Great article from our partner, United Benefit Advisors (UBA) by Bill Olson
With apologies to the band R.E.M., this article is not about their music, nor their album, but about how automatic enrollment has significantly helped people. Think of all the payments you currently have automated. You probably have automatic deposit of your paycheck, automatic bill pay for your utilities and other monthly bills, and maybe even a recurring automatic payment and delivery of pet food from Amazon. Now, think of something that’s important that you wish you could automate. This is not the time to mention your daily fix of Starbucks, but about saving enough money for retirement.
There are families that have a similar system where they placed a large jar in the kitchen. Everyone, kids included, would put their spare change in the jar every day. At the end of the month, the family would use that accumulated money in a fun way. An article titled, “Automation Making Huge Retirement Plan Impact,” in Employee Benefit News references how a defined contribution plan provides an excellent way for employees to seamlessly save money for retirement. As employees started joining the plan, with a typical contribution of 10 percent or higher, including employer matching, participation increased nearly 20 percent in the company’s retirement benefit according to the article. This was up more than seven percent from just five years ago. Looking at this by generation, millennials are used to automation and, consequently, are reaping huge rewards from this type of plan.
However, all age groups benefit and a company can modify the plan to increase participation. For example, if a company has a matching rate of 50 cents on the first three percent to 25 cents on the first six percent, it automatically gets employees saving an additional three percent they wouldn’t normally save. Another way is to have annual automatic increases in contributions. A bump of a percentage point every year up to a maximum rate will help employees the earlier they start.
Of course, there should always be an opt-out option for people who don’t want to have the contribution rate increased, have a separate retirement plan, or simply don’t want to save using the company plan.
See the original article Here.
Olson B. (2017 March 28). Automatic for the people [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://blog.ubabenefits.com/automatic-for-the-people
Did you know that there is a direct corelation between financial and physical health? This article from Benefits Pro is a great read explaining the link between an employee’s financial and physical health by Caroline Marwitz
LAS VEGAS — Are poor physical health and poor financial health connected? The benefits industry is making the link, if you consider how many deals between health-related benefits companies and retirement providers have occurred lately.
Obviously, the poor, at least in America, have a more fragile state of health than the more affluent. And as we age, the potential for unplanned health events to hurt us financially increases — and that’s important for retirement advisors and plan sponsors to remember. But what about your typical employees who are neither poor nor elderly?
A study in the journal Psychological Science looked at worker attitudes and actions to find out whether poor physical health and poor financial health might be linked, and how.
The researchers studied employees who were given an employer-sponsored health exam and were told they needed to change certain behaviors to improve their health. Which employees made the changes and who blew them off?
The researchers accounted for external factors such as different levels of income and physical health, and differences in demographics. Yet the results were still startling:
“Employees who saved for the future by contributing to a 401(k) showed improvements in their abnormal blood-test results and health behaviors approximately 27% more often than noncontributors did,” the researchers concluded in Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Retirement Planning Predicts Employee Health Improvements.
The employees who made the behavior changes to better their physical health were also the ones who were taking action to better their financial health.
Employee attitudes about the future and how much control they have over it affect whether they take care of their physical health and their financial health. That sense of control, or conversely, that feeling of no control, and thus, no investment in long-term results, is one reason why some employees might not participate in retirement plans, and, maybe, wellness and well-being programs.
What if, along with the retirement health-care cost calculators many retirement plan providers offer, there was a fatalism calculator too? That way you could see right away each person’s sense of control or feelings of inevitability about their future and help them more efficiently.
Because if someone is more fatalistic, telling them about their 401(k) match or pension options isn’t going to make them enroll in a retirement plan. Scaring them with statistics about the high costs of health care in retirement isn’t going to do the trick either. Instead, consider the following points for such employees:
Look behind employee behavior for the unexamined biases and long-held assumptions that are causing it. If they can see that it’s not who they are that determines their future but what they do, it’s a start.
Marwitz C. (2017 March 19). Employee financial health connects to physical health [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitspro.com/2017/03/19/employee-financial-health-connects-to-physical-hea?ref=hp-top-stories
With many companies taking employee education and training into their own hands employers must be properly prepared for the changing future. Check out this great article from SHRM about what employers must do to keep pace in the ever evolving workplace by Ross Smith and Madhukar Yarra
We live in a world where phenomena such as the internet, globalization, social media, and mobility are accelerating change faster than ever before. Today’s digital age fed by big data is manifested in new businesses disrupting existing business models, which are remnants of the industrial era. These new models, typified by the Ubers, Amazons, Teslas, Airbnb’s and Facebooks of the world, are fossilizing the older generation of companies.
It is difficult for the education system to keep pace with this kind of change. The education system is a behemoth whose design is evolving to address the need for agility and speed. They change after the fact and therefore almost always take refuge in ‘best practices’. The MBA as we know it, has also fallen prey to this.
The MBA has been designed to provide a pool of mid-level managers for large corporations and questions arise about the future. Armed with an MBA, new hires walk into a large corporation with a desire to prove their worth through a strong knowledge of historical best practices. They may miss the value of ‘first principles’ thinking, and more often than not, face challenges to make an impact. Over time, this can create a disconnected or disillusioned workforce.
The question then becomes – if emerging and disruptive business models no longer subscribe to historical best practices, and by extension, to business schools, as their source for leadership, where should they look? What is that institution or model that allows individuals to build decision making capabilities in today’s world?
The reliance on irrelevant frameworks, outdated textbooks, and a historical belief in “best practices” all run counter to how a leader needs to be thinking in today’s fast paced digital world. There are no established best practices for marketing in a sharing economy or creating a brand in a digital world. The best practices might have been established last week. The world is moving fast, and leaders need to be more agile. Today, Millennials are leading teams, calling the shots in many corporations, which means that the energy created is one that leaves little time for rules and structures to effectuate and/or create impact. Making good decisions in today’s business world requires a new and different kind of thinking, and there are tactics that can help grow these new types of leaders.
Importance of questions: most leadership and business programs today evaluate and assess students based on answers, not the ability to ask good questions. Thoughtful and incisive questions lead to innovation and as business problems become more granular and interconnected, this skill will help leaders arrive at better decisions.
Experimentation over experts: Students are encouraged to seek “expert advice” rather than formulating their own hypotheses that can be tested as low cost experiments. While consulting with those who have walked the same path has its benefits, relying on the experiences of others may hinder growth, particularly when change is accelerating. The shift to globalization, digitization, social, and agile are changing rapidly, there is no “right answer”, so experimentation is a crucial skill.
Interdisciplinary perspective: Disciplines and industry sector models are glorified at a time when discipline barriers are being broken to create new ideas. A conscious intermingling of disciplines creates more fertile minds for innovative thoughts to occur.
In today’s management programs, outdated content and old-school delivery mechanisms are limiting students and businesses alike. There is a dire need to help business and young talent alike embrace a new art of problem solving, essential for the realities of today.
Many companies are starting to take education and employee training into their own hands. The advent of online courses, MOOCs, and other innovative programs in employee education are supplementing traditional education.
HR professionals can learn from companies who have set up their own deep technical training programs. With the work they do to augment decision science skills, Mu Sigma University is a great example of a modern day tech company, building skills across technology, business, analytics, and design. The workforce is changing. Many traditional jobs are being replaced with automation, robots, cloud-based machine learning services, and artificial intelligence – while at the same time, the demand for high end engineering, analytics, business intelligence, data and decision science is booming. Many companies, such as Mu Sigma, are spinning up advanced technical training investments to ensure their employees are equipped for a rapidly evolving future.
Smith R. & Yarra M. (2017 March 15). What it takes to make good decisions in the new world of work [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://blog.shrm.org/blog/what-it-takes-to-make-good-decisions-in-the-new-world-of-work
Check out this free upcoming webinar from Society Insurance about ” Reducing Outdoor Slip, Trip and Falls”
Reducing Outdoor Slip, Trip and Falls
Friday, April 28, 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. CDT
Click here to register.
Doing everything possible to prevent slip, trip and falls is not just a priority – it’s a necessity!
This live webinar focuses on identifying hazards that could cause outdoor slip, trip and falls. Society’s risk management experts will also discuss corrective actions that can help to reduce the occurrence of these incidents and injury losses.
Register now and pass it on! All are welcome and every business can benefit from the information in this webinar.
Do you know which question you can ask any employee requesting FMLA leave? Look at this great article from HR Morning about what employers can and cannot say to an employee on FMLA leave Christian Schappel
You know when employees request FMLA leave, those conversations have to stick to the facts about what the workers need and why. The problem is, a lot of managers don’t know that — and here’s proof some of their stray comments can cost you dearly in court.
Three employers are currently fighting expensive FMLA interference lawsuits because their managers didn’t stick to the facts when subordinates requested leave.
The real kick in the pants: Two of the lawsuits were filed by employees who’d received all of the FMLA leave they requested — and the courts said the interference claims were still valid. How’s that even possible? Keep reading to learn about the latest litigation trend in the FMLA world.
Here’s what happened in each case (don’t worry, we’ve cut to the chase in all of them) — beginning with the words/phrases managers must avoid when a worker requests leave:
James Hefti, a tool designer, was in hot water with his company, Brunk Industries, a metal stamping company.
Reason: Let’s just say he called a lot of people at work “my b____.”
After he ignored multiple warnings from management to stop using obscenities at work, the company planned to fire him. But it didn’t pull the trigger immediately.
Then, just prior to his termination, Hefti requested FMLA leave to care for his son, who was suffering from various mental health problems.
His manager, upon hearing of Hefti’s request, told him Brunk paid for his insurance and thus expected him to be at work.
When Hefti was fired a few days later, he sued for FMLA interference.
The company tried to get the suit thrown out, claiming his conduct and ignorance of repeated warnings gave it grounds to terminate him. But it didn’t win.
The court said the manager’s interactions with Hefti did raise the question of whether he was fired for requesting FMLA leave, so the judge sent the case to trial.
Cite: Hefti v. Brunk Industries
Lisa Kimes, a public safety officer for the University of Scranton’s Department of Public Safety, requested FMLA leave to care for her son, who had diabetes.
Kimes was granted all the time off she requested. But in a meeting with her supervisor she was told that since the department was short staffed it was “inconsiderate” of her to take time off.
When her relationship with the department soured, she sued claiming FMLA interference.
The department tried to get her suit tossed before it went to trial. It had a seemingly reasonable argument: She got all of the leave she requested, so it couldn’t have interfered with her FMLA rights.
But Kimes argued that her supervisor’s comments prevented her from requesting more FMLA leave – thus the interference lawsuit.
The court sided with Kimes. It said she had a strong argument, so the judge sent her case to trial as well.
Suit: Kimes v. University of Scranton
Judy Gordon was an officer with U.S. Capitol Police when she requested intermittent FMLA leave for periods of incapacitating depression following her husband’s suicide.
But before Gordon used any FMLA leave, a captain in the police department told her that an upper-level manager had said he was “mad” about FMLA requests in general, and he’d vowed to “find a problem” with Gordon’s request.
Then later, when she actually went to take leave, her manager became irate, denied her request and demanded a doctor’s note. He later relented and granted the request.
In fact, she was granted all the leave she requested.
Still, she filed an FMLA interference suit. And, again, the employer fought to get it thrown out before a trial on the grounds that Gordon had no claim because all of her leave requests were granted.
But this case was sent to trial, too. The judge said her superiors’ conduct could have a “reasonable tendency” to interfere with her FMLA rights by deterring her from exercising them — i.e., the comments made to her could’ve persuaded her not to request additional leave time to which she was entitled.
Suit: Gordon v. United States Capitol Police
Based on a thorough read-through of the court documents, each of these employers appeared to have a pretty good chance of winning summary judgment and getting the lawsuits thrown out before an expensive trial — that is, if it weren’t for the managers’ stray comments in each.
These cases have created two important teaching points for HR:
The best way to stay safe: Re-emphasize that managers must stick to the facts when employees request FMLA leave, as well as keep their opinions and other observations to themselves.
Schappel C. (2017 March 17). 3 things managers can’t say after FMLA requests [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.hrmorning.com/3-things-you-cant-say-after-fmla-requests/
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released statistics on work-related injuries and illnesses in 2014. According to the BLS, two key factors are used to measure the severity of these injuries and illnesses:
* Incidence rate: The number of cases, per 10,000 full-time employees, of injuries and illnesses that require time away from work.
* Average days away from work: The average number of days an employee spends away from work to recover from an injury or illness. The BLS found that the overall incidence rate of nonfatal occupational injury and illness cases in 2014 was 107.1, down from a rate of 109.4 in 2013. The number of days away from work was approximately the same in both years. Additionally, the BLS detailed the most common workplace injuries and illnesses, as well as the most commonly affected parts of the body.
Common Injuries and Illnesses
Sprains, strains and tears were the most common workplace injury in 2014. The incidence rate for these injuries was approximately 38.9 cases per 10,000 full-time employees, which represents a decrease from 2013’s rate of 40.2 cases. However, these are still significant injuries; on average, workers with sprains, strains or tears needed 10 days away from work to recover.
The statistics also show that soreness and pain were common injuries, but generally required fewer days away from work.
Commonly Affected Parts of the Body
The upper extremities (e.g., hands, shoulders) were most affected by injuries and illnesses in 2014, with an incidence rate of 32. Hands accounted for 40 percent of those cases, the most among upper extremities. However, shoulder injuries and illnesses required an average of 26 days away from work to recover, more than any other part of the body.
The BLS specifically noted that musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) accounted for 32 percent of all workplace-related injuries and illnesses in 2014. Although the incident rate of MSDs was lower than it had been in 2013, these injuries can affect employees in any industry.
For more information on preventing workplace injuries and illnesses, contact Hierl Insurance Inc. today.
OSHA Publishes New Rule Regarding Slip, Trip and Fall Protection
OSHA recently published a final rule to update the standards regarding walking-working surfaces, as well as personal protective equipment (PPE) meant to protect employees from slip, trip and fall hazards. According to the agency, the final rule is meant to increase consistency between the general and construction industries’ fall protection standards, and will allow employers to choose the system that works best for their workplaces.
The final rule applies to all general industry workplaces and covers all walking-working surfaces—any horizontal or vertical surface on or through which an employee walks, works or gains access to a workplace location. The new standards for these surfaces address the following topics:
Additionally, the final rule also indicates that employers must ensure that employees have fall and falling object protection in certain areas and during certain operations or activities.
Employers will be required to train employees about the requirements of the new rule. And, while the training employers provide to their employees is not required to be site specific, it does need to address the hazards to which employees may be exposed at their workplace.
The final rule becomes effective on Jan. 17, 2017, although OSHA will allow additional time for employers to comply with some standards. For more information on the final rule, including a full compliance schedule, call us at 920-921-5921, and ask to see our compliance bulletin, “OSHA Final Rule on Slips, Trips and Fall Protection.”
Large Number of Trench Collapse Fatalities in 2016 May Shift OSHA’s Focus
Since OSHA published safety standards regarding trenching and excavation safety in 1989, fatalities involving trench collapses have fallen dramatically. However, OSHA has reported that 24 employees died as a result of trench collapses since the beginning 2016—more than double the number that occurred in 2015.
Although OSHA is aware of the alarming number of fatalities, the agency still has not determined how safety issues involving trench collapses will be addressed. However, OSHA believes that simply making its staff aware of the problem isn’t enough.
In Tennessee, an employee died after a trench collapsed—the first such incident to occur in the state in more than five years. As a result, OSHA’s state agency in Tennessee now considers excavation hazards an “imminent danger” and has pulled a state inspector off of a general scheduled inspection to investigate trench exposures. However, it’s unknown if OSHA will extend these practices into other states.
Although OSHA’s trench and excavation standards are meant to protect employees, it’s important for employers to take a proactive role by training employees on how to recognize trench hazards. Additionally, it’s likely that OSHA will focus on compliance with trench safety standards as a way to reduce the number of fatalities in 2017.
Two Major OSHA Rules to Consider in Early 2017
OSHA frequently introduces or revises safety rules to remain up to date with new technologies and workplace procedures. In early 2017, two new major rules regarding injury and illness reporting will be in effect that all employers and establishments should be aware of.
OSHA’s electronic reporting rule will require some establishments to electronically submit data from their work-related injury records to OSHA. This rule becomes effective on Jan. 1, 2017. Under the new rule, establishments with 250 or more employees must electronically submit data from their OSHA 300, 300A and 301 forms. OSHA will then remove any personally identifiable information (PII) and post the establishment-specific data on its website.
In response to the electronic reporting rule, OSHA released an anti-retaliation rule that went into effect on Dec. 1, 2016. This rule includes two major requirements for employers:
Because these two new rules may dramatically change how establishments and employees report injuries and illnesses, it’s important for employers to understand their reporting responsibilities. For more information, contact us today and ask for our two compliance bulletins, “OSHA Issues Final Rule on Electronic Reporting” and “OSHA’s Antiretaliation Rules to Take Effect Dec. 1, 2016.”
Here are some fun tips for your next office party from Society Insurance
Your organization’s holiday party is right around the corner, and it’s time to eat, drink and be merry! In moderation, that is.
Letting loose and partying with your fellow coworkers may sound necessary after a long year, but let’s remember the fact that you do have a professional reputation to maintain. Believe me, it’s still going to be about business, no matter how festive the occasion is. Here is some advice to help the evening go as smoothly as possible.
Happy Holidays, and we hope you have fun during your festivities!
Society Insurance. (2016 December 7). Workplace holiday party etiquette [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://blog.societyinsurance.com/workplace-holiday-party-etiquette/
Ballot measures to expand the use of marijuana passed in eight states last month, bringing the total number of states allowing some form of legalized marijuana use to 28, including the District of Columbia.
The following offers a brief summary of those ballot measures:
What remains unclear is what stance the Trump administration will take regarding enforcement of federal laws. Currently, marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and distributing marijuana is a federal offense. However, the Obama administration has been relaxed in its enforcement of federal marijuana laws.
Employers may want to review their employment policies regarding marijuana use, as well as consider local and state laws. For more information on what employers’ rights and responsibilities are regarding employee marijuana use, contact Hierl Insurance Inc. and ask for our Compliance Bulletin: Marijuana Use Legalized in 8 States
88 Percent of Employees Lack Knowledge to Prevent Cyber Incidents
According to a recent report, 88 percent of employees lack the understanding necessary to prevent common cyber incidents. That report is based on the results of a survey given to more than 1,000 employees across the Unites States, and was designed to test the level of knowledge and awareness of cyber security among employees by asking them to name proper behaviors in given circumstances. The survey covered eight risk domains and assigned three risk profiles—Risk, Novice and Hero—to indicate an employee’s privacy and security awareness IQ.
Key findings from the report include the following:
This report highlights one of the key vulnerabilities of any organization—employees’ lack of basic cyber security knowledge. Regardless of other hardware or network protections, employees can and will allow cyber criminals into an organization, often without even realizing it.
Fortunately, employee cyber training can help reduce this risk to your organization. For employee cyber training resources, contact Hierl Insurance Inc. today and ask about our Employee Cyber Training Manual.
BLS Reports Injuries and Illnesses Continue to Decrease
The latest numbers released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that the rate of workplace injuries and illnesses are the lowest they’ve been in 13 years.
The BLS’s Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) showed that, in 2015, the rate for private industry workers was 3.0 recordable cases per 100 full-time equivalent workers—down from 3.2 in 2014. The rate for state and local government workers, conversely, increased slightly, from 5.0 in 2014 to 5.1 in 2015. Combined, the overall rate dropped from 3.4 in 2014 to 3.3 in 2015.
Despite an increasing population, the total number of cases dropped as well. The BLS estimates that there were 3.66 million injury and illness cases in 2015, down from 3.68 million in 2014.
The most notable outlier was in the public health care sector. For instance, public nursing home workers experienced an injury and illness rate of 12.6, while their private sector counterparts experienced a rate of 6.8.
Download original file Here
The WC (workers’ compensation) insurance system is a no-fault method of paying workers for medical expenses and wage losses due to on-the-job injuries. While the majority of WC claims are truthful, the National Insurance Crime Bureau reports that billions of dollars of false claims are submitted each year. To help you detect possible WC fraud, experience shows a claim may be fraudulent if two or more of the following factors are present:
Remember, these warning signs are simply indicators. If you are suspicious of a claim, alert your insurance carrier immediately.