) contributions (employer or employee)   X  
Hospital indemnity or specified illness (insured or self-funded), paid on after-tax basis   X  
Hospital indemnity or specified illness (insured or self-funded), paid through salary reduction (pre-tax) or by employer X    
Employee assistance plan (EAP) providing applicable employer-sponsored healthcare coverage Required if employer charges a COBRA premium   Optional if employer does not charge a COBRA premium
On-site medical clinics providing applicable employer-sponsored healthcare coverage Required if employer charges a COBRA premium   Optional if employer does not charge a COBRA premium
Wellness programs providing applicable employer-sponsored healthcare coverage Required if employer charges a COBRA premium   Optional if employer does not charge a COBRA premium
Multi-employer plans     X
Domestic partner coverage included in gross income X    
Governmental plans providing coverage primarily for members of the military and their families   X  
Federally recognized Indian tribal government plans and plans of tribally charted corporations wholly owned by a federally recognized Indian tribal government   X  
Self-funded plans not subject to federal COBRA     X
Accident or disability income   X  
Long-term care   X  
Liability insurance   X  
Supplemental liability insurance   X  
Workers' compensation   X  
Automobile medical payment insurance   X  
Credit-only insurance   X  
Excess reimbursement to highly compensated individual, included in gross income   X  
Payment/reimbursement of health insurance premiums for 2% shareholder-employee, included in gross income   X  
Other situations Report Do Not
Employers required to file fewer than 250 Forms W-2 for the preceding calendar year (determined without application of any entity aggregation rules for related employers)     X
Forms W-2 furnished to employees who terminate before the end of a calendar year and request, in writing, a Form W-2 before the end of the year     X
Forms W-2 provided by third-party sick-pay provider to employees of other employers     X



Capilla D. (21 December 2017). "Understanding W-2 Reporting under the ACA" [web blog post]. Retrieved from address

7 Ways Your Company Can Lead by Example by Supporting the Lives of Others

Be a business the gives back. In this article, adventure into some great ways to support your community and be a charitable employer.

Business moves the world. So how do you want your company to contribute?

To one degree or another, many of us feel the world today lacks quality leadership. But what better way to fight against that trend than by inspiring greatness in our future leaders? It all begins with leading by example. That’s a tall order, though, and not very specific — so let’s explore seven ways your company can assume thought leadership in the ongoing search for a better quality of life for all.

  1. Giving Back to the Community

If no person is an island unto themselves, that goes double for companies. We tend to think of our careers as somehow separate from the rest of waking life, but the truth is that communities and businesses are very much intertwined. Communities are responsible for the growth and success of businesses — and the other way around, too.

So? Give back as often as you can to the community that has made your business what it is today. We’ll talk in greater detail in a moment about what corporate citizenship should look like, but just getting that sentiment into your corporate culture and set of values is a great place to start.

  1. Be a Better Global Citizen

Making your business the source of positive influence in your community is one thing. But how are you being a global citizen?

Some folks in America seem to believe globalization should be feared and fought against, but rational business leaders know better. As the world draws closer together, we’ll be better prepared than ever to tackle some of the problems that affect us all in equal measure. But first we have to recognize our place in the larger global community.

One example would be The Exterior Company, based in Lancaster, PA, which recognizes their role on the global stage by contributing some of their profits to organizations committed to raising the standard of living in the poorer parts of the world.


  1. Know Your Values

Let’s get philosophical. Do you know what you value, personally? Would an onlooker identify your company as a “principled” one, even if they might not agree with the principles themselves?

The world needs businesses and leaders who know what they believe in. Not so we can blindly agree with them, but because all viewpoints help make the conversation a richer one. Even Hobby Lobby helped improve the conversation surrounding LGBTQ rights in America — even if they are, manifestly, and according to most Americans, standing on the wrong side of the issue.

American consumers wish for and respect companies that take the time to craft cohesive and forward-thinking sets of values. Why not show thought leadership here, and in the process, improve your company’s standing in the public eye?

  1. Donate Your Time

Money is a very valuable resource. But to many folks who don’t come from privilege, time is an even more precious commodity.

You can help support the lives of others — and lead by example in the process — by committing some of your free time to pro-social pursuits. Think of what would happen in the world if every employer allowed and encouraged their team members to commit some of their billable hours to charity work or another kind of community service.

Think of it like this: Corporate America boasts some of the most gifted and thoughtful people in the world. Folks for whom problem-solving comes naturally. What a shame and a waste it would be if all that talent were used merely to generate profits for private enjoyment.


  1. Raise the Standard of Living

If you’re new to business, you’ll recognize quickly that the conversation around workers’ well-being has changed in recent years. For example, global competition has thrown into sharp relief the ways that American corporate culture lags behind the rest of civilization. We have not yet joined the consensus on the fundamental right to paid sick leave and parental leave, for example.

There may be no better way to lead by example than to demonstrate how worthy your employees are of living high-quality lives. Your workers are your brand ambassadors — you want them to be able to go out into the world and proudly say their needs are taken care of. This improves the quality of our conversation everywhere.


    1. Raise Your Employees’ Awareness of the World Around Them
 I try not to use this column to tout my own business, but I do take every chance to support my team of employees who are dedicated to supporting the lives of others through our FX Builds program. We have been exceedingly fortunate over the years in attracting a very high caliber of employee — folks who genuinely care about making the world a better place. And so we wanted to help them achieve something tangible in service to that commitment.

With FX Builds, we’ve helped establish a culture within our organization that ties daily excellence to funds-matching for charitable giving. We’ve already helped break ground on schools in distant countries where public education isn’t something that can be taken for granted.

The point, simply, as it is with other entries in this list, is to make your local team more aware of the larger world and to look for ways to live more fully and conscientiously within it. It’s probably easier than you might think. And if you do it thoughtfully, you can leverage the passion your team already brings to the table.


  1. Focusing on Sustainable Living

According to the scientific community, Earth is experiencing its sixth major extinction event even as we speak. Is that enough of a wake-up call?

It is clear that the individual has failed planet Earth. None of us could reuse enough plastic shopping bags in fifteen lifetimes to reverse the climate change that is already making life difficult in the poorer parts of our planet. And nothing about this is going to improve until we admit there’s a problem and agree on who’s in the best position to make a difference.

That means business leaders must actually lead by example, doing the heavy lifting the individual cannot on their own. It means taking advantage of cheaper-than-ever solar power everywhere you can afford to have it installed. It means not using more paper or other finite resources to do your work than is strictly necessary. It means turning off the computers in your office overnight.

To be perfectly honest, company leaders don’t have to look very far at all to lead the way in sustainable living. And if we can do it in the fight for sustainability, we can do it in every venue that requires decisive, progressive-minded leadership.

If every employer in the world used their resources and influence to help solve this and other crises we face in the world today, the future would be very bright indeed. Word is getting out that pro-social companies — being, after a fashion, like families themselves — are in a truly unique position to change life as we know it for the better.


Read the original article.

Craig W. (5 December 2017). "7 Ways Your Company Can Lead by Example by Supporting the Lives of Others" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address

The 10 Smartest Things To Look For In Every New Hire


If you’re hiring a new member of your team, congratulations. You have a business that is thriving enough to need more hands. But be prepared, as the shortage of highly skilled workers means finding and retaining quality, creative employees, which can be pretty tough.

According to a 2017 Creative Group study:

41% of surveyed advertising and marketing executives say it’s challenging to find creative talent today.

52% of advertising and marketing executives say they are concerned about retaining their current creative staff in the next 12 months.

For any company, especially companies that do creative work, the people you hire are your most important asset. So how do you hire the right ones (and avoid the wrong ones)?

It can be easy to become overly focused on things like previous employers, degrees and awards — the stuff that may pique a hiring manager’s interest during the applicant-screening process. But in my decade of experience hiring people for our creative agency, I’ve learned that the key to hiring the right people is starting with a clear understanding of the attributes you want in a new hire: the values, characteristics, personality traits and beliefs that will make them an active agent, not a passive employee.

When you hire someone, you aren’t just adding a body. You are introducing a new element to your culture, your work and your skillset. They will become a conduit for your company’s vision and values, and they will influence — and be influenced by — the people around them, for better or worse. That’s why finding people with the right foundation is everything.

After hiring many roles, both successfully and poorly, I’ve distilled the 10 traits that I think are most important for a new hire — beyond their resume.

1. Hunger: Experience is important and necessary for most roles you hire for. However, you don’t want people who have already accomplished everything and are just looking to coast. The best people want to grow, no matter where they are.

2. Humility: Accomplishments are impressive, but they become less so if someone constantly brags about them. You want to hire team players who want everyone to get the glory (and don’t leave passive-aggressive notes in the kitchen about how the dirty dishes in the sink inconvenienced them). Also, look for people who understand the difference between humility and false humility. To quote C.S. Lewis, real humility is someone who “will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all."

3. Intelligence (Intellectual And Emotional): Book smarts are good. Street smarts are better. Both are ideal. The best employees have not only the technical ability but also the intuition and common sense to get things done — without oversight — under what are sometimes very stressful circumstances.

4. Self-Awareness: Self-awareness is vital when interacting with other people, whether it’s clients, coworkers or colleagues. Understanding your actions and how they are interpreted and make others feel, is often the difference between being someone who is a pleasure or a pain to work with. The good news is this trait is pretty easy to assess in an interview.

5. Curiosity: An unknown source once said, “Knowledge is having the right answer. Intelligence is asking the right question.” To grow, improve and work more efficiently, you need people who are interested in challenging old paradigms, testing, experimenting and learning. That all comes down to interest and curiosity. Great hires will proactively ask questions and seek out information to make the right decisions or suggest new ideas.

6. Scrappiness: Our company was a bootstrapped startup founded by three broke 20-something guys, so scrappiness is built into our DNA. But it’s an employee trait that benefits any organization. You want people who can get stuff done when things aren’t easy, who can always find a way and who don’t need you to hold their hand.

7. Resilience: Failure and frustrations are inevitable in creative work — even on a daily or weekly basis. People who have defied odds, made interesting career switches or taught themselves new things already come equipped with demonstrated resilience. When you go through a rough patch, as every company does, you’ll be grateful that you have people who are willing and able to weather a storm or two instead of jumping ship at the first sign of difficulty.

8. Flexibility: People who are willing to embrace change, who can dig in and help others out — even when a task isn’t technically in their job description — are the secret to helping a company evolve. At our company, we have many people who’ve held several different positions, some of which span across multiple departments, in just a few years. Their flexibility and knowledge benefits each new team and makes us stronger as a whole.

9. Kindness: No one wants to work with an unpleasant person — even if that person is highly capable. Note, however, that being kind is different from being nice. According to Merriam-Webster, "nice" is defined as: "1. pleasant; agreeable; satisfactory. 2. fine or subtle. 3. fastidious; scrupulous." The same source defines "kind" as: "having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature. Affectionate; loving." Being nice is fine; being kind is absolutely necessary.

10. Passion For What We Do: A truly successful company, no matter the size, is full of people who are invested in the cause, vision and values. Even if you’re a small operation without the same financial resources as your competitors, the only way to build a healthy, happy organization is to hire passionate people who share your vision.

To quote Shafqat Islam, the CEO of NewsCred, in the company's public culture document, under the "People" section, he writes: “This is the only thing that matters — we can screw up in everything else, but if we hire the best people, things will work out. A great team with a bad idea can still execute and make it work. A bad team with a great idea will fail every time.”


Read the original article.

Ritchie J. (6 December 2017). "The 10 Smartest Things To Look For In Every New Hire" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address


Compliance Bulletin: 2018 Minimum Wage Rates

The current federal minimum wage rate is $7.25 per hour. However, many states have adopted minimum wage rates higher than the federal rate. When the state rate and the federal rate are different, employers must pay their employees the higher rate.

Affected employers should review their employees’ pay rates and update their minimum wage poster notices as necessary to ensure compliance with local wage and hour regulations.

Download the following PDF for helpful charts and tables with wage rate information by state.


Cyber Risks & Liabilities - January/February 2018

Troubling Lack of Cyber Concern by CFOs

Gone are the days when chief financial officers (CFOs) solely had to focus on managing their organization’s financial risks. These days, CFOs need to think about the costs of cyber security as well as the costs associated with not having enough of it. When their security tools are inadequate or threats go unnoticed, there is an increased risk of incidents that can costs thousands or millions of dollars in repairs, lost business and reputation. CFOs need to apply new strategies when it comes to tackling cyber risks.

Work With the Chief Information Security Officer

According to recent data, 39 percent of IT workers don’t believe their senior management understands the impact that a security breach could have on their company’s reputation. CFOs should become active members of their security teams, instead of passive observers, in an effort to protect their revenue with a more focused and effective cyber security plan. The most effective partnerships involve weekly cyber exposure reviews with management and IT.

Invest in IT

A recent report found that firms that invest more in IT security experience an average of 6.8 fewer breaches and save more than $5 million. With the growing number of available devices that employees can use to stay connected and do their jobs, new approaches are needed to deal with increased cyber exposure that may have been more easily contained in the past.

Be Accountable

CFOs need to realize how cyber risk affects financial risk. According to a recent study by Ponemon Institute, data breaches result in an average stock price decline of 5 percent and an average revenue decline of $3.4 million. CFOs cannot manage risks of that magnitude by themselves. It is in the best interest of the entire company if its CFO partners with others in the organization who have a vested interest in managing cyber risk.

The Biggest Cyber Security Disasters of 2017

Like 2016 before it, 2017 was not without its share of cyber security incidents—incidents that impacted companies of all sizes and affected multiple industries. The following are some of the biggest cyber security disasters of 2017:

  • WannaCry—Using a tool that was allegedly stolen from the U.S. National Security Agency, cyber criminals exploited a flaw in Microsoft’s Windows system in order to spread malware dubbed WannaCry. The attack, which took place May 12, 2017, has impacted over 200,000 users in at least 150 countries.
  • Equifax—In September of 2017, Equifax, one of the largest credit reporting agencies in the United States, was the victim of a massive cyber attack. This attack compromised the personal information of over 143 million people.
  • Yahoo—In late 2016, Yahoo reported more than 1 billion user accounts were impacted by a 2013 breach. Later in 2017, it was revealed that over 3 billion Yahoo accounts were compromised.
  • Verizon—In July of 2017, it was reported that 14 million Verizon subscribers may have been affected by a data breach. The majority of those impacted by the breach were individuals who had previously contacted Verizon customer service.
  • Gmail—In May of 2017, it was revealed that Gmail users were targeted in a sophisticated phishing scam. The scam sought to gain access to accounts through a third-party app. Over 1 million users have been impacted.

Trump Administration Releases Rules on Disclosing Cyber Flaws

The Trump administration publicly released its rules on for deciding whether to disclose cyber security flaws or keep them secret. In doing so, the administration hopes to bring more transparency to its cyber processes.

The U.S. government initially created the Vulnerabilities Equities Process (VEP) under former President Barack Obama, to determine what to do with discovered flaws. The process was designed to balance law enforcement’s and U.S. intelligence officers’ desires to hack into devices with the intention to warn manufacturers of the need to patch holes in their security. However, the government has attracted criticism for jeopardizing internet security by stockpiling detected cyber vulnerabilities in order to preserve its ability to launch its own attacks on computer systems.

The new Trump administration charter explains how the VEP functions and names the agencies involved in the vulnerability reviews, including intelligence agencies as well as several civilian departments that include the Departments of Commerce, Treasury, Energy and State.

The National Security Agency is the executive secretariat of the interagency group. Its job is to coordinate debates over flaws that the various agencies submit in case there is a disagreement about whether to disclose them. If the disagreements cannot be reconciled, the group will vote on whether to disclose or retain the flaws.

The new rules also require the creation of an annual report to provide metrics on the amount of flaws discovered, retained and disclosed. Portions of the report are to be made public. Decisions to retain vulnerabilities are to be reconsidered every year.

According to White House security coordinator Rob Joyce, the revised rules are intended to shed light on the process for how various federal agencies weigh the costs of keeping a flaw secret. Joyce said the rules are the most sophisticated in the world and that they set the United States apart from most other nations.

More than 90 percent of flaws are ultimately disclosed, according to Joyce, although critics argue that they’re not shared quickly enough.