By Madasin Jennings, Account Specialist
Most renters and homeowners have one thing in common: neighbors. Nearly everyone must live next to someone and there is nothing worse than being uncomfortable in your own home. This led me to think that the foundation of any great home, whether you own it or rent it, begins with being a good neighbor. So, what does this entail exactly and why is it so important?
While attempting to figure this out in my own life, the first thing that comes to mind is the golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. I began analyzing my thoughts on what I considered to be the ideal neighbor. I would want to live next to someone who is friendly. Someone I could trust to help with things like keeping an eye on my home while I’m on vacation but also understands boundaries and respects my time and space. Someone who is considerate when it comes to things like noise pollution and curb appeal.
Applying the golden rule to my ideal neighbor means I must be friendly, trusting, helpful, respectful, and considerate. The importance in being a good neighbor could be different for each household, but all could reap the same reward of a welcoming home in a community you can trust and appreciate. It might not always be easy and could very well take you out of your comfort zone but if you keep these five qualities in mind and treat others the way you want to be treated, they might just do exactly that. It is important to remember every situation will be different and there might not be such a thing as the perfect neighbor, but if you hold yourself accountable to being friendly, trusting, helpful, respectful, and considerate, you can begin building the foundation to a great home.
By Ashley Snodgrass, Executive Account Manager
Have you ever wanted to peek over your neighbor’s fence to get a better view of their garden? Maybe look at their blossoming peonies, size up their tomato plants, or get a clue as to why their grass is always the greenest? There’s something similar that happens in the world of employee benefits; one of the most asked questions by my clients is, “How do my company’s employee benefits compare to what other companies are offering?” In today’s environment where the battle for qualified talent is raging, knowledge of how your benefits stack up is crucial, because the stakes are much higher than neighborhood gardening.
In 2021, we’ve all felt the impact of the worker shortage in several industries. I think it’s helpful to compare the worker shortage to the housing market. As the housing market fluctuates, the market fluctuates between a seller’s market and a buyer’s market. This is all driven by supply and demand. When the inventory (supply) of homes is high, and there are fewer buyers (low demand), sellers are more likely to drop price, pay closing costs for buyers, and make upgrades to meet the buyer’s needs. Oppositely, when the supply of homes is low and there are more buyers (high demand), there is strong competition for homes. Buyers must be aggressive by paying higher prices, offering flexible terms, and accepting homes in “as is” condition.
Let’s consider how this is similar to the employment market. When there are fewer qualified workers searching for jobs, companies must consider raising wages, offering more flexibility, better benefits, and more educational and mentorship opportunities. Compare this to times of the past when the number of job seekers was higher; employees would accept long commutes, sub-par benefits, or a lower salary just to have a chance at any job, and hopefully move up sometime in the future. Some economists view labor as a commodity, which is why the labor market is subject to the fluctuations of supply and demand.
While this is perhaps an oversimplified explanation, and doesn’t account for a variables that impact the market such as COVID-19 related safety concerns, available unemployment benefits, and childcare challenges, it helps to demonstrate that hiring in 2021 is different than prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is why employers must know how their employee benefits compare to other options employees may find when exploring benefits packages that come with employment offers.
Benchmarking is the industry term for comparing what an employer offers to employers in similar industries and geographies. Benchmarking data can be provided by insurance brokerages, insurance companies, and third-party research firms. Most studies look at common plan facets like deductibles, coinsurance, out of pocket maximums, employee cost, employer costs, and types of benefits offered. Some surveys expand beyond insurance benefits and focus on other employee rewards such as Paid Time Off, Parental Leave, Retirement, and Wellness Benefits.
Looking to get an insight into your own health plan? Data isn’t always “Apples to Apples”. Here are a few points to consider when comparing data to what your own company offers:
- Geography – Insurance premium pricing is based on the cost of healthcare in that region (Example: Premiums in Alaska are higher than average because healthcare costs are higher than average, and therefore it wouldn’t be correct to compare Alaska costs to a low cost state like Arkansas, and draw any meaningful conclusions).
- Industry – In sectors where there is greater competition for talent, benefits are more generous. Employees in highly technical industries will demand richer benefits.
- Company Size – Size of company aligns with purchasing power, so be aware that larger companies may be able to offer more benefits or special programs than smaller employers. Additionally, groups under 50 employees are provided rates strictly based on the age of the employees, whereas larger companies pay costs based on claims. Costs for smaller companies may be higher simply if the population is older.
- Employer Type (Meaning Private vs. Public Entities or Union vs. Non-Union benefits) – Different types of employers may have different rules to abide by, or other options available to them, that aren’t available to all employers. Try to compare your company with employers who are most similar to your own to control for variables like high-quality Government benefits, or Collectively Bargained benefits
- Funding Mechanism – Fully Insured plan costs are not comparable to Self-Funded plan costs. Fully Insured rates come from the insurance carriers and the rates are set. Self-Funded plans have additional options to implement cost controls and care management programs.
Ask your RISQ Consulting Team to help provide you with some information that can help your own organization. Brokerages typically have access to reports beyond what is available for free online. Here are a couple great resources to check out to get started:
By Casey Kirkeby, Strategy Consultant
For some people, this may remind them of that pivotal episode of Mad Men when Don Draper mentioned that, in Greek, nostalgia literally means “the pain from an old wound.” Man, I love that show. For others, it may remind them of a time in the past when they watched a commercial that made them want a product like Lifesavers because of the jingle or the picture of the packaging.
Living in the millennial generation, everyone is very skeptical when it comes to marketing but for me, I am an old soul. Technically, I am an older Millennial (born in ‘84) and I welcome that nostalgic feeling when it comes to products and it is probably why I am the ultimate consumer.
Nostalgia, to me, brings up emotions and sentimentality that is more powerful than any memory and this can be true for marketing a product. Creating an emotional bond with a product from a consumer level connects in more ways than if you have no experience with that product. That is why when people sell a product; they are trying to sell an experience at the same time. It could be a time, place, or occasion where that person bought a product and that is what they will relate to in their mind. When they recall that experience, it puts that product at the top of the consumer’s mind. Next, the consumer goes to the store or shop to buy that product and they know exactly what they want because they know precisely how they will feel after they use or consume it.
One of the biggest takeaways from this article I had is sending the right message of nostalgia but also adding something new to stay relevant. Targeting multiple audiences can be difficult and everyone has a connection to an experience in a different way. To market it successfully, figure out a commonality between the past and future of that product while aligning with the current customer of today.
By Casey Kirkeby, Strategy Consultant
For the last 7 years I’ve attended countless networking events, after hours and fundraisers and it has helped me create a network of friends and colleagues that really care about our community. 2020 was a very challenging year because everything was virtually virtual (see what I did there), even the meetings and events.
Now that everything is opening back up in Alaska, we’re getting back to in-person networking and events. The Anchorage Chamber of Commerce is in full force and striving to reconnect people and the community. I remember someone said once “If I want to find out more about the city I’m visiting, I track down the local Chamber of Commerce website and check out their events page”.
Here is a link to the current events happening this summer: Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Networking Events
By Bailey Penrose, Employer Services Account Manager
Marijuana is becoming a problem, y’all. Not from any philosophical or moral viewpoint (that’s an individual’s point of view and out of my purview) but from an employment standpoint. As it currently stands, 36 US states and 4 US territories have legalized cannabis products for medicinal use; 18 US states, 2 US territories, and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis products for recreational use. On the flip side, on the federal level the use of cannabis products for either medicinal or recreational purposes is totally illegal.
The divide between state and federal regulation is causing some distinct headaches as employers and individual’s try to understand which standard to follow. We don’t have to look very far to see examples of this. Just look at the headlines from the beginning of July, where athlete Sha’Carri Richardson ran afoul of differing rules:
Guidance is still coming, but I’m afraid it’s going to be a little bumpy as the US feels it’s way through the quagmire. Please see the articles included here for more information on how these regulations realistically apply to employers and their employees.