More pay? Nah. Employees prefer benefits

Are you considering raising salary and cutting back on benefits? A new report reveals that workers would choose a job that offers benefits over a job that offers 30 percent more salary but does not offer benefits. Read on to learn more.


Workers across the country say you can't put a price on great benefits, according to a new survey.

By a four-to-one margin (80% to 20%), workers would choose a job with benefits over an identical job that offered 30% more salary with no benefits, according to the American Institute of CPAs, which released the results of its 2018 Employee Benefit Report, a poll this spring of 2,026 U.S. adults (1,115 of whom are employed) about their views on workplace benefits.

“A robust benefits package is often a large chunk of total compensation, but it’s the employees' job to make sure they’re taking advantage of it to improve their financial positions and quality of life,” said Greg Anton, chairman of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. “Beyond the dollar value of having good benefits, employees gain peace of mind knowing that if they can take a vacation without losing a week’s pay or if they need to see a doctor, they won’t be responsible for the entire cost.”

Employed adults estimated that their benefits represented 40% of their total compensation package, according to the study. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, though, states that benefits average 31.7% of a compensation package. Still, workers in the report see benefits as a vital part of their professional lives.

“Despite overestimating the value of their benefits as part of their total compensation, it is concerning that Americans are not taking full advantage of them,” Anton said. “Imagine how employees would react if they were not 100% confident they could get to all the money in their paycheck. Leaving benefits underutilized should be treated the same way. Americans need to take time to truly understand their benefits and make sure they’re not leaving any money on the table.”

Other notable findings from the report include:

  • 63% of employed adults believe that being their own boss is worth more than job security with an employer, while 18% added that they will likely start or continue their own businesses next year.
  • Millennials were the most likely generation to believe that being their own boss is worth more than job security. They were also the most likely generation to start their own businesses.
  • 88% of employed adults are confident they understood all the benefits available to them when they were initially hired at their current job. However, only 28% are "very confident" they are currently maximizing all of their benefits.
  • When asked which workplace benefits would help them best reach their financial goals, 56% of adults said a 401(k) match or health insurance, with 33% citing paid time off and 31% citing a pension.
  • Baby boomers favor health insurance and having a 401(k) match more than younger generations, while 54% of baby boomers also prioritized a pension, versus only 16% of millennials.
  • Millennials put the highest priority on work-life balance benefits, such as paid time off, flexible work hours, and remote work.

For the full report, visit the AICPA’s 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy site here.

SOURCE: McCabe, S. (3 December 2018) "More pay? Nah. Employees prefer benefits" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/workers-prefer-benefits-over-more-pay?brief=00000152-1443-d1cc-a5fa-7cfba3c60000


5 overlooked keys to attracting, retaining great workers (and keeping them beyond the holidays)

Recruiting and keeping hourly workers in this low unemployment labor market has become a battle for many businesses. Read this blog post for the 5 overlooked keys to attracting and retaining employees.


As 2018 winds to a close, the lowest unemployment rate in almost 50 years seems like cause for celebration. But for bosses battling for talent on the front lines — particularly in high-turnover industries like retail, hospitality and food service — it’s anything but.

Rarely easy, recruiting and keeping hourly workers has become a pitched battle this frantic holiday season, with some employers going to new lengths to fill roles. Fast-food franchises are turning to seniors to flip burgers; sit-down restaurants are sending line cooks to culinary school.

But simpler — and far less costly — ways to boost recruitment and retention among hourly workers often go overlooked. Here are a few small steps that, in my experience, can go a long way in keeping workers happy and on the job this holiday season and beyond.

1. Don’t ignore onboarding.

Whether you’re running a restaurant that’s short on servers, or a retail store that sorely needs sales staff, it’s easy to throw new hires into the fray in the hope that they’ll hit the ground running. But doing so can seriously undermine their longevity in the job.

Studies show that a disorganized — or worse, absent — onboarding process can severely impact how long a new hire stays. Conversely, research from the Brandon Hall Group shows that a structured onboarding process can increase retention by 82% and boost productivity by more than 70%.

Too often, onboarding gets ignored in an hourly context — or confused with on-the-job training. Onboarding is much more than that. It’s an introduction to the company and the workplace culture, outlining expectations and opportunities for advancement. It can even include a peer mentor to help new hires with tips like where to park or a good place nearby to grab lunch. This might seem like a luxury — but in actuality, it’s this kind of onboarding that earns Whole Foods and Old Navy top employer honors year after year.

2. Crowdsource your schedules.

One of the greatest sources of frustration for hourly workers is unpredictable schedules. A recent study from Workjam found more than 60% of hourly workers said the most difficult aspect of their job search was finding a position that matched their availability, and more than half said they receive their schedules a week or less in advance.

Setting consistent work schedules around employees’ needs is an important signal that employers care about their work-life balance, family demands or school schedules.

But managing a complex schedule doesn’t have to fall solely on employers. In fact, including your employees in that process can have a positive impact on morale and retention. New platforms that allow workers to swap shifts directly with each other — without involving a manager — give hourly employees some autonomy over their time at work — something shown to boost retention even more than a pay raise.

3. Find meaning (even in the small stuff).

Research is clear: People who feel they have a purpose at work are more productive at their jobs and stay with them longer. And that goes double for millennials and Gen Z, who want to know they’re working for more than just a paycheck.

It might not be obvious from the outset, but showing hourly workers how their jobs make the world a better place can be a powerful tool for retention. It worked for 1-800-Got-Junk, whose commitment to the environment through recycling household items won kudos from its bought-in staff.

For employers who struggle to connect those dots, something as simple as adding a collection box for the food bank in your break room or regularly coordinating your team for volunteer efforts can work wonders in instilling a greater sense of purpose among your team.

4. Modernize your payroll.

We live in an instant world, but you wouldn’t know that by the way most workers are paid. Compared to our on-demand, digital existence, the traditional two-week pay cycle can seem hopelessly outdated. Not only does this hurt hourly workers who often struggle financially between paychecks — especially during the holiday season — it hurts employers competing for talent.

A survey of more than 1,000 people by the Centre for Generational Kinetics showed the majority of millennial and Gen Z workers would prefer to be paid daily or weekly. Further, more than 75% of Gen Z workers and more than 50% of millennials said they’d be more interested in applying for jobs that offered an instant-pay option.

Companies like Uber and Lyft are already updating the pay paradigm, and winning workers, with same-day pay options for drivers. Online platforms now enable any employer to offer that same convenience, in a way that’s easy to implement and cost-effective. But there’s one important caveat here: to work as a retention tool, on-demand pay needs to be free for employees. Charging people fees to access their own money just makes workers feel like they’re being nickeled and dimed.

5. Culture counts (even when you’re on the clock).

Strong company culture is a major contributor to engagement and belonging — a huge predictor of retention. But it’s too often ignored by hourly employers, as evidenced by the fact that hourly workers consistently rate their company culture to be worse than that of salaried workers.

Particularly in the service sector, where the focus is so directed at customer experience, it’s important for employers to spend time making sure employees feel just as valued. For example, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants clinched the No. 6 spot on Fortune’s list of the 100 best employers with culture-building policies like allowing employees to bring pets to work and recognizing good grades among employees’ kids.

With the U.S. job market predicted to remain tight for the foreseeable future, competition for talent will continue to be a big hurdle for hourly employers. But a few small changes can yield big returns in retention and recruitment — without breaking the bank.

SOURCE: Barha, S. (3 December 2018) "5 overlooked keys to attracting, retaining great workers (and keeping them beyond the holidays)" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/keys-to-attracting-retaining-great-workers-beyond-holidays


Bolognese with Scott Smeaton

Welcome to our monthly Dish segment. This month, we asked Scott Smeaton to provide us with his favorite Dine In and Dine Out choices. Check them out below and let us know if you give them a try!

A Little Bit About Scott

Scott is Executive Vice President of the business insurance planning firm, Hierl Insurance, Inc.

Since 1988, Scott has been providing Employee Benefit and Business Risk Management services to businesses throughout N.E. Wisconsin. He joined Hierl in 1994, becoming a partner only a few years later. During his time at Hierl, he’s focused on helping businesses manage their risk, whether it be rising costs of healthcare and benefits or workers compensation claims. Read more on his bio.


Pasta Bolognese

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion or 2 small, cut into 1­inch dice
  • 2 large carrots, cut into 1/2­inch dice
  • 3 ribs celery, cut into 1­inch dice
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • Extra­virgin olive oil, for the pan
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 pounds ground chuck, brisket or round or combination
  • 2 cups tomato paste
  • 3 cups hearty red wine
  • Water
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch thyme, tied in a bundle
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano­Reggiano
  • High quality extra­virgin olive oil, for finishing

Directions

  1. In a food processor, puree onion, carrots, celery, and garlic into a coarse paste. In a large pan over medium heat, coat pan with oil. Add the pureed veggies and season generously with salt. Bring the pan to a medium high heat and cook until all the water has evaporated and they become nice and brown, stirring frequently for about 15 to 20 minutes. Be patient, this is where the big flavors develop.
  2. Add the ground beef and season again generously with salt. BROWN THE BEEF! Brown food tastes good. Don’t rush this step. Cook another 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Add the tomato paste and cook until brown about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the red wine. Cook until the wine has reduced by half, another 4 to 5 minutes. Add water to the pan until the water is about 1 inch above the meat. Toss in the bay leaves and the bundle of thyme and stir to combine everything. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. As the water evaporates you will gradually need to add more, about 2 to 3 cups at a time. Don’t be shy about adding water during the cooking process, you can always cook it out. This is a game of reduce and add more water. This is where big rich flavors develop. If you try to add all the water in the beginning, you will have boiled meat sauce rather than a rich, thick meaty sauce. Stir and TASTE frequently. Season with salt, if needed (you probably will). Simmer for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
  4. During the last 30 minutes of cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat to cook the spaghetti. Pasta water should ALWAYS be well salted. Salty as the ocean! TASTE IT! If your pasta water is under seasoned it doesn’t matter how good your sauce is, your complete dish will always taste under seasoned. When the water is at a rolling boil add the spaghetti and cook for 1 minute less than it calls for on the package. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
  5. While the pasta is cooking remove 1/2 of the ragu from the pot and reserve. Drain the pasta and add to the pot with the remaining ragu. Stir or toss the pasta to coat with the sauce. Add some of the reserved sauce, if needed, to make it about an even ratio between pasta and sauce. Add the reserved pasta cooking water and cook the pasta and sauce together over a medium heat until the water has reduced. Turn off the heat and give a big sprinkle of Parmigiano and a generous drizzle of the high-quality finishing olive oil. Toss or stir vigorously. Divide the pasta and sauce into serving bowls or 1 big pasta bowl. Top with remaining grated Parmigiano. Serve immediately.


When It’s a Great Time to Go Out

Scott and his family enjoy eating at the Draft Gastropub in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Learn more about the Draft Gastropub on the restaurant’s website.

Get directions.

View their menu.

The Draft Gastropub is rated 4.5 stars on Trip Advisor.

Thank-you for joining us for this month’s Dish! Don’t forget to come back next month for a new one.


11 top workplace stressors

Thirty percent of survey respondents to a recent CareerCast survey listed deadlines as a top workplace stressor. Continue reading this blog post for more of the top workplace stressors.


With workplace stress leading to lower productivity and increased turnover, an important tool in an employer’s pocket is a working knowledge of what workplace stressors exist and how to help workers manage them. A new survey from CareerCast, a job search portal, finds these following 11 factors represent the most common stressors in any given profession.

The CareerCast Job Stress survey had 1,071 respondents who selected the most stressful part of their job from one of the 11 stress factors used to compile CareerCast’s most and least stressful jobs report.

11. Environmental conditions

2% of respondents say this is a leading contributor to workplace stress.

10. Travel

3% of respondents say this is a leading contributor to workplace stress.

9. Meeting the public

4% of respondents say this is a leading contributor to workplace stress.

8. Hazards encountered

5% of respondents say this is a leading contributor to workplace stress.

7. Life at risk

7% of respondents say this is a leading contributor to workplace stress.

6. Growth potential

7% of respondents say this is a leading contributor to workplace stress.

5. Working in the public eye

8% of respondents say this is a leading contributor to workplace stress.

4. Physical Demands

8% of respondents say this is a leading contributor to workplace stress.

3. Competitiveness

10% of respondents say this is a leading contributor to workplace stress.

2. Life of another at risk

17% of respondents say this is a leading contributor to workplace stress.

1. Deadlines

30% of respondents say this is a leading contributor to workplace stress.

For the full CareerCast report, click here.

SOURCE: Otto, N. (5 May 2017) "11 top workplace stressors" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/slideshow/11-top-workplace-stressors?tag=00000151-16d0-def7-a1db-97f03af00000


Creating a Culture of Recognition

Are you recognizing your employees for their hard work? Businesses can experience a rise in engagement, productivity and retention when employees are recognized for their work. Read on to learn more.


When employees are recognized for their work, employers can see gains in engagement, productivity and retention.

But such efforts must be more than a one-time event; to really enjoy the benefits, employers need a culture of recognition, experts say. This has to start at the top and include clearly defined company values.

Live the culture you want

"A purposeful, positive, productive work culture doesn't happen by default — it only happens by design," S. Chris Edmonds, founder of The Purposeful Culture Group, told HR Dive via email.

And while HR can influence culture, a recognition culture must start at the top, experts say. And it must be part of an employer's performance management strategy.

Management can signal what's important, what it needs employees to care about, Scott Conklin, VP, HR at Paycor, said. "You have to live your words," he told HR Dive, adding that "if not seen at all levels, people aren't going to do it."

Senior leaders must create credibility for these "new rules" by modeling valued behaviors and coaching on them every day, Edmonds said. Coaching means senior leaders must praise aligned behaviors everywhere they see them and redirect misaligned behaviors in the same way. Only when senior leaders model these behaviors will others understand that these new rules aren't optional, Edmonds said.

In addition, Edmonds said, the organization must measure how well leaders are modeling the valued behaviors. This measurement often comes in the form of a regular values survey, generally twice a year, where everyone in the organization rates their boss, next-level leaders and senior leaders on the degree to which those leaders demonstrate the company's valued behaviors. Only by rating leaders on valued behavior alignment can values be as important as results, Edmonds said.

And only when everyone — from senior leaders to individual team members — demonstrates valued behaviors in every interaction will the work culture shift to purposeful, positive and productive, Edmonds said.

Create an industrial constitution

Many employers don't communicate their values well, Conklin said.

The path to great team citizenship can be clearly defined by creating an organizational constitution that includes a servant purpose statement explaining how the organization specifically improves quality of life for its customers — and defines values and measurable valued behaviors, strategies and goals, Edmonds said.

If company values don't explicitly define exactly how you want people to behave, they'll struggle to model your values, Edmonds continued. If an organization values integrity but doesn't define it in measurable terms, people won't know exactly how they're supposed to behave, he explained.

Find what works

Traditional models of employee recognition are good, but they're becoming outdated in some cultures, Conklin noted. Your recognition program has to fit your culture, he said.

SOURCE: Burden, L. (26 November 2018) "Creating a culture of recognition" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.hrdive.com/news/creating-a-culture-of-recognition/542845/


It’s peak flu season. Here’s what employers should do now

Even though many businesses offer paid sick leave as a benefit to their employees, there is no federal paid sick leave law. Read this blog post to learn what proactive steps employers can take to keep the workplace healthy.


The U.S. is in the height of flu season, which means employers are likely to see an influx of employees coughing, sneezing and spreading germs in the office. Aside from passing a box of tissues, employers may be wondering what they are legally permitted to do when their workers get sick.

One benefit that is becoming increasingly relevant is paid sick leave. Several cities and states — including Arizona, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Chicago and others — have paid sick leave laws on the books. But while many companies offer paid sick leave as a benefit, there is no federal paid sick leave law. Paid sick leave laws may remove some incentive for sick workers to report to work, making the illness less likely to spread to the rest of the workforce.

But paid sick leave laws do place limitations on employers. For example, companies cannot make taking a paid sick leave day contingent upon the employee finding someone to cover their shift. Depending on the law, employees don’t always need to give notice of their absence before their shift begins, which could make scheduling difficult. Some laws limit an employer’s ability to ask for a doctor’s note.

Employers do, however, have some latitude when it comes to requiring employees to stay home from work or sending them home if they show signs of illness. Employers just need to be careful not to cross any lines set by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act or a state fair employment statute. This means steering clear of conducting medical examinations or making a disability-related inquiry.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employers should avoid taking an employee’s temperature. This is considered a medical examination by an employer, which is generally prohibited except in limited circumstances.

They should also avoid asking employees to disclose whether they have a medical condition that could make them especially vulnerable to complications from influenza or other common illnesses. Doing so would likely violate the ADA or state laws, even if the employer is asking with the best of intentions. Employers also cannot require workers to get a flu shot, according to the EEOC.

Employees could have a disability that prevents them from taking the influenza vaccine, which could compel them to disclose an underlying medical condition to their employer to avoid taking the shot. Additionally, some employees may observe religious practices that would prevent them from taking the flu vaccines. Thus, requiring an employee to take a vaccine could lead to a violation of Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 in addition to the ADA.

Beyond these limitations, employers can take these proactive steps to keep the workplace healthy.

Ask employees if they are symptomatic. In determining who should go home or not report to work, employers may ask workers if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms. This would not rise to the level of a medical exam or a disability-related inquiry, according to the EEOC.

Advise workers to go home. Employers can order an employee to go home if they are showing signs of the flu. The EEOC says that advising such workers to go home is not a disability-related action if the illness is like seasonal influenza.

Encourage workers to telecommute as an infection-control strategy. But keep in mind that the company could be establishing a precedent for telecommuting as a reasonable accommodation in other circumstances, such as for an employee recovering from major surgery who cannot come to the workplace.

Encourage flu shots. Employers may encourage — but not require — employees to get flu shots. For example, a company can invite a healthcare professional to the workplace to administer flu shots at a discounted rate or free.

Employers may require its employees to adopt certain infection-control strategies, such as regular hand washing, coughing and sneezing etiquette, proper tissue usage and disposal, and even wearing a mask.

The ADA, Title VII, state fair employment laws and paid sick leave statutes are also incredibly nuanced. Moreover, it’s important to balance the mandates of OSHA, which require employers to maintain a safe working environment. Before taking any significant actions, employers should consult with an employment attorney or HR professional for guidance.

SOURCE: Starkman, J.; Dominguez, R. (4 December 2018) "It’s peak flu season. Here’s what employers should do now" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/its-peak-flu-season-heres-what-employers-should-do-now?brief=00000152-14a5-d1cc-a5fa-7cff48fe0001