Archive for the ‘General’ Category

The Use of Health and Wellness Rewards Increases

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

New research from Mercer LLC shows a 3% increase in use of carrot style rewards in the context of health and wellness programs. These health and wellness rewards are largely tied to employees’ achieving a certain change or reaching a certain biometric range for preventable conditions like obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, etc. According to the research, 23% of large employers are using positive reinforcements as health and wellness rewards.

A Towers Watson study from September also indicates an increase in outcome-based health and wellness rewards, with 18% using them currently and 10% planning to add programs in 2015. While some health and wellness industry professionals believe the days of spot rewards are over, in favor of an organizational shift towards discounting insurance costs, this shift is only being observed by larger firms. While smaller businesses cannot absorb the financial impact of larger policy discounts, spot rewards offer an alternative with the potential to scale up or add larger rewards at a later date.

The increased use of health and wellness rewards at a variety of levels, from small spot rewards like gift cards to large discounts on health insurance, signals a larger trend. Health and wellness programs and health and wellness rewards are becoming a mainstream, integral part of the way benefits and healthcare are delivered from employers to employees. Health and wellness rewards has become a mechanism for employers to make healthcare more affordable for employees, while also ensuring their workforce is healthy and productive, and healthcare is also affordable at the organizational level.

For more information on health and wellness rewards and how they are being used, head over to BusinessInsurance.com.  

Reduce Employee Turnover to Provide Revenue Stability

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

No company can completely eliminate employee turnover, but at a time of year where employees could be looking for something new, it’s important for HR departments and management teams to focus on minimizing employee turnover. Turnover has direct and indirect costs associated. Research from the Center for American Progress discovered that it costs employers about one fifth of an employee’s salary to replace them. This includes time spent training and getting a new employee up to speed. Indirect costs can be felt in other areas, and often by other team members as new employees get ramped up to full productivity. Here are three ways to minimize employee turnover and maximize productivity and your bottom line.

  1. Let staffers know they matter: Show employees you care about the investment they make in their work. They give a lot of themselves and it is important to recognize their hard work. Small rewards, like a Friday afternoon off or a small denomination gift card to a restaurant like Boston Market, The Cheesecake Factory or Papa John’s are great, low cost ways to show employees that they are the most important part of your organization.
  2. Fight burnout: Don’t let your employees get burned out. It seems basic, but so often employers don’t stop to take the pulse of their staff. The risk of employee turnover is highest when employees are feeling mentally exhausted and frustrated at work. So try providing breaks from the office grind, like a team lunch or flexible work hours to help combat burn out.
  3. Give back: Corporations are citizens of their community too. Corporate community service is a great way to both prove to employees that the organization cares about their community and gives back to it, and it provides a fantastic team building opportunity for colleagues to serve their community together.

These ideas are just a start. For more ways to combat employee turnover, head over to Entrepreneur.com.

The Importance of the Employee Suggestion Box

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Suggestion-boxThe employee suggestion box may seem like an antiquated concept. Who is going to drop a crumpled up piece of paper into a box, or send and email to an anonymous email address? With that attitude, no one. However, Hugh Molotsi, VP of Innovation at Intuit Labs, believes that employee ideas can be the most underutilized tool in an employer’s innovation strategy.

Here’s the scenario: Your company encounters a large organizational issue. Senior management can’t solve it. So, the organization spends thousands, if not millions, to bring in a consultant to try to solve the problem. It may work in the long-term, but how can you ensure ROI on such a huge investment? Alternatively, you could pose a brainstorm contest or competition (think like a hack-a-thon) to your employees, spend a couple hundred dollars bringing in lunch or dinner for the staff, and empower your employees to find the fix.

Not only have you saved an enormous amount of money, but you’ve given your employees the opportunity to have a direct impact on shaping your organization. Employee suggestions can turn into real solutions to problems and real improvements in your organization, without bringing in expensive and sometimes disruptive consultants.

Do you invite your employees into organization strategy sessions or problem solving exercises? If you don’t, it might be time to consider a change in 2015.

Employee Health Keeps Costs Low

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Employee Health & WellnessIt’s the time of year for diets, gym membership renewals and for some, delusions of grandeur about a healthier year. The key is to turn that burst of enthusiasm into long-term healthy habits that help employees fall into routines that are here to stay for the long haul.

Healthy employees miss less work, and are more productive, focused and hungrier to move up and improve. So how can we bring good habits to employees that foster healthier, and ultimately stronger, contributors? The answer is simple. Bring the health and wellness initiative into the workplace.

From zumba classes at lunch and yoga happy hours, to health-conscious gift card reward options like CVS/pharmacy and Whole Foods Market for reaching weight loss goals or maintaining those habits, employee health and wellness is a win-win for the entire company.

While employees get healthier, healthcare costs get reduced for both employees and employers. One example of this is at USI insurance. If employees and spouses agreed to annual biometrics screenings, healthcare costs could drop as much as 30%. While some employees can find these screenings invasive, 89% of USI employees enrolled in the program, finding the discount to be worth the tradeoff of the screenings. The impact that the discount has on employees and their family budgets is significant, and they can attribute that financial relief to their employer.

If that’s not enough motivation to keep those new year’s resolutions, then I don’t know what is. For more information on the impact employee health has on your business and it’s staff, check out this article in the Orange County Register.

Company Culture Leads to Employee Empowerment

Friday, January 16th, 2015

Company CultureThe most effective employees are those that feel empowered to do their job and learn and grow into the best contributor they can, not those that feel caught up in a hierarchy or a corporate system. Although employee engagement and employee empowerment are important in creating a successful workforce, according to a recent Inc.com article, emphasizing these two key components can actually be counter intuitive. Here are a few tips to creating employee empowerment and engagement without emphasizing it.

  • Live Out Organizational Beliefs: Your organizational decision making patterns and how you shape your company is your company culture. Don’t spend time trying to artificially create company culture. If you make decisions to the best of your ability and knowledge, the culture of employee empowerment and employee engagement will follow.
  • Company Culture Breeds Employee Engagement and Empowerment: Semco increased their revenue by two and a half times and attributes the dramatic growth to an empowered and engaged workforce. Neither empowerment or engagement are emphasized. There is no engagement program, no employee rewards. Just a great company culture that rewards hard work and results. The company culture crafts the desired employee behavior, and vice versa.

Company culture and employee empowerment and engagement are inextricably linked. Don’t push one and you’ll create both. For more information head over to Inc.com.

Embracing Employee Imperfection

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Nobody's perfect, that's why pencils have erasers.Our society, and our work standards, strive toward perfection. We sometimes feel we must be perfect, the perfect boss, the perfect employee, the perfect parent, etc. We may even think that making no mistakes is the best possible scenario and that a squeaky clean record at work, and in life, is what it’s all about.

Well let’s think about challenging that notion. According to Kate Hamill of the Freelancer’s Union, weaknesses and mistakes can actually bring out some of our other strengths and can help harvest self-reflection that makes us, our staff, our managers and our organizations more successful.

Your weaknesses are inextricably tied up in your strengths. Every cause has an effect and every action a reaction. If you invert your weaknesses, you will uncover your strengths. This is where employee imperfection is key. There is no way to invert perfection, nothing to learn from it. Employees can’t grow from perfect, and frankly perfection is boring. There’s no evolution or growth that comes from perfection and stagnation can be unfulfilling.

When employee imperfection is embraced, it can lead to self-compassion. Employees who learn to give themselves a break, instead of getting frustrated, give themselves a chance to improve upon their discovered weaknesses and get a lot farther in their careers. Self-teaching and independent growth are valuable skills that breed great team members and hard workers.

Weaknesses don’t have to be negative, but rather should be looked at as the ultimate opportunity, not to achieve employee perfection, for employee growth potential.

Starting 2015 with Employee Motivation

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

ilovemyjobAs we embark on 2015 and our workforce has shaken off the holiday rust it’s important to think about how to maintain a culture of motivation not just through the cold winter months but throughout the year. Here are a few ways to keep employee motivation, productivity and job satisfaction at the top of your company’s priority list all year long.

  • Encourage Ownership: Giving employees autonomy and freedom allows them to grow into their roles and feel real ownership and accountability for their position. It motivates employees to work harder and keeps employee goals in mind. Keep their eyes on the prize and the work and satisfaction will accomplish itself.
  • Define Culture: If your employees are not only working for their clients, but for the “good of the company” too, it is important to define what that “good” is. Having a defined culture with guidelines and expectations keeps management and the workforce on the same page. This way everyone’s expectations can be met and even exceeded.
  • Create a Successful Atmosphere: Remember when your mom told you to dress for success? Well the same should go for your office. Creating an atmosphere where employees can succeed is critical. This can mean something different for each organizations with depending on the culture. For some, it may be creating flexible workspace, for others, collaborative space and/or quiet individual space. Whatever success looks like for your organization, make sure your office space reflects that.

For more information on establishing and maintaining employee motivation throughout the year, head over to Forbes.

4 Bonuses for Mobile Payments

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

mobile-paymentConsumers have begun an organic transition into mobile payments and digital currencies. They are slowly filing cash, check, and credit cards right into the history book, next to the floppy disks and video tapes.

One example of this is the steady increase in demand for cell phone cases that come equipped with built in credit card slots.  Consumers are naturally inclined to forgo the paper and plastic and move towards options that provide a simpler, more convenient method of payment.

Take, for example, Accenture’s 2014 North America Consumer Payments Survey where they studied 4,000 consumers in the United States to conclude that nearly half of them are already using mobile payment options, a 24% increase since 2012. What’s more, Whole Foods Market  just announced to The Wall Street Journal that it has processed 150,000 Apple Pay transactions in their first three weeks of integration, estimated at around 1% of the company’s sales, the same market share percentage Steve Jobs set as the first year target for the iPhone.

I know what your thinking, how does this relate to gift cards? 

This trend, geared towards electronic payments, is mirrored in the gift card industry. 59% of the 62 gift cards surveyed by Bankrate.com as part of its 2014 Gift Card Survey are now offered in digital form. Ben Jackson, director of Mercator Advisory Group’s prepaid advisory service, tells Bankrate that, “Retailers and shoppers are getting more comfortable with the idea of a digital gift card and it’s going to continue to grow, just like everything else is becoming more digital.”

Here are 4 bonuses that electronic gift card’s will bring to you:

  1. Quick fix – They can be purchased online or with a smartphone and then sent to the recipient via email, text message, app or even Facebook.
  2. Never lost – They don’t take up excess real estate in your wallet and and they will never be tossed in the abyss of the junk drawer.
  3. Easy loyalty program solution – Merchants are beginning to pair their digital gift cards with existing or enhanced loyalty programs.
  4. Personalization – Ben Jackson personalizes his digital gift cards in his own way, “If I want to send you a (digital) gift card and I want to put a picture of me as a dancing elf on it, I can do that.”

Health and Wellness with Balance and Positivity

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

photo_2468_20070711Health and wellness programs have an important place in both current HR practices and in the near future for 2015. In a recent survey by the NBGH and Fidelity Investments, 93% of  employers indicated an increase or maintained funding for wellness-based incentive programs. So it seems health and wellness programs are here to stay, despite some backlash from both employees and industry pundits. There are a few keys to a successful long-term health and wellness strategy, here are a couple of points we think are important to note.

  1. Balance: Employers need to balance the priorities of their health and wellness programs with their employees’ privacy. Requiring invasive testing or asking an enormous amount of personal questions to require entry into a health and wellness program is probably the wrong way to go. Find simple baseline metrics and provide suggestions for additional metrics that employees can track privately if they want to. Keeping the program light and upbeat will lower the barrier to entry and increase participation.
  2. Positivity: In the carrot vs. stick metaphor, always stick with the carrots. Incentives work better as motivators than disincentives. Charging $100 extra on health insurance premiums alienates employees, while offering gift cards to healthy retailers makes employees feel included and encouraged to keep up a healthy lifestyle.

For more information on how to keep your health and wellness program successful and long-running check out articles from NPR and Employee Benefits News.

Crowdsourcing Employee Innovation

Friday, December 19th, 2014

Innovation can be hard to come by, especially during December when everyone is counting down the days until the holiday break. Crowdsourcing ideas is one great way to help get the innovative juices flowing and build camaraderie among colleagues.

Here are 3 ways to cultivate and maintain your team’s efforts:

Be Realistic: Identify key organizational challenges and use team competitions like a “hackathon” or a full team brainstorming day to allow employees to innovate and overcome the key challenges for the organization. This gives employees ownership of their company and the competition gives the employer solutions to major issues within their organization.

Provide Basic Training: Instead of giving your employees the proverbial fish, teach them to fish. Provide enough comprehensive training to let employees’ minds run free to create constructive and innovative solutions to problems.

Be Specific: Frame employee innovation competitions around specific initiatives. Trying to solve one problem at a time focuses employee innovations and allows thoughts and ideas to be more creative. Focused initiatives also make problems seem more realistic to solve.

Employee innovation can be a powerful tool to transform your business externally and internally. For more ideas on how to cultivate employee innovation check out this article from Inc.com.