Don’t Forget to Post OSHA Injury and Illness Data at Your Worksite

Employers who are covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) record-keeping rule must post a summary of 2018 work-related injury and illnesses in a noticeable place from Feb. 1 to April 30. Read this blog post from SHRM to learn more.


Employers that are covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) record-keeping rule must post a summary of 2018 work-related injury and illnesses in a noticeable place from Feb. 1 to April 30. Here are some compliance tips for employers to review.

Required Posting

Many employers with more than 10 employees—except for those in certain low-risk industries—must keep a record of serious work-related injuries and illnesses. But minor injuries that are treated only by first aid do not need to be recorded.

Employers must complete an incident report (Form 301) for each injury or illness and log work-related incidents on OSHA Form 300. Form 300A is a summary of the information in the log that must be posted in the worksite from Feb. 1 to April 30 each year.

"This information helps employers, workers and OSHA evaluate the safety of a workplace, understand industry hazards, and implement worker protections to reduce and eliminate hazards," according to OSHA's website.

Employers should note that they are required to keep a separate 300 log for each "establishment," which is defined as "a single physical location where business is conducted or where services or industrial operations are performed."

If employees don't work at a single physical location, then the establishment is the location from which the employees are supervised or that serves as their base.

Employers frequently ask if they need to complete and post Form 300A if there were no injuries at the relevant establishment. "The short answer is yes, " said Tressi Cordaro, an attorney with Jackson Lewis in Washington, D.C. "If an employer recorded no injuries or illnesses in 2018 for that establishment, then the employer must enter 'zero' on the total line."

Correct Signature

Before the OSHA Form 300A is posted in the worksite, a company executive must review it and certify that "he or she has examined the OSHA 300 Log and that he or she reasonably believes, based on his or her knowledge of the process by which the information was recorded, that the annual summary is correct and complete," according to OSHA.

A common mistake seen on 300A forms is that companies forget to have them signed, noted John Martin, an attorney with Ogletree Deakins in Washington, D.C.

There are only four company representatives who may certify the summary:

  • An owner of the company.
  • An officer of the corporation.
  • The highest-ranking company official working at the site.
  • The immediate supervisor of the highest-ranking company official working at the site.

Businesses commonly make the mistake of having an HR or safety supervisor sign the form, said Edwin Foulke Jr., an attorney with Fisher Phillips in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., and the former head of OSHA under President George W. Bush.

They need to get at least the plant manager to sign it, he said, noting that the representative who signs Form 300A must know how numbers in the summary were obtained.

Once the 300A form is completed, it should be posted in a conspicuous place where other employment notices are usually posted.

Electronic Filing

The Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses rule requires covered establishments with at least 20 employees to also electronically submit Form 300A to OSHA.

Large establishments with 250 or more employees were also supposed to begin electronically submitting data from the 300 and 301 forms in 2018, but the federal government recently eliminated that requirement. However, those establishments still must electronically submit their 300A summaries.

The deadline to electronically submit 2018 information is March 2.

SOURCE: Nagele-Piazza, L. (1 February 2019) "Don’t Forget to Post OSHA Injury and Illness Data at Your Worksite" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/legal-and-compliance/employment-law/pages/don%E2%80%99t-forget-to-post-osha-injury-and-illness-data-at-your-worksite.aspx/


Top 4 HR trends to watch this year

HR departments are now looking to implement innovative strategies to better engage employees and maximize productivity. Continue reading this blog post for the top HR trends of 2019.


HR professionals can no longer rest on their laurels. They are now looking to implement innovative strategies to better engage employees, improve the company’s brand both internally and externally, maximize productivity and increase the organization’s profitability.

So how can HR professionals go about making this happen? The success of HR will largely be based on staying nimble, evolving their organization’s policies and leveraging technological advances to ultimately reshape their workplace practices.

With that in mind, here are the top HR trends that will take center stage in 2019.

The gig economy and the importance of flexibility. The gig economy, which is comprised of individuals with short-term or temporary engagements with a company, is substantially important to employers. Here, workers are seeking increased flexibility and control over their work environments. Since many questions remain unanswered regarding worker classification issues and the application of existing laws in the gig economy, look for the Department of Labor to issue an opinion letter or guidance in 2019 detailing how a company may compliantly work within the gig economy and not run afoul of existing independent contractors.

Flexibility also is important for all employees — not just for the gig economy. While telecommuting and remote positions are not new, they are being emphasized again to better engage employees and increase retention metrics.

The tech effect on future of HR. The strategic and consistent use of workforce data analytics to predict and improve a company’s performance has exploded over the last several years, with additional momentum expected in 2019. While most HR professionals rely on metrics for basic recruiting and turnover rates, more in-depth analytics and trend spotting has become the norm.

Once trends are identified in, for example, turnover rates, an HR professional should have the tools to dive into the data and analyze root causes, such as the need for manager training, review of compensation strategies or a change in the company’s culture. Using predictive analytics in the HR space is helping companies make better informed, dynamic and wiser decisions based on historical data, as well as placing HR on the level of other data-driven company departments, such as finance and marketing.

The collection of this enormous amount of data also poses challenges and potential risks to companies, including negative perceptions among employees about how their data is being used, employee privacy laws and potential security breaches. Strong and comprehensive security policies, protocols and controls are necessary to ensure employers are keeping their employees’ data safe. In 2019, a steady flow of communications to employees regarding advanced security and usage policies is key to prevent data misuse or misunderstanding regarding how information is collected and used.

Artificial intelligence also will continue to be a significant focus driving improvement in the HR arena. Determining which data to collect, analyze and protect will provide opportunities for AI to assume a larger role in HR. Also, in some large organizations, AI already is being used for more than just automating repetitive HR tasks, such as onboarding new employees. The future of AI for most companies will include creating more personalized employee experiences as well as supporting critical decisions. From analyzing performance data to eliminating biases when screening candidates, AI will continue to be a pivotal HR tool.

Strategies for successful recruitment. Running an effective talent pipeline should be the objective of all hiring endeavors. Pipelining is consistently gaining traction as a recruitment tool for new employees. The concept employs marketing concepts to ensure that companies have a diverse group of strong recruits waiting to be hired. Pipelining reduces time to hire and leads to better quality candidates.

Health, wellness and adequate employee training. Another area of importance is multi-faceted wellness programs, which focus on an employee’s total well-being, from nutrition to financial wellness. These programs often include a comprehensive employee assistance program, training and activities during worktime. The training can focus on anything from physical health to development of employees’ knowledge base and technology-focused education. A greater emphasis also is being placed on workplace communication coaching, such as collaboration and negotiation, which are critical to success in the workplace.

Continued training and heightened prevention of sexual harassment and discrimination will be another trend this year. Organizations big and small must ensure that compliant policies are in place and employees are trained on the policies. Several states including California, New York, Connecticut and Maine already mandate that private employers must provide harassment training to workers, and the number of states requiring this training is expected to increase in the coming years.

SOURCE: Seltzer, M. (29 January 2019) "Top 4 HR trends to watch this year" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/top-4-hr-trends-to-watch-this-year?feed=00000152-a2fb-d118-ab57-b3ff6e310000


How to Speak to Your Employees About Their Intimidating Benefits.

Employers spend thousands annually to secure and offer benefits to their employees. However, a small amount of time and money are devoted to ensuring employees understand and appreciate their benefits. Properly communicating – what you say, how you say it and to whom you say it to – can make a tremendous difference in how employees think, feel and react to their benefits, employer and fellow co-workers. In this installment of CenterStage, Jamie Charlton, founding partner and CEO of Saxon Financial Services, discusses the importance of offering sound education of benefits to employees, as well as how to effectively communicate their benefits in a clear, concise manner.

Through 18 years in the financial services field, Jamie has instilled a focus on stressing to employers the importance of communicating and educating employees on all that is available currently and what may change with each upcoming plan year. Jamie believes a focus on premiums leads to “next level benefits”, an offering Saxon delivers.

The Need for Benefits Communication

Clearly communicating benefits is an increasing issue due to the complex dynamics of benefits plans. Previously, benefits decisions have been made primarily by employers. As a result, employees have not become educated consumers about their benefits or on how to implement them. This absence of engagement, as Jamie notes, causes employees to enroll in benefits that don’t fit their needs, pay too much for their coverage and not discover the full advantage of their offerings.

Good communication is important and should cover all matters regarding plan offerings to employees and their dependents alike. The goal of a proper benefits plan, Jamie states, is to be enjoyable, comprehendible, and easily accessible. However, there currently exists an infliction point in employee benefits, and the entire process is changing.

This change is a factor of two main topics: (1) the continuing rise in medical costs and health insurance premiums and (2) a truly multigenerational workforce within the workplace. So how does an employer communicate their benefits to their employees?

Employers seeking to spread the word about their benefits offerings are continuing to seek out the expertise and experience found through Saxon. Understanding there is no one-size-fits-all method for every employer, Saxon delivers tools through tested methods to get your message across to employees. We explore your company’s offerings and assist you in crafting the perfect method to communicate and educate your employees on their existing plan offerings. Jamie gives the example of wellness programs and how to broadcast these offerings. Utilizing channels in which employees are bound to check – computers and smartphones – Saxon places the knowledge of how to display these offerings through informational web pages or email blasts.

Proper Benefits Education Begins with Saxon

While the methods above serve as channels for reaching employees, nothing compares to a direct, in-house explanation of your benefits to ensure your message is addressed and comprehended. Unique to Saxon is what Jamie notes as the “secret sauce” of Saxon’s employer and employee empowerment – the annual open enrollment meeting, which consists of nothing more than a step-by-step walk through of your entire health plan. This annual ‘seminar’ within your office closely examines the “nuts and bolts” of your plan to ensure everything is in-tact, working and done so with comprehension across the entirety of the organization.

Saxon understands the complexity of the modern healthcare scene and therefore is driven to provide the most comprehensive breakdown of your plan. Have more than one? No problem – We can compose a side-by-side analysis of your plans to show not only employers but employees where the strongest assets lie. Additionally, we stress the importance of shopping around at renewal time to make sure you get the best you can for your money. Jamie explained the goal of the meeting, as well as Saxon’s continued service year-round, is to “empower employees to have a choice.”

Empowerment from Saxon comes in many different forms. Just one of these many ways discovered through Saxon’s annual meeting is placing the power of online benefits administration at the fingertips of employees. Traditionally, when an employee needed to update their plan (i.e. having a new baby in the middle of a plan year), they were entitled to visiting their employer’s office and updating their plan by filling out a form. Risks associated with this older process included the “potential loss of documentation and therefore an inaccurate reading of an employee’s coverage needs”, said Jamie. The online method saves time, stress and paper.

How Can Saxon Help?

At Saxon, we want to invest in you. We begin by engaging experts that truly listen, building successful strategies that stay focused on your vision and goals. We strive to not be a name you turn to for assistance but a knowledgeable face always at your service. Saxon exists to care, cultivate and empower through relationships, expertise and exceptional standards of service. From finding a doctor, solving a complicated claim or partnering with an insurance agency to help protect your company’s sensitive medical data to ensure you are HIPAA compliant – with us; it’s personal.

To begin the conversation with Jamie on how to better communicate with your employees, contact him at (513) 573-0129.


U.S. Department of Labor's New Compliance Assistance Tool

On February 6, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the launch of the electronic version of their Compliance Assistance Tool (Handy Reference Guide to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)). This new version will assist employers by providing them with basic Wage and Hour Division (WHD) information, as well as links to other resources.

This electronic resource was created as a part of the WHD's efforts to modernize compliance assistance tools, as well as provide easy-to-use, accessible compliance information. In coexistence with worker.govemployer.gov, and other online tools, this tool will help improve employer understanding of federal labor laws and regulations.

View the digital Compliance Assistance Tool here.

Read the DOL's full press release here.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Labor (6 February 2019) "U.S. Department of Labor Announces New Compliance Assistance Tool" (Web Press Release). Retrieved from https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/whd/whd20190206-0


Sidecar accounts can help plug 401(k) leakage — to an extent

Many 401(k) participants often dip into their retirement savings to help fund emergency expenses. In fact, the number 1 financial concern for Millennials and Generation X members is not having enough emergency savings for unexpected expenses. Read on to learn more.


Not having enough emergency savings for unexpected expenses is the No. 1 financial concern for millennials and members of Generation X, and the No. 2 financial concern among baby boomers, after retirement security. These findings from a PwC Employee Financial Wellness Survey released last year shouldn’t surprise members of the retirement services industry, since too many defined contribution plan participants dip into their 401(k) savings —through loans, hardship withdrawals or cash-outs upon changing jobs — to fund emergency expenses.

While 48% of households faced at least one expense related to an unexpected emergency over the past year, according to CIT Bank, a recent GoBankingRates survey has found that a staggering 62% of Americans have less than $1,000 in a savings account. The frequency of unexpected emergency expenses, and the lack of savings to fund them, work in tandem to create a situation where many Americans are forced to withdraw hard-earned retirement savings from 401(k) accounts in defined contribution plans, where they are safely incubated in the U.S. retirement system for future enjoyment. In fact, according to a Boston Research Technologies survey of 5,000 401(k) plan participants, slightly more than one-third of all 401(k) cash-outs upon job change are for emergencies, while the rest end up being used for discretionary spending.

The development of “sidecar” accounts, also known as “rainy day” funds, is a positive trend because these instruments can help plan participants avoid tapping into their retirement savings to pay emergency expenses. Sidecar accounts are set up alongside 401(k) savings accounts in defined contribution plans, and if an employee chooses to set one up, they can allocate after-tax contributions to the fund in order to reach a targeted amount of savings. When a sidecar fund reaches the desired amount, future contributions can be directed to the plan participant’s pre-tax retirement savings. If a participant dips into a sidecar fund, the targeted balance can be automatically replenished over time with future after-tax contributions.

Sidecar accounts can serve as a valuable tool for preserving retirement savings, and fortunately, our elected officials are attempting to make it easier for plan sponsors to offer them for participants. The Strengthening Financial Security Through Short-Term Savings Accounts Act of 2018, a bipartisan Senate bill sponsored by Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.), would allow sponsors to automatically enroll participants in sidecar or standalone accounts for emergency expenses. The bill would also enable the U.S. Department of the Treasury to create a pilot program giving employers incentives to set up these accounts. The bill hasn’t yet become law, but the fact that it’s been proposed is positive for the U.S. retirement system as a whole.

Vast majority of leakage is from cash-outs

Although a sidecar account could be a useful tool in the ongoing struggle to curtail leakage of savings from defined contribution plans, they won’t plug the biggest hole in the retirement system’s proverbial bucket. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 89% of leakage is the result of premature cash-outs of 401(k) accounts. Loans, hardship withdrawals and other factors contribute to the remaining 11%. As mentioned above, with an estimated one-third of cash-outs taken to cover emergencies, two-thirds of cash-outs are for non-emergency expenses.

Unfortunately, the lack of widespread, seamless plan-to-plan portability causes too many participants to cash out, or simply leave their savings behind in a former employer’s plan, because doing so is easier than consolidating their 401(k) accounts in their current-employer plans.

Thankfully, there is a solution to address the 89% of leakage caused by cash-outs — auto-portability, which has been live for more than a year. Auto-portability is the routine, standardized and automated movement of a retirement plan participant’s 401(k) savings from their former employer’s plan to an active account in their current employer’s plan, and is specifically designed for accounts with less than $5,000. Key components of the auto-portability solution are the paired “locate” and “match” technologies for tracking down and identifying participants who have stranded 401(k) accounts in former-employer plans, which in turn enable the process of consolidating a participant’s savings in their current-employer plans.

Plugging the biggest hole in the U.S. retirement system bucket would help millions of Americans improve their retirement outcomes. The Employee Benefit Research Institute forecasts that, if auto-portability were implemented across the country, up to $1.5 trillion, measured in today’s dollars, would be preserved in the retirement system.

Fortunately for plan participants and sponsors alike, the White House and government agencies also realize the benefits of widespread auto-portability. The U.S. Department of Labor recently issued guidance on auto-portability through an advisory opinion as well as a prohibited transaction exemption clarifying fiduciary liability for sponsors who adopt auto-portability as a new feature of their automatic rollover service.

This crucial DOL guidance helps to clear the way for the nationwide implementation of auto-portability — helping all Americans, and especially women and minorities, save more for retirement. In his remarks at the White House in December (during the signing ceremony for the executive order establishing the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council), Robert L. Johnson noted that 60% of African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans cash out their 401(k) accounts — and the nationwide adoption of auto portability “will put close to $800 billion back in the retirement pockets of minority Americans.”

Now that an innovative solution has been created to address the root cause of the majority of leakage (cash-outs), it’s good to see that a creative tool like the sidecar account has also been developed to help participants avoid making choices (i.e. dipping into their retirement savings to pay emergency expenses) that cause the remaining asset leakage.

SOURCE: Williams, S. (23 January 2019) "Sidecar accounts can help plug 401(k) leakage — to an extent" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/sidecar-accounts-can-help-plug-401k-retirement-leakage?brief=00000152-14a7-d1cc-a5fa-7cffccf00000


With the Advent of Remote Work, Is the ‘Sick Day’ Becoming Passé?

With many employees working remotely full time, is the practice of employee sick days becoming out of date? Read this blog post from SHRM to learn more.


Your advertising manager works from home full time. She has a nasty cold. But hey—she only needs to walk a few steps from her bedroom to her desk, can nap when she needs to and won't infect her colleagues. So she doesn't really need to take a sick day, right?

Well, she probably should, but as remote work continues to rise, workplace experts find that those who do their jobs from home are inclined to stay on the clock while soldiering through colds, the flu and other maladies—in part because they don't want to appear to be taking advantage of their work-from-home benefit.

"Remote workers find it hard to integrate work with the rest of their life because it is so easy to overwork and even plow through your work while you are sick," said Jeanne Meister, founding partner of Future Workplace, a New York City-based HR executive network and research firm. "If you are only traveling from your bedroom to your home office, remote workers may rationalize, 'What harm can be done if I work while I am sick? At least I'm not contagious.' "

In addition, the advent of remote working has introduced another trend: managers suggesting that onsite employees work from home when they're sick.

"It's no secret that many [workplaces] have cultures that encourage the 'always-on' mentality," said Erica Denner, head of people and culture at YouEarnedIt/HighGround, an Austin, Texas-based company that focuses on employee recognition, rewards and performance management. "In my experience, I've found that because of this, employees at these organizations can find it difficult to ask for time off when they're sick and are often encouraged to work from home instead."

Circumstances Matter

Thanks to technology that facilitates remote work, there are instances when working during what otherwise would have been a sick day may actually be a win for the employee and employer.

"There are all kinds of reasons to take sick days," said Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute and a senior research advisor for the Society for Human Resource Management. "If employees have a condition that affects their ability to be mobile, like a broken bone or torn tendon, they might have to take a sick day if they work in a traditional workplace because travel to work would be difficult, but they could easily work at home. I can think of other such illnesses, such as having something contagious and not wanting to infect others but feeling good enough to work or being postoperative and being able to work in short spurts. Working at home could be ideal for that."

Consider U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who recovered from cancer surgery at home but nonetheless heard arguments in a case before the court. A court spokesperson said Ginsburg would participate "on the basis of briefs, filings and transcripts," CNBC reported.

But if working while ill prevents an employee from fully resting and recuperating, this will likely hinder performance—and even future productivity and morale.

"If an employee is really sick, he or she might power through and get a few things done but might not do them well," Galinsky said.

Working through your cold, sore throat or flu not only can lead to a decline in physical well-being but "also can present mental health challenges," Meister said.

Contractors, or so-called gig workers, in particular, may be wary of taking sick time. Lacking job security, they may fear that doing so would make them appear dispensable to their employers.

What Employers Can Do

To discourage employees from avoiding sick days because they're working remotely:

Communicate to employees that you expect them to take time off when they're sick. Or, encourage them to be open about how much work, if any, they feel they can accomplish. "If you can't produce high-quality work, even from the comfort of your own home, when you're under the weather, relay that message to your manager," Denner said. "If they value your contributions and are a good supervisor, they will understand and step in to help until you're feeling better."

At YouEarnedIt/HighGround, workers are asked to make it clear when they are out sick and unavailable. This includes setting up not only the typical out-of-office notification by e-mail but also notifications across productivity platforms the company uses, such as Slack. "It's remarkable how effective turning on the 'out sick' emoji in Slack is in terms of alerting colleagues you need time to recover," Denner said. "When employees are out on a longer-term medical leave, we actually remove their technology access so they can't check e-mails or Slack. This way, the employee doesn't feel guilty or obligated to respond to messages."

Talk about the importance of taking sick days for one's physical and mental well-being. Bring up the topic during all-hands meetings with onsite as well as remote workers. In benefits materials and handouts, address the importance of taking sick days.

Ensure that managers and executives take sick days themselves. When a boss shows up at a meeting sniffling and coughing, she sends the clear message that work is too important to be interrupted by illness. And that only leaves her subordinates feeling guilty if they take sick days.

"We've found that [modeling sick-day behavior] actually goes a long way in not just encouraging our employees to do the same, but also in further solidifying a culture of trust and respect," Denner said.

Encourage remote workers to take time for themselves even when they're healthy—such as taking a midday break—and reinforce how this is important for their well-being and productivity.

SOURCE: Wilkie, D. (6 February 2019) "With the Advent of Remote Work, Is the ‘Sick Day’ Becoming Passé?" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/employee-relations/pages/remote-workers-and-sick-days-.aspx


It’s a job applicant’s market: What it means for employee benefits

How do you attract top talent in today’s hiring landscape? Stock options and paid holidays may no longer be enough to attract top talent in today's competitive hiring landscape. Continue reading to learn more.


When it comes to employee benefits, stock options and paid holidays may no longer be enough to attract top talent — especially in today’s competitive hiring landscape.

With job openings on the rise, it has become more difficult for companies to compete for the most talented, highly sought-after candidates. The strong labor market also means more Americans are willing to quit their current job in favor of something better — in fact, this past year, employees voluntarily left jobs at the highest rate since 2001.

Comprehensive employee benefits packages have never been more important for employers looking to hire the best and brightest. Studies have shown as many as 60% of people cite benefits as a major deciding factor when considering whether to accept a job offer. The question is: What kinds of benefits are employees looking for most?

Of course, there are some benefits that have become commonplace among employers, including health and dental insurance, retirement plans and paid time off. However, these incentives may just be table stakes in the hiring game these days — for example, nearly half of privately owned firms in the United States offer health insurance, and 79% of Americans work for an employer sponsoring a 401(k)-style retirement plan.

Although many employees have come to expect benefits like health insurance and retirement plans, employers don’t need to go above and beyond as many larger companies, like Google, do — offering free meals and on-site haircuts. Flashy perks may seem appealing on the surface, but in reality, employees are seeking benefits that support them through — and help alleviate the stress that can come with — life’s major moments.

This kind of support can come in a number of forms. For example, many companies have seen their employees push for more comprehensive parental leave benefits, giving new parents time they need to refresh and bond with their child. While many countries around the world offer more than a year of paid parental leave, the U.S. doesn’t guarantee paid time off for new parents, and the national average for parents taking time off after having a child is only 10 weeks.

Employees may want to feel empowered to further their education or professional development, helping to bolster their confidence in their career. Starbucks is a proponent of this. To help employees take their education to the next level, the company offers full tuition reimbursement for online degrees through Arizona State University.

These benefits are great, but don’t cover all aspects of life where employees need support. For example, if an employee finds themselves in a situation where they need to care for an elderly parent, family leave may not be enough — especially as they find themselves navigating complicated Medicare/Medicaid documents and nursing home or hospice payments. Particularly in situations that pack on a lot of additional stress, companies can provide comprehensive financial wellness plans as a way to give their workforce peace of mind.

Financial wellness plans are an emerging area of employee benefits and provide assistance with everything from estate planning, to advice from certified personal accountants, to identity theft protection. There’s a clear demand for these services, too. PWC’s 2018 financial wellness survey found that over 50% of employees are stressed about their finances and want help.

Financial wellness plans don’t just offer practical benefits, but emotional benefits as well. Most people don’t realize how many instances in life, big or small, require some form of financial guidance, and without any professional support, these matters can be intensely stressful. Whether an employee is creating a prenuptial agreement, taking out a mortgage when buying their first house, or trying to navigate student loans when sending their child to college, knowing their company provides support and counsel for these situations alleviates the associated pressure. Employees want to know their employers can help them tackle anything life throws at them.

Ultimately, employees have come to expect benefits and perks providing coverage for all stages of life — whether they’re planning to have a child, want to take time to get their degree or are beginning to think about estate planning on top of traditional retirement planning. To attract and retain the best talent in 2019, employers should think first and foremost about how they can support their workforce in achieving financial wellness.

SOURCE: Freedman, D. (22 January 2019) "It’s a job applicant’s market: What it means for employee benefits" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/its-a-job-applicants-market-what-it-means-for-employee-benefits


How to Speak to Your Employees About Their Intimidating Benefits

Employers spend thousands annually to secure and offer benefits to their employees. However, a small amount of time and money are devoted to ensuring employees understand and appreciate their benefits. Properly communicating – what you say, how you say it and to whom you say it to – can make a tremendous difference in how employees think, feel and react to their benefits, employer and fellow co-workers.

In this installment of CenterStage, Jamie Charlton, founding partner and CEO of Saxon Financial Services, discusses the importance of offering sound education of benefits to employees, as well as how to effectively communicate their benefits in a clear, concise manner. Through 18 years in the financial services field, Jamie has instilled a focus on stressing to employers the importance of communicating and educating employees on all that is available currently and what may change with each upcoming plan year. Jamie believes a focus on premiums leads to “next level benefits”, an offering Saxon delivers.

The Need for Benefits Communication

Clearly communicating benefits is an increasing issue due to the complex dynamics of benefits plans. Previously, benefits decisions have been made primarily by employers. As a result, employees have not become educated consumers about their benefits or on how to implement them. This absence of engagement, as Jamie notes, causes employees to enroll in benefits that don’t fit their needs, pay too much for their coverage and not discover the full advantage of their offerings. Good communication is important and should cover all matters regarding plan offerings to employees and their dependents alike. The goal of a proper benefits plan, Jamie states, is to be enjoyable, comprehendible, and easily accessible. However, there currently exists an infliction point in employee benefits, and the entire process is changing.

This change is a factor of two main topics: (1) the continuing rise in medical costs and health insurance premiums and (2) a truly multigenerational workforce within the workplace. So how does an employer communicate their benefits to their employees?

Employers seeking to spread the word about their benefits offerings are continuing to seek out the expertise and experience found through Saxon. Understanding there is no one-size-fits-all method for every employer, Saxon delivers tools through tested methods to get your message across to employees. We explore your company’s offerings and assist you in crafting the perfect method to communicate and educate your employees on their existing plan offerings. Jamie gives the example of wellness programs and how to broadcast these offerings. Utilizing channels in which employees are bound to check – computers and smartphones – Saxon places the knowledge of how to display these offerings through informational web pages or email blasts.

Proper Benefit Education Begins with Saxon

While the methods above serve as channels for reaching employees, nothing compares to a direct, in-house explanation of your benefits to ensure your message is addressed and comprehended. Unique to Saxon is what Jamie notes as the “secret sauce” of Saxon’s employer and employee empowerment – the annual open enrollment meeting, which consists of nothing more than a step-by-step walk through of your entire health plan. This annual ‘seminar’ within your office closely examines the “nuts and bolts” of your plan to ensure everything is in-tact, working and done so with comprehension across the entirety of the organization.

Saxon understands the complexity of the modern healthcare scene and therefore is driven to provide the most comprehensive breakdown of your plan. Have more than one? No problem – We can compose a side-by-side analysis of your plans to show not only employers but employees where the strongest assets lie. Additionally, we stress the importance of shopping around at renewal time to make sure you get the best you can for your money. Jamie explained the goal of the meeting, as well as Saxon’s continued service year-round, is to “empower employees to have a choice.”

Empowerment from Saxon comes in many different forms. Just one of these many ways discovered through Saxon’s annual meeting is placing the power of online benefits administration at the fingertips of employees. Traditionally, when an employee needed to update their plan (i.e. having a new baby in the middle of a plan year), they were entitled to visiting their employer’s office and updating their plan by filling out a form. Risks associated with this older process included the “potential loss of documentation and therefore an inaccurate reading of an employee’s coverage needs”, said Jamie. The online method saves time, stress and paper.

How Saxon Helps

At Saxon, we want to invest in you. We begin by engaging experts that truly listen, building successful strategies that stay focused on your vision and goals. We strive to not be a name you turn to for assistance but a knowledgeable face always at your service. Saxon exists to care, cultivate and empower through relationships, expertise and exceptional standards of service. From finding a doctor, solving a complicated claim or partnering with an insurance agency to help protect your company’s sensitive medical data to ensure you are HIPAA compliant – with us; it’s personal.

To begin the conversation with Jamie on how to better communicate with your employees, contact him at (513) 573-0129.


Free snacks won’t retain workers long term. Here’s what will

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 32 percent of employers offer company-paid snacks and beverages to their employees. Read on for information on what will retain workers long term.


Free snacks at work can help workers curb late afternoon hunger — but will employees be more inclined to stick around because the office has free food? Probably not, according to a report from recruiting and staffing firm The Execu Search Group.

Offering free snacks at work seems like a good way to attract and retain workers, but it is a misconception that millennials, the largest generation in the workforce, want the benefit, the report says.

The trend of offering free snacks to workers started with big Silicon Valley tech companies — like Facebook and Google — and spread to employers of all sizes across the U.S. According to research from the Society for Human Resource Management, 32% of employers offer company-paid snacks and beverages to employees, up significantly from last year, when 22% offered them.

Free snacks can be a great addition to the office, but only if an employer offers others substantive benefits, says Edward Fleischman, CEO of The Execu Search Group. On its own, he adds, food offers little value.

“[Free food] is great. But some companies are using it as an incentive to keep people there — and that’s not going to keep people there,” he says.

Instead of offering small perks like snacks, the report says that if a company wants to retain millennial workers, it should offer benefits that allow greater work flexibility, more vacation time, training and development, and opportunities to make a difference. In particular, employers should consider instituting benefits like a flexible work schedule and unlimited paid time off, Fleischman says.

“That’s a keyword now — flexibility,” he says. “The flexibility to work from home when they need to, or want to.”

Millennials, in particular, he says, want the ability to work whenever and wherever they want. While there might be initial concern that allowing employees to work from home means they won’t be as productive, this isn’t the case. Millennials are very connected to their devices and will typically respond even after work hours are over, Fleischman says.

“They’ll respond on their iPhone at 11 o’clock at night. They may be at a restaurant, but they’ll respond to you,” he says.

Making changes like adding an unlimited PTO policy or a flexible work schedule could be difficult for legacy companies to institute, Fleischman says. It often requires trust that employees won’t abuse the policy. Additionally, older generations and executives may be used to stricter PTO policies, so it could require an adjustment, he adds.

But more companies are taking the plunge to offer these kinds of benefits. The number of employers offering unlimited PTO jumped from 1% in 2014 to 5% in 2018, according to SHRM. Employers including General Electric, Dropbox and Grant Thornton all offer the benefit, according to Glassdoor.

Fleischman says that in a competitive labor market, benefits are a key factor to recruiting and retaining a solid workforce. If a company is not offering solid benefits, it could mean the difference between accepting a job and looking elsewhere.

“As a company, you have to really set yourself up nicely to recruit that person and retain that person,” he says.

SOURCE: Hroncich, C. (28 January 2019) "Free snacks won’t retain workers long term. Here’s what will" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/news/free-snacks-wont-retain-workers-long-term-heres-what-will?brief=00000152-14a7-d1cc-a5fa-7cffccf00000


Move over mainstream: Alternative health options a road to better value

A number of employers are seeking alternative ways to get better value for their healthcare spending. Read this blog post to learn more about alternative health options.


While employers may be the largest purchasers of healthcare outside of the federal government, rarely does one organization have enough influence when negotiating with the powerful health plans and provider systems. As a result, employers — and ultimately the consumers for whom they purchase healthcare services — pay the price.

Instead of taking these lumps of coal sitting down, there are a growing number of employers on the cutting edge of healthcare purchasing seeking alternative ways in 2019 to get better value for their healthcare spending. They are looking for the diamonds in the rough.

In more than half of the healthcare markets in the U.S., providers have merged reducing competition and leaving employers and consumers with little choice for their care. Employers must stop insisting that health insurance products provide access to the broadest network of healthcare providers — if providers know they’ll be kept “in network” no matter how they behave, employers and payers further reduce their negotiating position. Employers also should band together to be sizable enough to call the shots, but this rarely happens.

While this lack of market power and influence is a major frustration for employers, it’s far from the only one. Educated employers also know that the healthcare system produces uneven quality and high prices have nothing to do with excellent care. The amount an employer pays for a service merely represents the relative negotiating strength of the health insurance carriers and providers.

As prices continue to drive healthcare cost growth, Americans are finding their healthcare unaffordable and are willing to trade choice for affordability. Many Americans no longer view having the ability to pick any doctor they choose as essential if it means increased premiums and cost-sharing that comes at the expense of other basic needs. These shifting attitudes represent an opportunity for employers seeking diamonds to pursue the following new healthcare benefits options. Here are some.

Narrow networks: Health insurance plans built around a narrower network that cuts out care providers who are outlandishly expensive or have a particularly poor record on quality. Alternatively, center a smaller network around a direct contract with an accountable care organization selected for its potential to deliver higher quality and value. More commercial health insurance carriers and lesser known third-party administrators are offering and supporting these options. Premiums and cost-sharing are typically lower for the consumer than with broader network plans.

Centers of excellence (CoE): Steer patients to designated high-quality providers with expertise in a given medical area who are willing to enter into an alternative payment arrangement or offer a more reasonable price in return for more patients. Make CoEs attractive through more generous coverage or make them mandatory if employees want an elective or non-emergent procedure (e.g., bariatric or spine surgery). Either way, employers reduce the risk that employees will receive subpar or low value care.

Alternative sites of care: Increase access to and use of alternative sites of care including onsite or near-site clinics and telehealth services. These enhance the convenience of primary or behavioral healthcare for employees and can help the employer better control referrals to overpriced hospitals or specialists.

So, move over mainstream. When it comes to the tactics employers use to purchase healthcare, alternative is likely to become less fringe. Narrow networks, CoEs or alternative sites of care may not solve all of the frustrations. But employers’ pursuit of these new models sends a strong signal that lumps of coal aren’t going to cut it. Employers are on the hunt for a shinier, more attractive set of solutions.

SOURCE: "Move over mainstream: Alternative health options a road to better value" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/opinion/move-over-mainstream-alternative-health-options-a-road-to-better-value?brief=00000152-1443-d1cc-a5fa-7cfba3c60000