Best of 2016: Health Tops Retirement in Financial Resolutions

Health Tops Retirement in Financial Resolutions - Best of 2016: Health Tops Retirement in Financial Resolutions

Life expectancy is increasing, Social Security benefits are shrinking, and a recent study shows that 54 percent of Americans have too little saved to ensure an adequate income stream after they collect their last paycheck. Given these facts, you’d expect more of your workers’ New Year’s resolutions to focus on retirement—but that’s not the case.

According to the New Year’s Resolutions Survey from Allianz Life Insurance Company, 44 percent of respondents plan to put their focus on health and wellness this year. Only 29 percent were pledging to improve their financial security in 2016, followed by 13 percent who were going to make changes to their career or employment and 9 percent who were determined to enhance their education.

If you’re not currently offering benefits to help your employees meet this highly popular goal, you may want to do so as soon as possible. According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) Strategic Benefits Survey, 69 percent of companies offer some type of wellness program, resource or service to their workers. Among them, 40 percent increased their investment in employee wellness initiatives in 2015.

Their employees responded favorably; 52 percent reported that employee participation in wellness initiatives had increased over the prior year, in part due to the incentives or rewards they offered including:

  • Reduced healthcare premiums (45 percent)
  • Gift cards (37 percent)
  • Company gift items (25 percent)
  • Recognition (20 percent)
  • Time off from work (7 percent)
  • Bonus or cash (7 percent)
  • Contributions to HSA/HRA (3 percent)

Assisting your employees with their health-related resolutions (such as to exercise more, lose weight or lower their blood pressure) can help you attract better job candidates and retain your best workers. Twenty-four percent of employee participants in the SHRM survey said workplace wellness programs were a “very important” contributor to job satisfaction.

But that’s not all; wellness initiatives are also good for your bottom line. Seventy-seven percent of employers said the initiatives had been “somewhat” or “very effective” in decreasing their company’s cost of healthcare. Eighty-two percent said the initiatives were “very effective” or “somewhat” effective in improving the physical health of their company’s workers—an important factor in productivity.

If you need a few suggestions to integrate into your own workplace wellness initiative, consider the following—some of which won’t cost you a dime:

  • Walking meetings
  • Onsite fitness classes
  • Onsite preventative screenings
  • Onsite fitness and weight loss tracking
  • Departmental and interdepartmental weight loss competitions
  • Walking or “Steps per Day” challenges
  • Reimbursement for gym membership
  • Stress management assistance
  • Goal-setting assistance
  • Support groups
  • Healthy vending machine alternatives
  • Mandatory vacation
  • Group participation in community running and cycling events

If you’re ready to get started with a workplace wellness program, we can help. Contact us for further suggestions, currently available benefits and more.

Mitigate Your Exposure to ACA Penalties

1610 EB 1 Mitigate Your Exposure to ACA Penalties - Mitigate Your Exposure to ACA Penalties

While the current political landscape suggests changes may be looming for the Affordable Care Act, it is important to ensure you are aware of the law in its current state and what penalty risks you may face.

The most complicated component of the ACA for most companies is the Shared Responsibility requirement. It requires people to secure a minimum level of health care protection and they also require companies with more than 50 full-time employees to offer their workers budget friendly health insurance options.

Companies who presently fail to offer coverage considered acceptable under the ACA can face fines of $2,000 per full-time worker.

Companies with high labor costs and minimal profit margins are typically the most exposed to potential ACA penalties. This includes businesses involved in logistics, hospitality, and retail spaces. (Due to rule changes, many formerly part-time employees were reclassified as full-time in 2014.)

Because these industries tend to offer lower wages, an employer’s group health plan may be considered “unaffordable” which would then trigger ACA penalties for the employer should the workers receive additional subsidies to buy protection via the public health care exchange.

If you meet the trigger size and are required to offer minimum, affordable coverage… but at least one worker purchases through a public exchange instead… you can be penalized.

Likewise, if you offer minimum required coverage to all workers but it isn’t economical, making it so the worker can’t afford the cost of protection… you can be penalized if only one staff member purchases through a public exchange.

The key to managing the impact of ACA penalties is to change your plan designs and premium choices to maximize worker participation in the plans.

Naturally understanding the in’s & outs of these complexities is reason enough to rely on the help of someone with health plan benefits experience to ensure you’re crafting the right plan for the right outcome.

And as the law evolves, having someone familiar with the changing landscape will help you maximize the benefits you offer to your employees while helping you mitigate any exposer you might have to fees & penalties.

If you are concerned about changes to the law, your risk exposure, or simply making certain you are offering the right plan for your team, be sure to reach out to your benefits specialist right away.