By Tonya Mott
My house is full of Rebels! I may be obligated to post a warning sign on my front door:
How do I know my house is full of Rebels? My colleague, Ashley Snodgrass, shared The Four Tendencies quiz with our office and it was all downhill from there.
The Four Tendencies explain why we act and why we don’t act. Basically, how people tend to respond to expectations: outer expectations (a deadline, a “request” from a sweetheart) and inner expectations (write a novel in your free time, keep a New Year’s resolution).
Each of the Four Tendencies are summarized as:
- Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations
- Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense
- Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike
- Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves
I took the quiz, I made my reluctant husband take the quiz, and I self-diagnosed my four-year-old daughter…and surprise! We are all Rebels!
The results indicated that our Rebel motto is:
“I do what I want, in my own way. If you try to make me do something—even if I try to make myself do something—I’m less likely to do it.”
Now these results might seem to cause constant discord, but for the most part, we have tons of fun together and the love is always there. However, this has put me on a journey to figure out how we can use this knowledge of our tendencies to live in a more consistent, and predictable harmony.
If you think you may be living and working with Rebels (or perhaps the Rebel is you) take the tendency quiz to gather more insight on why you and those around you react to expectations the way they do.
To learn more about the tendencies and improve my communication with others here are the resources I’m using:
Podcast: https://gretchenrubin.com/podcasts/ (also available on apple and Spotify – Happier with Gretchen Rubin)
By Andrew Kupperman
Are there any Jimi fans reading this? Well, the experiences I want to talk about are a bit different (and work appropriate) from what he was probably talking about. It’s also a bit different from how we might talk about experiences within the scope of what we do at work on a day to day basis. Spoiler alert: this blog post isn’t about job interview questions such as “tell us about a time where you dealt with a difficult person.”
Experience has been a common theme in some of my past blog posts. I’m a firm believer employers should be doing everything in their willpower to provide employees a great experience at work, and I feel it’s the key to recruiting, retaining, and rewarding the people that keep your organization’s doors open. In the work setting, this can be done a number of ways: through perks offered by the company, the technological tools provided to employees, and even the general culture an organization emanates, which will undoubtedly impact how employees interact with and treat one another.
However, I think some organizations don’t always think about their role/s within the community in which they operate. Don’t get me wrong; I know there is a lot of good put into the community by many organizations by way of donations to non-profits and sponsorships of events. And I feel that should continue. But, organizations should also be asking about what else they can do to improve their communities, and how they can activate their employees’ engagement with this initiative.
At the recent Anchorage Economic Development Council, Chris Fair of Resonance Consultancy gave a presentation (if you didn’t get the chance to attend, you can watch it for free here!) centered around the factors that determine what makes a place great to live in, visit, or to do business, and how these factors can create prosperity. I may still be a Cheechako of a mere 5 years, but I love Anchorage, and have a burning in my gut to make it an even better place.
One of the take-aways I had from Chris’s presentation was that Anchorage is lacking in putting together those “instagrammable” moments, or in other words, the posting of experiences to the wide depths of the internet for all to see. How many times have you seen an awesome looking picture someone posted on social media, and did more research on that photo or posted a comment to find out more about it? Social media plays a big part in today’s world in how places become more attractive to outsiders to visit, to do business in, or live. It also influences the current inhabitants to spur more community involvement.
So what can we do as organizations to promote this? It all comes back to those good experiences you try to give employees. See what community events are happening and encourage your team to be a part of them. These could be non-profit related events, walks for a cause, or even something as simple as food trucks gathering in a town square. Anything that helps to bring people together is something that could end up as positive for the community. And, when your organization does get involved, make sure someone is taking pictures and spread the word about it on social media! This only serves to improve our community, as well as give it some due exposure to the awesome things happening in Anchorage.
At RISQ Consulting, we have a task force designed specifically for this. One of the things we wanted to convey was that this wasn’t being done as an obligation for employees, or as a marketing ploy. It’s important for the underlying drive to be centered around the improvement of the community in which someone works, lives, and plays. I think that is something most people can get behind without much further persuasion.
At the end of day, this type of initiative has oodles of positives for any organization. These experiences can help build teams, get employees to come out of their comfort zones for personal and professional development, as well as foster general interaction with others in the community. Most importantly, this will give employees the satisfaction in knowing they work for an employer who cares about improving their community, and provides them the opportunity to have experiences that contribute to that improvement.
Forget Your Ginko Supplements, and Keep on Forgetting Things: A Valuable Share “In Praise of Organizational Forgetting”
By Blanche Sheppard
I had no idea who billionaire Barry Diller was until I read a recent article about his adoption of deliberate forgetfulness as a business concept. He mentioned that remembering all of your successes prevents you from future advancements, which seems so counterintuitive. Don’t past victories bolster your confidence so that you can go out and achieve more? Barry Diller argues instead that if you can brush away your wins, forcing yourself to start again from a humble place, you can continue to succeed in new and exciting ways.
The research of Mark Easterby-Smith and Marjorie Lyles supports Barry Diller’s concepts. Their article in the Journal of Management Inquiry is an oft-cited example for how “forgetting, in the right circumstances, can be beneficial for companies.” I would highly recommend reading “In Praise of Organizational Forgetting” to see if you should stop taking all those Ginko supplements and instead apply yourself to forgetting your past successes.
By Tim Maudsley
Many of our current and prospective clients have asked RISQ about how to apply for funding and loans to help with earthquake damage sustained in the November 30th event. The Federal Government had not approved Alaska’s request for a major disaster declaration until January 31st, when President Trump approved the earthquake as a major disaster, opening additional recovery funding for Alaskan residents and businesses. The article below from Must Read Alaska summarizes the approval well, and is helpful in terms of how to apply for aid if you experienced losses.
By Tim Maudsley
RISQ Consulting attended the 2019 Anchorage Economic Development Corp (AEDC) Luncheon, and I am happy to hear that the news was relatively positive about the 2019 economy as well as the business confidence index. Surveys showed a mostly positive outlook for business since 2014, real estate sales and prices were higher in 2017, and Anchorage is projected to add jobs for 2019 for the first time in 3 years. Concern still centers around oil prices and production, the State fiscal budget, the cost of healthcare, and the Port of Anchorage, which is now estimated to cost more than $2B to repair. I would highly recommend taking a look at the KTVA report, as understanding the local economic forecast can be just as important as knowing how to dress for the weather waiting outside your arctic entry.
By Alison Riggan
We’ve all had them, those conversations that last 5 seconds and consist entirely of niceties and nothing of substance. We have been conditioned as a society to give auto-responses without a second thought, sacrificing quality conversation. But what happens if we throw a curveball into the conversation?
I recently stumbled upon a comedic article by Chris Colin and Rob Baedeker that challenges people to break the mold of standard conversations and “turn small talk into smart conversation” by:
• Asking for stories, not answers
• Breaking the mirror (stop blindly agreeing out of politeness)
• Leapfrogging over the expected response
After reading this article, I realized how guilty I am of contributing to an endless cycle of bland conversations. I am challenging myself to throw a curveball in at least one conversation a day and I challenge you to do the same.
Read this article for a good laugh as well as to find some conversation inspiration.
By Blanche Sheppard
You know those silly AFLAC commercials, where someone looks super worried as they sort through their bills in anticipation of an upcoming procedure, but then the annoying duck pops up and reminds them that they are covered? This article isn’t about the duck, but it is about considering how a new child impacts your benefits. The duck probably seems more exciting right about now….
I don’t usually write about benefits for the Vantage Point, but then again, I’m not usually about to go on maternity leave. If you’re a plan administrator, you might have employees who will need to consider the impact that a new dependent will have on their benefits. As an employer, you might want to consider how your organization can support said employees before, during, and after such an occasion.
- When choosing a Medical plan for your growing family, consider the family deductible and out of pocket maximum. Does anyone require frequent visits outside of preventative care? How will an aggregate versus embedded deductible impact the family’s benefits?
- Do you offer Short-term Disability (STD) coverage? Many STD policies cover 6-10 weeks of maternity leave at a percentage of the employee’s pre-disability weekly earnings. These policies are also helpful if an employee needs to be out for a sickness or injury. You can consider this a “peace of mind” type of coverage. The employee has the peace of mind knowing that they have some income while they are out, and the company has the peace of mind knowing that their employee is taken care of in the event that they need to be absent. If you do offer short-term disability, you might prep the paperwork before the employee is scheduled for maternity leave, as this will smooth the process.
- Once a baby is born, or adopted, they will be eligible to come onto your group Medical plan. You will want to add them to the plan within 30 days of their birth or adoption, because both count as qualifying events. For a new baby, you might not have their social security number right away. That’s ok! Insurance companies know that this is the case, and will follow up on it later on.
- Consider the benefits needs of a new baby versus an older child. An infant might not need ancillary Dental or Vision benefits, as the pediatric Dental and Vision embedded in many Medical plans will be sufficient. An older child will need periodic check up’s.
- Do you have Voluntary Worksite benefits? Some employers work with carriers like AFLAC and Colonial Life to offer employee-paid coverage that can supplement health insurance. Some even offer incentives for regular doctor visits!
- Are you subject to FMLA? Groups subject to FMLA must allow employees with a new child, through birth or adoption, to take time off for bonding. If you’re interested in a quick overview, the US Department of Labor has quick Fact Sheets that include definitions of organizations subject to FMLA and overviews of what that means in regards to new dependents.
By Tiffany Stock
“Put your phone down” has become a common request in my house with a teenager and pre-teen. Have you ever thought about the impact smartphones have on all of us, even when you aren’t “looking” at your phone? Check out this study published by the Harvard Business Review on how having your smartphone near you impacts your cognitive capacity. After reading this article, some of their points definitely resonate with me and I will think twice about having my phone nearby the next time I’m in a meeting or am working on a project.
An open enrollment period is a short period of time when you can enroll in or make changes to your employee benefits elections. Possible changes include adding or dropping coverage, adding or removing dependents, or enrolling in benefits for the first time.
Open enrollment is your opportunity to take advantage of important benefits, such as health, vision, dental and life insurance, a health savings account (HSA), and a retirement plan.
The decisions you make during the open enrollment period can have a significant impact on your life and your finances, so it is important to weigh your options carefully and to make your decisions during the open enrollment period.
Failure to comply with your employer’s open enrollment deadline could result in a loss of coverage for you and your loved ones. Missing this deadline also means that you could be unable to make changes or enroll in benefits until the next open enrollment period.
One exception to this rule is if you experience a life-changing qualifying event that would trigger a special enrollment period (SEP). Events such as getting married or divorced, having or adopting children, or losing eligibility for other health coverage can trigger special enrollment rights. In some cases, you can also qualify for special enrollment if you become eligible for a premium assistance subsidy under Medicaid or a state Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
If you think you might qualify for a SEP, contact your HR manager. If you have not recently experienced a life event, but have missed the open enrollment deadline, you should also contact your HR manager to find out whether you have any other options.
Options for Obtaining Health Coverage
If you miss your employer’s open enrollment deadline, there are a number of ways in which you can try to obtain health insurance; however, the availability of some options will depend on their enrollment deadlines.
- Spousal Benefits:
If your spouse receives benefits from his or her employer and the open enrollment period is still open (or coming up), you may be able to enroll in coverage through your spouse’s plan.
- Young Adult Benefits Under a Parent’s Plan:
If you are younger than 26 years old, you may be able to be added as a dependent on your parent’s plan. If your parent’s plan offers dependent coverage, this option should be available to all children under 26, regardless of whether or not you are employed, married, have children or are a student. However, this option is likely available only if your parent’s work-based plan offers coverage for family members and if the open enrollment period for that plan has not yet closed.
- State Insurance Marketplace
Depending on the timing, you can consider buying health insurance from the Health Insurance Exchange Marketplace. Marketplace coverage is only available for purchase during an annual open enrollment period, unless you qualify for a SEP. (See the SEP section of www.healthcare.gov to check). Similar to employer-based plans, a SEP can be triggered if you experience a qualifying life event.
If the health insurance your job offered was affordable and covered the majority of your health care costs, you will not be eligible for a health insurance subsidy to help you pay your monthly premiums for a Marketplace plan. However, you may have more health plan options to choose from, including some lower-priced plans that would provide coverage for you until the your employer’s next open enrollment period. For more information, or to enroll in a Marketplace plan, please visit www.healthcare.gov.
Medicaid provides health coverage to low-income adults. Medicaid does not have open enrollment periods, which means that you may apply at any time. Eligibility for Medicaid varies from state to state, so be sure to check www.medicaid.gov or your state’s Department of Health website to see if you qualify for this option.
- Short-term Health Insurance
If you are concerned about not having health insurance and are not eligible for any of the other options, you can consider purchasing a short-term health insurance policy from a private insurance company. These are temporary plans for those who are awaiting longer term, major health coverage. They generally do not cover pre-existing conditions, are not guaranteed-issue (meaning that you are not guaranteed coverage) and are subject to state and insurance company limits on how many times this type of insurance can be renewed. Most importantly, short-term insurance is not considered “minimum essential coverage” under the ACA, which means that even if you are able to enroll and maintain coverage until the next open enrollment period at your workplace, you may be subject to paying the individual mandate penalty (see below) with your federal tax return.
What Happens If You Don’t Take Any Action?
You could remain uninsured until the next open enrollment period opens up. However, accidents and diseases can strike at any time, so the cost of being uninsured can add up quickly.
As explained, there are other options for you to obtain health insurance if you have missed your open enrollment deadline. However, many of these are costly, not as beneficial as employer-provided benefits, have limited availability, are highly difficult to attain or are unattractive. In addition, many employers offer other benefits besides dental, vision and health insurance. If you miss the enrollment deadline, you could experience loss of these other benefits as well.
FSAs, HRAs and HSAs
Many employers offer one or more health spending accounts as part of their benefits packages. Depending on which type of account your employer provides, missing the open enrollment deadline will result in different consequences.
- Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
FSAs are tax-free and are only available with job-based health plans. As a result, if you missed your open enrollment deadline, you will not have ample funds in your FSA, and you will have to pay out of pocket for any costs your insurance does not cover. Also, if your employer usually makes a contribution to your FSA, you would miss out on that. Your taxable income will also be higher if you are not making pre-tax contributions.
- Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA)
A HRA is an account set up and funded by your employer. While some employers allow unspent funds to be carried over to future plan years, most do not. In the event that you have unspent money in your account and your employer allows carryovers, you would need to remain HRA-eligible (enrolled in the company health plan) to access those funds. Therefore, if you miss your employer’s open enrollment deadline, you will typically lose access to your HRA as well, and you will have to pay out of pocket for any costs your insurance does not cover.
- Health Savings Account (HSA)
An HSA is an account, owned by you, in which you can contribute either pre-tax or post-tax income. If you miss the open enrollment deadline to make contributions to this type of account, you will be unable to contribute pre-tax amounts to your HSA using payroll deductions, and your taxable income will be higher. Also, if your employer makes any contribution to the HSA, you would miss out on that.
However, you can still make contributions to an HSA if you are an eligible individual, and you can deduct any amounts contributed. If you missed the opportunity to set up an HSA through your employer, you can still set one up on your own with a bank or other HSA custodian if you are an eligible individual.
Although you can certainly pay out of pocket for additional health care costs, without tax-advantaged funds, these expenses can be overwhelming. If your employer offers either an FSA or HSA, it is true that you are typically the only contributor to these accounts. However, the money you are contributing is pre-tax. Missing out on either of these will result in your post-tax budget taking a hit. Be sure to enroll in a health spending account that your employer offers before the open enrollment period closes so that you can receive the health care that you need without having to empty your pockets.
Don’t Forget About Your Other Benefits
Additionally, if you’ve missed open enrollment, you will be missing out on a lot more than just health care benefits. Some other benefits that you may be losing out on include the following:
- Life Insurance:
If you have lost coverage or do not have ample coverage for the next year due to missing the open enrollment deadline, consider buying a term life policy from a third-party to ensure that you and your loved ones will be taken care of if anything should happen to you. Talk to RISQ Consulting for more information on this option.
Although it may seem like missing a year of contributions to an employer-matched plan is not a big deal, setting yourself up for a comfortable lifestyle after retirement should be a top priority. If you are worried about falling behind on saving for retirement after losing out on the ability to make contributions to your employer-sponsored retirement fund, consider setting up an individual retirement arrangement (IRA) or a Roth IRA on your own. You should also reference your tax withholding statement and make adjustments to your allowances accordingly as you will no longer be receiving the tax break on retirement deductions from your paycheck.
Disability insurance replaces some of your income if an injury or illness prevents you from working, which can ease the financial burden on a household. Short-term disability (STD) pays you a portion of your income for a short period of time (generally between nine and 52 weeks) after you run out of paid sick leave. Long-term Disability (LTD) pays you a portion of your income