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Benefits Column

More Benefits Column:

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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Do The Right Thing
Meeting one of my heroes resulted in a values-based discussion about executive compensation. The issue, says Harry Kraemer, may be putting a crimp in creating a "phenomenal workforce." And the most effective strategy should involve HR leaders stepping back to visualize the larger impact on shareholder value -- and doing the right thing.
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Correlating Well-Being to Productivity
Participating in a 26.2-mile endurance hike in the desert offers some insights into the importance of pride, camaraderie and trust in creating a productive environment. It also points to ways HR leaders can optimize their workplaces.
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Home, Sweet, Home
The Patient-Centered-Medical-Home model has the potential to enhance employee healthcare -- and a company's healthcare costs. The model is designed to offer comprehensive, coordinated and timely care.
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The HR Leaders' Benefits Challenge
HR leaders are uniquely positioned to champion both the benefits and challenges of health-related change. But as I was recently reminded during my attempt to eliminate dairy products from my diet, the efficacy of their efforts can be greatly enhanced when they're able to incorporate personal experiences into their communications.
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The Screen Actors Guild Abandons Mental-Health Benefits
With their actuaries projecting a significant increase in healthcare costs to offer mental-health and substance-abuse coverage, the Screen Actors Guild dropped mental-health coverage for its members. Is that a harbinger of things to come?
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Selling the Problem of Absence
Because most people mistakenly associate disability with catastrophic bodily injury, it's difficult to engage HR leaders and employees alike in dialogues about work-related absence and the need for income protection.
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