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Via BenefitsPro : 3 ways millennials and Gen Z will put pressure on benefit costs

As these generations make up a greater percentage of the workforce, employers will need to re-evaluate their health and employee benefits offerings.

In tracking employer benefits offerings for compliance, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) did something unheard of in the past: it required employers to aggregate and better manage complex workforce data from unrelated payroll, benefits administration and HRIS systems. This data aggregation brought with it many new opportunities for employer groups: With new insights stemming from ACA compliance and reporting data, employers can gain a deeper understanding of how to use benefits and operational strategies to optimize their workforce.

For the first time in U.S. history, up to five generations are employed in the same workplace, suggesting that there is a wide range of differences in what employees will expect and need from their employers in the years to come. The two youngest generations, millennials and Generation Z, together make up 40 percent of the employee population and their numbers are rising.

As employees in these generations age and become a greater percentage of the workforce, they’ll put more pressure on benefits costs in three distinct ways: 1) Increased enrollment in employer plans, 2) choosing better benefits, and 3) opting for family plans. They will also challenge your company’s retention strategies, forcing the need to re-evaluate your health and employee benefits offerings to achieve the engagement and retention results you’re looking for.

By integrating the same data sources used to comply and report on the ACA—HRIS, benefits and payroll—new insights can be gained. Analyses shared within the Health e(fx) 2018 Insights Report reveal some unique findings on the benefit preferences shown by different generations.

For example, millennials and Gen Z are less likely to enroll in employer-sponsored coverage than employees from older generations. And, when they enroll, millennials and Gen Z workers are more likely to choose benefits with a lower actuarial value, meaning the benefits are cheaper but will also cover a lower percentage of their medical costs. However, as these two generations age, they will impact your budget through:

1. Increased enrollment

Currently 35 percent of Gen Z and 77 percent of millennial employees are ACA eligible for benefits. Of those, only 26 percent of eligible Gen Z employees and 68 percent of millennials are enrolling in employer-sponsored coverage. There are multiple factors that could be impacting this lower enrollment. Due to their stage of life, these younger generation employees are less likely to face significant or chronic health challenges.

Because some millennials and most Gen Z employees are still eligible to be covered under a parents’ health insurance plan, many are not enrolling in their own employer-sponsored benefits, yet. But in the next five years, nearly one in five employees enrolled in family health coverage will have a millennial or Gen Z dependent age out of parental coverage.

2. Choosing better benefits

Every health insurance plan is assigned a metal level—Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum—based on actuarial value (percent of covered medical costs that a plan will pay). Plans with a higher actuarial value (such as Gold and Platinum) pay a higher percent of medical costs, but their premium costs are also higher.

A higher percent of employees in these two younger generations select a Bronze-level plan (with the lowest actuarial value) than workers in other generations. In fact, 27 percent of Gen Z and 16 percent of millennials are enrolled in a Bronze plan in comparison to 12 percent of Gen X or 10 percent of Mid Boomers. This means that currently, these younger employees are more likely to have lower premiums for their coverage.

3. Increased family tier coverage

Both younger generations have lower enrollment in family tier coverage with only 30 percent of eligible millennials and 6 percent of Gen Z enrolled in family coverage versus 55 percent of Gen X. As the younger generations age, based on stage of life, more employees in these generations will opt for family coverage.

Why do these factors matter? Because benefits impact retention – but only if your employees enroll to take advantage of those benefits. According to our analysis, the average tenure overall for employees who are not enrolled in health benefits is 3.1 years versus 6.7 years for those enrolled in employee-only coverage and 9.7 years for those enrolled in family coverage. On average, length of tenure also increases with better benefits—as the actuarial value of benefits increase, so does tenure.

As these generations age, employers will have to revisit their benefits strategies to ensure they’re offering quality and affordable coverage to keep these generations invested in staying in one place – at your company. These younger employees are more likely than previous generations to change jobs in an attempt to achieve the wage and benefits that would enable them to live the lifestyle they desire. With the younger generations soon dominating the workforce, their increased enrollment and transition to better benefits and family coverage may impact your budget, and the longevity of your workforce.

Via Business 2 Community : 5 Reasons Internship Programs are Valuable to Your Business

Internships are unopened doors full of potential and opportunity awaiting both students and businesses. You may not even realize how valuable these students can be until they finish the program and are gone, though. These opportunities don’t just work for the students, but also bring the company and its team a fresh face full of energy, ideas and a desire to learn. Check out these five advantages to bringing students on board.

Energy

Students are young, eager and excited. They are the definition of bright eyed and bushy tailed and they can bring a lot of energy to the work environment. Interns are eager to learn and soak up all the knowledge they can with their short time at the company. No doubt, there is a lot of information to take in, especially if this is their first internship but many interns will come into the company with an energetic, positive vibe, that really makes an impact on your culture and environment. With all these new personalities mixed into the company culture, it can spark engagement amongst your employees and the interns.

Ideas

We live in a crazy generational era where the workforce is currently blending Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and the newest, Gen Z. Each generation, of course, has their own ideas but your interns are interested in the latest tech-savvy strategies they will be able to bring into the company to teach others. Using internship programs, you have the opportunity to harvest new and unique ideas from these entrepreneurial minds. Coming in with an outsider’s perspective, they can go beyond the walls of the company and develop fresh, innovative ideas to hopefully inspire your teams to keep the ideas flowing.

Productivity

There is always a task to be done, or something you wish you had an extra set of hands for that your team just can’t seem to get to. What better way to solve this problem than with an intern? An internship program is also an inexpensive way to get another mind wrapped around a project to bring insight and allow your full-time employees to focus more time on priority tasks or projects. It can also alleviate pressure for your employees knowing they have extra help, which can lead to boosting your overall productivity rate. It’s important to not underestimate interns just because they are students. These individuals are there to work, learn and experience real-world projects. Don’t be afraid to let them in on actual projects and get their hands dirty.

Feedback

Interns are outsiders looking in and they will be able to spot flaws and improvements faster than you might think. These individuals can give feedback to you, your team and the company in general and it’s important to listen and try to make some of the improvements suggested, or at least consider them because they could be advancements to launch you ahead of your competition. Team members could very well be stuck in a “why fix it” mindset as they race through each day from task to task, but taking the time to listen to the perspective from someone just coming in could increase productivity or even make a process already in place more efficient.

Talent Pool

When it comes to making a new entry-level hire, would you rather hire someone who’s never worked for your company or a young professional who started as an intern and already knows the ins and outs of the organization? Many Fortune 500 companies retain over 80% of their interns as entry-level hires. An internship offers a test trial for both the employer and the intern. Both parties get a sense of fit for the company and you as the employer get to assess what the intern is able to bring to the table. By the end of the internship, you have the option to extend an employment offer or keep these interns in mind for future open positions. By doing so, your organization is able to save recruiting costs.

The benefits internship programs bring to a business are undeniable. Whether you have a small class of interns each summer or do a large rotation each season, it’s important to navigate your program to achieve all of these benefits. Simplifying the recruiting and management process of your interns with a software solution can help alleviate administrative burden so you’re able to achieve these benefits to an even greater extent.

Via Forbes : The Right And Wrong Way To Conduct Performance Appraisals

Performance reviews are seldom something that employees look forward to. Despite their bad reputation, they can provide some invaluable feedback, however. Indeed, an analysis of them back in 2016 found that performance reviews do in fact provide valuable information to managers.

Despite the potential upside, they also run the risk of consuming large quantities of employee time for little reward. So being able to ensure that performance reviews deliver benefits to both parties can be a real boon to corporate productivity. That’s exactly what researchers from Columbia Business School believe they can do.

A recent study from the school finds that when reviews are conducted such that the employee is evaluated against their past performance rather than against the performance of their peers, the reviews are seen as fairer, which in turn improves both productivity and morale.

“Our findings show that, simply put, the process matters,” the researchers say. “Oftentimes, the performance review process can be viewed as uncomfortable, unfair and uninspiring. In order to improve upon the fairness factor and thereby better ensure employees accept the feedback, managers must acknowledge the individual identities of their workers and their specific contributions to the organization over time.”

The ideal performance review

The most common form of performance appraisals compare our current performance levels either with our previous performance levels or the performance levels of our peers. When the two approaches were compared, the researchers found that comparing our performance now with our performances in the past was more effective because employees regarded them as fairer, especially on an interpersonal level.

Respondents also regarded such reviews as more individualized, and this was valuable in signaling to the employee that they were important to their employer, and indeed to their manager. This opens them up to both positive and negative feedback during the review.

When we’re compared against our peers, however, the results are less positive. These social comparisons often lack any of the specific details we need to improve our performance, whilst they can also create an impression of being just another number in the workplace. This made employees less open to feedback, regardless of whether it was positive or negative.

The findings suggest that the best way to approach reviews is to ensure that there are at least some elements whereby the employee is compared against their past selves. This can also extend outside of the appraisal environment, with managers encouraged to treat employees as individuals.

When and when not to be social

By comparing performance against yourself, you can also make appraisals less subjective. A study published in 2016 highlighted the negative impact subjective reviews can have on employees. It found that when employees felt under-rewarded, their productivity dropped significantly, but the opposite didn’t appear to be the case when they were unfairly over-rewarded.

This sense of fairness and injustice can be hugely powerful, therefore. What’s more, it can be especially important when things such as salary, bonuses and promotions are wrapped up in your performance appraisal. Indeed, the evidence suggests that if you are going to make appraisals social, then it should be in how these bonuses are distributed.

A study from 2013 found that when employees were given so-called “pro-social” bonuses, i.e. bonuses that they have to award to a colleague, their own performance rises in turn. The study found that when a $10 bonus was given to a salesman to spend on himself, he only generated $3 in extra sales, so a $7 loss. When the salesman was given a $10 bonus to give to a colleague however, the pro social bonus yielded an extra $52 in increased sales.

So there are benefits of being social when it comes to performance appraisals, but it may well be in how bonuses and rewards are distributed rather than how performances are measured.

Via Forbes : Four Lessons From Companies That Get Employee Engagement Right

Research has proven that employee engagement contributes to increased profitability, yet most organizations still have no formal engagement strategy in place and two-thirds of employees are disengaged. A 2016 Gallup study drew the connection between consistently low engagement and team performance and suggested that when an employee’s engagement needs are not met, there is a higher likelihood of turnover — which can cost an employer 1.5 times the employee’s original salary. The study also found that engaged teams have lower turnover, 21% greater profitability, 17% higher productivity and 10% higher customer ratings than disengaged teams.

Having an engaged workforce is clearly good for business, but there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy to make it happen. So, gaining a better understanding of what your unique employees need is the surest path to success. By putting your people at the forefront, you can discover what they need from their managers, work environments and leadership teams and proactively build an engagement strategy around those needs.

Here are four valuable lessons we can learn from four companies who have successfully put their engagement strategies into action:

1. Employees perform better when the company mission is clear.

In the airline industry, customer service is not always easy. Canceled flights and policy changes are rarely in the hands of flight attendants, and customer service reps must often deal with disgruntled customers. Yet, I’ve noticed that employees at Southwest Airlines are generally friendly and seem happy and engaged at work. What’s their secret?

In January 2013, Southwest unveiled a new corporate vision and purpose to its employees. It explained that Southwest leverages “the power of storytelling to make sure each one of its 46,000 employees pursues the company vision each and every day… by rallying employees around a common purpose.”

Engagement happens when employees feel like part of a bigger mission and purpose — but it must be authentically deep-rooted in leadership, business models and culture programs. True employee ownership of a company vision and purpose happens when employees live and breathe the mission in their day-to-day interactions.

2. Employees at all levels need to be recognized for their contributions.

Imagine if you tripled your company’s revenue and profit year over year, but your board of directors didn’t acknowledge your team’s hard work. Now scale this concept down to an entry-level employee. She might not be doubling company revenue, but the blog post she wrote — now her first piece of published work — is a major professional accomplishment. If nobody recognizes this personal achievement, she might not be as motivated to keep producing great work.

A client of my company’s that has 180 employees recently learned through an employee feedback initiative that some employees felt as though their peers were getting special treatment simply because they were more “liked” by decision makers. To address this issue, the company created a new program in which employees are invited to nominate their peers for recognition. This seemingly small action prompted a major cultural shift, and engagement improved across the organization. They were also in a better position to retain high-value client business as a direct result of more engaged customer-facing employees.

3. Employees are more engaged when they tackle big problems as a team.

A publisher of teaching and learning materials since 1807, Wiley Publishing faced a big challenge a few years ago: It had 700 branded social accounts that lacked strategic direction. Customers didn’t know where to go for customer service, and problems were being handled differently across departments.

The company decided to implement an all-hands-on-deck solution and launched social media training across multiple teams and departments to close the digital skills gap and create a more consistent customer experience. Interestingly, the approach didn’t just impact customer service. The publisher saw a 90% increase in employee engagement, too. As employees worked together as a team to increase internal collaboration and strategic thinking, worker engagement rates skyrocketed.

A collaborative, cross-functional approach to solving problems leads to a sense of ownership and camaraderie among employees.

4. Employees need to have a voice (and leaders who listen).

Candid feedback and input from those on the business’s front lines can be extremely valuable to informing business decisions. Before you can intelligently shape your organization’s overall engagement strategy, it’s important to gather direct employee feedback in order to move the needle on the problems that truly matter. Additionally, employee insights can help validate the gut feelings you may already have around broken parts of your company’s culture. I believe this so strongly because I see it in practice consistently as my company’s clients share their stories of utilizing our employee survey tools.

Our client company that has over 300 employees across multiple facilities already had a strong cultural foundation as a majority employee-owned organization. But its leadership team had a hunch that employees in certain remote divisions were less engaged than those at the company headquarters. The company began collecting confidential employee feedback each quarter to pinpoint engagement issues and areas for improvement. By amplifying the employee voice and thoughtfully taking action in response, the company saw quick results. They increased engagement scores across the company and have invested in a true culture of feedback.

Improving employee engagement won’t happen overnight and will look different for every business. Continually measuring employee sentiment will help you better understand what areas to take action on and how to make the biggest impact. When employees are authentically engaged, it leads to productivity, profitability and, more importantly, a team of workers pursuing the company’s vision and goals with vigor and enthusiasm every single day.

Via Forbes : Second Impressions: The Impact Of Effective Onboarding

You heard it at the start of every school year and probably before interviewing for your first job: You only get one chance to make a first impression. Nobody I know disagrees, and what was true for kids holds true when we become adults — or in my case, when we find ourselves suddenly older and in charge of a business and a family, despite still feeling like a kid inside.

But what about the second impression?

As I started to write about onboarding, I thought about how people miss the boat on how much impact it has. That made me ask: Why? When organizations spend millions of hours, brain cells and dollars on their recruiting efforts, why do they drop the ball on a no-brainer opportunity to keep that positive momentum going?

That’s when I realized the reason: Onboarding is the second impression. Nobody has been repeating for years that the second impression matters as much as the first. Maybe that’s why some organizations give onboarding minimal attention even when the numbers prove how essential it is.

The Impact Is Real

I’ve been a believer in the power of effective onboarding for some time now, but I didn’t realize how truly dramatic its impact was until we retrieved the results of our recently conducted survey on the subject. In surveying 1,024 U.S.-based full-time-employed adults, we learned that over 80% of employees who rated their onboarding experience highly feel strongly committed to their jobs and have higher role clarity than those who had a poor onboarding experience. Employees who felt their onboarding experience was effective were 30 times more likely to feel satisfied with their jobs, compared to those who rated their onboarding as ineffective.

We can’t say for certain that onboarding is the direct cause of these outcomes. The best we can do is to prove there’s a significant link between them. A sampling of outcomes includes higher feelings of engagement, commitment, perceived support, perceived organizational performance — all of which have been shown in other research to boost bottom-line performance. Even if these outcomes are not the direct result of effective onboarding alone, they show that effective onboarding is a strategic initiative shared by successful companies. In other words, they’re doing something right and onboarding is clearly part of it.

The Relationship Theory

My theory about how onboarding creates that lift goes something like this: If you want to get the most out of any relationship, you not only have to start out on the right foot, you also have to keep the effort up. You’ll make mistakes — everyone does, in business and in our personal lives — but it’s not perfection that matters, it’s the effort and honesty that stands out to people and creates the bond. And the stronger the positive bond — whether it’s between an employer and employee or between friends or family members — the more likely it is you can achieve great things together.

In business, keeping that effort up means showing new employees you care about more than finding them and signing them on. You have to show you care about how well they’ll perform at their new jobs, that they have a clear vision of their role in your organization and that they know what you expect from them.

These are just a few ways you can show you’re more than simply an employer from the very first day of employment. Your efforts to seek and provide understanding show you value the time and effort people are spending on your behalf and that you’re ready and willing to support them in return.

The Onboarding Opportunity

Onboarding is the best time to establish all the above. From compliance forms and policy training to culture and team introductions, onboarding is an all-you-can-eat buffet of opportunities to show and prove the care your organization has for its people.

Some of it is simply looking at your process and paying attention to the details. For example, can you make any of the tedious things like paperwork take less time? If so, you’ll have more time to engage with new people in person or bring training for essential policies up to date with memorable programs or a funny video.

Other parts have to come from deeper within the organization: benefits education is critical, but offering good benefits in the first place is a much bigger decision about how you treat employees; culture training can be engaging, but it relies on an established culture. What these examples really prove is that onboarding is critical, but it isn’t the most critical part. The philosophy of caring is a cultural keystone, and everything else — onboarding, benefits, training, even improving your processes — grows from there. It’s been said a thousand times that culture is crucial, and this is further proof that making culture the priority (not a priority) is the first step.

Everything Matters

All of it works. The numbers prove it on paper, but forget about the numbers — talk to people about their experience, and you’ll understand that it all matters. The effort you put in during onboarding reinforces an employee’s decision to sign on, and the positive outcomes pay off for the organization on the first day and every day after.

Metaphorically speaking, effective onboarding is a promise. It makes you, the employer, accountable for the things you preach and teach, while new employees gain a greater understanding of the promise they’re making to you by becoming part of your organization. If employer and employee can keep that promise to each other, the payoff is a strong positive bond that can influence outcomes far into the future. You may never get a second chance to make that first impression, but onboarding gives your organization an opportunity to make the best out of every new employee’s experience — an impression that matters just as much.

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