HR Elements June 2014
Ideas and Information for Human Resources Professionals

Are There Any Loyal Employees Left?

A young employee just starting out in the workforce may be tempted to think that he or she will stay at the same company for decades until retirement with a congratulatory party and gold watch in recognition of their years of dedication. The reality, however, is that "job hopping" has become the new normal. In a poll conducted by CareerBuilder, 25% of employees held five or more jobs by the age of 35. For people who had been in the workforce longer -- workers age 55 and older -- 20% held 10 or more jobs.

Employers, however, should not be so quick to judge the job hopper as someone who is simply disloyal. There are a plethora of reasons why an employee may choose to voluntarily leave a good (or bad) job. An employee may actually want to grow and develop professionally with the same company, but there may not be any opportunities available, or he or she may want to add a specific skill set that's not possible with a current employer, such as exposure to international markets. So, they leave. The recession was another factor causing employees to leave one company for another. Many employees took jobs that, while they didn't like them, had to be taken in order to make ends meet. Now that the job market has rebounded, employees have a little more freedom in choosing a job where they actually want to work.

Helping foster job hopping is a reduction of the stigma surrounding multiple job changes. According to an article in Human Resource Executive Online, people in a position to hire employees are placing less importance on the risk that they will quickly leave as long as there are good reasons behind the career moves they have made. That being said, an applicant's age is a factor when measuring how frequently that person has changed jobs. That same survey by CareerBuilder found that 41% of all HR professionals viewed job hopping to be less acceptable once a person reaches 30 and more than one-fourth said that it was especially intolerable after a worker reaches age 40.

One of the benefits of job hopping is that these people often have a wide range of experience and knowledge. Half of all hiring managers and HR pros commented that these employees often quickly adapt and acclimate faster to new working environments, according to CareerBuilder. An upside seen by employers is that job candidates who leave the comfort of familiarity for the risk of the unknown are the same people who will think outside the box and search for the unorthodox solution. In the tech industry, and many others trying to emulate them, this is an especially desirable trait for an employee to have.

Of course, an employee can't have it both ways. If he or she takes calculated risks and learns from their failures, that's good. If, however, they have a history of poor decisions and taking frequent chances, then red flags are certainly raised.

When it comes down to making the final hiring decision, an applicant's time spent with his or her previous employer(s) should only be a small consideration compared to the education, experience, job skills, and personality that they bring to the table. Job hopping, depending on a candidate's career level and position within an industry, should not be a measure of the potential tenure they will have if hired.


As Technology Advances, So Should A Business

The adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," doesn't apply to Generation X and Y -- at least not when it comes to employers and their use of the latest technology. As employers build relationships with their current employees and potential recruits, they need to be aware that these people are sizing them up for their use, or lack thereof, of the most recent technology. Furthermore, these same employees are not afraid to quickly leave for someone else if they feel an employer is out of touch regardless of their previous track record.

In an article in Insurance News Net, according to Fidelity Investments more than one-third of investors would switch if advisors were not using technology to enhance their services. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has noticed the proliferation of smartphones, tablets, and apps among today's youthful workers.

While it's entirely possible that the old software an employer is using generates excellent results, most people today expect the latest technology to be intertwined into every project. Hopefully, there are no departments within any organization that are still using only pen and paper. Workers in their 20s and 30s don't just use technology every day; they rely on it to get things done better, faster, and more efficiently.

Fortunately, most employers are aware of this shift in the use of technology and have adapted accordingly. The Fidelity survey found that more than three-quarters of advisors are making an effort to increase their use of technology and they also felt this technology necessary to grow among their younger prospects. The major issue isn't in trading the old for what's new; it's finding the correct balance between the latest technological process and applying just the right amount of human touch.

Many employers are still unsure about the best technology to use for their industry, how to configure it once in use, and how best to integrate it among all their employees. To make matters even more complicated, technology upgrades are often expensive, so getting it right the first time is crucial.

By and large, employers have grasped the concept of mobile computing and the need for employees to access their desktop computers and other company resources from any place and any time using a tablet or smartphone. These same employers, however, are also keenly aware that they won't get a second chance to get it right with Generation X and Y employees or customers and that this relationship is very different from baby boomer and older generations.


Dental Care Connected To Worker Productivity

Author Stanley Gordon West said, "Smile and the world smiles with you." He may have been onto something. There used to be a time when most working Americans took dental care for granted. Of course, times change and so has our nation's health care. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) doesn't mandate dental coverage for adults, but voluntary dental coverage has become increasingly competitive based on research from Eastbridge.

Moreover, according to an article in Employee Benefit News, employers that not only offer dental coverage, but also encourage employees to visit their dentist annually are able to boost their employee's well-being and overall productivity. Good oral hygiene has been linked to a number of health benefits, and people who routinely visit their dentist report that their well-being is good compared to people who do not visit a dentist on a regular basis.

So how is good dental care linked to productivity? Simple. Based on a survey from Delta Dental, one in six people have missed work due to oral health issues. Plus, if someone has ever had a toothache, they know just how hard it is to concentrate on anything else except the throbbing pain in their mouth.

Employees that have dental coverage are more likely to visit their dentist and that's exactly what the coverage is designed to do. Preventative care is paramount to preventing someone from ever needing significant work done to their teeth. For people who might be afraid of going to the dentist, they should consider that a yearly visit for preventative care is a lot less painful - and less expensive - than having any type of major dental work.

That same report highlighted that the vast majority of people with dental insurance scheduled an annual visit with their dentist compared with only half of people without insurance. What's especially troubling is that income, education, and age were factors in determining whether an employee selected voluntary dental coverage.

Based on the lack of opting for voluntary dental care, it behooves employers to offer it as part of a comprehensive benefits package. Most employers would agree that having healthy and productive workers makes their business stronger. Therefore, dental insurance should go hand-in-hand with health insurance when the time comes for an employee to have a discussion with their human resources representative regarding insurance.

Plus, most people would agree that it's easier to work with others if they have good oral hygiene. Mints and gum can only help so much and when working closely with a co-worker it's much more enjoyable if they have fresh breath and clean, white teeth.

So flash those pearly whites while you're working and you'll probably see that the rest of the world is smiling right along with you!


Help Employees Watch For Hidden Medical Fees

Mary Drueke-Collins, FSA
Vice President, Employee Benefits
Swartzbaugh-Farber, a UBA Partner Firm

As more and more Americans face high deductible health plans (HDHPs) and increased up-front out-of-pocket costs, it is more important than ever to closely monitor medical bills for errors. According to the Medical Billing Advocates of America, more than 80% of medical bills contain errors, which can cost patients thousands of dollars. Those errors may be simple mistakes, double billings, or in some cases, abusive charging practices.

One of the biggest problems for unforeseen fees is when an individual utilizes an out-of-network provider.

Most insurance plans -- medical, dental, and vision -- have preferred provider networks that help reduce the charges when an in-network doctor is used. If an individual does not use an in-network provider, he or she may be subject to "balance billing." Here's what occurs under a balance-billing situation:

  • The insurance company reimburses out-of-network doctors according to a schedule or a percentage of the usual and customary amount. Often times, the doctor's charge is more than the reimbursement they receive from the insurance company. The doctor can then ask the individual to pay the balance, or the difference between what the insurance company reimburses them and their charges.
  • If an individual uses out-of-network providers, not only will he or she be responsible for the deductible, coinsurance and copayments, but he or she may also be responsible for this balance billing. Balance billing is common in medical, dental, and vision plans.

If an individual is covered by an HMO plan, he or she may not even have coverage for non-network doctors and hospitals. Before an appointment to see a doctor or have a procedure is done, make sure the doctor is in-network and the procedure(s) will be covered by the insurance plan.

Know The Benefits
Some medical plans have copayments for services - emergency room visits, inpatient hospital stays, certain kinds of surgeries. It's a good idea to understand what benefits an individual's insurance plans cover before he or she has a major service. Then there won't be any surprises after the procedure.

Preventative Procedures
Most medical plans provide coverage for annual preventive exams, including pap smears, mammograms, and immunizations for children and adults. This coverage is usually provided without the individual having to pay anything - no copayments, not subject to deductible and coinsurance. Sometimes when the claim is sent to the insurance company from the doctor, the claim isn't submitted correctly (as a preventive exam). In those instances, the individual has to pay a copayment or the cost of these claims.

If an appointment for a preventive exam is scheduled with a doctor and the insurance company does not pay for the exam like someone thinks it should be paid, then that person should call his or her insurance company and/or doctor and ask them why. This person should also check with his or her doctor before any blood work is completed to ensure the tests are all covered under the insurance plan.

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)
If a business owner offers an HSA eligible plan to his or her employees, that person should consider going to a corporate bank and asking them to waive the fees for the employees on their Health Savings Accounts (an HSA eligible plan is also called a qualified High Deductible Health Plan). This is especially valuable if the employer is contributing to the HSA accounts and every employee is opening one.

The Explanation of Benefits (EOB)
Always check the doctor's bill versus the Explanation of Benefits received from the insurance company. Make sure all of the charges line up and that the doctor actually performed all those services.

Shop Around
The cost of services in general can vary dramatically from doctor to doctor.  Most insurance plans offer cost and quality information on their websites. Most consumers shop around and do research when purchasing a TV or a new car, but they don't take that extra step when it comes to their health. Insurance companies are providing more of that information. Consumers need to get in the habit of taking advantage of the information that's available to them.

On the prescription drug side, medical plans may require an individual to pay a portion of the prescription drug costs if that particular drug has a generic alternative. When a prescription is filled at the pharmacy, it may not just cost someone the copayment, but the extra penalty for not selecting the generic. In some instances, that penalty will not apply if the prescription is written as "dispense as written" (DAW) by the doctor.

The insurance plan may require an individual to try some lower cost alternatives before it will pay for a higher-cost drug. This is called  "step therapy." Or, the insurance plan may require an individual to get prior authorization (PA) before filing the prescription. A doctor or pharmacist should be able to help someone identify the drugs that fall into these scenarios.

If someone is on a very expensive drug or a drug that requires special administration or delivery (often called a specialty drug), the insurance plan may require that person to get the prescription filled through a particular pharmacy. If that person does not fill the prescription through the insurance company's specialty pharmacy, he or she is often charged a penalty or the claim may be denied.

Employee communication is critical, and helping them understand how to save money by keeping an eye on their medical bills as well as how they use medical services could save an organization and their employees a lot of money.

To make sure your plan design offers the best value to you and your employees, have a UBA Partner benchmark your health plan against other employers your size and with those in your region and industry. Find out more about benchmarking here:

Coordinated Benefits Company

HR Elements is brought to you courtesy of
Coordinated Benefits Company

Let us know how we can serve you. Call us at (847) 605-8560 or send us an e-mail.

 In This Edition


Employer Webinar Series

Understanding the Wage and Hour Laws

Tuesday, July 8, 2014
2:00 p.m. ET / 11:00 a.m. PT

In recent years, employers have paid millions of dollars in back pay to workers who have been classified incorrectly or paid for fewer hours than they should have been. Both federal and state laws apply to employers, and some of the requirements are complicated. This 90-minute intermediate level webinar is designed to help you stay on top of your obligations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

This webinar will cover:

  • Which workers these laws apply to
  • Which employees are entitled to overtime, and proposed changes in those rules
  • Issues related to mobile devices
  • Calculating overtime
  • Managing unauthorized overtime
  • Minimum wage issues, especially for employers with employees in multiple states
  • Meal and rest periods

About The Presenters:
Thomas M. Lucas is a Shareholder and Litigation Manager in the Norfolk, Va., office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Mr. Lucas represents management exclusively in the full range of employment and labor law matters, including employment discrimination litigation and traditional labor law. An experienced trial attorney, Mr. Lucas defends clients in litigation arising under Title VII, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and in other employment-related civil litigation. He also represents clients before federal and state administrative and regulatory agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Labor (Wage & Hour, OFCCP, OSHA), the National Labor Relations Board, the Department of Justice and ICE. Mr. Lucas' counseling practice includes drafting employment policies, handbooks, employment and non-competition agreements, and advising clients on the difficult day-to-day issues arising in the workplace. He trains managers and supervisors in the law and practice of union avoidance.

Kristina H. Vaquera is a Shareholder in the Norfolk, Va., office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Ms. Vaquera's practice focuses exclusively on labor and employment counseling and litigation. She represents employers in federal and state court lawsuits and agency investigations and charges covering a wide range of statutes and subjects, including anti-discrimination and civil rights laws, wrongful termination claims, wage and hour laws, covenants not to compete, leave of absence claims, negligent hire/retention, and breaches of fiduciary duty and contract. Ms. Vaquera has litigated class and collective actions, including FLSA, FCRA, and discrimination class actions. She also represents clients in mediation and arbitration before various national and state entities. As part of Ms. Vaquera's counseling practice, she assists clients with employment agreements, handbooks, background checks and drug testing issues, and disciplinary action.

Register here for the webinar. The presentation slides will be posted on the UBA website the day before the webinar.

WisdomWorkplace Webinar

Breaking Through The Barriers To Create Retirement Plans That Work -- For Everyone

Thursday, June 19, 2014
2:00 p.m. ET / 11:00 a.m. PT

Sponsored by The Principal, in this webinar we'll discuss how simple plan design changes can help your participants better prepare for retirement -- and positively impact your organization's bottom line. Get tips on how to:

  • Evaluate your plan to determine the income replacement ratio
  • Determine if you have effective plan design features in place
  • Implement plan design changes to help your employees retire on time

Register here for the webinar.

About The Presenter:
Brian Walker is the VP - national director, business development at The Principal Financial Group. He is responsible for leading and directing the national business development team, consisting of 14 directors of business development. The business development team provides marketing, business development and business growth tools and ideas to financial professionals within Principal's key distribution partner. Additionally, Brian oversees nine channel specialists that focus specifically on Principal's defined benefit, tax exempt, and TPA markets; as well as investment platform distribution.

This webinar has been submitted to the Human Resource Certification Institute to qualify for 1.25 recertification credit hours.


Disaster Planning

The Atlantic hurricane season officially started on June 1, and anyone living in areas prone to hurricanes who hasn't already prepared for it should get ready now. According to an article in SHRM: Society For Human Resource Management, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting a below-normal number of storms this season, but that doesn't mean preparations can be delayed for keeping families, businesses, and property safe. If a business is in an area that never gets hurricanes, it's still a good idea to plan ahead for a tornado, flood, fire, or any other potential disaster.

Keep in mind that it just takes one major disaster to change an uneventful business year into one that will be remembered for decades. Take, for example, Hurricane Andrew in 1992. It was the only one to make landfall in the U.S., yet it was a monstrous Category 5 hurricane that caused $26.5 billion in damages and took the lives of 26 people.

For businesses, making a plan for a disaster and preparing for its eventuality are crucial. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 40% of businesses remain closed following a disaster and 25% fail after just one year.
Don't despair, there are some simple and inexpensive steps to take that will ensure any business is ready to weather the storm.

  • Risk assessment: Based on the location of a business and its immediate environment, what are the potential threats?
  • Communications plan: Realize that email and cell phone service may not be available, so a business owner will need to come up with a way beforehand to communicate with his or her employees and customers.
  • Power: Whether it's a backup generator or just having batteries around, a business relies on electricity.
  • Data: Consider backing up to "the cloud" or somewhere offsite. If the backup is located at the place of business, and that business is destroyed by a disaster, then the data will still be accessible.
  • Practice: Annual drills and familiarization make all the difference when there is a crisis. Plus, any flaws or deficiencies will become apparent during the trial run and can be easily resolved.
  • Preparation outside the office: Just because a business is prepared doesn't mean that its employees are. A business doesn't run itself, so make sure that employees also have plans in place so that they can assist the business if possible after a disaster.

For more information on how to prepare for a hurricane, visit NOAA's National Hurricane Center website or the Agility Recovery and U.S. Small Business Administration comprehensive hurricane preparedness checklist.

HR Elements is brought to you courtesy of Coordinated Benefits Company

(847) 605-8560 -
923 N. Plum Grove Road • Suite C • Schaumburg • Illinois • 60173

Copyright © 2014 United Benefit Advisors, LLC. All Rights Reserved.