The 4 W’s of Lifestyle Benefits

The 4 W’s of Lifestyle Benefits

Com­pet­i­tive wages are no longer enough to sat­is­fy and sup­port val­ued employ­ees. Today, a vari­ety of ben­e­fits and perks play an essen­tial role in attract­ing and retain­ing talent. Lifestyle benefits, sometimes referred to as employee perks, are non-salary benefits given to employees to improve their overall lifestyle that go above and beyond standard medical, dental and vision benefits. These lifestyle benefits are rapidly becoming the future of employee benefits.

Around 60% of employees say benefit offerings are a significant factor in their decision on whether or not to take a new job. That’s why an increas­ing num­ber of employ­ers are uti­liz­ing lifestyle ben­e­fit plans to entice high-qual­i­ty appli­cants.  In fact, stud­ies show that 80% of employ­ees would select more ben­e­fits above a pay increase. Moreover, younger employees, like Millennials, are more apt to change jobs than their older Baby Boomer counterparts if they are dissatisfied with the employee benefits offerings available to them.

Lifestyle benefits are benefits to enjoy now.  These are meaningful services that meet the needs of employees today.  Not tomorrow, next week or even ten years from now.  Employees don’t have to be sick, deceased, disabled or over 65 to use them.

In this article, we will explore the 4 “W’s”—Who, What, When, and Why—of lifestyle benefits to explain how you can use this tool to improve your benefits package!

Who Are Lifestyle Benefits For?

Even companies with generous overall benefits packages can suffer from low employee engagement and productivity which can be exacerbated by the massive shift to remote work. Offering perks that are customized to your people’s unique needs is hugely beneficial for companies wanting to increase employee engagement and retention.  In the increasingly competitive job market, this really sets employers apart because it demonstrates a vested interest on the part of the employer to provide opportunities for personal, as well as professional growth.   Lifestyle benefits, particularly in the form of flexible perk stipends, are an ideal way to offer personalization and also promote an inclusive company culture.

What Lifestyle Benefits Can Employers Offer?

Lifestyle benefits can be customized to meet many different types of needs. For instance, an employee might be sending their child to college for the first time. If they want advisors or financial planners, a lifestyle benefits account can cover it. Or what if an employee wants to take advantage of a gym membership or health app?  This could also be covered through a lifestyle benefits program. Everyone benefits from a calm, happy, and valued employee!  Other examples of offerings you can include in a lifestyle benefits program include:

When Should You Offer Lifestyle Benefits?

Really the answer to the question of when you should offer lifestyle benefits is-now!  Now is the right time to make the most of lifestyle benefits by setting employees up and educating them of their perks.When organizations offer lifestyle benefits, it’s about building positive, long-term relationships between executives, supervisors and employees.  It’s about investment and dedication to employee well-being.

Why Provide Lifestyle Benefits at Your Company 

There are so many reasons to provide lifestyle benefits but it primarily boils down to one thing: employee satisfaction.  Employees want to feel valued by their employers and if this can be achieved by helping them afford the lifestyle they enjoy and envision for themselves, then do it!

We are, after all, living in the age of personalization.  Everything in our lives, from our Netflix subscriptions to Spotify playlists is customized to us and our preferences.  Lifestyle benefits can be designed in a way that addresses the various needs of your diverse workforce, whether that means supporting a 22-year-old recent graduate living in the city, or a 45-year-old executive with three kids in a home in the suburbs, lifestyle benefits are ideal for that type of personalization and inclusivity, especially in the form of flexible perk stipends.

If com­pa­nies want the best poten­tial can­di­dates, they have to think out­side the box with per­son­al­ized ben­e­fit offer­ings.  Every­one wins with a flex­i­ble lifestyle ben­e­fits plat­form. After all, physically and mentally healthy employees are more productive, which is better for the bottom line.

Mental Health is Wealth, So Start Saving Up Now!

Mental Health is Wealth, So Start Saving Up Now!

“Suck it up,” “cheer up,” “snap out of it,” “but you don’t look sick”- these are just some of the phrases that well-meaning friends and family tell loved ones struggling with mental health issues. Research shows that one in five adults struggle with mental health conditions.  Mental health struggles include depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, schizophrenia, and eating disorders.

Mental illness is also becoming increasingly common among teenagers; studies indicate that approximately one in five teens between ages twelve and eighteen are diagnosed with a mental health disorder.  These issues deeply impact day-to-day living and may also affect the ability to relate to others.  When your mental health suffers, everything in your life will suffer as a result.

What is Mental Health?

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being.  It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.

The fact is, a mental illness is a disorder of the brain – your body’s most important organ.   Like most diseases of the body, mental illness has many causes – from genetics to other biological, environmental and social/cultural factors.  And just as with most diseases, mental illnesses are no one’s fault.  For many people, recovery – including having meaningful roles in social life, work and school – is possible, especially when you start treatment early and play a strong role in your own recovery process.

What Are the Warning Signs?

Each illness has its own symptoms, but common signs of mental illness can include the following:

  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Feeling excessively sad or low
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Extreme mood changes
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others
  • Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school
  • Feeling numb or like nothing matters
  • Overuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
  • Having unexplained aches and pains such as headaches or stomach aches
  • Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared

What Are Some Things You Can Do to Look After Your Mental Health?

  • Talk About Your Feelings – Just being listened to can help you feel supported and less alone. Talking with a friend or loved one is helpful but remember, therapists are not only for those in the middle of crisis – they’re incredibly beneficial for people in all stages of life
  • Exercise regularly – Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. Aim to exercise about 30+ minutes at least five days per week
  • Eat Well – Your brain needs a mix of nutrients to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body
  • Stay Connected with Family and Friends – Close, quality relationships are key for a happy, healthy life
  • Take a Break – a change of scenery or pace is good for your mental health
  • Get Outside to Enjoy 15 Minutes of Sunshine – Sunlight synthesizes Vitamin D which experts believe is a mood elevator
  • Send a Thank You Note – Let someone know why you appreciate them. Written expressions of gratitude are linked to increased happiness
  • Practice Forgiveness – People who forgive have better mental health and report being more satisfied with their lives
  • Pursue Your Passions – Enjoying yourself can help beat stress and achieving something boosts your self-esteem
  • Sleep – Most adults need around 8 hours of sleep each night so try to make sure you’re getting enough shut-eye

Mental health is undoubtedly just as integral as physical health but it’s something that we often don’t prioritize.  We all experience times when we feel stressed or overwhelmed but if these feelings persist, it’s time to slow down and re-evaluate your mental wellbeing.

Most people are afraid to ask for help, but seeking help is actually a sign of strength, not weakness.  If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, please reach out to a local mental health professional.

5 Tips to Save Money on Health Care: Part 1

5 Tips to Save Money on Health Care: Part 1

Health insurance is essential to protecting your health but the high cost of coverage may leave you feeling sick.  Even after employers pick up a substantial amount of the cost, every year Americans spend thousands of dollars on healthcare while costs are continuing to rise. By taking certain steps, you can stretch your healthcare dollars and still receive the care you need to stay healthy.

  1. Understand How Your Health Plan Works

Review your plan to learn how to maximize your benefits.  You need to know what is covered (and what is not!) and what procedures you need to follow to ensure your claims will get paid.  Know what your copayment, coinsurance and deductible costs are before your visit.

Most health insurance plans cover more of your costs if you use their preferred or in-network doctors.  If you visit an out-of-network doctor or medical facility, you’ll pay more and may end up being responsible for 100% of the bill.  Use your insurer’s online tools to search for in-network providers.

  1. Choose the Right Places to Get Care

Running to the emergency room when you get sick after hours could drain your wallet. All too often, those suffering from minor illnesses or injuries visit the ER when they don’t need to.  The ER should be your last resort – consider using more affordable options like telemedicine or an urgent care center instead.  You can still get the care you require in off-hours without having to schedule an appointment.

If you need surgery, you may save money by having it done at an ambulatory surgical center (ASC) which is a modern healthcare facility focused on same-day surgical care, including diagnostic and preventive procedures.  Typically, these centers charge less than a hospital.

  1. Use a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA)

Opening a HSA  or an FSA is a handy way to save for medical expenses and reduce your taxable income. They are like personal savings accounts but the money in them is used to pay for health care expenses. HSAs are owned by you, earn interest, and can be transferred to a new employer.  FSAs are owned by your employer, do not earn interest, and must be used within the calendar year.

  1. Ask Your Doctor About Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)

RPM is the use of digital technologies to monitor and analyze medical and other health data from patients and electronically transmit this information to healthcare providers for assessment and, when necessary, recommendations and instructions. This type of monitoring is often used to manage high-risk patients, such as those with acute or chronic health conditions such as those with diabetes, hypertension and heart conditions.

  1. Use Your Preventive Care Benefits

Many health plans pay the full cost for important preventive care.  These regular screenings, exams, and immunizations help detect or prevent diseases and medical problems early when they are easier to treat.  Annual check-ups, mammograms (usually after the age of 40), flu shots and colonoscopies (usually 1 every 10 years after the age of 50) are examples of preventive care.  These checks can save you a lot of money because they catch problems early.

Health insurance isn’t mandatory – there’s no law requiring you to buy it – but, health insurance is an important part of staying healthy, financially and physically.  Since most people who don’t have insurance made that decision based on money instead of what is best for their health, they usually don’t have doctor appointments for the same reason – it’s too expensive.  But skipping routine care can end up being more expensive than your premiums, especially if you have serious health issues that aren’t caught early.  Think of it like care maintenance: regularly changing your oil might be a hassle but it is essential to prevent a major breakdown down the road.

 

What Employees Want: Hybrid Work and Flexibility

What Employees Want: Hybrid Work and Flexibility

2021 was quittin’ time in America.  Last year alone over 47.4 million Americans quit their jobs. This year, employees seemingly have the upper hand against employers.  The Turnover Tsunami, a.k.a. The Great Resignation, has forced a reckoning with the workplace and few employers have come away unscathed.  Organizations are now shifting priorities to make employee well-being and retention the priority.  The fact of the matter is, after health insurance, the most desirable perks and benefits are those that offer flexibility while improving work/life balance. So, what is it that employees really want to achieve a better work/life balance?

  • Hybrid Work – Working remotely some days in the week and at a physical office on others
  • Flexibility– Being able to occasionally shift hours that best fit an employee’s life

Why Hybrid Work?

In 2020, people had to change the way they worked overnight and turned their kitchen tables into a fully functioning office.  Many employees discovered they were more productive at home.  On the other hand, some miss the social nature of the office and working collaboratively in person.  Because of these mixed perks of in office vs. working at home, hybrid work can offer the best of both worlds.

According to a survey by the International Workplace Group, 72% of office workers would prefer a hybrid way of working to a full-time return to the office – even if reverting to Monday – Friday routine meant earning more money.

Why Flexible Work?

When the workforce went home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it caused a change in the expectations of employees and therefore the way companies approach their work environments.  The pandemic prompted job seekers to seek flexibility that allows them some level of control of their time.  Gene Lanzoni at Guardian said “Time is the most important benefit an employer can provide.  For many of us the pandemic afforded us more time, and we’re really not willing to give that back.  We had a taste of a more balanced life.”

Balance has never been more important.  60% of families with children have both parents working and for these families, being able to work from home with flexibility is nonnegotiable. Flexibility can allow caregivers to log off from 3 p.m. – 8 p.m. and then come back and do some work after the kids are in bed.  When employees have more control of their work schedules, they can free up time to take care of things that pop up in their personal lives – whether it’s running an errand, taking a child to the dentist, or being home for a delivery.

In the end, a flexible schedule contributes to a higher quality of life.  Employees don’t have to put their careers on hold to focus on their families or education.  This freedom is more valuable in the long run than a paycheck.

Worker retention is more important than ever in 2022.  Building a good workplace culture based on the current interests of employees plays a significant role for the success of the company.  Businesses now live in an employee-driven job market.  It is essential that as an employer you know what benefits your employees value to keep them happy, healthy and working for you.

5 Ways to Create an Engaged, Committed Workforce

5 Ways to Create an Engaged, Committed Workforce

You’ve probably been hearing about the Great Resignation (or however you want to describe it) for months now. Even if you’re not dealing directly with increased turnover, your employees know they have options. Their friends, family, and people they know peripherally or on social media have made the leap and are gleefully announcing it on LinkedIn.

Some job-hoppers may be emboldened by the movement to quit good jobs in the hope of something better—better pay, more flexibility, or more opportunities for advancement. Some have simply been pushed to the brink by dead-end jobs, lousy company culture, or ineffective managers. Others have given up trying to “have it all” and left the workforce completely.

But what if employers could capitalize on this current “I quit” mood? If people are leaving jobs for something better, offer something better! Here are some ideas to create an engaged and committed workforce:

1. Understand and Be Responsive to Employee Needs, Motivations, and Priorities

A paycheck may be the reason everyone has a job in the first place, but it’s not the only reason people choose to work or decide to work for one employer over another. Your employees stick with you because there’s something in it for them besides the money. The job is useful to them. Knowing why it’s useful enables you to keep employees satisfied and, better yet, make their jobs even more appealing.

2. Prioritize Employee Development

A work environment in which people gain knowledge, learn new skills, and advance in their careers speaks more clearly and loudly than any marketing message can. People like working where they can grow and develop. According to a LinkedIn report, companies “that excel at internal mobility are able to retain employees nearly twice as long as companies that struggle with it.” And a better trained workforce is also a more productive and profitable workforce!

3. Reward Success

In fact, reward anything you want to see more of. Whether large or small, the rewards have to be meaningful. Ideally, figure out what type of reward speaks to each employee. For some, acknowledgment in a company meeting will make their heart sing. For others, receiving a token of your appreciation, such as a coffee gift card, will be more meaningful.

4. Allow for a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Flexibility is a big selling point for employees looking for better balance between work and life. Your employees have other commitments they need to attend to. Some are caring for young children or other family members while navigating daycare and school closures or multiple appointments. Give employees the time to see to those commitments and have a life outside of work, and you’ll get more from them when they’re on the job. Options may include remote or hybrid work, paid time off, flex hours, four-day workweeks, alternative schedules, and reducing workload. Remember, however, that policies are only as good as the practices around them. Ensure that employees don’t need to jump through hoops to request time off. Remind managers to be responsive to requests for time off and on the look out for signs that employees are feeling overwhelmed.

5. Conduct “Stay Interviews”

Don’t wait until people are leaving to investigate what could have inclined them to stay. Talk to employees now about what’s going well, what pain points they’re experiencing, and what could be done to take the relationship to the next level. Stay interviews enable you to address problems and unfulfilled wishes before they drive people out the door.

By Lisa DeShantz-Cook

Originally posted on Mineral

Understanding Your EOB

Understanding Your EOB

Let’s say that you visited the doctor and you are wondering how much that visit is going to cost.  A short while later, you receive something in the mail that looks like a bill – and even says “amount you owe” at the bottom.  However, it doesn’t have a return envelope or tear-off portion for the bill.  Confused?  You’re not the only one!

Most likely, you’ve just received an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) from your insurance company.  The most important thing for you to remember is that an EOB is NOT a bill.  It is essentially “one big receipt” that explains your visit.  It shows what was billed, how much you can expect your health plan to pay, and what you – the patient – have to pay. It is always important to review your EOB to make sure it is correct.

An EOB is a tool that shows you the value of your health plan.  It will detail the cost of the services you received and how much your insurance will pay.

How do EOB’s work?

The health care provider will bill your insurance company after your doctor visit.  Then, your insurance company will send your EOB.  Later, you will receive a bill for the amount you owe.  However, if the bill does arrive before the EOB, don’t pay it yet.  Wait until you have the EOB in hand so you can compare it to your medical bill.

While an EOB will differ from one insurance company to another, they typically all include the following information:

  • The Account Summary – lists your account information with details like the patient’s name, date(s), and claim number.
  • The Claim Details – lists the services provided and the dates of the services.
  • The Amounts Billed – details the cost of the services and what costs your health plan did not cover. It will also include any outstanding amount you are responsible for paying.  If there is a portion that is not covered by insurance, the reason why will also be listed.

Remember, insurance companies rarely pay 100% of the bill.  You will need to pay any applicable deductible, copay and coinsurance.

Deductible: The amount you pay for health care services before your insurance begins to pay anything.

Copay: A flat fee that you pay on the spot each time you go to your doctor or fill a prescription.

Coinsurance: The portion of the medical cost you pay after your deductible has been met.  Coinsurance is a way of saying that you and your insurance carrier each pay a share of eligible costs that add up to 100%.

Why is Your EOB important?

Medical billing companies sometimes make billing errors.  Your EOB is a window into your medical billing history.  Review it carefully to make sure that you did receive the service being billed and that your procedure and diagnosis are listed and coded correctly.

EOBs can help you understand how the health insurance system works and provide transparency in the complicated finances of health care.  While the EOB may be complicated, understanding it can help ensure that you and your family get the most out of your health insurance.  Knowing what an EOB is and what is included on the statement ensures that you stay in control of your health care finances.