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 a dog can be turned into increased production and less stress? Read this blog post to how allowing a dog at work can benefit production, engagement, and reduce stress.


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


Fresh Brew with Scott Langhorne

Welcome to Fresh Brew, where we explore the delicious coffees, teas, and snacks of some of our employees! You can look forward to our Fresh Brew blog post on the first Friday of every month.

“Pay close attention to detail.”

Scott Langhorne is an Account Manager at Saxon.

Scott joined the team at Saxon Financial Services after working in customer service. His favorite catchphrase, a quote from the movie Friday Night Lights, is, “Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose.”

Scott enjoys helping out his family and friends with any projects they need doing. He also enjoys traveling with his wife. His most memorable trip was when they traveled to Switzerland and Portugal.

In his free time, Scott enjoys playing golf during the warmer months. He also enjoys spending time with his wife and their dog, Bosley.

Bud Light

Scott enjoys drinking Bud Light. His favorite local spot to grab is favorite brew is wherever friends and family are.

Wings

Scott’s favorite snack to accompany his favorite brew are wings.

Give It A Try & Share It!


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


Wacky interview questions may help employers hire the best workers

More and more employers are asking unconventional interview questions in efforts to get to know candidates better. While traditional interview questions are a great way to open an interview, unconventional questions help a hiring manager dig deeper. Read this article for more on how unconventional questions may help hire the best workers.


The job prospect has aced all the standard interview questions, but off-the-wall questions may be the best trick employers can use to glean insight into how a hot prospect thinks.

Imagine that a candidate has skillfully answered what his top strengths and some weaknesses are. Now consider asking: "Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck, or 100 duck-sized horses?" Or, what would that candidate do if she found a penguin in the freezer? Could she guess how many basketballs would fit inside the interview room?

While traditional interview questions are a great way of opening the interview and making a candidate feel comfortable, unconventional questions can move the interview beyond a rote Q&A session to an authentic conversation that can help a hiring manager learn more about a candidate.

These questions may sound like they are from some wacky game show. But they are real interview questions being asked by today’s employers. These questions aim to dig deeper and get to know the candidates better.

These questions are intended to surface information related to a candidate’s ability to problem-solve and understanding their motivations. Unusual job interview questions typically don’t have any right or wrong answers. These questions are an opportunity for candidates to demonstrate that they can think fast on their feet, show poise under stress, think outside the box, and reveal more of their personality.

This can also be a great way to assess culture fit. A question that asks a candidate “if they could be any animal, what would it be and why?” can provide insight into a job seeker’s personality and thought process. Understanding these attributes is key to determining whether or not a candidate would mesh well with company culture.

Unconventional questions don’t have to be completely off the wall. Instead of asking a candidate about their greatest weakness, hiring managers should consider asking things like, “what did you learn about yourself in your previous role?” and “what challenges did you face in this role and how did you overcome them?” Answers to these questions provide the hiring manager with visibility into how a candidate learns from different situations, as well as their ability to problem-solve.

Enhancing candidate experience is another good reason to ask unusual interview questions. Repeating the same questions through several rounds of interviews is not only tedious for the candidate, but it does not reflect well on the employer brand. Changing questions up will make the process more engaging and valuable for both the candidate and the hiring manager.

An unconventional approach to interview questions should not be overused nor should these types of questions be asked for the sole purpose of throwing a candidate off guard. Each question should be aimed at gaining a clear understanding of a candidate’s work style, values and motivations to determine if they are a good organizational fit.

While interview questions like "how would you sell hot cocoa in Florida?" or “if you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?” are certainly unconventional, hiring managers are now using this approach to elicit natural, unrehearsed responses that reveal more about candidates from how they think and how they react under stress, to their personality and what motivates them. Digging deeper and getting to know candidates with unconventional interview questions provides valuable insights that can help hiring managers make the best hires for their organization.

SOURCE: Blanco, M. (13 December 2019) "Wacky interview questions may help employers hire the best workers" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/wacky-interview-questions-may-help-employers-hire-the-best-workers


Employees want year-round benefits instead of holiday parties

Are employees willing to trade holiday celebrations for better benefits? According to research from Reward Gateway, more than half of employees would skip the parties and celebrations for rewards and bonuses. Read the following blog post from Employee Benefit News for more information.


Tis’ the season to head to the holiday party and celebrate with coworkers, but more employees are willing to swap the festivities for better benefits and year-long recognition from their employers.

More than half of employees would skip the holiday party if it meant rewards and recognition throughout the year, according to a new survey by Reward Gateway, an employee engagement platform. Additionally, 58% of recent graduates said they would give up an end-of-year bonus for more frequent rewards.

“Being the holiday season, all parts of the workforce are trying to prioritize their flexibility and collaboration and their shared purpose,” says Robert Hicks, group HR director at Reward Gateway. “Employers could do more, and there is a growing trend of more frequent benefits that align to your purpose, mission and values.”

The office holiday party has long been a mainstay of work culture, and 76% of companies plan to throw a party in 2019, up 11% from last year. Additionally, 24% of companies plan to give performance-based bonuses to select employees, while just 9.6% plan to give bonuses to all employees, according to a survey from recruiting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Employees are seeking value in a culture of recognition throughout the year instead, and want more consistent collaboration and communication with employers. Going hand-in-hand with that sentiment is financial assistance through their benefits offerings.

“This can come in two core ways, the first being perks that can help you reduce your overall spending.” Hicks says. “Employees are also looking for a really strong recognition culture, and on top of that, adding in financial rewards throughout the year.”

With unemployment at a 50-year low, the quest to attract and retain top talent should push employers to encourage a workplace that doesn’t just celebrate successes once a year.

“Everybody knows it’s a really competitive market place, and your number one response needs to be what can we do to be a really great workplace for people to stay and for people to join,” Hicks says. “Organizations that prioritize listening to their people and delivering continuous rewards and recognition can create an environment where employees are more engaged and excited about where they work all year — not just during the holidays.”

SOURCE: Place, A. (13 December 2019) "Employees want year-round benefits instead of holiday parties" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/news/employees-want-year-round-benefits-instead-of-holiday-parties


Inviting Remote Workers to the Holiday Party

Are your employees working remotely? Owl Labs found that at least 62 percent of employees work remotely once a month, and 49 percent of those work remotely full-time. Further research from Buffer discovered that remote employees cite loneliness as their second-largest struggle. Read this blog post to learn more.


Text messaging-based personal shopping concierge service Jet black has 370 employees, two-thirds of whom work outside of its New York headquarters. When it comes time for its annual holiday party no one is left out, though. Instead, remote workers get their own take on the festivities so everyone feels like part of the team.

Jet black's holiday celebrations include a company-wide gift exchange, deliveries of restaurant gift cards to those who work the holidays, and a remote holiday meet-up.  "We make a conscious effort not only to include but also engage our remote employees," explained Odette Lindheim, the company's director of people operations. "We get a room that's central to our remote workers, set up games and snacks, send them company swag, and put on holiday music. People are invited to come for an hour or all day. It gives our people working from home offices a way to get that office party feeling even if they don't normally go into an office."

'Tis the Season

Holiday parties have a firm foothold in corporate America. At the same time, remote work is way up. The 2019 "State of Remote Work Report" by Owl Labs found that 62 percent of employees worked remotely at least once a month; 49 percent of those respondents say they work remotely full-time. According to Buffer's "State of Remote Work 2019" report, remote workers also cite loneliness as the second-largest struggle they face.

Keeping these facts in mind, HR managers and those who are planning the company holiday party may want to make a more concerted effort to bring remote workers into planning parties and celebrating, says S. Chris Edmonds, president and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group, a work culture consulting firm based in Conifer, Colo. They shouldn't feel isolated or alone during what is touted as the happiest time of the year.

"Keeping people connected and sharing information with each other is something companies must think about throughout the year. Sharing common experiences and giving employees the opportunity to have some fun around the holidays helps improve relationships and is immensely powerful," he said.

The most obvious way to accomplish this is to fly everyone in for whatever event you plan at the main office. This may not be the easiest option for those companies that have a significant number of remote employees, though, simply due to cost and logistics. For some companies—although flights, hotels, and meals add up—the extra cost and trouble can be worth it, says Cheryl Johnson, chief human resources officer at Chicago-based software company Paylocity. Johnson, for example, piggybacks her own 150-person department's—half of whom are remote—holiday celebration with a staff-wide meeting and professional development program.

"As a company, when we look at employee experience, we believe that everything should be equitable," Johnson said. "We budget a certain amount per head and plan events that cater to every group."

There's a similar plan in place at the Ken Blanchard Companies, although inclusion takes a more virtual bent. About half of the company's 300 employees work remotely, with office locations scattered across the U.S., France, the United Kingdom, and Asia. In order to show appreciation and create team bonding, the company holds an annual Shop and Share program, sending out $50 to every employee and asking them to do a show-and-tell with what they buy. Originally, the company flew everyone in to the main Escondito, Calif., headquarters, but today that's changed.

"Now we start the Shop and Share program with an all-company meeting that everyone participates in, either in the headquarters or through a live broadcast. After the meeting and at an appointed hour, everyone goes out shopping for something for themselves," said Shirley Bullard, the company's chief administrative officer and vice president of HR. "Then we all come back and share our purchases with each other. As we have become more decentralized and people move into the field, [the program] becomes more and more important because it helps us stay connected."

Bullard says it's just one of many strategies that the company employs to help people feel engaged. Organizations that can't fly everyone in can try holding a similar virtual holiday celebration, using Facebook, Google Hangouts or Zoom so employees can interact and get that crucial face-to-face contact that helps bring people together.

It's also important that all employees get the same holiday perks whether they make it to a holiday party or not. At Paylocity, for instance, remote employees who don't live close enough to one of the three office-hosted parties can choose from three end-of-year gifts. This year, those employees will also get in on their annual party raffles, too. "We created a virtual raffle. In order to get that virtual ticket we want them to answer a survey question: What are you grateful for? It's new this year, and it's about giving people one more way to feel connected," said Johnson, who says it's just another piece of the company's overall remote employee inclusion program.

This kind of commitment is important, say experts. While it's nice that remote employees feel included during December, such efforts should be part of a larger, year-long program. "It's not just about the holidays," Bullard said. "It's about sharing life events throughout the year so [the employee] feels like a part of the organization no matter what. That's why anything we offer [at the main headquarters], we are always asking, 'How do we bring it to our remote staff?'"

SOURCE: Bannan, K. (12 December 2019) "Inviting Remote Workers to the Holiday Party–Remote workers should get to celebrate with co-workers—in person or virtually" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/hr-topics/employee-relations/Pages/Inviting-Everyone-to-the-Holiday-Party.aspx


Tech tools underused for workplace engagement: survey

Did you know: Only 45 percent of employers use technology to improve employee engagement, according to a survey of HR professionals. Read the following blog post to learn more about using technology to enhance workplace engagement.


Just 45% of employers are using technology to improve employee engagement, according to a new survey of thousands of HR professionals in organizations of varying sizes.

The research finding comes from the Next Concept Human Resource Association (NCHRA) and Waggl, a real-time engagement platform. HR tech industry professionals weighed in on the topic at the HR TechXpo 2019 and others as part of the latest “Voice of the Workplace” pulse survey.

Of those respondents, 92% said they would like to create a strong internal culture that affects results. In addition, 81% believed that investing in people-focused programs and skills such as onboarding, performance and employee engagement would help increase revenues and profit margins.

Lisa Hickey, VP of professional development at NCHRA, was “a bit surprised” that only 45% of her group’s members reported that their organizations are using technology to improve employee engagement in the face of business volatility and a tight labor market.

NCHRA and Waggl, both based in the San Francisco Bay Area, also distilled into a ranked list crowdsourced responses to a survey question about social media and gamification platforms as tools to increase employee engagement.

Several caveats were expressed. One HR leader, for example, cautioned that they need to be tied to the type of company and demographics, as well as the extent to which employees are willing to embrace change. Another respondent said it’s important that gamification not be “viewed as a nuisance and a distraction from accomplishing job tasks.”

The bottom line is that giving employees an opportunity to help shape their organization’s culture, experience, vision and execution enables them to “feel more connected to the workplace and empowered to drive change,” according to Alex Kinnebrew, chief marketing officer and head of growth strategy for Waggl.

Benefit brokers and advisers can play a critical role in helping their employer clients bridge the technology gap when it comes to improving employee engagement, Hickey believes. “From designing an offering that represents company goals to securing the best technology to administer the program, brokers are guiding you every step of the way and also helping utilize technology beyond benefits administration that delivers more services and solutions for the company,” she says.

Founded in 1960, NCHRA is the nation’s second-largest HR association — serving more than 30,000 professionals in 23 states and several countries and showcasing more than 100 annual educational events.

Waggl’s Employee Voice platform examines critical business topics that include culture, experience, vision and execution. The company’s management team includes executives from Glassdoor, SuccessFactors and Coupa. Customers include Paychex, eBay, City Electric Supply, UCHealth, American Public Media and Freddie Mac.

SOURCE: Shutan, B. (4 December 2019) "Tech tools underused for workplace engagement: survey" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/news/tech-tools-underused-for-workplace-engagement-survey


Why employers should consider adding volunteer time off benefits

Employers are being pushed to become savvier with social responsibility causes and their benefit offerings with the strong job market. This is giving rise to volunteer time off benefits. Read this blog post from Employee Benefits News for more on why employers should consider adding volunteer time off benefits.


The strong job market is pushing employers to become more savvy about socially responsible causes. This is giving rise to volunteer time off benefits as one popular strategy for employers seeking unique ways to attract and retain talent.

Indeed, 65% of companies offered paid time volunteer programs in 2018, according to data from the organization Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose, which looks to help companies transform their social strategy. That figure represents a 4% rise from 2017.

Organizations that offer employees paid days off to volunteer their time and support the nonprofit causes they care about are going to be more attractive to job seekers.

“Offering VTO as a benefit for employees is one of the best ways to engage employees with their local communities through volunteering and donations,” says Jeff Fraley, vice president of corporate engagement at United Way of the National Capital Area, an organization that provides relief of social problems affecting the community. “It encourages employees to participate in social good and helps to foster meaningful relationships within a community and the company itself.”

About 75% of millennials expect their employer to participate in social good, either with donations or through volunteering, according to a Glassdoor survey. Additionally, 51% of workers expect their employers to allocate work time and resources for their employees to volunteer for social causes.

United Way took a look at VTO benefits across the country in an effort to better understand these programs from an employer/employee perspective. The survey looked at the demographics of 49 large U.S. companies that offer VTO in order to get a sense of the types of workplaces offering this benefit. What it found was that the majority of companies that offer VTO are headquartered in New York, and in or around Silicon Valley.

Additionally, of the 49 companies studied, 12 were in the professional services industry, 12 were in the information technology industry, and nine companies were in the financial services and insurance industries. The survey also uncovered that the maximum number of volunteer hours offered per year to each employee is 20 hours, which amounts to about two and a half days of volunteer time off.

If the company with the largest revenue headquartered in each state implemented one day of VTO, the projection of total volunteer hours in the U.S. would be over 75 million hours, or nine million days, according to United Way. It would cost companies, on average, $27.4 million to implement an annual eight hour VTO policy.

“VTO is just one option if you're looking to expand your impact in the community,” Fraley says. “An employer can also sponsor a nonprofit, match employee donations, or other philanthropic initiatives. What’s important is to think about some sort of incorporation of corporate social responsibility as we're seeing that it's an increasingly important criterion of employers for millennials.”

SOURCE: Schiavo, A. (2 December 2019) "Why employers should consider adding volunteer time off benefits" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/news/why-employers-should-consider-adding-volunteer-time-off-benefits


6 steps to enhance your recruiting strategy

According to recent data from PwC, more and more potential employees are turning down job offers because of bad recruitment experiences. Often, when job candidates have a poor experience while applying for a job, they share the details of their encounter with friends, family and social media. Read this blog post for six steps employers can use to enhance their recruitment strategy.


Employers may be contributing to their organization’s bad reputation without even knowing it during the recruiting process

A strong labor market is presenting employees with more options, allowing them to weigh potential employers against each other, and eliminating the need to accept the first offer they get. Unique and inventive recruiting strategies are vital in attracting the right talent to your organization, but more potential employees are turning down job offers because of bad recruiting experiences, according to data from PwC.

Employers can develop some bad habits when it comes to recruiting, like dragging out the process and even ghosting candidates. When potential employees have a poor experience applying for a job with a company, they are going to share the details of that encounter with friends, family and the world at large thanks to social media.

“Job seekers today expect the hiring process to be streamlined, efficient and customized to their personal preferences, with effortless technology and sincere human interactions,” says Bhushan Sethi, a workforce strategy leader at PwC.

However, very few organizations are providing this experience, according to the PwC survey of 10,000 job seekers. Not only can a bad recruiting experience drive candidates away, it can also create lasting damage to an organization’s reputation as an employer.

“Leaders have an opportunity to gain an edge in the battle for talent by delivering a superior recruiting experience to every candidate, even those who don’t receive an offer,” Sethi says.

But there are ways to make a candidate’s recruiting experience more positive, even if they don’t ultimately get an offer. Here are six steps organizations can take to deliver a “first-rate” recruiting experience to potential candidates.

Find a balance between tech and human interaction

The human interactions candidates experience during the recruitment process makes a stronger impression than any digital experience, the survey shows. “Candidates want positive, direct human interaction throughout the recruiting process, whether that’s in person, over the phone or via email,” Sethi says. “Two-thirds of candidates said personalized initial outreach makes them more likely to apply for a position.”

Technology does have an important role to play in the recruiting process. However, recruiting technology is typically designed with the enterprise, not the candidate, in mind, Sethi says. Employers should look to utilize technology that streamlines routine tasks or makes the hiring process easier for job applicants. About 44% of those surveyed by PwC say they’re open to using automation and technology options for routine touchpoints and to get information during the recruiting process. Another 65% said they would like if an organization had an application dashboard so they could track their progress.

Communicate often and keep the process quick

More than half of job seekers (56%) said they would discourage someone else from applying for a job with a company where they had a bad recruiting experience, according to PwC data. A majority of job seekers (92%) said they’ve experienced poor recruiting practices at some point in their career. Candidates pointed out the two most frustrating behaviors by recruiters: dragging out the process by more than a month and recruiters who withdraw communication with no explanation.

“These practices are rampant: 61% of candidates said they’ve simply stopped hearing from an organization during the hiring process,” Sethi says. “And 67% gave up pursuing a role because the recruiting process took too long.”

Ask for social media details

About 50% of job seekers said they’d be willing to share their social media data with potential employers if it helps to determine a better job and organizational fit. Checking out a potential employee’s social media allows HR to understand more about the candidate. But candidates are only willing to share their social media data if the right privacy measures are in place. Recruiters can gain candidate’s trust by being transparent. About 78% of those surveyed by PwC said they expect the recruiting process to be clear on how personal data is used. About 77% of candidates said they wouldn’t apply for a job if they felt their privacy and information wasn’t protected.

Highlight the rewards potential employees most desire

Upskilling, personal flexibility and inclusion are three key aspects of workplace culture that have become more desirable among candidates than salary, according to PWC. Additionally, candidates are willing to give up 11.7% of their salary for more flexibility and training.

Give candidates a way to experience the company’s culture first hand

Today’s candidates are looking for more than a job, the PwC survey notes. They want an employee experience that provides a sense of purpose and pride.

“Culture is so meaningful that 33% of C-suite-level candidates said they’d take a pay cut to work for a mission-driven company that aligns with their ideals,” Sethi says.

It can be challenging for recruiters to provide an accurate sense of a company’s culture. Recruiters can help candidates experience this firsthand by holding networking and other social events.

Always be mindful of your reputation

When candidates have a bad recruiting experience it does more damage than recruiters realize. “It can cause lasting reputational harm and even hurt your chances of hiring the workers who are hardest to find,” Sethi says.

Almost half of candidates (49%) working in high-demand sectors like tech, banking and energy say they would be more likely to turn down a job due to a bad recruiting experience. Of those surveyed by PwC 71% say working for a company with a good reputation as an employer is more important than working for a well-known customer brand.

“That’s good news for small brands jockeying for talent with big-name competitors,” Sethi says. “You can gain an edge by cultivating and promoting a strong, positive reputation. It’s also a call to action for bigger brands: you can’t rely on name alone to attract talent.”

SOURCE: Schiavo, A. (9 December 2019) "6 steps to enhance your recruiting strategy" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from 6 steps to enhance your recruiting strategy


How to maximize employee participation in HSA plans

According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), 96 percent of HSA account holders do not invest any portion of their contributions. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) offer account holders the option to invest and investments are not subject to taxation. Read this blog post to learn more about maximizing employee participation in HSA plans.


High-deductible health plans (HDHPs) not only offer employees the opportunity to save on their premium contributions, they also provide access to what are commonly touted as triple-tax-advantaged health savings accounts (HSAs).

HSA users can put away money tax-free, and account distributions for eligible healthcare costs aren’t subject to federal income tax. Plus, these accounts offer users the option to invest and any investment returns aren’t subject to taxation. Not even the storied 401(k) promises this much bang for the proverbial buck. In fact, HSAs offer the best of pre-tax 401(k) and Roth contributions.

But, no matter how sweet a tax deal this is, for most of the over 25 million account holders, investing takes a back seat to current healthcare needs. According to EBRI, 96% of account holders don’t invest any portion of their balance, which leaves just 4% taking advantage of all three tax-advantaged components of the HSA. Instead, HSA users fall into two distinct categories: spenders and savers, with spenders representing over three-quarters of account holders.

In 2017, the average deductible for employee-only coverage was $2,447 and almost a quarter of employees covered under one of these plans had a deductible of $3,000 or more.

Let’s imagine it’s 2017, and our sample employee — let’s call her Emily — has a $2,500 deductible. Emily funded her HSA to the 2017 maximum of $3,400. If Emily had healthcare costs that totally eroded her deductible and she used her HSA dollars to fund them, at the end of the year Emily would have $900 left in her account ($3,400 maximum minus $2,500 to cover her deductible). That assumes no additional cost-sharing or eligible expenses.

However, Emily is in the minority. Only 13% of employees are fully funding their accounts, rendering an investment threshold potentially out of reach for most people, especially when they are using their HSA dollars for out-of-pocket healthcare costs.

With such a small percentage of HSA owners taking advantage of investment opportunities, finding effective ways to support the spending or saving habits of the majority of users seems to be tantamount. So is helping them address their concerns about deductible risk. As employers help people become smarter consumers, they may be able to build their accounts over time and ultimately pull the investment lever.

So, how can employers support these spenders and savers?

Encourage people to contribute, or to contribute moreEBRI found that only half of account holders put anything in their HSA in 2017, and just under 40% of accounts received no contributions — including employer dollars. Employer contributions can help overcome employees’ reluctance to enroll in an HDHP, but the way they are designed matters. Matching contributions act as a strong incentive for employees to save while also protecting the most vulnerable employees from having to shoulder the entire burden of out-of-pocket healthcare costs.

Another technique to help address employees’ anxiety around a high deductible is to pre-fund out-of-pocket costs by allowing employees to borrow from future contributions. If the employee incurs costs but doesn’t have enough HSA dollars to cover them, they can use future contributions as an advance against current out-of-pocket expenses. The employer provides the funds up front and the employee pays back those funds through payroll deductions. This acts as a safety net for new account holders or those without substantive balances.

Drive people toward the maximum contribution. With fewer than 20% of employees fully funding their HSA, there’s certainly room to move the needle. While additional contributions may not be possible for all employees, reinforcing the tax advantages and the portability of the HSA may help people divert more dollars to insulate themselves against healthcare costs.

Highlight ways to save on healthcare costs. When employees are funding their care before meeting a high deductible, help them spend those HSA dollars wisely. Promote telehealth if you offer it and remind employees about the most appropriate places to get care (for example, urgent care versus the emergency room). Reinforce the preventive aspects of your healthcare plan, including physicals, screenings and routine immunizations. If you have a wellness program that includes bloodwork and biometric testing, make sure you tie this into your healthcare consumerism messaging. There’s generally a lot of care employees can get at no cost, and it helps when you remind them.

Don’t lose contributors to an over-emphasis on investing. The tax advantages of investing in an HSA are undeniable, but most people are just not there yet. When we describe HSAs as a long-term retirement savings vehicle, we may inadvertently be messaging to non-participants that these accounts aren’t for them. Speak to the majority with messaging around funding near-term healthcare costs on a tax-advantaged basis and the flexibility to use HSA dollars for a wide variety of expenses beyond just doctor and pharmacy costs. Investing information should be included, but it shouldn’t be the primary focus.

HSAs are gaining in popularity, and the majority of account holders are using them to self-fund their healthcare, which is a good thing. A small but growing number are taking advantage of their plans’ investment options. Employees eventually may become investors as their accounts grow and they better understand the opportunity to grow their assets and save for the longer term. For now, however, the educational and engagement focus for HSA plan sponsors should primarily be around participation, maximizing contributions and spending HSA dollars wisely.

SOURCE: Cosgray, B. (6 December 2019) "How to maximize employee participation in HSA plans" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/how-to-maximize-employee-participation-in-hsa-plans