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Benefits Column

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Creating an Unlimited Paid-Time-Off Policy
When crafting an unlimited paid-time-off policy, HR leaders need to assess important variables including how workers use and carry over their paid-time-off, and the size of their long-term staff.
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The Bias of Optimism
A reliance on standard practices may not be limited to healthcare and may indeed extend to human resources and employee benefits. So is it time for HR to take a look at its standard practices, question them and study the issues with a rigor that relies more on experimental design than case studies and surveys?
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The Things We Think and Do Not Say
Unguarded debate and an honest discussion of successes and failures in the world of benefits have never been the norm. Far too often, there's been a tendency to manipulate how results are measured to justify the investment. But a new day is dawning.
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Playing Games at Work
HR leaders who want to add "gamification" techniques to their programs need to begin by focusing on their objectives, which are usually based on company goals. One key to using it effectively is to put layers on top of what already exists.
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Is Beer In the Workplace an Employee Benefit?
Providing beer to employees is one of the more atypical employee benefits, but it does say something about the company's culture and the employees who will thrive there. Some HR leaders discuss their benefits philosophies.
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A "Good" Strategy for Long-Term-Care Benefits
Long-term-care coverage offers some difficult challenges for employers -- and for insurance companies as well. Even though LTC plan designs are sorely in need of an overhaul, HR leaders must find a way to give their workers access to a benefit that can offer the financial assistance many employees will require.
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Trends in Employee-Benefits Design
The benefits offered to new employees now pale in comparison to what was standard in the past. But, as HR leaders balance rising costs against the need to attract and retain employees, some are beginning to think about meeting employee desires for a broader array of benefits that may help workers simplify their lives.
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A New Look at Pet Insurance
People love their pets, and some organizations are adding pet insurance to their benefits packages. But is it something that belongs in your benefits toolkit? I've long been doubtful, but I'm now rethinking my skepticism.
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Caring for the Caregivers
As sporadic caregiving tasks transition into heavy responsibilities, employees could use some help from their employers. Here are three lessons for HR leaders to help their workers balance caring for loved ones with their productivity at work.
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Creating an Employee Benefits Framework
In a back-and-forth conversation, Harvard Medical School's Ron Kessler and Carol Harnett discuss some healthcare-plan design and ROI strategies for HR leaders, including the impact of recurring or chronic health conditions on accident and injury prevention.
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Outsiders May Revolutionize Employee Benefits
A look back at some benefits issues in 2011 offer a glimpse into possible innovations in the healthcare field that could positively impact employers and employees alike.
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When the Lights Go Out
Most organizations are prepared to respond to problems at the company's physical plant or data-storage facilities. Fewer have thought through what actions to take when it is their employees who are struggling -- such as during the lengthy power outages following this fall's early snowstorm.
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The Four Things I Know For Sure
The statistics are daunting -- with failure the norm -- but employers should still strive to help their workers live healthier lives. And incorporating emotion and fun into the mix are big parts of it.
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Should We Give Employees What They Want?
Employees generally seek more lifestyle-related benefits, such as pet insurance and discounted day-care, as opposed to what the experts say they need -- such as disability insurance. Isn't the purpose of employee benefits to benefit employees?
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Embracing Diversity
There are many factors HR leaders should explore before creating a global health-and-wellness strategy, including the need to balance multiple cultures, regulatory environments and employee mobility.
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Benefitting from Community
It takes more than individual and employer efforts to change long-term health outcomes, experts say. It takes community involvement, social-support systems and a sense of purpose. A healthcare and lifestyle initiative in the Beach Cities of California is based on that philosophy.
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Integrating Employee Benefits
Employers are revisiting a mid-'80s concept that integrated health and disability management. While such programs may not result in reduced long-term-disability claims, companies may find their workers more often opting to engage in wellness programs as well as reporting improved experiences and turnaround on claim decisions.
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Is Dental Insurance A Valuable Benefit?
The cost of twice-yearly dental care may be less than the premiums many employees pay for their dental-benefits plans. HR leaders may want to think long and hard, however, before considering eliminating employees' coverage. It's a highly valued benefit -- plus it may drive down some healthcare costs as well.
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