Pay transparency is when an employer openly communicates pay-related information through established practices to current or prospective employees. Employers can provide this information through various channels, such as online job sites, job postings or during an interview. As a result of changing labor markets, more and more employees are demanding pay transparency. Further, some jurisdictions are now requiring employers to share pay information, meaning that this trend is impacting more and more employers.
This article discusses rules surrounding pay transparency across the country and workers’ growing demand for it. This article also explains employer advantages and strategies to implement pay transparency practices in an organization.
Pay Transparency Across the Nation
As demands for pay transparency increase, some states have passed legislation requiring organizations to be transparent. In recent years, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Nevada, Rhode Island and Washington have all passed pay transparency laws. Some cities, including New York City, Jersey City and Cincinnati, have also passed such laws.
Employers should be aware that pay transparency laws vary depending on the jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions only require employers to provide pay ranges if the candidate requests it, while others require employers to disclose it upfront, as evidenced by the recent California law requiring employers with 15 or more employees to include pay scale information in all job postings, including job postings on third-party sites, starting Jan. 1, 2023.
Employee Demand for Pay Transparency
The tight labor market has led employees to make new demands, such as remote working arrangements, enhanced benefits and more—among them is pay transparency. Pay-related websites, such as Glassdoor, have helped normalize pay transparency as an integral part of an individual’s employment search and facilitate employee-driven conversations about pay. Employees value transparency because it holds employers accountable for providing similar wages for similar roles, builds trust and helps employees easily see if they are being compensated fairly.
Visier’s 2022 Pay Transparency Pulse Report found the most important factor potential employees consider when deciding whether to apply for a job is their estimated compensation. Further, 11% of candidates will not apply or interview for a role without knowing the salary band, and 50% have completely abandoned an application or interview process because the pay did not meet their expectations once the employer revealed it. Salary information is important to job applicants because they want fair pay—competitive with the marketplace and in line with what they contributed—and to avoid applying and interviewing for jobs they ultimately won’t accept due to insufficient pay. Applicants also see pay transparency as a way to develop trust with their potential employer at the outset of the employment relationship.
Health insurance may be one of the most critical annual purchases since it impacts your physical, mental and financial wellness. Unfortunately, selecting a health insurance plan can feel overwhelming. With so many options, it can also be easy to make a mistake when selecting coverage.
This article explores six common missteps related to selecting a health insurance plan. Once armed with this information, it’ll be easier to avoid these mistakes and choose the best plan coverage for your situation.
Rushing Through Enrollment Options
Many people rush when buying their health insurance or only rely on recommendations from friends, family and co-workers. Others may simply reenroll with last year’s choices. But health insurance provides personal coverage, so it’s important to research and find what will work best for your health needs and budget.
When it comes time to enroll in a plan, compare different policies and understand their coverages and associated costs (e.g., premiums). One of the best ways to ensure the policy is right for your health needs is to consider your medical requirements and spending in the next year. Don’t forget to confirm in-network coverage to ensure your preferred doctor, clinic and pharmacy are connected in the new plan. Then, you can find the most suitable plan and coverage in an effort to simplify your health care and make it more affordable.
Overlooking Policy Documents
Another common mistake is skipping through or not thoroughly reading the policy’s terms and conditions. However, carefully reading a policy is the best way to know what to expect from the health plan and what the plan expects of you.
As such, read the fine print on each plan you consider before enrollment. Reviewing the policy’s inclusions and exclusions will help you make an informed decision and potentially avoid surprise bills later on.
A cost-sharing charge is an amount you must pay for a medical item or service covered by the health insurance plan. Plans typically have a deductible, copays and coinsurance. Here’s what those terms mean:
- The deductible is the amount you pay out of pocket before your health insurance starts to cover costs.
- A copay is a flat fee you pay upfront for doctor visits, prescriptions and other health care services.
- Coinsurance is the percentage you pay for covered health services after you’ve met your deductible.
When shopping for a plan, keep in mind that the deductible is tied to the premium. As such, a low deductible plan may seem attractive, but understand that it generally comes with a higher premium—and vice versa. Consider keeping your deductible to no more than 5% of your gross annual income. When shopping for a plan, look closely to see when you’ll have a copay and how much it will cost for various services.
Concealing Your Medical History
It may be tempting to avoid sharing your medical history if you’re worried about being rejected or receiving higher premiums. However, it could hurt you in the long run when insurance claims are denied for existing conditions or undisclosed medical information.
Health insurance add-ons are often included separately and require an additional premium, which means many people don’t look at them. A standard health insurance plan may not cover certain situations, so reviewing all available options is essential. An insurance add-on could help bolster your overall health insurance coverage by offering extra protection.
Review the add-on covers offered with your health insurance policy and see if any would be helpful for you, your family or plans in the next year. For example, some common add-ons include critical illness insurance, maternity and newborn baby insurance, hospital daily expenses and emergency ambulance services.
Selecting Insufficient Coverage
People may hold back on purchasing certain coverage to pay a lower premium. While that may seem advantageous in the short term, you’ll be on the hook for out-of-pocket costs when facing a medical emergency. This mistake may be accompanied by physical, mental and financial health consequences.
When selecting a plan, check that the policy provides adequate coverage for your medical needs and other essentials. The right health insurance can take care of yourself and ensure financial security.
Health insurance is an essential investment for you and your family. By avoiding common mistakes while buying health insurance, you’ll be better informed to enroll in a plan and other coverages.
As health care costs continue to rise, it’s more important than ever to carefully review available policies, consider your options and health needs, and, ultimately, select the best plan to protect your health and finances.
If you have more questions about health plans, contact your manager or HR.
Identifying and retaining key employees is especially important in light of ongoing attraction and retention difficulties many employers have been facing. According to Zywave’s 2022 Attraction and Retention Survey, more than 75% of employers consider attraction and retention to be among their top five business challenges. In response to changing work demands brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and trends such as the “Great Reshuffle”—a mass movement of workers from their current roles to positions that meet their shifting job expectations and priorities—retaining employees has become increasingly difficult for employers.
In order for organizations to continue to succeed, it is important that they are able to find and retain the best workers. These workers are those who affect performance and drive business for their employers, making them critical assets. This article provides more information on key employees, explains how to identify them and offers ways employers can retain such workers.
Key Employees Explained
Key employees are those whose skills, knowledge and excellent performance can be linked to their organizations’ overall success. There are different attributes that may contribute to workers who are critical to their organizations. Often, these employees have special proprietary knowledge, additional certifications, degrees or licenses that help their organizations function more efficiently.
Key employees may also help establish strong relationships within their organizations and with important external parties (e.g., clients). The primary takeaway is that key employees have a tangible impact on their companies and they are difficult to replace.
Identifying Key Employees
To retain key employees, employers have to know how to identify them. The traits of key employees may differ between organizations, but there are some general indicators of such workers. Specifically, these employees are known to:
- Exceed expectations—These employees consistently go above and beyond what they are expected to do.
- Enhance strategies—Such employees proactively search for ways to improve their companies’ strategies and operations without being told to do so.
- Affect performance—The presence of these employees is often connected to increased performance and their absence can have negative effects on overall results.
- Impact business relations—Losing such employees may hurt relationships with clients and vendors.
- Connect teams—These employees foster connections between various teams and help smaller team cultures blend into their companies’ larger cultures.
While there are several identifiers of key employees, these attributes are important ones that can help employers make general determinations regarding which workers are the most irreplaceable within their organizations.
How to Retain Key Employees
Identifying key employees only really helps organizations if they are able to retain them. Here are some ways employers can keep their key employees:
- Identify such workers. If employers cannot figure out who their key employees are, they are far less likely to be able to retain them.
- Maintain open communication. Openly communicating with key employees can ensure their needs are being met. If there is a lack of communication, it is more likely these employees will look to other roles and organizations where they feel they can voice their needs.
- Ensure competitive compensation. Key employees usually go above and beyond the duties set out in their roles. As such, employers should consider compensating them for that extra work. It may be a good idea to reevaluate compensation strategies before top-performing workers decide to leave for other organizations that may pay them more.
- Provide learning and development opportunities. Employees who overachieve are often eager to learn more and want their organizations to help them do so. Employers should consider offering learning and development opportunities both to satiate employees’ desires to learn, as well as help their workers continue to enhance their skill sets.
- Update employee benefits. Employers should ask their employees which benefits they get the most use out of and which additional offerings they might like to see. Part of retaining key employees is ensuring they receive benefits and compensation that match their needs, so it is important to determine whether their current benefits offerings help achieve those goals.
As employers strive to keep key employees, it remains crucial to treat all employees fairly, particularly when making employment decisions related to compensation, promotions and learning and development opportunities. Organizations should ensure their performance management practices comply with all applicable employment laws.
Key employees are vital to the success of their organizations, so it is important to figure out who they are and how to keep them. Employers should stay alert to indicators of key employees within their organizations and figure out those workers’ desires so they can implement effective strategies to retain them.
For more information on attraction and retention, contact RISQ Consulting today.
There’s no denying that employees’ needs have changed over the past few years. As such, employers can offer benefits to meet evolving worker needs shaped by lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, a tight labor market and rising inflation. Many workers are paying more attention to their benefits and wondering how to stretch their dollars further.
Benefits have always been crucial for attracting and retaining top performers. For 2023, employers are uniquely positioned to offer more than just a health care plan, including holistic benefits, resources and perks that today’s workers most need. This article highlights benefits that are likely to be popular in 2023.
It’s no secret that health care costs in the United States have risen sharply over the past two decades and will likely continue to increase. Health care affordability is top of mind for employers and employees alike. As employers search for ways to manage their health care costs, some are considering voluntary benefits as a strategy to round off their offerings. A rising number of organizations recognize that voluntary benefits are advantageous to employees and their families—and many come at no cost to the employer.
Consider the following popular secondary benefits employers are offering:
- Accident insurance
- Critical Illness
- Hospital indemnity insurance
- Disability insurance
- Life insurance
- Identify theft protection
- Pet insurance
Voluntary benefits can provide value to employees without raising an employer’s costs, making them powerful tools for attracting and retaining top workers.
Financial Wellness Benefits
Many employees are feeling financially strained due to record-high inflation. Not only will inflation impact employees’ decisions about benefits, but it may also result in a need for financial wellness education and guidance.
However, financial wellness benefits must go beyond only offering educational resources to be impactful. Organizations can boost their attraction to today’s workers by offering the following types of desired financial wellness benefits:
- Retirement plan options with matching contribution
- Health savings account contribution
- Flexible spending account contribution
- Financial planning assistance and coaching
- Lifestyle spending account
- Transportation benefits
- Employee discount or purchase program
- Financial reimbursements (e.g., tuition or student loan repayment plans, caregiving support funds and professional development stipends)
With any of those offerings, education will remain a necessary component to increase employee utilization. Employers are uniquely positioned to help employees understand the importance of these benefits and can help them increase their financial literacy with additional resources and tools.
Health Care Full Premium Coverage
As health care costs continue to skyrocket, some employers choose to pay 100% of employees’ monthly health care premiums. For reference, the Kaiser Family Foundation reports the monthly average for employer contributions in 2021 was 83%. This type of benefit is more common in small organizations. Fully paid health plans could be a key differentiator for workers weighing their employment options.
Family-building benefits are becoming increasingly popular with employees, as they inclusively support the unique and complex ways individuals and couples build their families. Employers are also focusing on ways to support reproductive health care. Such benefits can provide employees peace of mind as employers demonstrate their emotional and financial support for employees’ decisions to build a family.
Additionally, many employers are increasingly prioritizing parental leave. According to Mercer data, 70% of employers are already offering or planning to offer parental leave in 2023, while 53% are providing or planning to provide paid adoption leave. Adoption and surrogacy benefits are also on the rise, in addition to access to fertility treatment coverage.
To round out family-friendly benefits, large employers are also considering on-site childcare or access to backup childcare services.
Organizations can start optimizing benefits packages by evaluating employee preferences and thinking about ways to improve offerings or tailor them for their workforce. To ensure offerings and investments will resonate with employees, organizations should consider surveying them first. It’s important to keep a pulse on employees and see what they find most valuable and necessary for their overall well-being as lives continue to be impacted by COVID-19, inflation and any other personal challenges.
Reach out to RISQ Consulting to learn more about trending employee benefits.
By Ashley Snodgrass, Employee Benefits Analyst
The RISQ Consulting Team has been proud to sponsor a company book club for the last few years. Our book club has led to many insightful discussions about client experience, productivity, effective meeting structure, team dynamics, leadership and more. Some of these ideas have even led to tangible and beneficial changes in our organization.
Most recently, our team read The Signals Are Talking: Why Today’s Fringe is Tomorrow’s Mainstream by Amy Webb. Amy Webb is a noted Futurist and founder of the Future Today Institute. Webb works to help companies and individuals understand how to interpret signals as information that can be used in planning for the future. According to the Future Today Institute (FTI) website, FTI works with companies to prepare leaders for “deep uncertainty and complex futures”. Amy Webb wrote The Signals Are Talking: Why Today’s Fringe is Tomorrow’s Mainstream to bring futurist thinking to a wider audience.
In this book, Webb illustrates a multi-step process in which the reader can test patterns in societal behavior to determine which are more likely to turn into trends or stick long-term, as well as offer insight on how to think like a futurist. Webb also includes helpful graphics and supplemental resources to allow the reader to implement this process in their own organization.
The purpose of reading this book as a team was to encourage discussions about innovation. After reading, members of the book club met and discussed how varying technologies will impact our industry. We also discussed how we can leverage the NEW to benefit our clients and their employees. This resulted in RISQ creating a more robust and tech-forward employee communications package, which has become a high value service to our clients.
You may not be able to adopt all of the great ideas stored between the pages of a book club book, but when you share the experience of reading you are guaranteed to have at least one great outcome; it builds better comradery. And building better comradery is one positive trend that I know will stick around long-term.
As a reminder, if you want to start a book club in your own organization, I recommend checking out this post – for more tips to a successful start. Happy Reading!
By Andrew Kupperman, Employer Services and Workforce Technology Consultant
These days everyone seems to have an overabundance of time on their hands, so I’m sure you spent that free time attending HR Executive Magazine’s HR Tech Virtual conference last week. But just in case you found something more interesting to do (which is unlikely), I wanted to share the 10 themes that were presented as organizational imperatives. These are the 10 areas that an organization should dedicate some love and attention to in order to keep doing what they do best for the foreseeable future.
If you haven’t heard of the HR Technology conferences before, they bring together organizational and business thought leaders from all corners of the earth, who talk about the struggles businesses are faced with now, and in the future, and what’s happening within workforce technology to help solve these problems. Check out the link below to the article, 10 Themes From HR Tech Virtual to Help You Prepare for the Coming Decade.
By Ashley Snodgrass, Employee Benefits Analyst
It is not too late for you to set goals for your company for 2022, specifically surrounding employee retention strategies, which are needed now more than ever. Each year, RISQ Consulting clients have access to the Employee Benefits Market Outlook. We encourage you to incorporate some trends and insights from the experts.
Download the full 2022 Employee Benefits Market Outlook here. Below are some highlights of what to expect and focus on in 2022:
- Renewed Focus On Employees – “Should their current employers fail to provide sufficient value in terms of salary, benefits, and upward mobility, workers are more willing and able than ever to find employers who will.”
- Expectations – “Employees have higher expectations and greater leverage than ever.”
- Spending Balance – “Health care costs are set to rise considerably as a greater number of patients seek services that were deferred during the pandemic. This leaves employers in a position of needing to rein in spending while still providing competitive benefit offerings to attract and retain top talent.”
- Focus Behavior Health – “The pandemic also shed light on workplace issues that have been unaddressed for years, particularly concerning behavioral health. Approximately 4 in 10 U.S. adults have reported feelings of anxiety or symptoms of depression during the pandemic, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. These issues should be top of mind for many employers as they witness firsthand how quickly personal health problems can bleed into the professional realm.”
- Are You Considering All Your Options – “In 2022, employers will need to be strategic about reining in health care costs. A long-standing mitigation method is increasing employees’ share of health plan costs. But, that might generate more problems for an employer; after all, many individuals are struggling financially and are prepared to leave their jobs for those with better benefits offerings. With that in mind, employers will need to tread lightly when addressing rising health care costs. One strategy for cutting costs is adopting an alternative health plan model.”
- Rising Pharmacy Costs – “The best method for reducing prescription drug costs without cost-shifting is through employee education.”
- Employee Education is Key – “The education employers invest in now will be repaid later through healthier employees and reduced health expenses.”
- Holistic Benefits – “As more employers realize issues like depression, anxiety, financial uncertainty, caregiving stressors and substance addiction—all rampant during the pandemic—can greatly affect workplace performance and turnover rates, [voluntary benefits] have never been more important.”
You may have heard of health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) before. These are employer-sponsored savings accounts that reimburse you for certain medical expenses.
An individual coverage HRA (ICHRA) is similar—it uses funds from your employer to help pay for certain medical expenses. However, there are some important features of ICHRAs that you should understand.
This article explains more about ICHRAs and how they may be used.
Comparing HRAs to ICHRAs
As previously stated, HRAs reimburse you for certain medical costs. Such expenses might include those associated with doctor visits, medical procedures and prescriptions, depending on the plan. To qualify for an HRA, you must be enrolled in your employer’s group health plan.
ICHRAs are a bit different. These accounts can reimburse you for certain medical expenses, your insurance premium or both. Whether your ICHRA will cover both your premium and medical expenses (or just one) will vary by employer.
To qualify for an ICHRA, you must enroll in individual health coverage using a Health Insurance Marketplace (Marketplace), a private insurer, Medicare or another method. In other words, you cannot be enrolled in an employer’s group health plan and qualify for an ICHRA.
Additionally, any dependents (e.g., a spouse or children) you have on your individual health plan would also be able to use ICHRA funds.
How ICHRAs Work
On a very basic level, here’s how an ICHRA works:
- You obtain individual health coverage through a Marketplace or another method rather than purchasing health coverage through your employer.
- Your employer contributes a set amount every month into your ICHRA so you can be reimbursed for certain expenses as they are incurred. Contributions and reimbursements are both tax-free. Your employer decides which expenses are eligible for reimbursement under the plan’s terms.
- Unused funds at the end of the plan year may go back to the employer or carry over, depending on the plan.
It’s as simple as that!
Speak with HR to learn more about the ICHRA options available to you.
By Andrew Kupperman, Employer Services and Workforce Technology Consultant
Within just the last year, much has changed relative to the way organizations operate. I feel the most impactful change, which may be felt as a more lasting impression, is the way organizations recruit and retain employees. Some say we’re going through a revolution in the workplace. They liken what’s happening to The Great Depression by calling it the “Great Resignation”.
While these analogies do hit home relative to the sentiments of our times, I’d like to use my own metaphor. What we’re experiencing right now is a Perfect Storm. We have:
An ongoing pandemic. This has forced many business models to shift structure to accommodate remote work, now and in the future.
A shift in generational worker mindset. This has caused a shift in organizational values away from prioritizing the bottom line and towards providing flexibility, meaning, and value to the clients, employees, and community that an organization serves.
A transformation in compensation mindset. This is forcing organizations to consider their strategy and practices related to pay equity, pay equality, and pay gaps.
How organizations alter course relative to this Perfect Storm can determine if they sink or swim. Below are some of the employee attributes I believe are best suited to weather the storm and help an organization find calmer seas.
The changes we’ve faced over the last almost 2 years have forced many into personal and professional changes they weren’t ready for nor were they expecting. Those who are riding out this big wave of change are doing so mainly because they’ve kept open minds about change, found effective coping mechanisms, and remembered that change is the only thing that’s constant.
Having adaptability attributes will only put an organization in a better position to tackle future change, which is inevitable. Employees who can easily adapt can also help those who are change adverse understand and jump the “what’s in it for me” hurdle, which seems to be a constant barrier for those who don’t react well to having change forced upon them.
As we seem to be in a flux of constant change, organizations that are rising to the top are not just those that are weathering the storm – they are riding those tall waves to new heights. Love him or hate him, Elon Musk has just successfully sent civilians to space through his SpaceX program. Being a billionaire has its perks, though Mr. Musk probably doesn’t achieve this feat without some of the most innovative talent on his team.
Having employees who want to help create something new and can think out-of-the-box to get there (even in the middle of a perfect storm), can only help organizations develop innovative products and services that provide new value to who they serve.
We’ve all been through a lot over the last 2 years. Having employees who can be sympathetic and empathetic to other’s plights, can help other employees feel cared for and supported through times of need. You’d hope most organizations practice this throughout their various hierarchies, but many businesses have faced difficult decisions recently. Having the attribute of emotional intelligence widely spread within an organization can only help those facing turmoil, be able to feel supported enough to get through it. If your organization as a whole is able to do this, it’s leaving lasting positive impressions for that employee.
Accountability and Clarity
These attributes may be tough for many organizations to identify because they might not have built a great structure to help keep employees accountable in the first place. Focusing on these attributes and identifying who (whether in or outside of an organization) consistently sets clear expectations of themselves based on organizational needs, and then holds themselves to these expectations is a huge blessing. These individuals need to become example setters within any organization, especially in times of disruption and change.
Many employees might question that the organization owns the role to set expectations and keep employee accountable, so organizations need to consider a thoughtful way to approach the fact that these are highly valued attributes, and how to properly encourage and recognize positive outcomes when employees display creating clarity and accountability.
Valuing Own Needs
This is no longer your grandad’s workplace environment. The shift in what’s valued when someone chooses to work with an organization has changed. Organizations that don’t pivot based on this shift will become obsolete because eventually they won’t be able to find employees who want to work for them. Finding employees who understand and can communicate what they value is a key component to the shift we’ve seen. Organizations can’t identify what their employees’ value in a vacuum. Employees must be able to communicate their needs.
Whether it’s flexibility, community and social awareness, or work-life balance, employees who can clearly express these values and hold themselves and the organization accountable (see prior attribute) when these values are being abused, can only help themselves as well as the organization in meeting these values. I feel the need to ask, would you rather work with someone who can stand up for their values or someone who’d let you walk all over them?
Finding and fostering these attributes may be different than how your organization recruits new employees, or even considers what attributes currently exist across employees. But being able to identify them, and more importantly, encourage them to be used, may just be the ticket to getting to those calmer seas. Happy sailing!