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Benefits Column

More Benefits Column:

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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Am I a Wellness Bully?
Instilling shame and guilt when rolling out wellness initiatives -- even if it's unintended -- won't succeed as well as offering incentives, acceptance and an atmosphere of fun. Removing candy and doughnuts from work areas can't hurt, either.
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Crowdsourcing Employee-Benefits Options
Soliciting employee opinions is one thing, but offering employees actual decision-making power on employee benefits could give employers and their HR leaders the ability to craft more popular programs and, in turn, boost employee-satisfaction levels.
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Targeting Trends
Three benefits trends seem to have come to the forefront during the past year -- the importance of innovation and thought leadership, the turn toward customization of benefits, and the growing discussion of adapting benefits to a culturally, racially and globally diverse workforce.
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Diversity and Benefits
The definition of diversity in the workplace has expanded beyond race and gender. As a result, opportunities are opening up for HR leaders to tailor employee-benefits design and communication. But proceeding with caution is necessary.
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Coping with Open Enrollment
HR leaders can help employees make more thoughtful selections and improve health behaviors by crafting communications plans that target workers year-round. Efforts should include ways to personalize health trends for workers, increase trust in the organization and create a community-like atmosphere on the job.
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Feeling Good About Retirement?
A lot has changed in the past 25 years when it comes to company-sponsored retirement programs. In this column, Harnett explores the roots of the current shift from defined-benefit to defined-contribution plans, and notes that innovation in core retirement design is at an ebb point right now.
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