By Casey Kirkeby, RISQ Consulting Strategy Consultant
When an employer hires their first employee, benefits are on their mind. There are so many employee benefits out there that it is quite overwhelming to talk about all of them in one blog. There is telecommuting (remote workers), Telemedicine, New Parent Leave, Lactation aid for new mothers, Loan repayment in exchange for employees not taking vested paid time off, and so much more. I want to talk about one in particular that has the added benefit of saving our younger generation helping post college students pay back the collapsing debt that ultimately holds them back.
College debt is a growing epidemic in our society and today it is actually hindering people from saving for retirement. According to a recent survey done by Society of Human Resource Management, more than $44.7 million borrowers owed more than $1.5 trillion in student loans. That exceeds the gross domestic product of all but a dozen countries around the globe and employers can help with a little education and providing a resource to help people pay the money back. I have student debt, my mom just paid off her debt about 10 years ago and she is 63 years old today. I know more than a handful of people who have more than $80,000.00 that they owe back to the government for schooling that they took over 8 years ago and will be paying on it for most of their life.
Now honestly this can be addressed at the most basic level by providing guidance and education when they first apply for financial assistance, but as an employer, you do not have control of this. You can provide direction by offering a tuition repayment benefit that not only helps employees pay student debt off sooner, but also helps manage their expense and forecast their financial needs.
Many companies choose to reimburse up to $5,250 per year, which is the ceiling that the federal government allows for tuition benefit expenditures to be exempt from withholding tax. Other employers are offering to make loan payments in exchange for employees not taking vested paid time off, such as vacation days. It can be as easy as facilitating payments through payroll deferral and offering to match up to 50% of their payment that will get them excited. You can also construct quick videos that contain onsite financial advice that provides an outline with a good approach for whittling down their repayment and financing.
Now these are just some examples of what the current workforce is doing to help keep our debt-challenged workers ahead of the game and over at RISQ we can help you design an Employee Benefits Program that works for you and more importantly, your workforce.
By Andrew Kupperman, RISQ Consulting Employer Services and Workforce Technology Consultant, SHRM-CP
I know we’re past Valentine’s Day, but have you ever heard someone say, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life”? If you have, I’m curious as to what your reaction was. Did you laugh in their face? Did you give them a look of confusion to signal you had no idea what they meant by that? Or did you suddenly realize every job you’ve ever worked, you’ve absolutely hated?
There are many aspects that go into liking a job; who you work with, the relationship with the person supervising you, the mission of the organization you’re working for, compensation and benefits. All of these are important factors that will ultimately help you decide if you want to continue working at a specific job. But, what about the work you’re actually doing? Where does that rank in terms of importance, and how do you figure out if what you’re doing is something you actually love to do?
From an employer aspect, it is important that the people who work for you have some semblance of liking what they do. In terms of why employees leave jobs, doing what you love, doesn’t rank as high as some of the other factors. However, try to imagine your workplace where everyone detests doing what they do? As an employer, do you think you would still enjoy leading this kind of team? Now I know what you may be thinking: the work we do at our organization isn’t exactly exciting, so how do we go about getting our employees jazzed about doing what they do on a daily basis?
This brings me to my first point – finding meaning in what you do. Here at RISQ Consulting, the majority of our business is related to Insurance, which is probably one of the most publicly disliked, non-alluring types of business you can think of. So how do we, as workers within the insurance industry, go about finding value doing the day-to-day work? One of the reasons why insurance is so widely loathed is because it’s very complicated. It’s a product you pay for, that you might not ever use, and when you do actually need to use it, you might need to jump through 1,000 fiery hoops in order for it to successfully meet your needs.
At RISQ, we strive to take the pain of insurance away from our clients, whenever they are interacting or using the insurance products we sell. And many of us can recall the specific moments where we’ve been able to help our clients in times of the most dire needs and situations. One thing we like to do is talk about these moments often, because they are the moments where we find the most meaning for our day-to-day efforts, and we don’t ever want to lose sight of that. I like to think of having that meaning or value in what you do as the base for being able to love what you do. But you need to talk about these experiences with others to help reinforce them.
But there are other things involved in being able to build that job that you love – mainly the actual tasks you do on a day-to-day basis. This isn’t always easy to determine. In my schooling days, I was brought up to become a well-rounded individual, and so was taught many different subjects in which I felt I needed to excel. Some of these subjects I didn’t like, others I did, and as I went through the different levels of school, I found that sometimes the subjects I liked changed in comparison to lower levels of education. Looking back on why this happened, I think at certain ages I got a certain kind of energy by doing different types or work or learning about certain subjects. I felt this energy when I was doing something and I had no real sense of time when I was doing that task. I also felt energized after completing that task as opposed to feeling drained. This energy ultimately factored into the subjects I liked, and exceled in at different points in my youth.
I’ve discovered the same thing happens at work. I get energy from doing certain tasks versus others that can drain me. Sometimes, it’s hard to recognize this because, going back to my youth, I was brought up to try to excel at everything. But I wonder sometimes if I was able to focus in on the things that give me the most energy, would I get closer to that magical place of loving what I do? I think with any job, there are always going to be some things that don’t give you this energy, and you ultimately don’t like doing. But just imagine, if you could work on increasing the number of tasks that do give you that energy, maybe, just maybe, you could start liking or even loving what you do.
So now that we have the foundation of finding meaning and value in what you do, and identifying more tasks that give you that sense of energy, it’s important to be able to express these things with your direct supervisor. Remember when I said there are always going to be things that don’t give you that sense of energy? Well, it’s likely that these tasks still need to be done. But because these tasks can drain you, it can lead to inefficiencies, errors, complacency, and general unproductiveness, which isn’t good for you or the organization you work for. So be open about this topic with yourself, as well as your supervisor. There are only positive things that can come out of being open about your strengths as a worker. A competent supervisor would recognize the benefit to you being more productive, happy, and in love with what you’re doing, and at the very least offer a compromise to get you doing more things that give you energy and make you more productive.
So I hope I’ve laid the groundwork for getting to love what you do – meaning in what you do, and finding those things that give you that special energy. Just remember the skills you’ll need to be successful are being open and honest with yourself first, and then being able to communicate these things with your supervisor and potentially other co-workers on your team.
By Alison Nelson, RISQ Consulting Sales and Marketing Coordinator
The average initial cost to hire and train a new employee is $4,129 (SHRM). So how do you reduce turnover and retain your employees? Well, one way is to offer competitive employee benefits.
A colleague recently sent me an interesting article that ranks the 15 most requested employee perks in order of popularity, ranging from family leave to pet-friendly workspaces. An employer could easily implement many of the listed popular benefits for a minimal cost. For example, one of the requested benefits is to have healthy snacks onsite, so signing your business up for a healthy food service is an easy way to keep employees happy.
Other frequently requested benefits from the list include the ability to work remotely, pet insurance, having a pet friendly workplace, and sabbatical leave. Having good employee benefits is vital for recruiting and maintaining employees, making it essential to stay aware of the constantly evolving top ranking benefits. Take a look at the article listed below and review the 15 most popular employee benefits, and then review your current offerings to help ensure that your business is staying competitive.
By Jennifer Outcelt, RISQ Consulting Account Specialist
In your youth, did you vow to never, EVER be like your parents? And now, do think your parents are some of the most remarkable people you’ve ever known?
I recently had a child of my own and the thought dawned on me, “How can I learn from my own parents to be the best parent for my daughter?”. In contemplating my own upbringing, I decided to let you in on a part of my core personality that will undoubtedly influence how I rear spawn of my own. So how about I tell you about the people who created me? *bow-chicka-bow-wow* OK, I promise we won’t go that far back, but I want to introduce you to one half of my parental unit, my dad. I want to tell you why I feared becoming my dad and why I am now thrilled that I have.
My dad used to have this reoccurring dream. He would be eating a giant marshmallow, and when he woke up, his pillow would be gone! Funny right? Well try hearing that once a week your entire life.
Growing up, my dad, Karl, was what most dads seemed to be; A dad jokester. But that was just the tip of the iceberg… just a piece of the puzzle, just one ingredient in… well, you get the point. My father was exhaustingly… hilarious… to himself. He had a plethora of ready to wear jokes and anecdotes to amuse the masses (whether they wanted it or not). My family called them Karlisms.
*clear throat* “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy” “Don’t use force get a bigger hammer” “Two wrongs don’t make a right but three lefts do”
These Karlisms were heard, ad-nauseam, in perpetuity. As a little kid they were funny. As a teenager, they were annoying. I had heard them all. Why did he bother?! But he didn’t say them just for us. He said them for the people around us. In line at the store, at my mom’s work functions, to my friend’s parents at Girl Scout meetings.
*clear throat* “There are only three kinds of people in this world, those who are good with numbers, and those who are not” “Time flies like the wind, but fruit flies like bananas.”
I was surrounded by smiles and good cheer, BLAAH! Kryptonite for a teenager! “OMG dad, you’re so lame!” I was embarrassed when he didn’t say the bare minimum. I was embarrassed at how long he joked with people. I feared his jokes would become so ingrained in me that I would someday become this walking cliché. I told myself I would not be like that, and I would not waste my time acting like a doofuss.
Fast forward to toady… that is all I do. My name is Jennifer and I am a DOOFUSS! (Hello, Jennifer) I make silly dad jokes and I like it!
What I didn’t know growing up (because I truly had it good) was that being an adult is freaking hard! Seeing how many things in the world you can’t control is scary. You see all the hypocrisy and all the bad. But even scarier is seeing how many people are crippled by their inability to detach from the negative or enact positive change.
As a teenager, I was mortified when my dad was asked a simple yes or no question and instead he replied, “Definitely, maybe not, probably so, could be, you never know, then again you can’t be sure, but then again on the other hand it might not be, but let me be perfectly clear when I say this about that…”
But now… that answer is hilarious. Because I’ve learned that it’s never yes or no and it’s hilarious to think you know anything for certain. My father makes light of the world and the uncertainties in it. He uses humor as an antidote. You will never get a completely serious answer from him; a trait I’m proud to carry and hope to pass on. Because I would much rather break the script and make people laugh if it means they have a better day. Life is too short not to laugh and it is too boring to look at the world in black and white.
I hope we can all agree that I’m not that old (30 is the new 20 I think). I don’t have many decades of personally cultured wisdom to drip like a fine wine into your ears. But what I do have is the ability to look at myself… then look at my dad, then look at myself, then back at my dad… and see, that apart from the baldness *wipe brow* (whew!), we are a ton alike.
And this “becoming my father” is not the disaster I thought it’d be. It is because of my father that I find humor in mundane things. He’s the reason I can smile and laugh through all of my mistakes. I’m not afraid to tell a joke. I’m not afraid to make a friend. And I’m definitely not afraid to make fun of myself.
What my dad knows is that humor, no matter how corny, is infectious and a smile spreads like wildfire. I once vowed to never be like my father because I saw his antics as a weakness. I know now that my father (one of the most remarkable people I know) uses his humor to keep himself and those around him strong. That’s the kind of parent I want to be. And I don’t mind being a clown… if it turns a frown… upside down.
By Ashley Snodgrass, RISQ Consulting Employee Benefits Executive Account Manager
You may have heard of Exit Interviews, to find out why employees left after-the-fact, but have you heard of Stay Interviews? Stay Interviews are tools managers can use to find out what employees like about their jobs, why do they choose to stay, and what would make them leave. No matter what industry you are in, it is a tight talent market right now, mostly due to the low unemployment. When unemployment is low, there are not many job-seekers looking for work. So, where do employers with open positions find talent to fill their job openings? This is how employees are poached.
It is easier to keep an employee than to find and train a new one. What is your organization doing to retain employees? Often times in the conversation surrounding retaining employees, employers are guessing what employees want. Do employees want more time off? More flexible schedule? More challenging work? Less challenging work? More benefits? Different benefits? More opportunities to be mentored? More opportunities to prove their skills? In my experience, it seems that some employers are hesitant to ask. By asking your employees, you can hone in on the most cherished benefits that bring value to the lives of your employees.
Additionally, not all questions should center on benefits, as the culture and mission of the organization also factor in to an employee’s decision to stay or go. Do employees feel respected by leadership? Do employees feel like they can raise issues with their managers? Is there trust on teams? Do your employees know what success in their role looks like? Do all employees feel welcome and valued? The conversation surrounding retention and having a loyal team extends to all aspects of work life.
This is where we are able to implement the Stay Interview. Take time to sit down with each member of your staff to find out why they like working there, and most importantly, what would make them leave. Stay Interviews create a dialogue between managers and employees, to bring up hard to talk about issues that don’t surface in the day to day. Additionally when done properly, Stay Interviews are a tool to build trust between employees and managers. The author of The Stay Interview book, Richard Finnegan, was quoted in Forbes.com to say the following, “Hard data proves the top reason employees quit is they don’t trust their managers. Stay Interviews are the absolute best trust-building activity…and therefore the best retention tool.”
Don’t wait until your employees are leaving to find out in their exit interview what could have been done differently. Start the dialogue with your employees today to build trust, loyalty, and a strong team for your organization.
By Tonya Mott, RISQ Consulting Vice President of Operations and Partner
I heard The Magic Castle Hotel creates powerful moments for their guests. In 2018 it was showing up on Trip Advisor as the #1 traveler ranked hotel in all of Los Angeles. When I do a search now it’s showing up as #6, next to places like the Beverly Hills Hotel and The Four Seasons. The hotel is located one block from Hollywood Boulevard’s walk of fame, and is a 1950s apartment building repurposed into a hotel.
This January we decided to take the kids to Universal Studios so I booked us a room at The Magic Castle Hotel. The Metro is a short walk from the hotel and only one stop away from Universal Studios. We were all excited to experience these so-called powerful moments
Here’s what they got going on:
- Popsicle Hotline – Pick up the red phone next to the heated pool someone answers, “Popsicle Hotline” and you request a popsicle. The popsicles are hand delivered by a server in white gloves on a silver tray
- Heated pool – We’re talking 88 degrees Fahrenheit year round
- Unlimited Snacks – Chips, candy, and more
- Unlimited Ice Cream
- Unlimited drinks – Soda, Powerade, soda water (multiple flavors), and filtered water
- Free breakfast – a magician performs tricks at your breakfast table three times a week.
- Free Laundry service – clean clothes delivered to your door wrapped in brown paper with a sprig of lavender
- While we were at the pool the owner of the hotel came over and checked in with us to see how our stay was going and hung out for small talk.
- The morning we headed out to Universal one of the employees hooked us up with passes to ride the Metro for every person in our party (8 of us)
Our book club here at work is currently reading, The Power of Moments. I haven’t started it yet but I’m told by my colleagues that The Magic Castle is mentioned in the book several times as a place that does a great job at creating moments for their guests. As a parent I love creating memories and moments for my kids.
By Natasha Kwachka
Recently I went through something very difficult, the loss of my sweet kitty. She fell ill and we had to make an awful decision that left not only myself but my children heartbroken. After many tears and lots of snuggles I made the choice to let my sweet girl depart this earth peacefully. Obviously I had to be right by her side, wrapped around her until the very last moment. This meant I had to be away from work for a period of time to attend her vet appointments. I have to give my team the upmost thanks, gratitude doesn’t even explain how grateful I am for each of them. We work in an awesomely unique environment. One in which I was able to take a brief break to tend to my family’s needs, and yes, I consider my kitty part of our family.
This experience made me think, what are employer’s responsibilities when it comes to allowing leave when an employee loses a pet? Is there even a policy that speaks to this? How does the corporate world react to such a need? I was overwhelmed with the amount of questions I was thinking of.
Knowing how deeply it affected me, I did some light reading came to the conclusion that our pets become part of who we are, and should be treated as such. In some cases, pets spend more time with us than other people or even family members. My pets have always been, and will always be, part of my family. Losing one of my four-legged family members caused me tremendous grief.
I believe if you make it through the hard time of losing a pet with support and understanding from your employer, it creates a safe environment for the employee. Having the space and time to grieve my loss makes me that much more appreciative for my entire team and the work environment our leaders have cultivated. My gratitude by far carries the most impact on my motivation to strive for greatness while I work in the day to day. My team and my family are where I spend the majority of my time. These two parties are where my true motivation and inspiration is derived from.
What are your thoughts? Is there a need for a pet bereavement policy in the workplace? Check out the article I came across below.
Your dog died and you expect the day off from work? Are you kidding me? by Stephen Viscusi
By Tiffany Stock
One of my favorite things about what I do at RISQ, after working directly with our clients, is spearheading the development of client events. Whether it is a social event, educational event or a combination of the two, the responsibility that I have gives me a lot of energy and creates some excitement in my day-to-day. With the assistance of other members of our team, I feel like we’ve done a good job of creating and executing some wonderful events for our current and future clients. From multiple sessions about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), having a futurist at our 10-year anniversary celebration, or celebrating our new name and RISQ brand at the Bear Tooth Theater with a live band – we like to have fun and bring value to our clients and the relationships we develop.
According to a study done by Eventtia, 98% of people feel more inclined to purchase your products after attending an event and 74% of attendees have a better opinion about a brand after an in-person event. Don’t get me wrong, we host our fair share of webinars but we definitely put an emphasis on in-person events so we can get some face-time with our clients outside of our normal day-to-day interactions.
Here are some items our team likes to keep in mind when planning a live event:
- Know the “why” or purpose for holding an event – keep that at the forefront of your planning to make sure your objective is being met.
- Focus on the big tasks first – then let the little details follow:
- Determine your Why/purpose
- Form your budget
- When? Give yourself plenty of time to put the event together. Three to six months at least. For bigger milestone events, longer may be necessary. Keep in mind the seasons and the time of year that might work the best for the majority of your targeted audience.
- Is there a theme?
- Who will be on the guest/invitee list? How many people are you expecting to attend?
- Where – location! Make sure it’s easily accessible for attendees or considered a preferred destination that will attract people. Be sure you venue will fit with your number of attendees and/or theme. If you’ve got your heart set on a specific location, make sure that gets factored into the preliminary planning.
- Entertainment – is it needed? What will it be?
- Invitations – will you be using email, mail, phone call, etc. Make sure the method you choose is easy to use for both you and your invitee!
- Put a big emphasis on making sure you give them a memorable experience and make them feel special! Do you have a special giveaway or gift for attending? Is this the first chance they will have to hear the information?
- Making sure your clients or prospects know what is in it for them – is your plan to educate them on a topic or situation that will affect them or is important to them? Are you giving them access to peers to help them build their network of contacts and resources?
- Recruit help! While client events may be the focus of only a few of our staff members, we always recruit others from the office to help us pull it off!
- Develop a way to get feedback after the event – especially if the goal was for education.
The points above are not all encompassing, but I hope they give you a few things to think about if you will be planning any events for your organization in the future. The key for us is to create engagement and loyalty amongst our clients in hopes of creating that lasting relationship as their trusted advisor. I look forward to seeing you at one of our future events. To keep tabs on what RISQ is planning, both virtually and in-person, please check out the “Events” section of our website by clicking here!
This article is from RISQ Consulting’s MyWave Connect portal, a resource available to all RISQ Consulting clients. Please contact your Benefits Consultant or Account Executive for more information or for help setting up your own login.
Is it against the law for employees to record private conversations with co-workers, supervisors or executives without their consent? The answer is: It depends. There are a variety of laws that come into play, which vary based on locality, when analyzing workplace recordings. With the proliferation of smartphones and other advanced recording technology, secret workplace recordings have become more prevalent than ever. Such recordings can lead to costly lawsuits and an uncomfortable work environment for employees.
To prevent these recordings from happening at your company, you should have a basic understanding of employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), as well as other federal and state laws surrounding workplace recordings. Employers should check with legal counsel to help navigate through these complex laws and, if applicable, assist employers in establishing workplace policies and procedures with regard to workplace recordings.
There are a variety of reasons why an employee may choose to secretly record a conversation at the workplace. Depending on the consent of the parties involved, there are laws in place that allow for secret conversations to be legally recorded—conversely, there are laws that prohibit individuals from recording secret conversations. When addressing workplace recordings, it’s important to first identify your state’s specific consent requirements.
Most states have determined whether they allow one-party or all-party consent for audio and/or video recordings. One-party consent means that only one person being recorded has to consent—that could mean the person who is doing the recording is the only one who needs to consent. Whereas all-party consent means that all people in the recording must agree to being recorded.
Recording Communications and Surveillance Laws by State
Laws regarding recording communications and surveillance vary by state. The majority of states require that only one party needs to consent to a recording—whereas 13 states require all-party consent. All-party consent states include: California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington. Although Vermont has no official statue addressing secret recordings, it is commonly considered an all-party consent state. Despite your state’s consent laws, it’s still good practice to consult with legal counsel to determine if any precautions need to be taken, such as enforcing a no-recording policy, to protect your company and employees from secret recordings.
Can I Prohibit Employees From Recording Conversations at Work?
While employees might have the right to make an audio recording in the workplace, employers do not have to allow recordings, even in one-party consent states. In fact, the National Labor Relations Board has deemed it generally permissible for employers to prohibit employees from recording conversations at the workplace. Many legal experts advise that companies create a no-recording policy. Prohibiting recordings in the workplace can strengthen an employer’s defense in litigation if the recording goes against company policy. However, when creating a no-recording policy, you should consult with legal counsel to ensure compliance with the NLRA, in addition to other federal and state laws.
Tips for Handling Secret Employee Recordings
Instances may arise where secret recordings are not viable evidence in a lawsuit. However, if unflattering recordings of your company surface, it may negatively affect the image of your business. Although having no-recording policies can decrease the likelihood this occurs, companies can never fully prevent employees from recording private conversations. To avoid negative recordings of you and your employees, consider the following action items:
- Always assume that you are being recorded—especially during disciplinary meetings.
- If you notice you are being recorded, carefully state you do not wish to be recorded. If the employee refuses, end the meeting and seek legal advice.
- Ensure all employees receive proper workplace harassment and discrimination training to avoid inappropriate work conversations.
- Promote a positive work environment for employees.