Job Hoppers Seek Better Rewards, Recognition and Career Growth

Did you know: Only 33 percent of employees state that they are committed to staying at their jobs. If employees are disengaged from their work, it is easier for them to find other opportunities with promising recognition, rewards, and growth. Read this blog post to learn more about why employees might be searching for more generous benefits.


Employees have high expectations when it comes to job perks, and, if their employer doesn't offer what they want, they'll find another that will, new survey findings show.

Only one-third of employees (33 percent) say they are committed to staying at their jobs in 2020, compared to the 47 percent who had the same intention for 2019, according to the 2020 Engagement & Retention Report by employee-recognition software firm Achievers.

As the labor market stays tight, it's easy for disengaged employees to find work elsewhere. And they might try to: Just 19 percent of employees surveyed consider themselves "very engaged," while 14 percent say they are fully disengaged. Even the 32 percent with "average engagement" said they were open to new job opportunities.

The survey, conducted in October 2019, received 1,154 responses from employees across North America who were asked about their intentions for 2020.

"A substantial portion of today's workforce already has one foot out the door," said Natalie Baumgartner, Achievers' chief workforce scientist. Unless employers take steps to reverse these feelings, she said, "the risk of turnover and underperformance in 2020 is immense."

The survey found that the top three reasons employees are considering leaving their jobs are:

  • Compensation (cited by 52 percent of respondents).
  • Career growth (43 percent).
  • Recognition (19 percent).

Employees Feel Unheard, Unrecognized

Ninety percent of workers said they are more likely to stay at a company that asks for, and acts on, employee feedback. But when asked how good their manager and company are at soliciting feedback, the most common answer was just "OK," asking for it once or twice a year. As for their employers acting on feedback, "OK" was again the most common response, at 44 percent. These employees said their manager and company only talk about feedback and make few changes based on it.

Companies should make sure that employee feedback reaches managers, Baumgartner advised, and equip managers to use this feedback to address staff needs "in a personalized and timely way." These actions, she noted, can range "from small acknowledgements to larger changes that improve the employee experience and, as a result, improve engagement and retention."

As for recognition, 82 percent of surveyed employees "strongly" or "somewhat" agreed that they wished they received more recognition at work, and another 30 percent of employees said they feel "not very" or "not at all" valued by superiors.

"When organizations recognize everyday behaviors that align with their culture and goals, they help reinforce them as well as the role each employee plays," Baumgartner said.

Frequent vs. Infrequent Job Changers

After wanting more money, feeling unappreciated is the top reason infrequent job changers could be driven to leave, another recent survey found.

Joblist, a website that compiles jobs from leading job boards, last October asked nearly 1,000 workers throughout the U.S. what would make them consider accepting an offer from another employer and then compared responses from frequent and infrequent job hoppersthose who had held two or more jobs in the past five years and those who had held just one job during the same period.

The average minimum salary increase that respondents seeking other jobs would accept to stay at their current employer was $15,491, which represents a 25 percent increase, on average, over the past five years. Perks such as unlimited paid vacation, student loan assistance and paid parental leave were cited by frequent job changers as factors that would make a potential employer more attractive.

"These perks may appeal more to younger workers who are less likely to have a 'lifer' mentality" toward their employer, according to Joblist.

While both frequent and infrequent job switchers said they would leave jobs for better pay, "people who switch jobs infrequently are more likely to leave because of feeling underappreciated or undervalued," according to Joblist. "For the most part, people who don't change jobs often have made an emotional commitment to their employers, so when they feel slighted because that investment isn't being reciprocated, they're more likely to leave." Conversely, people who leave frequently are more likely to see the employer-employee relationship as transactional, "so they're less affected by those feelings."

Is Turnover So Bad?

Turnover can be disruptive and costly, but it can also be an opportunity for employers to find and develop employees who are enthusiastic about the organization and the direction in which it's heading, according to a November 2019 report from compensation data and software firm PayScale.

"Some turnover is actually good for an organization—especially in the case of overpaid, under-performing employees," said report author Conrado Tapado, content marketing manager at PayScale. "Usually employees stay when they feel satisfied and fairly compensated for their work. But sometimes, employees stay for less positive reasons," he noted, including:

  • They are overpaid. "Being overpaid leaves little incentive for workers to look for another job. They may realize how difficult it will be to find another organization that will match their salary. Thus, they are perfectly happy to stay where they are."
  • They value their benefits. "Benefits are meant to help drive retention, which is generally a good thing. However, sometimes employees remain just for the benefits but would rather be working elsewhere. Eventually, those 'golden handcuffs' will begin to chafe, and your employees may start to feel resentful."

Health care, retirement savings and paid-time-off benefits should be competitive and focused on helping employees remain productive and feel financially secure, without becoming so rich that employees don't feel they can leave, the findings suggest. Pay should be calibrated to reward performance through variable compensation tied to achieving personal, team and organizational goals, with base pay increases made according to merit and not treated as an entitlement.

The Right Benefits Balance

"Creating a benefits package that incentivizes good employees to stay without deterring uninspired employees from leaving can be tricky," said Amy Stewart, PayScale's senior content marketing manager.

That can happen when employers offer benefits with a high monetary value that employees only receive if they stay put and hold tight, such as pensions or stock options that vest over time. People can also stay in an unpleasant situation for benefits that would be hard to find elsewhere, such as a paid sabbatical, a four-day workweek or paid child care, Stewart said.

A possible solution is to "experiment with rewarding some benefits in exchange for high performance, such as Fridays off or opportunities to work from home only if certain metrics are hit," she said.

Compensation is similar, Stewart explained, as employees with above-market pay are often reluctant to leave. "When you have a highly paid employee who isn't performing to a high standard, sometimes the answer isn't a change in compensation or a new job, but a new challenge. If their interest in their current work is waning, they might need new work, but it doesn't necessarily have to be at another organization," Stewart said. "Employees who have stopped learning in their current position may become revitalized in a position that offers them new opportunities to grow."

SOURCE: Miller, S. (06 February 2020) "Job Hoppers Seek Better Rewards, Recognition and Career Growth" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/hr-topics/benefits/Pages/job-hoppers-seek-better-rewards-recognition-career-growth.aspx


Need a Morale Booster? Therapy Dogs Can Help

Work is stressful by itself, but with added layers of stress from having to process outside emotions and hardships, it becomes difficult to give the best service that is should be offered. Allowing a therapy dog in the workplace can help employees reduce stress, and become calmer throughout the day. Read this blog post to learn more about how therapy dogs in the workplace can be beneficial to the work environment.


The Evergreen Health services facility in Buffalo, N.Y., is buzzing with anticipation several days before Stella arrives. Some staff even seek out Matthew Sydor, the director of housing and retention services at the health care agency, days ahead of time to confirm her arrival. Others have requested a calendar invite from him so they can plan their day around her visit.

The middle-aged golden retriever is a certified therapy dog, and her visits are a hit with employees.

Therapy dogs are common in what Sydor describes as the "helping" fields. Bringing therapy dogs into any workplace, he says, is an opportunity to break up the day for employees and give them something to look forward to at no cost.

"At our agency we work with many people who have gone through traumatic experiences. All work is stressful, but layers of stress are added when you are helping others to process their own emotions and hardships," he explained. "The compounding stress makes it difficult to best serve our patients at a high level. Having a therapy dog in the building helps staff to participate in a self-care activity."

Stella's owner, Krista Vince Garland, Ph.D., is an associate professor of exceptional learning at Buffalo State College. The pair specializes in animal-assisted interventions in educational settings but are receiving an increasing number of requests to visit local workplaces.

"Everyone who visits Stella has the same comments: 'I feel so much better. She's brightened my day,' " Vince Garland said. "Aetna also did a study in 2017 that shows tremendous promise on the benefits of therapy dogs in the workplace. Employee sick days were down, morale was up and interactions among co-workers increased."

Having dogs in the workplace isn't a new concept, but it's a concept that hasn't been widely embraced. Only about 11 percent of companies in the United States allow pets in the office, according to the Society for Human Resource Management Employee Benefits 2019 survey.

Paul LeBlanc is the founder and CEO of Zogics, a Massachusetts-based fitness, cleaning and body care company. S'Bu, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, was LeBlanc's first employee.

"When you look at [Inc. magazine's] list of best places to work, 47 percent of those companies allow dogs in the office," he said. "Studies have shown that petting a dog for five to 10 minutes causes a reduction of blood pressure and the dogs have calming effects on people."

But not all employers are ready to go "all-in" like Zogics. For these workplaces, therapy dogs are a viable alternative. Sydor and Vince Garland share insight into what has made their partnership successful and offer tips any business can use.

Communicate. No one likes a surprise, even if it's a friendly four-legged canine. Talk with staff first to address any questions or concerns. Arrange a quick meet-and-greet to give the dog a chance to get used to the environment before interacting with employees.

"This also gives the administrator a chance to touch the dog and make sure it is clean and well-groomed. Therapy dogs are required to have a bath within 24 hours of any visit," Vince Garland said.

Distributing a fact sheet helps with the introduction of a therapy team. Once a visit is established, send a reminder a day prior.

"I suggest telling your staff why you're bringing therapy dogs in and advertise it as much as possible to employees," Sydor said.

Verify credentials. Ask about the team's training. Certifications are not required of service dogs and emotional support dogs. However, therapy dogs must complete training. Stella is an American Kennel Club (AKC) Good Citizen and has earned certifications through Therapy Dogs International and the SPCA Erie County Paws for Love.

"There's a lot of fake information out there. If someone is shy about sharing that information, that's a clue that more discussion is needed," Vince Garland said.

Sydor added, "We found Krista and Stella through Erie County SPCA's Paws for Love, and it has been a great partnership. They hold liability insurance for any damage that may occur. All dogs are well-trained, and the handlers are consistent with how they conduct their work."

Acknowledge cultural differences. "Care must be taken to respect cultural sensitivities," Vince Garland said. "Some cultures regard dogs as unclean, others view dogs as nuisances, while others believe spirits may appear as animals."

Designate a point of contact. This person handles scheduling visits, interacting with the team, and confirming vaccinations and liability insurance. The ideal individual works well with people and is animal-friendly, according to Vince Garland.

Create a space for the team. Not everyone will embrace dogs. Designating space separate from the main workflow respects the space of those employees who choose not to interact with the dog.

"Evergreen has given us a room for visits," Vince Garland said. "By being out of the flow, we're able to meet with staff who are interested without making others feel uncomfortable."

SOURCE: Navarra, K. (13 January 2020) "Need a Morale Booster? Therapy Dogs Can Help" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/benefits/pages/need-a-morale-booster-therapy-dogs-can-help.aspx


Starbucks Unveils Mental Health Initiatives for Employees

Did you know: One in Five United States adults experiences mental illness. According to the World Health Organization, work is good for mental health but a negative environment can lead to physical and mental health issues. Starbucks has announced that they have launched an app for its employees to improve their mental health along with their anxiety and stress. Read this blog post to learn more about how Starbucks is creating mental health benefits for their employees.


Starbucks has launched an app to help its employees improve their mental health and deal with anxiety and stress.

The global coffee company also announced it will be retooling its employee assistance program based on feedback from employees and mental health experts. It plans to offer training to its U.S. and Canada store managers on how to support workers who experience a mental health issue, substance-abuse problem or other crisis.

Every year, one in five U.S. adults experience mental illness and one in 25 experience serious mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health. And more people are killing themselves in the workplace, according to the Washington Post. The number of such suicides increased 11 percent between 2017 and 2018. Employers, the Post reported, "are struggling with how to respond."

Business Insider reported that some Starbucks employees it interviewed about the initiatives said much of their stress comes from the company cutting back on hours and relying on employees to work longer shifts with fewer people and no pay increase.

The World Health Organization points out that while work is good for mental health, a negative environment can lead to physical and mental health problems. Harassment and bullying at work, for example, can have "a substantial adverse impact on mental health," it said. There are things employers can do, though, to promote mental health in the workplace; such actions may also promote productivity.

SHRM Online has collected the following articles on this topic from its archives and other sources.

Starbucks Announcements Its Commitment to Supporting Employees' Mental Health 

The company released a statement Jan. 6 about additions to its employee benefits and resources that support mental wellness.

"Our work ahead will continue to be rooted in listening, learning and taking bold actions," it said. In the past, that has included tackling topics such as loneliness, vulnerability "and the power of small acts and conversation to strengthen human connection."
(Starbucks)

Mental Illness and the Workplace  

Companies are ramping up their efforts to navigate the mental health epidemic. Suicide rates nationally are climbing, workers' stress and depression levels are rising, and addiction—especially to opioids—continues to bedevil employers. Such conditions are driving up health care costs at double the rate of illnesses overall, according to Aetna Behavioral Health.

Starting workplace conversations about behavioral health is challenging because such conditions often are seen as a personal failing rather than a medical condition.
(SHRM Online)   

Research: People Want Their Employers to Talk About Mental Health 

Mental health is becoming the next frontier of diversity and inclusion, and employees want their companies to address it. Despite the fact that more than 200 million workdays are lost due to mental health conditions each year—$16.8 billion in employee productivity—mental health remains a taboo subject.
(Harvard Business Review)   

Viewpoint: Addressing Mental Health in the Workplace 

Companies are reassessing their behavioral health needs and are looking to their health care partners for creative, integrated and holistic solutions. Many are turning to employee assistance programs for help.
(Benefits Pro)  

4 Things to Know About Mental Health at Work 

Kelly Greenwood graduated summa cum laude from Duke University with degrees in psychology and Spanish. She holds a master's degree in business from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, contributes to Forbes magazine and is editor-at-large for Mental Health at Work, a blog on Thrive Global.

She also is someone who has managed generalized anxiety disorder since she was a young girl. It twice led to debilitating depression. She shared four things she wishes she had known earlier in her life about mental health.
(SHRM Online)   

Employers Urged to Find New Ways to Address Workers' Mental Health 

An estimated 8 in 10 workers with a mental health condition don't get treatment because of the shame and stigma associated with it, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. As a result, the pressure is growing on employers to adopt better strategies for dealing with mental health.
(Kaiser Health News)  

Mental Health 

Depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders and other mental health impairments can rise to the level of disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act that requires employers to make accommodations for workers with such conditions.

This resource center can help employers understand their obligations and address their workers' mental health.
(SHRM Resource Spotlight)

SOURCE: Gurchiek, k. (14 January 2020) "Starbucks Unveils Mental Health Initiatives for Employees" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/benefits/pages/starbucks-unveils-mental-health-initiatives-for-employees.aspx


The Saxon Advisor - January 2020

Compliance Check

what you need to know


Form W-2s are due January 31, 2020. January 31 is the deadline for employers to distribute Form W-2s to employees. Large employers – employers who have more than 250 W-2s – must include the aggregate cost of health coverage.

Form 1099-Rs are due January 31, 2020. Employers must distribute Form 1099-Rs to recipients of 2019 distributions.

Form 945 Distributions. Form 945s must be distributed to plan participants by January 31, 2020, for 2019 non payroll withholding of deposits if they were not made on time and in full to pay all taxes that are due.

Section 6055/6056 Reporting. Employers must file Forms 1094-B and 1095-B, and Forms 1094-C and 1095-C with the IRS by February 28, 2020 if they are filed on paper.

Form 1099-R Paper Filing. Employers must file Form 1099-R with the IRS by February 28, 2020 if they are filed on paper.

CMS Medicare Part D Disclosure. Employers that provide prescription drug coverage must disclose to the CMS whether the plan’s prescription drug coverage is creditable or non-creditable.

Summary of Material Modifications Distribution. Employers who offer a group health plan that is subject to ERISA must distribute a SMM for plan changes that were adopted at the beginning of the year that are material reductions in plan benefits or services

In this Issue

  • Upcoming Compliance Deadlines
  • Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, 401(k), 403(b): What’s the Difference?
  • Fresh Brew Featuring Scott Langhorne
  • This month’s Saxon U: What Employers Should Know About the SECURE Act
  • #CommunityStrong: American Heart Association Heart Mini Fundraising

What Employers Should Know About the SECURE Act

Join us for this interactive and educational Saxon U seminar with Todd Yawit, Director of Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans at Saxon Financial Services, as we discuss what the SECURE Act is and how it impacts your employer-sponsored retirement plan.

Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, 401(k), 403(b): What's the Difference?

Bringing the knowledge of our in-house advisors right to you...


If you haven’t begun saving for retirement yet, don’t be discouraged. Whether you begin through an employer sponsored plan like a 401(k) or 403(b) or you begin a Traditional or Roth IRA that will allow you to grow earnings from investments through tax deferral, it is never too late or too early to begin planning.

“A major trend we see is that if people don’t have an advisor to meet with, they tend to invest too conservatively, because they are afraid of making a mistake,” said Kevin Hagerty, a Financial Advisor at Saxon Financial.

Advice from Kevin

Fresh Brew Featuring Scott Langhorne

“Pay close attention to detail.”


This month’s Fresh Brew features Scott Langhorne, an Account Manager at Saxon.

Scott’s favorite brew is Bud Light. His favorite local spot to grab his favorite brew is wherever his friends and family are.

Scott’s favorite snack to enjoy with his brew is wings.

Learn More About Scott

This Month's #CommunityStrong:
American Heart Association Heart Mini Fundraising

This January, February & March, the Saxon team and their families will be teaming up to raise money for the American Heart Association Heart Mini! They will be hosting a Happy Hour at Fretboard Brewing Company Wednesday, January 29, from 4 p.m. - 7 p.m. to raise money.

Are you prepared for retirement?

Saxon creates strategies that are built around you and your vision for the future. The key is to take the first step of reaching out to a professional and then let us guide you along the path to a confident future.

Monthly compliance alerts, educational articles and events
- courtesy of Saxon Financial Advisors.


New employee retention tool has four legs and goes 'woof'

The term "a dog is a human's best friend" can get thrown around, but what if dogs lead to increased productivity and less stress? Read this blog post to learn how allowing dogs at work can benefit employee productivity.


There are so many reasons to allow dogs in the workplace, from increasing production and morale to decreasing absences.

And while financial institutions have not traditionally offered such an employee benefit, there are plenty of banks and fintechs that are leading the way in the industry.

For example, JPMorgan Chase not only allows dogs into its branches, but it also hands out dog treats. Wells Fargo is another company with a great pet policy. In fact, Wells Fargo has a host of dogs that have been part of various offices throughout the years.

Other companies are going the extra mile, and providing dog parks on-site or dedicated walking areas for their four-legged colleagues. The online small-business lender Kabbage is well known for its laid-back work culture, including casual dress code, beer on tap and a dog-friendly policy.

Perhaps one of the most pet-friendly companies is Redtail Technology, which is named after the founder Brian McLaughlin’s dog. Not only does the company encourage people to bring their dogs to work, it also has a dog park, and a Slack channel for employees to message each other when they’re about to take their dog out for a play.

Still skeptical about this approach? Here are five scientifically backed reasons that allowing dogs into the office can benefit employees.

First, allowing people to bring their pet along with them to work actually helps to decrease stress for not just them, but everyone in the workspace. Washington State University found that petting a dog for just 10 minutes can help to reduce stress.

Playing with or petting a dog can increase the levels of oxytocin, a stress-reducing hormone; and decrease the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.

A team of researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University carried out a study that compared three groups of employees: those who brought their dogs to work, those who had dogs but left them at home those who didn’t own a dog. The lead of the study, Randolph Barker, said that "the differences in perceived stress between days the dog was present and absent were significant. The employees as a whole had higher job satisfaction than industry norms."

Second, when staff bring their dog to work, they will need regular walks throughout the day, which will encourage people to be active. Being physically active not only gives people the satisfaction that naturally comes with exercise, but it will also increases productivity.

Each time someone exercises, new mitochondria produce more energy known as ATP. This gives people more energy physically and for the brain, which boosts mental output and productivity.

Third, workplaces that allow dogs into their offices usually find that employees are more cooperative with each other, and that they have better working relationships. Dogs increase morale and bring a more fun and positive outlook to office life, which encourages people to be friendlier to each other.

Dogs are a common interest between many different people from all walks of life, so having some common ground can help people to connect. Central Michigan University found that when a dog is in the room with a group of people, they are more likely to trust each other and collaborate together effectively.

Fourth, actively encouraging staff to bring their pet to work will foster a really good relationship between employer and employee. It will help to make employees feel valued and increase the likelihood they'll stay long term at the company.

The more satisfied people feel in their job role, the less likely they are to search for work elsewhere, making employee retention rates higher, according to one study.

Fifth, allowing staff to bring their pet to work increases their job satisfaction and reduces stress, which in turn will mean that they are less likely to become ill and need time off work. This can have an added effect on other employees in the business too. With the positive, stress-reducing nature that dogs bring to an office, people will be less likely to take time off.

With such benefits already working for some financial companies, hopefully others will start to catch up with these pet-friendly policies soon.

SOURCE: Woods, T. (09 January 2020) "New employee retention tool has four legs and goes 'woof'" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/pet-friendly-policies-as-employee-retention-tools


Top 4 HR trends to watch this year

How can HR professionals better engage employees, improve an organization's brand, and maximize productivity and profitability? Their success will rely on HR departments staying nimble and leveraging technological advances to help reshape workplace practices. Here are four HR trends to watch this year:


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:

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. (03 January 2020) "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


Nonprofit launches student debt benefits program for employees

With the cost of college increasing, employers are trying to help employees tackle their student debt. According to the Federal Reserve, student debt has increased to more than $1.6 trillion. Read this blog to learn about how Northern Rivers Family of Services, a New York-based nonprofit, is paying their employee's student debt.


Northern Rivers Family of Services, an Albany, New York-based nonprofit social services organization, has partnered with IonTuition to bring a student loan repayment benefit to the employer’s 1,400 employees.

Northern Rivers decided to take on the student loan problem by offering employees the valuable wellness benefit, which is also a powerful recruitment and retention tool, company representatives said. Indeed, student loan debt has soared to more than $1.6 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve, yet only 8% of employers offer their workers a student loan benefit, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

“Student loans are a growing concern for today’s workforce,” says Linda Daley, chief human resource officer with Northern Rivers. “Sixty-five percent of our staff holds a bachelor’s degree or higher, and they’re saddled with the burden of student loan debt.”

Some employers that offer student loan repayment programs include Trilogy Health Services, Selective Insurance, Travelers Insurance, Wayfair and New Balance.

Employees with Northern Rivers will have access to a complete suite of student loan repayment tools plus a monthly contribution program, including concierge student loan advising, free accounts for family members, unbiased refinancing, default and delinquency recovery services, and college research tools.

“The repayment program is available for all benefit-eligible employees at Northern Rivers, which is approximately 1,060 of our employees,” Daley says. “With the IonTuition platform, the program was easy to roll out and our employees were immediately equipped with all the tools they need to reach financial wellness.”

Employees must have a minimum of six months with Northern Rivers to sign up for the contribution plan in which the organization will pay $35 a month toward employees’ student loans.

“Attracting and retaining quality talent in the nonprofit space is challenging,” Daley says. “This benefit gives our employees the security that their student loan payments are more manageable. ”

SOURCE: Schiavo, A. (16 December 2019) "Nonprofit launches student debt benefits program for employees" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/news/nonprofit-launches-student-debt-benefits-program-for-employees


personalized-health-plans-aided-by-technology

When productivity increases, so do wages

Although productivity is the baseline of wages, deviations do occur. Productivity and pay can diverge for multiple reasons that are not included in the standard economic model. Read this blog post to learn more about pay versus productivity.


“Workers are delivering more, and they’re getting a lot less,” argued former Vice President Joe Biden in a speech at the Brookings Institution this summer. “There’s no correlation now between productivity and wages.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic presidential rival, agrees. Her campaign website states that “wages have largely stagnated,” even though “worker productivity has risen steadily.”

The claim that productivity no longer drives wages is common enough on both the political left as well as the right. Proponents of this view argue that workers aren’t getting what they deserve based on their contributions to employers’ bottom lines.

Income inequality — the gap between the incomes of the rich and everyone else — supposedly demonstrates that the economy’s rewards are flowing, undeservedly, to those at the top. Populists take that conclusion even further, arguing that capitalism is fundamentally broken.

If that is what’s happening, it refutes textbook economics, which argues that wages are determined by productivity — by the amount of revenue workers generate for their employers. If a company paid a worker less than her productivity suggests she should be making, then she would go down the street and get a job that would pay her what she’s worth. Employers compete for workers, ensuring that workers’ wages are in line with their productivity.

This theory leaves out a lot, of course. Pay and productivity can diverge for any number of reasons not included in the standard economic model. Workers may not know how much revenue they create, or what other employment options are available to them. And changing jobs has its own costs, which in the real world gives employers some power over wages.

For critics of the current system, “some power” is a drastic understatement. In their telling, the decline of labor unions; erosion of the minimum wage; rise of non-compete and no-poaching agreements; inadequate enforcement of workplace standards and the like have dramatically reduced the bargaining power of workers. This has allowed businesses to drive down wages to the bare minimum job applicants and current workers will accept, pushing their pay below what their productivity suggests it should be.

Which view is correct? The latest piece of evidence on this question comes from Stanford University economist Edward P. Lazear, who analyzed data from advanced economies and confirms a strong link between pay and productivity.

Like several previous studies, Lazear’s research finds that low-, middle- and high-wage workers all benefit from growth in average productivity. This suggests that improvements in overall economic efficiency help all workers, not just the rich.

But Lazear argues, correctly, that a relevant issue is not whether workers benefit from changes in average productivity. Instead, if you want to know whether workers are being paid for their productivity, you should look at whether changes in the productivity of, say, low-wage workers affect the pay of that specific group.

It is infeasible to measure the productivity of individual workers. (How much revenue per hour of work do I generate for Bloomberg?) So Lazear examines productivity at the industry level, and compares industries that employ highly skilled workers with those that employ lesser-skilled ones.

Using data on the U.S. from 1989 through 2017, Lazear finds that productivity in industries dominated by higher-skilled workers increased by (roughly) 34 percent in that period. The wages of those workers grew by 26 percent. For industries requiring lesser skills, productivity increased by 20 percent, while wages grew by 24 percent.

In other words, pay increased faster than productivity in industries with lesser-skilled workers, and slower than productivity in industries with higher-skilled workers. Another striking implication of this finding is that “productivity inequality” — the gap in productivity between workers — may have grown faster than wage inequality over this period. While wage differences have increased over time, differences in productivity between groups of workers have increased even more.

The upshot: Slower wage growth for lesser-skilled workers is not prima facie evidence that employers have significant power over wages or that productivity doesn’t determine wages. Instead, Lazear concludes that productivity growth for high-skilled workers has increased rapidly enough (actually, more than enough) to account for growing inequality.

What caused this? Lazear points to two familiar explanations. Technological change disproportionately benefits the highly skilled, increasing their wages and productivity. And the globalization-led shift to a services economy has reduced the productivity of goods-producing, lesser-skilled workers.

Lazear also suggests that colleges may have improved more than high schools in their ability to impart skills to graduates. If so, industries dominated by college graduates would be expected to have had faster productivity growth over the last three decades. This would have caused both a wider dispersion in productivity across industries and in wages across groups of workers.

Such research doesn’t settle the debate, of course. Yet it does strengthen my view that wages are heavily influenced by market forces, even if they are not entirely determined by them. While productivity sets the baseline for wages, deviations from that baseline occur.

So contrary to what Biden, Warren and (many) others say, market forces, not power dynamics, are the principal driver of inequality.

This gets at the heart of the moral properties of the market economy. Capitalism produces unequal outcomes: The wages for some grow faster than for others. Those disparities are palatable if they are caused by differences in risk-taking, work effort and skills. They are tolerable if people are getting, in some sense, what they deserve. But if wages aren’t determined by productivity — if hard work doesn’t pay off and if workers aren’t receiving just returns — then something has gone badly wrong with the system.

Fortunately, the system doesn’t seem to be broken. It does need to be fine-tuned, however, with the goal of increasing the productivity of the lesser skilled. And we should be confident that if their productivity increases, so will their wages.

SOURCE: Bloomberg News (03 January 2020) "When productivity increases, so do wages" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/articles/when-productivity-increases-so-do-wages


How to prevent employees from taking advantage of unlimited PTO

Attracting and retaining is becoming more difficult. Because of this companies are now offering competitive benefits to bring that talent to their company. Companies have added unlimited paid time off, along with work from home policies to their benefits offering. Read this blog post to learn how to prevent employees from taking advantage of new benefits being put in place.


In the quest to attract and retain top talent, more companies are offering competitive benefits including unlimited paid time off and generous work from home policies. But what if you have workers who abuse the policy?

To prevent workers from taking advantage, it’s critical that companies set proper guidelines, says Jonathan Wasserstrum, CEO and founder of Squarefoot, a commercial real estate company, which offers its staff unlimited personal time off. At his company, people were utilizing the policy from “all ends of the spectrum,” which led him to reassess how they monitored and encouraged time off.

“The war for talent is so strong right now, and when an employee is looking to make a decision, you don’t want to disqualify yourself because you don’t offer this benefit,” he says. “But people don’t use the amount of vacation days intended. You get some people who underutilize and over utilize. The bad spoils the good, and that's not the intent of unlimited policy.”

Unlimited paid time off is becoming a more popular benefit, especially in the tech space. According to Indeed, 65% of companies mentioned “unlimited PTO” in their job postings, and companies like General Electric and Kronos offer the benefit to employees.

While the standard time off has typically been two to four weeks, 55% of employees do not use all of their paid time off, according to the U.S. Travel Association. To level the playing field among his employees, Wasserstrum says he established guidelines that made unlimited PTO flexible, but still within reason.

“There are top performers who work a lot, and you don't want them to burn out. On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who take advantage of policy,” he says. “We frame it as flexible and not unlimited. The intent is for everyone to use it as time away from the office — it helps you refresh — so we encourage you to take anywhere from two to four weeks.”

Paid time off has a multitude of benefits, including increased employee morale and a better sense of work-life balance. And today’s workforce is in desperate need of time away from the office. According to Deloitte, 77% of employees say they have experienced burnout, and 70% say their employer does not do enough to prevent or mitigate work stress.

“Work-life balance looks very different now than it used to,” Wasserstrum says. “If I'm on vacation 20 years ago, you really can't get in touch with me. Now, everyone is 24/7 on, so you have to set the boundaries as an employer.”

In addition to more paid time off, more people are also reaping the benefits of remote work. According to a Gallup poll, 43% of the workforce works remotely some or all of the time, but employers like IBM, Aetna and Yahoo have pulled back on those policies and required workers to be on site instead, according to the Society of Human Resource Managers.

"[Managers] may have realized how blind and invisible remote workers are and they don't know what's going on at the remote location — what work that person is doing or what distractions they may have to deal with,” Judith Olson, a distance-work expert and professor at the University of California Irvine, told SHRM.

With more employees weighing the benefits of workplace policies, time off is still the top benefit employees look for. Metlife found 72% named unlimited paid time off as their most desired benefit, ahead of wellness plans and retirement programs.

While it may put companies at an advantage, PTO and other flexible work policies are just one part of the overall picture of a company’s workplace culture, Wasserstrum says.

“If you're winning people based on benefits, they're coming to you for the wrong reasons,” he says. “But every company looks and feels different from the inside and has a company culture that shouldn’t be one size fits all. This works for us and the work-life balance experience we want people to have.”

SOURCE: Place, A. (17 Decemeber 2019) "How to prevent employees from taking advantage of unlimited PTO" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/news/how-to-prevent-employees-from-taking-advantage-of-unlimited-pto