Flex Up

Organizations can achieve benefits by offering employees sought-after flexibility, but best practices should be followed. By Greg Besner Work-life balance is more important than it used to be. While previous generations didn’t question the nine-to-five workday format, modern job seekers are willing to forgo higher paying positions based on company culture alone, according to research from Fidelity. Whether telecommuting, working four 10-hour days, working part-time or simply adjusting the start or end times of a workday, flexible work schedules can increase commitment and retention. As more companies offer flexibility, they reap the rewards. According to the Harvard Business Review, the benefits of flex time go both ways, offering employers increased coverage hours, a recruitment edge, less use of paid leave and results-driven management. Employees, in turn, experience higher satisfaction and morale, reduced stress and often more efficient and productive use of their time.

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Three Game Changers

Flexibility, data, and personalization are shaping the way organizations deliver employee benefits. By Chris Bruce In years past, employee benefits were seen as the status quo elements of HR. Employees and employers alike grew accustomed to the same list of standard benefits—from healthcare to retirement options. However, in recent years, this mentality has shifted as employees have demanded more of the companies they work for—not only in terms of the benefits they receive, but also in how they are able to interact with their benefits packages. In response to this heightened awareness from today’s workforce, HR professionals have put a renewed focus on benefits schemes when it comes to attraction and retention strategies. A new report from Thomson, Global Employee Benefits Watch, finds a clear disconnect between employees’ demand for personalized benefits and the employers’ ability to deliver those benefits. This reveals a missed opportunity for HR professionals to leverage employee data to drive relevancy.

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Making Cents

Choosing the right reimbursement program pays off. By Craig Powell By 2020, mobile workers will account for 72 percent of the total U.S. workforce, according to a recent report by IDC. Given this anticipated growth, it’s imperative that employers fairly and accurately reimburse their employees for any business-related driving expenses. Radio Shack, Walgreens, and Starbucks (see sidebar) are just a few of the organizations that have been involved in reimbursement-related lawsuits, which proves that no business—not even a high-profile one—is exempt from ensuring employees’ business-related expenses are covered. Lawsuits like these show that many of today’s employers don’t fully understand how to accurately and fairly reimburse mobile employees for business mileage. Many choose to use cents-per-mile programs, which have long been used to because they are easy to administer and can oftentimes be paid tax-free. But many employers don’t have the full confidence that they’re providing the most accurate and cost-effective reimbursement program.

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The Mercer Report: Are You Ready For Change?

By Sharon Cunninghis A perfect storm is brewing in the healthcare benefits market. Be prepared. Employers are pivotal players in today’s healthcare system, but their role has remained remarkably passive. Yes, organizations absorb much of the cost of coverage, ensure that they are in compliance with the complicated requirements of the Affordable Care Act, and provide many of the tools their employees need as insurance consumers. However, a transformation is long overdue. Regardless of the fate of the ACA under a new Republican administration, nearly two-thirds of all insured coverage in the U.S. is provided by employers, who collectively spend nearly $1 trillion annually on health benefits for their work forces. Benefit cost increases outpace overall inflation, and 14.2 percent of payroll is allocated to healthcare benefits, according to Mercer’s National Survey of Employer Sponsored Health Plans. Healthcare is at the center of impending change. New tech-based entrants are adding more pressure to health plans, which are also facing consolidation pressures.

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Watching the Clock

FLSA’s new overtime pay regulations are set to have major organizational and financial implications. By Rosemarie Hill A major change to the Fair Labor Standards Act, originally slated for December 1, 2016, has been put on hold – but don’t forget about it altogether. While a federal district court in Texas has issued a nationwide preliminary injunction prohibiting the Department of Labor from implementing its revised overtime rule, it does not mean that the DOL’s new overtime rule is invalid. The final rule was poised to double the salary level required for employees to be exempt from overtime under the FLSA, but a consolidated lawsuit originally fi led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and 21 separate states triggered an injunction. Judges generally do not issue such injunctions unless they think the underlying case has a substantial likelihood of succeeding, and this court admonished that the rule change “is contrary to the statutory text and Congress’s intent” and that “Congress, not the (DOL) should make (the) change.

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A Healthy Approach

New research provides a blueprint for executing well-being programs. By Ruth A. Hunt Well-being seems to be one of the latest HR buzzwords among employers. And it’s no longer just physical wellness. Organizations today need to consider how to support their employees’ mental, emotional, financial, and professional well-being. Conduent HR Services’ 2016 HR services survey, Working Well: A Global Survey of Workforce Well-being Strategies, explores current approaches and practices of employers in supporting employee well-being in this scope. Enhancing employees’ total well-being has become a business imperative for almost 60 percent of organizations globally, even when quantifying the hard-dollar return on investment can be challenging. Improving performance is a top objective globally as employers seek to help reduce barriers to employee productivity and retention such as employee absenteeism. In fact, 75 percent of respondents see their health promotion programs as an important element in their employee value proposition.

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CEO’s Letter: America’s Workforce Policy and HR’s Never-Ending Burden

You all ready for the new overtime requirements for workers earning $47,476 or less per year? Of course you are. Finally HR got the Affordable Care Act (ACA) healthcare selection process and program choices up on employee portals. No problem—they have been there for a few years. Ready for the extra bathroom? Of course, why is that an issue? As we close out of the bizarre political season that was 2016, I cannot remember a year when more political fallout landed in the lap of HR. The change in overtime regulations that began in 2014 and seemed to be rendered by an online poll—that may be harsh but I cannot understand the math on this one—was just stopped by a federal judge days before implementation and after everyone was ready. For the sake of the poor overworked people in HR, could someone have checked with a lawyer before announcing the effective date? I am just saying. As the political candidates sparred over the merits of the ACA, we all had to manage the aspects of it that effected company healthcare plans and policies.

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HRO Today 2017 Resource Guide

We know that the readers of HRO Today magazine turn to us as a go-to resource in the HR industry that delivers trends, insights, and the top resources for all of their HR operations and service needs. In our annual resource guide, we aim to showcase providers and product vendors across 18 sectors of HR services.

Here, you will find providers of everything from recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) to benefits administration and multi-process HRO, not to mention a treasure trove of HR technology, consulting services, and other ancillary products.

We hope that our 2017 Resource Guide will serve you well as a starting point in your search for appropriate vendors.

View the 2017 Resource Guide here

A La Carte

A new total rewards strategy allows employees to select specific benefits that accommodate their lifestyle. By Craig Dolezal Organizations are facing an unprecedented shift in the makeup of the workforce that is changing the way employers are thinking about their benefits programs. This has happened before, and organizations have risen to the challenge. Take, for example, employer-sponsored health insurance programs were introduced to the market due to post-WWII wage controls and a need to hire and retain employees in a growing economy with rewards that went beyond cash compensation. In today’s market, the cost of benefits and rewards are continuing to go up. As benefits fees continue to outpace wage increases, benefits will eat up nearly half of total compensation spend by 2024. In spite of the increasing spend, employees don’t really see any differentiation in the rewards their employers provide. In fact, the majority of respondents to Aon Hewitt’s 2016 Workforce Mindset study said that when they compare their rewards to those offered by other employers, nothing really stands out.

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Financially Insecure

Employees don't feel in control of their finances. Here's how organizations can help. By James Reid Employers play a large and important role in educating employees to help them address their rising financial concerns. This is the key finding from MetLife's 14th annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study (EBTS), which found that just 46 percent of all employees expect their personal financial situation to get better in the next year, compared to over half (52 percent) in 2014. Similarly, just 44 percent of employees felt in control of their finances. This may be why employees, particularly Millennials, are looking to their employers for support to achieve financial security. The study found that just under half of Millennials (44 percent) said they wanted their employer to help them solve their financial concerns, a response more than double that of boomers. In addition, the majority of employees (65 percent) said that their employers have a responsibility for the financial wellbeing of their employees.

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