Paving the Road to a Successful Portfolio

Determining a proper asset allocation is an important first step in creating your portfolio and planning how it will grow in the future. Asset allocation is the process of diversifying your investments into different asset classes based on the investor’s time horizon, their goals and how much risk they can tolerate.

“People always ask me what they can invest in that will make them a lot of money without the chance of losing any,” said Brian Bushman, Saxon Financial Advisor.

“I tell them that this simply doesn’t exist. But I can, however, help them design an optimized portfolio based on their risk tolerance and what they are trying to accomplish.”

Whether you’re just beginning to save for retirement or you’re much further down the road with more substantial savings, asset allocation is the result of understanding your comfort with risk and how to best diversify your investments to accomplish your goals.

The key to asset allocation is diversification. This allows an investor to take advantage of investing in many different opportunities which can reduce their overall risk.

Assets can be allocated either strategically or tactically. A strategic plan sets a target allocation and consistently rebalances that allocation back to the original percentages while a tactical plan focuses on adjusting the portfolio based on current economic conditions and opportunities in order to produce a better risk adjusted return. Brian and the investment team at Saxon bring a hybrid approach to designing and managing their investor’s portfolios.

Many investors only consider the returns on their investments, but it is very important to assess the level of risk a portfolio is taking to achieve that return. Saxon’s approach is to optimize this risk vs. return ratio.

It is also important for investors to understand there are different types of risk. Most associate risk with investment risk which is the risk of losing money.

However, there are many other risk factors to consider. Inflationary risk, interest rate risk, credit risk, taxability risk, currency risk and legislative/political risk are other types of risks that need to be considered when developing a portfolio.

Below are the three main factors needed in designing a suitable portfolio for the client.

3 Factors in Designing a Suitable Portfolio

1. Time Horizon

The amount of time that you have to reach your goals should directly impact the level of risk you are willing to take. When you’re young you have much more time to recover from any losses that could be incurred from a drop in the market, but as retirement approaches you have less time to recover from market losses.

The closer you get to retirement, the more you should consider reducing your risk level. Once you retire and need income from your investments you may need to redesign your portfolio from an accumulation portfolio to an income portfolio.

2. Risk Tolerance

Typically, investments that have the potential to generate higher returns are riskier. This is where the idea of risk tolerance comes in. This refers to the amount of volatility an investor can tolerate.

If your risk tolerance is low, then you will likely earn a lower return. To compensate for a lower anticipated return, it is important to evaluate the amount you are investing and possibly adjust your timeline accordingly to reach your goals. Usually gauged by a questionnaire, risk tolerance is often used to categorize investors as aggressive, moderate or conservative.

3. Goals

Each person’s goals are different, whether you are working towards a long-term goal of retirement or a short-term goal, you should consider these goals in your asset allocation plan.

One person’s ideal asset mix could be completely wrong for someone else. Outside of setting financial goals and an ideal retirement goal, it is important to set a goal to adjust investments as you age.

“There is no crystal ball that provides insight on how to best allocate assets. It’s a process that begins with an initial risk assessment, diversifying your investments and continually monitoring the progress of your portfolio,” said Brian Bushman, Saxon Financial Advisor.

How Saxon Helps

A Saxon investment advisor can provide guidance through the process of creating a well-balanced portfolio.

For more, contact Brian Bushman today at (513) 333-3901 or bbushman@gosaxon.com.


Improving your employee experience during open enrollment

Is your company open enrollment hosted on an online platform? Employers often struggle with employee participation during the open enrollment season. Hosting enrollments online is one way to increase employee participation this year. Read on for more tips to help ease this open enrollment season.d


For HR professionals, open enrollment is one of the most stressful and demanding times of the year. Many employers struggle with employee participation and expensive, time-consuming roll-outs. They also have to provide resources to help employees make the right plan selections for themselves and their families. As we head into another open enrollment season, consider these tips to ease the process.

Switch your open enrollments to online platforms.

If you’re still relying on paper enrollment forms, you are likely spending more money and time than you need to in pursuit of your manual work process and its many inconsistencies. Online platforms provide optimum efficiency, accuracy and convenience for your workforce, offering employee self-service options that encourage employees to take initiative in selecting the best plan for their situation. Not only will members of your workforce benefit from the convenience of being able to explore their options on their own time, but you’ll be able to offer them multi-lingual enrollment materials and have more time to assist them than ever before.

Prioritize and diversify communication.

One of the top ways to ensure a smooth open enrollment period is to use multiple communication channels, including frequent reminders regarding open enrollment deadlines. Without consistent outreach on the part of your HR officers and general managers, you will likely find yourself hunting people down to meet your enrollment and extension deadlines. Using an online self-service portal as well as traditional in-person meetings allow you to remind your employees of critical dates and changes as enrollment closes in.

The robust benefits administration system you choose should offer enrollment tracking and reporting features so you can see at a glance who still needs to begin open enrollment, who has left enrollment documents incomplete, who has made changes to their benefits (such as adding a dependent) and more. You can arrange for the system to send automatic reminders to signal the employee that further actions are needed. Providing multiple reminders will improve participation and the completion of on-time enrollments.

Help employees choose the best health plan for their situation.

In order to have the most successful open enrollment period possible, educating your employees on the different plan options available will go a long towards ensuring employee satisfaction. Studies have shown that most employees don’t have the necessary understanding of terms like “deductible” and “coinsurance,” let alone the tools to know which plan is best for their individual needs. Incorporating at-a-glance comparison tools and charts into your online or print enrollment materials can help employees make the most informed decision possible. It can also be helpful to provide educational materials like videos and simplified plan charts or cost calculators.

Keep Up with Benefit Trends and Voluntary Offerings.

Given the current labor shortage and competitive talent market, you’ll want to make sure your company is up to speed on which new benefits your competitors are looking to add, as well as which ones are appealing to specific roles, locations or generations within potential candidates from your hiring pool.

Voluntary benefits, for example, are playing an increasingly important role in employee benefits portfolios and they don’t cost you anything. Some of the most popular voluntary benefits right now include identity theft protection, pet insurance, long term care insurance and critical illness protection. If you aren’t currently offering these types of additional benefits, they could be a cost-effective way to boost employee morale, increase participation in enrollment and attract more workers to your business.

SOURCE: Smith, M. (2 December 2019) "Improving your employee experience during open enrollment" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/improving-your-employee-experience-during-open-enrollment


Happy Holidays from Your Family at Saxon

Happy Holidays! In celebration of the holidays, the Saxon crew has decided to share one of our favorite holiday recipes for this month’s Fresh Brew! We hope you all have a safe and happy holiday season! 

Three-Ingredient Prime Rib Roast

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup finely ground coffee
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • One 12-pound, bone-in prime rib roast (5 bones)

Directions

  1. In a bowl, thoroughly blend the coffee with the salt, pepper and vanilla bean seeds. Set the rib roast in a roasting pan and rub it all over with the coffee mixture, concentrating most of the rub on the fatty part of the meat. Turn the roast bone side down and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450°. Roast the meat for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325° and roast for about 2 1/2 hours longer, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat registers 125° for medium-rare.
  3. Transfer the roast to a carving board and let rest for 20 minutes. Scrape off any excess coffee rub. Carve the meat in 1/2-inch-thick slices and serve.

This recipe was provided by Food&Wine. If you’d like to visit the original source, please click here.

**Holiday Hours

Our office will be closed on Tuesday, December 24 and Wednesday, December 25.

Our office will be closed on New Year’s Day, Wednesday, January 1.

We wish you a happy holiday season filled with family and friends!

Give It A Try & Share It!


Key factors in choosing your benefits during open enrollment

Employers are now realizing that in order to attract and retain talent, they have to provide the best benefits. But, how do employees select the right benefits out of all the available options? Read the following blog post from Employee Benefit News for a few key factors to consider when choosing your benefits during open enrollment.


Even if you are a veteran in choosing employer-sponsored benefits, the landscape is shifting. Over the past years, we’ve seen changes to mental health counseling stipends, extended maternity/paternity leave and family building. Companies across industries are realizing that in order to attract and retain talent, they need to provide best in class benefits that save employers unforeseen costs in the long run, and shows employees that their employers are invested in their wellbeing — in and out of the office.

With all these available options and only a short window to select what’s right for you, here’s what should you look out for during open enrollment.

Which benefits matter to me?

The beauty of a diverse workforce is that employees may represent various walks of life. However, this means that not all benefits make sense for every person. Perhaps your boss is prioritizing childcare for his toddler while your colleague is looking to refinance student loans. Whatever your life circumstance, ask yourself, “Which benefits are most pertinent to my life and life goals in the coming year?”

For instance, fertility benefits may not be immediately attractive at first glance, even if you’re actively thinking about starting a family. But 1 in 8 couples will be impacted by infertility and treatment without coverage can be wildly expensive. It’s important to make sure you’re thinking critically and getting all the necessary information when browsing for your benefits. Rule of thumb: if this could impact you in the coming year, even if you’re not 100% sure, opt-in for coverage.

What’s actually covered?

During open enrollment, be sure to ask your benefits team about how robust each offering is and what’s included. A particular benefit may look like it has a lot to offer, but after further investigation, you may uncover restrictions, unforeseen out of pocket costs and other obstacles that may make it harder for you to utilize the benefit.

With fertility benefits, many conventional carriers offer coverage with a dollar maximum, meaning you’d max out on coverage before completing a full IVF cycle. Plus, there are additional costs outside of the basic IVF procedure, like diagnostic testing, medications, and genetic testing which may come with a hefty price tag you’d have to pay for. Without adequate coverage, many people have to make cost-based decisions, forgoing the technology they need to reach a successful outcome.

As an alternative, Progyny’s coverage is bundled, meaning your entire treatment event is covered and you do not have to worry about what is or is not included, or fear running out of coverage mid-way through. Many vendors have similar disruptive solutions to ensure they’re not leaving their members high and dry during difficult times.

When sifting through options, be sure you’re asking what’s covered and not covered under your plan. A lot of benefits may seem expansive, but make sure you’re getting the most out of the coverage that’s available to you. Ask: Are the best clinics in your area included in your plan as “in-network”? Do you have to meet medical necessity requirements before being allowed to access your benefits?

Which benefits are supported?

Once you’ve opted in for benefits during open enrollment, how do you access your benefit? How do you move forward with treatment? Does your benefit provide access to the doctors in your area? Since many of these offerings are complex and without proper onboarding, how can you be expected to understand the next steps?

With the growing emphasis on mental health and concierge member experience, companies like Progyny try to eliminate some of the member’s burden and create an easy to use benefit model that provides member support. For example, our dedicated Patient Care Advocates — a concierge-style fertility coach — helps members navigate the clinical and emotional aspects of your fertility treatment, making a difficult process a bit easier.

Another important factor to consider when shopping for benefits is access to care where you live — are the doctors that your insurance covers close by and easy to get to? When choosing your benefits, look out for any information about access to support. The goal of a benefit is to make your life easier, not leave you feeling confused and stressed in times of need.

What do I do if I’m unhappy with the benefits offered during open enrollment?

Often times, employers are unaware of what an employee wants until it’s brought to their attention. If you are unhappy with the benefits offered, raise the issue with your HR team! You are your own best advocate and change begins with you.

Not sure where to start? If you are comfortable, speak with your colleagues. Seek out a company resource group to see if others have similar needs. This way you can help form a plan or a way to approach HR. Once you have an idea of what you need, talk to HR to explain why the proposed benefit would be pertinent to you and your colleagues. Employers understand that the key to keeping good talent is making sure they’re happy.

Open enrollment can be overwhelming but take advantage of the resources you have. Ask questions, do your research, and discuss the options with experts in your office. With an arsenal of helpful information at your disposal, open enrollment should be stress-free and get you excited for all of the incredible employer-sponsored benefits in your future.

SOURCE: Ajmani, K. (25 November 2019) "Key factors in choosing your benefits during open enrollment" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/how-to-choose-benefits-during-open-enrollment


How employers can prevent a new parent penalty in the workplace

The new parent penalty, a bias against new parents, often occurs when employees return from parental leave. The penalty presents itself in managers and colleagues who assume individuals are no longer interested in the upward growth of the company. Read this blog post from Employee Benefit News for ways employers can prevent a new parent penalty in the workplace.


Returning to work after parental leave is a rigorous experience for many employees. It can be a difficult time filled with adjustment pain points and career growth setbacks, all stemming from a surprising cause: the new parent penalty.

This penalty — or bias against new parents — presents itself by way of managers and colleagues assuming these individuals are no longer interested in or dedicated to upward growth in the company in the same way they were prior to taking time off. Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common hurdle. This bias often has a negative impact on the morale and career potential of employees who experience it.

Yet there are several actionable steps that HR leaders and employers, in general, should keep in mind to help new parents get back into the swing of things at work.

Evaluate your current leave options. The first step to ensuring a smooth re-entry to the workplace is implementing a leave policy that allows employees enough time to adjust to their new roles as parents. Only 14% of Americans have access to any paid family leave for the birth of a child, according to Pew Research Center. Even more, 23% of mothers are back on the job within 10 days of giving birth whether they're physically ready or not, according to the Department of Labor. This often results in mothers leaving the workforce, even if though they want to stay. Paid family leave is critical — it improves health outcomes for recovering mothers and new babies and improves retention of new parents.

Set the entire team up to succeed. One thing I often hear from clients at Maven who struggle with returning to work is that there is pressure from managers to resume a business as usual mindset, ignoring the significant shift in their lives. Managers should be trained to help mitigate this by providing better re-entry support. Employers can no longer expect parents to work at all hours or travel at the drop of the hat without some flexibility. Providing a transition or ramp time can be extremely successful in helping parents juggle their often competing work priorities and the needs of their children. Transition time also helps set expectations for other team members who may feel frustrated and overworked when parents come back to work unable to operate in the same capacity that they once did — enter parental bias.

Support career advancement with individualized plans. A client who recently returned to work after maternity leave was surprised to learn during a progress meeting that her manager had placed her on a so-called mommy track. She had requested a flexible work schedule upon her return from leave. Her manager assumed that meant she was no longer interested in opportunities for growth at the company.

This mother is not alone, many new parents face similar roadblocks in career advancement as a result of employers scaling back on assigning them responsibilities that would keep them on the leadership track. Instead of assuming what the new parents are looking for, employers should offer individualized paths for success. This ensures that new parents can continue to grow their careers even if they choose more flexible schedules.

Create a support system. Implementing employee resource groups can be an invaluable tool for new parents looking to connect and receive advice from their colleagues, who have been in their positions. Connecting employees with peers who can speak first hand about the pain points of new working parenthood, and how to make the transition easier can go a long way. Having easy access to a network like this lets employees feel like their concerns are heard and their needs are being met. These employees are in turn more likely to confidently stay in their careers rather than dropping out.

Employers are understanding that there are significant benefits to supporting their employees’ transition back to the workforce, including an increase in retention, culture improvements, and positive impact on their bottom lines. In short: paid family leave is a good thing, and when combined with individualized support from managers and team members, a parent’s return to work is smoother. By understanding the needs of their employees, employers are better equipped and more prepared to anticipate and prevent parental bias that hinders employee and company growth.

SOURCE: Ferrante, M. (5 November 2019) "How employers can prevent a new parent penalty in the workplace" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/how-employers-can-prevent-a-new-parent-penalty-in-the-workplace


Know your people, know your data: Keys to measuring employee engagement

According to research, over half of employees believe that health insurance is important in terms of their job satisfaction. Read the following blog post for ways employers can measure employee engagement.


Offering a total compensation and benefits package that fits employee needs drives morale, motivation and performance in the workplace.

Simply put, people who are happy and healthy are more productive. When an organization offers benefits that appeal to employees (and workers know how to use these benefits) employers should see an increase in total productivity.

On the other hand, if a company is off the mark with the total compensation package, or simply hasn’t communicated the benefits to people correctly, it will either see unchanged productivity or a decline. Organizations struggling to find improvement in productivity should look at their employee benefits offerings for answers.

Providing effective group health insurance and well-being programs is a good way to reduce the amount of sick leave worker's take. If employees promptly get healthcare when they’re ill, they’re more likely to be healthier overall. If an organization doesn’t offer appropriate health benefits, the result can be presenteeism.

Additionally, the cost of presenteeism multiplies when sick staff are contagious. One sick person refusing to take a day off can snowball into multiple people arriving ill to work on subsequent days. When illnesses reach critical mass and it’s harder for people to recover from things like the flu or a cold, organizations may find themselves short-staffed when employees finally pay to see a doctor.

Job satisfaction and morale are also linked to employee benefits. Research shows more than half of employees believe that health insurance is important in terms of their job satisfaction — even more crucial if staff live in an area where medical services are expensive.

Strategies to measure benefits engagement. HR staff have multiple ways of measuring how certain workplace functions are performing. Here are some effective methods organizations can use to measure benefits engagement.

Staff surveys. Questionnaires that seek to understand what benefits your staff know they have, and how they’ll use them.

Pulse surveys. Asking staff short, frequent questions about a benefits platform.

Focus groups. Gathering cross-functional groups of staff members together to have a facilitated discussion about benefits.

Exit surveys. Include questions about benefits and satisfaction levels during exit surveys, and then investigate what their next employer might be offering to have lured them away.

If organizations are not regularly questioning how well their benefits plan is performing, they may be missing an opportunity to get key insights into how employees feel about their packages.

Offering employee benefits isn’t just to support an organization’s staff, it should also support an organization’s long-term sustainability. Employee engagement is one key measure. The challenge for organizations is ensuring not only that they include benefits that will be relevant to staff, but also that they properly educate them in what those benefits are.

The less staff are educated on what benefits exist and how they can use them, the less likely they are to engage with them. Not having an appropriate communication strategy can often set benefits plan performance behind.

Working with analytics and claims data can indicate when specific benefits aren’t being used. Knowing what causes the lack of engagement requires a bit of discussion and investigation, but finding sustainable solutions is completely dependent on understanding whether the issue is the benefits themselves, or the communication to staff.

SOURCE: Rider, S. (1 November 2019) "Know your people, know your data: Keys to measuring employee engagement" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/using-data-to-measure-employee-engagement


Company Gifts That Workers Hate

Gift cards, water bottles and coffee mugs are just a few examples of workplace gift ideas that employees do not want or make them feel unappreciated. According to a new survey, more than 8 in 10 employees have received a workplace gift that they didn't want. Continue reading this blog post from SHRM to learn more.


Coffee mugs and water bottles emblazoned with the company's logo. Gift cards to stores that employees rarely visit.

These are among the gifts that companies give to workers—and that workers hate, that make them feel unappreciated, and that leave the impression that their employers are thoughtless.

So says a new survey by Snappy, the New York City-based employee engagement company, which found that more than 8 in 10 U.S. employees have received a workplace gift—mostly from managers—that they didn't want.

As the winter holidays approach, and as companies bestow gifts to show they appreciate their employees, the survey of more than 1,000 U.S. workers demonstrates that leaders may want to give more thought to workplace gift-giving.

No Logos, Please

Almost 3 in 4 workers would prefer to get a gift without their company logo on it, according to the survey, which Snappy conducted in September.

"Some employees have reported to me that they don't mind some gifts with logos, but they resent feeling like a 'walking billboard' for the company," said Paul White, who has a Ph.D. in psychology and is co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace (Northfield Publishing, 2019). "Others state that when they are given gifts that have the company's logo, the item immediately is disqualified as a gift—because the focus of the item is the company, not the recipient."

White's research into how more than 100,000 employees feel about the workplace found that only 6 percent identified gifts as the primary way they want a company to show appreciation—far below getting words of affirmation (46 percent), quality time with a supervisor or co-workers (26 percent) and getting help from supervisors or colleagues on a project (22 percent).

"Employees are not saying they do not want tangible rewards … for doing good work," White wrote. "But what the data show is that when choosing comparatively between words of affirmation, quality time or an act of service—receiving a gift is far less meaningful than appreciation communicated through these actions. For example, employees often comment, 'If I receive some gift but I never hear any praise, no one stops to see how I'm doing, or I never get any help—the gift feels superficial.' "

Are Companies Catching On?

One would think, given research and books like White's that demonstrate how people feel about workplace gifts, that companies would adjust their gift-giving practices. Often, they don't because no one asks employees what they thought about the present. Workers are in a tight spot: If they complain or don't seem enthused, they may be seen as ungrateful or demanding, White said.

In fact, the Snappy survey found that of those workers who got a gift they didn't like, 9 in 10 pretended they liked the gift anyway.

"The leader needs to be interested in what the meaning or message of the gift is, [but] most often, it is a rather thoughtless process," White said. "In work relationships, it is the thought that counts. For employees who value gifts, either giving everyone the same item or giving them a generic gift with no thought or personal meaning is actually offensive."

Cord Himelstein is vice president of marketing and communications for HALO Recognition, an employee rewards and incentives company based in Long Island City, N.Y. He said he thinks companies are paying attention to their gift-giving practices. He noted recent data from WorldatWork showed that about 44 percent of recognition programs get updated or changed every year.

"If management isn't actively listening and applying feedback in a systematic way, then there's no point in offering gifts at all," he said. "Nailing down the right balance of rewards that employees really love takes time and effort."

Best and Worst Gifts

Respondents said that some of the "worst" gifts employers ever gave them included a pin, a plaque, and a gift card to a store they'd never visited.

In fact, more than 3 in 4 said a gift card is less meaningful than an actual gift, and almost 9 in 10 admitted that they'd lost the gift card or forgotten that it had a balance on it.

"Gift cards feel transactional and impersonal," said Hani Goldstein, co-founder and CEO of Snappy. "Employers fail to realize that gift cards put a price tag on the recipient's value and make them feel like they're worth $25. Our research points to one key insight: The most appreciated gifts aren't impactful because of their actual monetary value. What matters most is what the gifts are and how they are given."

Employers should remember that things like pins and plaques, Himelstein said, "are commemorative add-ons, not whole gifts, and should always be supplemented with more substantial and appropriate rewards."

Employees also described some of the "best" gifts employers gave them, which included an espresso machine, a trip to Paris, an iPad and a television.

White noted that such expensive gifts can be impractical for a company. They may be appropriate in rare situations, White said, such as rewarding a worker who reached an exceptional goal or recognizing someone who's served long and well.

"Generally, meaningful gifts between employees and supervisors are more impactful when they are personal and thoughtful rather than pricey," he said.

Himelstein said more expensive gifts—at least those more expensive than mugs or pins—"aren't only practical, it's a best practice."

"Nobody wants a cheap gift for their hard work, and employees can always tell when the company isn't trying," he said. "Also, don't lose sight of the fact that you don't need to constantly shower employees with expensive gifts to make them feel appreciated."

SOURCE: Wilkie, D. (14 November 2019) "Company Gifts That Workers Hate" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/hr-topics/employee-relations/Pages/gifts-workers-hate-.aspx


DOL’s new fluctuating workweek rule may pave road for worker bonuses

The Department of Labor’s new fluctuating workweek rule could give employers additional flexibility when calculating employee overtime pay and could potentially make it easier for workers to get bonuses. Read the following blog post to learn more about this newly proposed rule.


The Department of Labor’s new proposal would give employers additional flexibility when calculating overtime pay for salaried, non-exempt employees who work irregular hours — and may make it easier for some workers to get bonuses.

The new proposal, released this week, clarifies for employers that bonuses paid on top of fixed salaries are compatible with the so-called “fluctuating workweek” method of compensation, or a way of calculating overtime pay for workers whose hours vary week-to-week. Supplemental payments, such as bonuses or overtime pay, must be included when calculating the regular rate of pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act, according to the DOL.

"For far too long, job creators have faced uncertainty regarding their ability to provide bonus pay for workers with fluctuating workweeks," says Cheryl Stanton, wage and hour division administrator, at the DOL in a statement. "This proposed rule will provide much-needed clarity for job creators who are looking for new ways to better compensate their workers."

Paul DeCamp, an attorney with the law firm Epstein Becker Green’s labor and workforce management practice, says the DOL rule clears up ambiguity surrounding when employers can use the fluctuating workweek rule. A preamble in a 2011 Obama-era regulation suggested that bonuses were contrary to a flexible workweek, DeCamp says.

“The department’s past rulemakings have created ambiguity — paying employees a bonus makes the fluctuating workweek calculation unavailable,” DeCamp says. “During the last administration, some people with DOL took the position that the fluctuating workweek was only available when the compensation the employee received was in the form of salary.”

This new update may make it easier for employers to pay out bonuses or other kinds of compensation to a specific group of workers. Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia says the proposal will remove burdens on American workers and make it easier for them to get extra pay.

"At a time when there are more job openings than job seekers, this proposal would allow America's workers to reap even more benefits from the competitive labor market,” Scalia says.

DeCamp adds that the update will make it easier for employers to provide bonuses to these workers, without being concerned they are going to impact their overtime calculation.

“What this does is it makes it possible for employers who have salaried non-exempt employees to pay other types of compensation too — without worrying that in paying that bonus or other type of compensation they’re going to screw up their overtime calculation,” DeCamp says.

But DeCamp warns that employers should not confuse this regulation with the overtime rule that the DOL finalized in September, which raised the minimum salary threshold for overtime eligibility to $35,568 per year.

“These two regulations are not interlocking. They don’t really deal with the same subject,” he says. “They’re both talking about very different employee groups.”

SOURCE: Hroncich, C. (6 November 2019) "DOL’s new fluctuating workweek rule may pave road for worker bonuses" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/news/dols-fluctuating-workweek-rule-helps-with-worker-bonuses


IRS increases retirement contributions for 2020

Recently, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that workers contributing to 401(k), 403(b), 457 and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plans will be able to add up to $19,500 in 2020. Read this blog post to learn more about this increase in retirement contributions.


The IRS said this week that workers contributing to 401(k), 403(b), 457 and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plans plans can add $19,500 next year, an increase from $19,000 in 2019.

The move could help workers save more for retirement, but it may be inconvenient for employers who’ve already started open enrollment, experts say. Employees are now able to set aside $500 more for retirement.

“Every penny counts when you’re saving for retirement, and the higher contribution limit is definitely going to help,” says Jacob Mattinson, partner at McDermott, Will & Emery, a Chicago-based law firm. “But since companies are in the midst of open enrollment, employers may have to go back in and change the entries for employees who want to contribute the max.”

There are about 27.1 million 401(k) plan participants using roughly 110,794 employer-sponsored 401(k) plans, the Employee Benefit Research Institute says. Ninety-three percent of employers offer a 401(k) plan, and around 74% of companies match workers’ contributions, according to data from the Society for Human Resource Management.

While the vast majority of employers do offer retirement savings plans, employees may still be struggling to sock away money. Around 70% of workers say debt has negatively impacted their ability to save for retirement, EBRI says.

“Thirty-two percent of workers with a major debt problem are not at all confident about their prospects for a financially secure retirement, compared with 5% of workers without a debt problem,” says Craig Copeland, EBRI senior research associate.

The IRS also upped contribution limits on Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees plans, or SIMPLE retirement accounts, to $13,500 from $13,000. The agency did not change the contribution limits to IRAs, which remain at $6,000 annually.

SOURCE: Hroncich, C. (7 November 2019) "IRS increases retirement contributions for 2020" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/news/irs-increases-retirement-contributions-for-2020


A benefits wishlist for millennial employees

Did you know: 63 percent of millennials would struggle to cover an unexpected expense of $500. With millennials becoming the new core of today's workforce, many employers are tailoring their job postings, descriptions and benefits to correspond with the millennial wish list. Read the following article to learn more.


Millennials are the new core workforce. Their concept of work is different than the standards set by previous generations. They bring bold, new approaches of what work should be, how and where it should be performed, and what the rewards for work should be.

While this has made some employers uncomfortable, millennials are not likely to change their ways. Employers must reassess their concepts to bring out the best of the unique millennial personality.

When I look at the U.S. workforce, I see a dramatic shift in the attitudes, personalities and attributes of millennials, which makes up the majority of the workforce. Millennials bring many positive attributes to the table, including a preference for flat management structures, multiple degrees, technological skills, energy and self-confidence. They also have high expectations for themselves, prefer to work in teams, are able to multitask and seek out challenges.

However, millennials have the highest levels of stress and depression of any generation. About 20% of millennial workers have suffered work-related depression. Millennials want their own living space, but they’re less likely to become homeowners because of student loan debt. Only 6% of millennials feel they're making enough to cover basic needs, according to an Economic Innovation Group national survey of millennials. As a result, 63% of millennials would struggle to cover an unexpected $500 expense. This generation wants to live within their means, but they’ve never been taught how — they need and want to be educated on how to achieve financial independence.

Think about your corporate strategy for attracting millennials. Here are just a few of the ways companies are tailoring their job postings, descriptions and benefits to correspond with the millennial wish list.

Working with meaning. Millennials want to have meaning in their work. Past generations may have worked simply because they needed to pay the bills. Millennials want to get paid too, but they also want to know that their employer is doing more than making and selling products or services. They aspire to social causes and want to know why the organization exists and how they can personally participate and contribute in that culture.

Continued personal growth and career advancement. Millennials want to be coached and have work-life balance. They want management feedback, even if it’s negative. Regular pay increases and promotions are important to them too. It shows that you’re invested in their career path and value their contributions.

Flexible hours and the ability to work remotely. They want flexible hours and the option to work from a location of their choice. This flexibility also contributes to their desire for no added workplace stress. Technology has made it possible to connect 24/7 from anywhere on any device. If you have yet to adapt your culture to accept this new norm, you’ll likely be missing out on this generation of candidates.

Technology. Millennials are smart-device people. Who better to move your organization forward than the individuals who grew up knowing how to download and use an app, or create a widget that solves a problem? They think technology-first and is required for any organization looking to remain competitive.

Financial wellness. A robust financial wellness program that includes self-directed education, competitions, games and rewards will pique millennial interest. Products and services like financial coaching, cashflow tracking, early wage access and credit resources that address their financial challenges will keep them engaged. Above all, a financial wellness program must be tailored to each individual employee to achieve maximum participation and behavioral change.

Employers must be vigilant in order to keep the best and brightest talent. They should also be proactive in managing their employees on a personal level, especially millennials. Otherwise, they are likely to be disengaged and move on — and that will cost money.

As managers and leaders of the organization, it is your responsibility to ensure that millennials understand their future in the company and to communicate that they don’t have to go somewhere else to advance. Employers and leaders have a responsibility to provide millennials with a desirable place to land, and a culture that encourages them to thrive. Don’t give millennials reasons to leave your organization. We need to support them, engage them, reward them and give them reasons to stay.

SOURCE: Kilby, D. (6 November 2019) "A benefits wishlist for millennial employees" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/what-employee-benefits-do-millennials-want