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The reliance on irrelevant frameworks, outdated textbooks, and a historical belief in “best practices” all run counter to how a leader needs to be thinking in today’s fast paced digital world.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.
See the original article Here.
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
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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/
Have you ever thought about the future of employee benefits advisors? Take a look at this interesting article from Benefits Pro about the growth of robotic employee benefits advisors by Caroline Marwitz
LAS VEGAS — Some advisors see robo-advisors as a competing force.
At the NAPA 401(k) Summit, you might expect some hostility to the concept. After all, the market for algorithm-based, non-human decision-making robo-advisors is expected to grow.
Business Insider’s research service, BI Intelligence, forecasts that by 2020, robo-advisors will manage $8 trillion in assets.
But the questions for two executives at two robo-advisor firms during a technology panel demonstrated more curiosity than hostility. Betterment for Business’s Cynthia Loh and blooom’s (yes, three Os) Chris Costello fielded them and got in some marketing in the process.
The questions ranged from whether advisors can get data and metrics about results (yes), how good is the security and encryption of participant information (as good as a bank’s), whether rebalancing is participant-driven (no), whether there was a process to update employee risk tolerance and other information over time, as it changes (yes), to whether these robo-advisors partner with advisors to offer compensation (Betterment: yes, we have a separate arm of the business for that; blooom: ten dollars per participant doesn’t make a partnership conducive, though advisors can offer this service to differentiate themselves to plan sponsors).
The common wisdom is that robo-advisors, at least in the retirement industry, are aimed at people with fewer assets.
However, in the wider investment industry, the BI Intelligence research report noted: “Consumers across all asset classes are receptive to robo-advisors — including the wealthy. 49% of this group would consider investing some of their assets using a robo-advisor.”
For blooom, its market is not intended to be the wealthy, CEO and cofounder, Chris Costello, said, but rather “the people who don’t understand stuff.”
“All the way up the food chain, people are messing up their 401k plans,” Costello said. “We are targeting a segment of market most advisors aren’t targeting, most are well below 250,000 dollars.”
The stereotypical user of a robo-advisor is, of course, a millennial. But now, said Betterment’ for Business GM Cynthia Loh, “Everyone expects technology.” Even the clients have changed, she said. Where in the past it might be a tech company, within the last year companies of other kinds have come on board — medical, legal, and financial services firms.
Taking aim at the traditional, minimalist way many employers offer information on retirement plans, Costello noted that there are always going to be employees who like to study their options and do their homework. “But that is not most Americans. Most Americans need this to be done for them. When I had wealthy clients, I didn’t tell them to go home and study up. We did the work for them. This brings the services that wealthy people have been getting for decades.”
Still, Loh added, Betterment embraces both the technology and the human side. “We recognize there’s always going to be a place for human advice.”
Because ultimately it comes back to the human side, not the technology side. Of course, the technology behind the algorithms is important. But something as warm and fuzzy as the participant questionnaire is also crucial.
In fact, recent guidance on robo-advisors from the Securities and Exchange Commission concerns itself with a robo-advisor’s questionnaire. Which makes sense, as it’s the information the algorithms use to make their decisions and the basis of their advice. Garbage in, garbage out. And the ability, which both firms offer, to consult with a human advisor, whether it might be by phone or by chat, is also important, at least to what we know about what plan participants want.
And the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule has made many in the retirement industry feel that knowing as much as possible about a participant or client is key to successfully helping them as well as being in compliance.
Marwitz Caroline (2017 March 19). Is industry coming around to robo-advisor concept [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitspro.com/2017/03/19/is-industry-coming-around-to-robo-advisor-concept?ref=hp-top-stories
Great article from our partner, United Benefit Advisors (UBA) by Danielle Capilla
Entities such as employers with group health plans that provide prescription drug coverage to individuals that are eligible for Medicare Part D have two major disclosure requirements that they must meet at least annually:
Because there is often ambiguity regarding who in a covered population is Medicare eligible, it is best practice for employers to provide the notice to all plan participants.
CMS provides guidance for disclosure of creditable coverage for both individuals and employers.
Who Must Disclose?
These disclosure requirements apply regardless of whether the plan is large or small, is self-funded or fully insured, or whether the group health plan pays primary or secondary to Medicare. Entities that provide prescription drug coverage through a group health plan must provide the disclosures. Group health plans include:
Health flexible spending accounts (FSAs), Archer medical savings accounts, and health savings accounts (HSAs) do not have disclosure requirements. In contrast, the high deductible health plan (HDHP) offered in conjunction with the HSA would have disclosure requirements.
There are no exceptions for church plans or government plans.
Capilla D. (2017 March 01). Medicare part D: creditable coverage disclosures [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://blog.ubabenefits.com/medicare-part-d-creditable-coverage-disclosures-1
Change is on the way for employees who get their healthcare through their employer. Take a look at this great article from Employee Benefit News about the mandatory genetic testing that employers can impose on employees on the employer health plan our partner by Richard Stolz
Employers with ambitious health promotion programs may get a break from a thicket of conflicting federal regulation that, critics argue, is discouraging their efforts to address employee health issues holistically.
The “Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act”— or HR 1313 — cleared an important legislative hurdle March 8 when a majority of members of the House Education and The Workforce Committee, in a party-line vote (22 Republicans in favor, 17 Democrats opposed), approved the measure.
HR 1313’s basic purpose is to clarify that employers can obtain biometric information from employee family members who participate in incentive-based wellness programs using financial incentives without violating the Generic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA). That is, the incentives don’t amount to unlawful coercion.
The bill still must be approved by more committees before being voted on by the full House of Representatives, and then the Senate. However, given Republican control of Congress, its prospects appear to be strong, unless it becomes bogged down in a larger battle over the Republican Affordable Care Act replacement legislation.
And, it looks promising for employers.
HR 1313 has been supported by, among other groups, the American Benefits Council and the Society for Human Resource Management.
Key language of HR 1313 states the following: “The collection of information about the manifested disease or disorder of a family member shall not be considered an unlawful acquisition of genetic information with respect to another family member as part of a workplace wellness program…”
Testifying in favor of the measure on behalf of the American Benefits Council, Allison Klausner warned that without such legislation, “the future of workplace wellness programs are at risk.”
“Employers… face complex and inconsistent regulation for the design and administration of [wellness] plans, most recently as a result of regulations relating to wellness programs finalized by the EEOC,” stated Klausner, who also serves as Chair of ABC’s Policy Board of Directors.
SHRM lobbyist Chatrane Birbal expressed similar concerns. She believes HR 1313 will “alleviate the confusing and conflicting requirements for wellness programs and provide employers the legal certainty they need to continue to offer employee wellness programs.”
However, the measure is not without detractors. As noted, all 17 Democrats on the Committee opposed the measure. They have found arguments by opposing groups, such as the American Society of Human Genetics, persuasive. “If enacted, this bill would force Americans to choose between access to affordable healthcare and keeping their personal genetic and health information private,” according to Derek Scholes, director of science policy fir the organization.
The fear is that certain health conditions that can be revealed in biometric testing administered in conjunction with incentive-based wellness programs, especially when both employees and their spouses submit to the testing, give employers ammunition to discriminate against employees deemed to pose a serious risk of future high medical claims, either with respect to themselves, or dependents.
Given the simplicity of HR 1313, it could be enacted as-is, unlike the multifaceted Republican ACA-replacement, American Health Care Act, whose fate will not be determined quickly.
Stolz R. (2017 March 10). New bill would allow employers to force genetic testing on workers [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.benefitnews.com/news/new-bill-would-allow-employers-to-force-genetic-testing-on-workers?brief=00000152-14a7-d1cc-a5fa-7cffccf00000
What’s the key communication platform for employee benefits communication?
“It is not a one size fits all approach, each group needs to take a look at their population and decide what is best for them.” -Tonya Bahr, Hierl Employee Benefit Advisor.
Ding ding ding, round 1! Paper VS Digital communications
Okay, not really because it’s not a competition!
“An online approach works really well for employees but it is also very important for the spouses to be engaged as well. We typically follow up the meetings with a deliverable the employee can bring home to their spouse. This not only allows the spouse to learn more about the benefits available to them, but it also reinforces what was covered in the meeting for the employee.” -Tonya Bahr
To download the full article click Here.
Are your employees being properly educated on the benefits on their financial well-being? If not take a look at this article from Benefits Pro about the value of educating your employees in financial wellness by Jack Craver
Money Management International, a nonprofit credit counseling organization, is touting the results of a recent survey it conducted as evidence that employers can significantly reduce stress among their employees by offering them financial counseling resources.
MMI announced recently 86 percent of the 150 employees it provided financial counseling to at an Oregon-based nonprofit health agency say they have less stress related to money as a result of the counseling.
In addition, most of the employees at Samaritan Health Services say the counseling led to them achieving certain financial goals, such as reducing debt (60 percent), setting aside more money for retirement (38 percent), boosting their credit score (30 percent) or buying a home (8 percent).
“At MMI, we know that financial coaching, counseling, and education work, but seeing the incredible, positive impact this program has made on the financial outlook of these clients is simply amazing,” says Julie Griffith, Mapping Your Future account manager, in a statement accompanying the study’s release.
Other research has shown employers are increasingly viewing financial counseling as a key component of wellness initiatives due to the significant psychological and emotional toll money-related anxiety takes on employees.
In addition to causing depression, sleep deprivation and all sorts of health problems that reduce an employee’s productivity, financial stress often distracts employees from their work. A survey last year showed that 37 percent of U.S. employees report spending time on the job thinking about or dealing with personal finances.
The awakening to the importance of financial wellness coincides with a number of studies which shed light on young Americans’ lack of savings. One study found a solid majority of Americans have less than $500 in savings. Another found that the U.S. personal savings rate was just 5.7 percent, roughly half of what it was 50 years ago.
Craver J. (2017 March 08). The benefits of financial wellness counseling [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitspro.com/2017/03/08/the-benefits-of-financial-wellness-counseling
Interesting article from the Society of Human Resources about the benefits of leveraging caregiving benefits in your employee benefits program by Hank Jackson
Whether caring for an aging parent, welcoming a newborn child or handling family medical situations, life events can create some of the most stressful and demanding challenges in our personal and work lives. For those without employer-provided paid leave, the burden is even heavier. People often need extended periods of time off to cover responsibilities at home, but many are forced to rely on the federal floor of unpaid leave guaranteed by the Family and Medical Leave Act.
High costs are cited as the biggest barrier to paid leave, but now, more than ever, companies risk losing great talent to rivals with more robust policies—here and abroad. In addition, employers struggle with a growing patchwork of state and local leave laws that hinder innovation and add compliance costs. This is why SHRM is advocating for public policies that would provide relief to employers while guaranteeing paid leave and expanded flexibility options for full-time and part-time employees. The issue of paid leave is a hot one—featured during the presidential campaign and poised to be a focus of congressional consideration in 2017.
Last year, more than two dozen large U.S. employers—including American Express, Deloitte, Ernst and Young, Campbell’s, First Data and Etsy—announced they would significantly strengthen paid family leave benefits. Their approaches vary, ranging from extending the time employees can take paid leave to broadening categories of eligible individuals and covered situations. But in all instances, a powerful business case was behind the decision. They believe it is a winning strategy and are promoting it widely to stakeholders and shareholders.
A carefully analyzed and applied family leave benefit can be a differentiator in today’s hyper-competitive talent marketplace. Even medium-sized and small enterprises can offer budget- and family-friendly policies, such as flexible schedules. The important thing is to develop a workplace where an employee’s work-life needs are valued and supported, balanced with the right benefits, rewards and adaptability across an employee’s life cycle.
Paid parental leave and other work-flexible programs are not only about competing or compliance. They are about doing the right thing for the organization and the employee. As HR professionals, it’s up to us to help our organizations grow a culture where both employees and employers win. This is part of the compact to create the 21st Century workplace employees of all ages want—innovative, fair and competitive with other businesses.
Jackson H. (2017 March 09). Caregiving benefits can sharpen your competitive edge [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://blog.shrm.org/blog/caregiving-benefits-can-sharpen-your-competitive-edge
Has your employee benefits program grown old and stale? Take a look at the great article from Employee Benefits Advisors about the benefits of upgrading your employee benefits to match your employees needs by Chris Bruce
Historically, employee benefits have been viewed as a routine piece of the HR process. However, the mentality of employees today has shifted, especially among the growing population of millennial employees. Today’s workforce expects more from their employers than the traditional healthcare and retirement options, in terms of both specific benefit offerings and communications about those offerings.
For companies, it’s critical they address the evolving needs of their workforce. With unemployment rates plunging to their lowest levels since before the financial crisis, the search for talent is heating up, and organizations need to work harder than ever to retain top talent in a competitive job market. To do this, I see three steps that organizations need to take when rethinking their benefits strategy and engaging with employees: embrace a proactive rather than reactive benefits strategy, think digital when it comes to employee communications and consider the next generation of employee benefits as a way to differentiate from the competition.
1. Reconsider your benefits evaluation process
The benefits process at most companies is reactive — executives and HR only look to evaluate current offerings when insurance contracts expire or a problem emerges. When the evaluation does happen, the two factors that often concern employers the most are product and price. Employers often gravitate toward well-known insurers that offer the schemes that appear familiar. However, this can often lead companies to choose providers who fall short on innovation and overall customer experience for employees.
This approach needs to be flipped on its head. Companies should be proactive in determining which benefit schemes best meet the needs of their workforce. The first step is going straight to the source: talk to employees. Employers can’t know what benefits would be most appealing to their employee base unless they ask. By turning the evaluation process to employees first, companies can better tailor new benefits to meet the needs of their workers, and also identify existing benefits that might be outdated or irrelevant, therefore saving resources on wasted offerings.
Data and analytics also are playing an increasing role across the HR function, and benefits is no exception. By leveraging technology solutions that allow HR to track benefits usage and engagement, teams can better determine what is resonating with employees and where benefits can be cut back or where they should be ramped up.
2. Put down the brochure and think digital engagement
Employee education is another area of benefits that can often perplex companies. According to a recent survey from Aflac, half of employees only spend 30 minutes or less making benefit selections during the open enrollment period each year. This means employers have a short window of time to educate employees and make sure they are armed with the right information to feel confident in their benefits selection.
To do this effectively, HR needs to move past flat communication like brochures, handouts and lengthy employee packets and look for ways to meet employees where they live — online. By testing out innovations that create a rich experience, while still being simple and intuitive, employers can grab the attention of their workforce and make sure key information is communicated. For example, exploring opportunities to create cross-device experiences for employees so they can interact on-the-go, including augmented reality applications or digital interactive magazines. Additionally, for large corporations, hosting a virtual benefits fair can provide a forum for employees to ask questions in a dynamic setting.
3. Embrace the next-generation of benefits
As organizations become more savvy and nimble, personalization will have a huge impact in encouraging employee engagement and driving satisfaction among today’s increasingly diverse workforce. We have already started to see some companies embrace this new approach to benefits, adding out-of-the-box items to normal offerings — from debt consolidation services and wearable health tracking technology to genome testing and wedding concierge services.
The fact is, the days of “status-quo” benefits are gone, and employees today want benefit options that match their current life circumstances. To best engage employees, organizations need to be proactive in evaluating benefits regularly and using analytics to track usage, identify opportunities to implement digital communication elements and look for ways to introduce new benefits to meet the needs of their employee base. By following these steps, organizations can gain a competitive edge when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent.
Bruce C. (2017 March 10). Why employers should rethink their benefits strategies [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/opinion/3-steps-employers-can-take-to-rethink-benefits-strategy?feed=00000152-1377-d1cc-a5fa-7fff0c920000