Performance Review Time – Should You Keep Doing Them?

 

Its the beginning of the New Year and many companies may be getting ready to produce their employees’ annual performance reviews, so I’m sure the topic of whether or not its worth the time has started to come up.

There are a lot of different opinions out there as to whether or not companies should still be doing “performance reviews” for their employees.  Some say its too time consuming in this day and age.  Others say employees don’t really care because all they want to hear about is a raise.  And even more say that there’s just no purpose anymore.

I disagree.

Performance Reviews are more than just a “necessary evil we have to do once a year.”  Its an opportunity for the manager and the employee to have an open discussion on the employee’s work performance and continued employment with the company.

Today’s employees aren’t building lifelong careers with any one company anymore.  In fact, studies are out that actual encourage employees to change jobs every 3-4 years.  That “job-hopping” that used to be frowned upon in the past now…its acceptable and expected.  Turnover in a company does more than create open positions and slow down production for a short time – it costs the company money.  Money that has to be spent on recruiting the new employee and then training the new employee before they are ready to perform the job by themselves.  Companies that properly use “performance reviews” are able to control that amount of turnover and, quite possibly, find they have employees that they can promote from within again.

Employees today, more than ever, want to know what they are doing right, what they are doing wrong and what they can do to advance in the company.  Not communicating with the employee shows them that the company doesn’t care about them or their career path and before long, their performance will start to drop.    A negative attitude will develop…employees will begin missing work or coming in late as dedication to the job begins to slide.  By the time their manager finally does come around to giving them a review, all they will focus on is the employee’s poor performance – taking no ownership in the fact that they themselves contributed to the problem.

Performance reviews are basically feedback we give our employees.  While many managers claim it takes too much time and limit it to once a year, it actually should take place more often during the year.  The biggest complaint employees have about the process when its only annual is the manager will only focus on what he or she has done recently.  So, if they were a star employee for 9 months but the last 3 months ran into issues because of family problems, for example, the manager will typically use that as the focal point and the review will talk about how they “need to improve their attendance and performance.”  No wonder employees get frustrated!

If you decide this year to change how you do things and turn it into shorter, but quarterly reviews, the goals you set for the employee will seem more attainable – setting them up for success instead of failure – because you will be discussing the progress throughout the year as issues are coming up.  What you are truly showing your employee is that the two of you are working together as a “team.”

Keep in mind – feedback sessions do not have to be formal reviews.  Call it a “strategy meeting” or “career planning” if it makes it easier for you not to label it a “performance review.”  You will sit down your entire department to talk about a goal and strategize how to accomplish it.  Well, why not do the same with your employees?

These sessions should be two-way feedback sessions with your employees also sharing their observations, expectations and suggestions for both personal and company improvement.  Remember – while you are focused on managing these employees, they are the ones carry out the tasks and will have more insight into the effectiveness of the plans you have put into place.

Talk about what additional training the employee should also look into and whether or not the company would be willing to absorb the cost.  Let them research training and classes on their own to show you how serious they are about improving themselves.  Not all employees will be motivated to do so and that’s okay.  The point is that you created the opportunity for it to exist and by including it in a performance review session, you also have a speaking point to come back to in future sessions.

You don’t need fancy programs or long forms to fill out – keep it simple and stick to only what’s relevant:

  • Attendance and punctuality
  • Quality of work produced
  • Communication skills: following directions, asking questions, offering help
  • Knowledge of the job
  • Interaction with customers and other employees

And then, set some goals:

  • What is the specific goal as it applies to the employee (not overall for the department)
  • Give a timeline of when you want to see the goals completed
  • What training will the company assist them with or help them find to complete the task
  • What are your expectations: that the employee let you know how things are going, ask for help when needed, make suggestions for changes along the way

That’s it!  Let them know how you feel they are performing right now, what areas you would like to see them improve in and what goals you would like them to work toward before the next discussion.  You are creating a positive and growing environment for the employee and “a happy employee = a productive employee!”

Bonus: By following this method, if an employee’s performance starts to deteriorate and the company decides to end their employment, you now how documentation to show that you (as the company) did try to help the employee improve and can show that the company offered their part in helping improve the matter. 

 

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New Federal Overtime Rule Effective December 1

Effective December 1, a new rule updates the regulations governing which executive, administrative, professional, and highly compensated employees are entitled to the minimum wage and overtime pay protections of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Current Rules
The current federal rules provide an exemption from both the minimum wage and overtime pay requirements of the FLSA for bona fide executive, administrative, and professional employees who meet certain tests regarding their job duties and who are paid on a salary basis at not less than $455 per week ($23,660 per year). “Highly compensated employees” (HCEs) who are paid total annual compensation of $100,000 or more and meet certain other conditions are also deemed exempt.

New Rule
The new rule updates the salary and compensation levels needed for executive, administrative, professional, and highly compensated employees to be exempt. In particular, the final rule:
• Raises the salary threshold from $455 a week to $913 per week (or $47,476 annually) for a full-year worker;
• Increases the HCE total annual compensation level to $134,004 annually;
• Amends the regulations to allow employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses, incentives, and commissions to satisfy up to 10% of the new standard salary level, so long as employers pay those amounts on a quarterly or more frequent basis; and
• Establishes a mechanism for automatically updating the salary and compensation levels every 3 years, beginning on January 1, 2020.

Note: When both the FLSA and a state law apply, the employee is entitled to the most favorable provisions of each law.

Election Day is November 8th–Are Your Employees Entitled to Voting Leave?

With Election Day quickly approaching, private sector employers should be aware of their obligations under state law to provide voting leave for their employees.

While there is no federal law that requires private sector employers to provide employees with time off from work to vote in a national or state election, numerous states require that private sector employees be provided with either unpaid or paid time off to vote.

The chart below summarizes the general voting leave requirements of all 50 states and the District of Columbia:

Are Your Employees Planning a Mutiny?

Think about this…
Are your employees showing up to work late consistently? Are they more “on edge” or angry all the time?  Are they making more mistakes that usual?  Are their “attitudes” now affecting how they handle your customers? Are they just getting through the day so they can go home?
These are all RED FLAGS trying to get your attention! Ignoring it won’t make it go away and disciplining your employees won’t correct it.  But there is a simple way to reverse the trend = Introduce some play time!
What are the biggest problems companies face concerning employees right now?
  1. Absenteeism
  2. Poor morale
  3. Poor productivity
  4. Workplace violence
What is the common cause of each? = Stress!!
When we talk about incorporating “Play Time” into the workplace, it simply means incorporating some fun into the daily work routine to break up the mundane routine of the day.  Let’s not forget, most of us will spend more time at work during the week than with family, friends or just outside activities.
What will “play time” do for the employee? It helps alleviate some of the daily stress, especially during high peak seasons, which helps improves employee morale.  It can become overwhelming for an employee if he/she doesn’t have an avenue to release the daily stress build-up, especially if they go home to more of it.  You invested your time and money into hiring and training these employees, so why not put as much effort into keeping them?
First argument I expect to hear is: “employees need to earn their paychecks by working the full amount of time” or “an employee’s focus should be on how many billable hours they can pump out on a daily basis.” Do NOT think of this as “slack off” time.  Am I expecting companies to pay employees for time to just goof off? Okay, in a way, yes! But, think of the long-term payoff regarding employee morale and performance simply because the company set aside a small amount of time each day for stress relief.
What are some examples you can do in the workplace?
  • Community Service projects
  • Walk/Run Fitness challenges (sponsor a group for a local 5k!)
  • Desk Massages / Manicure Mondays
  • On-site fitness facilities
  • Company sponsored sports such as Softball or Volleyball
  • Company-wide learning classes….such as Cooking or Photography classes
Let’s break down a couple of the examples to you can see the benefits:
Community service = An activity either on-site or off can break the tension of the workday and build a sense of teamwork among your employees. For example: Organize a food drive or holiday cards/care packages to send to our troops. Employees like the distraction from their everyday duties plus it makes them feel good knowing they are doing something to help others. And in some cases, companies can also publicize their employees’ efforts – so it becomes free advertising for the company.
Early morning or lunch time workout = Ask one of the employees to lead a brief 20-30min workout session that can be as simple as a 1k walk or a weight loss contest. Remember that line from Legally Blonde about working out – “working out gives you endorphins and endorphins make people happy!” It also helps improve your employees’ health which, in turn, helps decrease costs associated with the company’s health insurance when it comes to renewal time.  See…another win-win!
What will adding “fun” to the work day really help do?
  • Reduce sick time taken…including those “mental health” days that employees partake in more and more these days.
  • Improve employee retention. It shows the employees that the company is truly interested in them and their well-being.  When employees feel appreciated – they are happy!  And happy employees don’t start looking for other jobs…even if they wish they had more pay.
  • Helps to recruit new employees. A happy employee will tell others about how great their job is…and others will want to work for you! Jobseekers today know that most companies aren’t using job boards as much as they used to in the past and rely on networking and referrals. Because employees are more likely to only refer those candidates that they truly feel are a fit for the company, you have cut down on advertising and time-to-fill costs because candidates are being brought to you!
But, for Play Time to “catch on” and be effective, the Employer needs to let their employees that it fully suports this new “way to work”.  If employees worry that they will be looked at poorly if they participate, they won’t give it a try.  So, it is imperative that you not only promote some “fun” in the workplace, but let them know you WANT them to participate in it.  Here’s an idea: Lead by example = YOU get out there and show them how to have fun during the day!
Remember: Happy Employees = Productive Employees

Jumping on the “Employee Engagement” Bandwagon: Part 3

You’ve talked to or surveyed your employees to find out what they would like to see around the office that would make them feel more appreciated or part of the “team.”  You researched different Employee Engagement programs to find out which ones could be implemented right away and at little to no cost to the company.  Now, here in Part 3, we will talk about the “how” to keep your employees engaged once you launch these programs.

Even the best thought-up programs have to be managed and monitored in order to truly have a long-term impact on the organization.  That means having someone dedicated to “running” the program, making changes and adjustments as time goes on, and updates management on the progress and how they can help improve participation.

Keep in mind, as well, that these types of changes to engagement aren’t going to be realized overnight or even 2-3 months down the line…you are looking at possibly 6-12 months before you can truly gauge whether or not the program is having the overall impact that you were hoping for.  Yes, getting people involved in the beginning and sticking to it will give you an idea early on if its working or even being welcomed, but don’t give up right away.  Tweak some things, change how you communicate, when the programs are being held, etc. before you throw in the towel.

So, how does management keep employees “engaged” in these engagement programs?
1) Don’t micro-manage them

2) Don’t make them feel obligated to be a part of it

3) Practice some simple “best practices”

As a Manager, your best practices should be:

  • Communicate – Get out from behind the text messages and email notifications and go talk to your employees. That human touch makes a much bigger impact and will encourage your employees to share more with you that you can use to change or improve not just these engagement programs but general day-to-day tasking.
  • Provide basic training (if needed) – Don’t just assume that people will know what to do or how to approach their fellow employees when getting these programs off the ground. Basic training can be something as simple as showing them how to advertise or set up group emailing…all depends on the program being initiated.
  • Develop your people – This is where you go to those employees you wouldn’t normally think of putting in charge and let them spread their wings. Support them, let others know that you have them leading the programs, check-in with them from time to time on progress…most will shock you at how well they do, once given the chance.
  • Recognize your employees – This is most important! Yes, the personal “thanks” and “great job” are still a necessity but make the time to also recognize them publicly…company announcement, newsletter with quote and picture and even during a company-wide meeting.
  • Encourage teamwork – Its natural for the other employees to feel they don’t have to step up and help, so communicate why the company is doing these programs and how you would like to see these programs as “special project teams” that share success stories. Ask them for suggestions and feedback as the programs are on-going and hold “team meetings” to talk about, from their point of view as the “user,” what changes can be made or things added to make them even more successful.
  • Last, but not least, ACT on their feedback! – The quickest way to shoot down any program or idea is for management to listen but then not follow-up or make any changes. Even if it is determined that no changes will be made, communicate that and explain why.  Remember – employee “buy-in” comes from them feeling that are truly a part of the success and not just an employee doing just what they are told.

Knowing the make-up of your particular company and what your employees would like to see, and then creating programs based around that rather than following the “most popular” programs, makes it much easier for these programs to be a long-term success.  What will start as simply making the employees feel good about being part of the company will quickly transform into company pride and dedication…factors in today’s workforce that have been thought to be lost.  It can be brought back – for the “right” reasons – with just a little investment, time and determination.

Jumping on the “Employee Engagement” Bandwagon: Part 1

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to lead a session at #HRU’s first Chicago conference focused on Employee Engagement.  (For upcoming dates in other U.S. cities, check them out here at: http://www.globalhru.com)

Employee Engagement is the latest “buzz” phrase in HR with so many companies now realizing that they have to step up and do something if they want to increase production and employee retention.  And while you can Google the phrase and find all kinds of articles about “best practices” and ideas for different programs to integrate, I have seen little – more like nothing – that addressed the “how”…that is, how does a company determine what Employee Engagement Program is best for their needs.

Once upon a time, employers could use money as a motivator…dangling the “raise carrot” to get employees to give more of their time and focus harder on giving 110%.  But, let’s face it: the market crash in 2008 changed everything.  Companies have tightened down on raises, some not giving them annually anymore, and hiring replacements at lower salaries.  The promise of a bonus or pay increase doesn’t hold much weight with today’s employees who can’t trust that if they do their part, the company will follow through.

So, now companies want to focus on Employee Engagement as a way to manage their employees, yet – no one stops and asks them why…why do they want to focus on it now and what do they hope to get out of it.  You ask anyone and you get the standard explanation: We want to engage our employees to be more involved in the company and enjoy their jobs.

Truth is: Many companies see “employee engagement programs” as a way to simply increase production and increase their profits.

Companies get hung up on the generational differences and jump to conclusions about their own employees based on it: Older employees are set in their routines, not looking for career growth and generally not as technologically savvy.  Younger employees are part of this “give me” generation that don’t want to put in the time and work to move up the ladder and earn the salary they feel they deserve.  Sound familiar?  It should since most articles you read today talk directly to that – but isn’t necessarily true.  During the conference, we talked about that age group that is embracing all this new technology the fastest is actually the 50 and over crowd!

Bottom line: The market crash changed the attitudes and outlook for all employees.  Money isn’t the #1 motivator anymore now.  Focus on family and giving-back have taken center stage in many people’s lives.  Loyalty and longevity at a company are almost non-existent these days not because of topping out salary-wise but because of limited personal growth…employees want to continually be learning and growing in their positions to feel personal satisfaction.  Employees focus on the lack on money when they feel they are lacking in all other areas on their professional life.

So….how do you discover an Employee Engagement Program that will work for your company?  Start with gathering feedback from your employees to see what they want and what will really motivate them!  Don’t assume you know what they want.  And don’t just start incorporating all these ideas you read in articles thinking they will be work or even be welcomed.

For example: Don’t think you are adding to the well-being of your employees by adding a Smoking Cessation program and then manipulating them to join it to quit smoking.  Employees resent being forced into anything, especially if it doesn’t relate to their job.  Doing something like this will actually backfire on you in the end!

Depending on the size of your company, how you go about polling your employees may present a challenge – but I encourage you to find a way to do it personally.  Sending out a survey, even with multiple-choice answers, usually yields a response rate of only about 10%.  Having big company meetings may discourage people from talking as they don’t want to be the first one to offer ideas or look stupid in front of their colleagues.  If you have break things down into “team meetings” by group or department and facilitate discussions to ask for ideas, throw out ideas you have and ask for feedback or even look for volunteers to spearhead some initiatives.

Remember: This is all about engaging your employees – which starts with finding out what they would like and making plans around it.

Coming in Part 2…Let’s Talk Actionable Ideas

Are All “Employees” Really Created Equal?

equalI recently had a discussion with a manager as to whether or not the Temporary Staffing employees we use during our busy seasons should be entitled to the same benefits as our long-term employees…and I was shocked at our opposing points of view on the matter.

First, what are “Temps? 

Wikipedia defines it as:  Temporary work or temporary employment refers to a situation where the employee is expected to leave the employer within a certain period of time. Temporary employees are sometimes called “contractual”, “seasonal”, “interim”, “casual staff”, “freelance”; or the word may be shortened to “temps”.   Temporary workers may work full-time or part-time, depending on the individual case.

Why employ Temps?

Companies will employ Temps from time to time to help with an increase in workload.  Some will bring them on board to help for only a short period (6-8 weeks seems to be common) and others may keep them on even longer (I’ve seen some Temps employed by a client for as long as a 12-18 months non-stop).

In most cases, companies will utilize Temporary Staffing Agencies to manage the process as a cost-effective solution to fluctuating staffing needs.   Typically, temporary workers earn roughly a third of a permanent counterpart and receive few or no health benefits.

These agencies test and interview their “employees” and then categorize them into a database.  When a company needs a Temp, they simply give the agency the criteria they want the person to fit and then they are sent those that qualify to work assignments.

In some cases, the company only needs the Temp to fill in for a few hours or a few days a week.  While the agency will assign a “minimum” number of hours to pay the Temp for the day called in, the company doesn’t have to work them a full day or a 40 hour week as they would with an Employee.

Using Temp employees is also the company’s way to “test drive” the candidate to see if they have the skill set or work ethic to fit into the company full time.  If a Temp isn’t working out, the company can have them replaced or let go without worrying about paying unemployment.

So, should companies treat Temps equally to Employees?

This is where our difference of opinion occurred.

We had a situation where work was available after hours for a bonus…and instead of offering it to one of the company’s employees, the manager offered it to a Temp instead.  When I questioned this manager on why he chose to use a Temp for a project that we had employees available to take that would have welcomed the additional bonus, he argued that Temps are no different than employees.

The argument he presented was that Temps are no different than Substitute teachers: that we, as students, were taught and expected that we shouldn’t treat them any differently than our regular teachers.  To a point, he is correct.  Temp employees are guaranteed the same protections as regular employees when it comes to harassment and discrimination.  But, where I didn’t agree was with favoring a Temp over an employee when it came to benefits.

Many companies are still struggling to get their benefit and compensation programs back to pre-2008 operations.  Cuts and changes had to be made after the market crash to simply keep many companies running…and this included refraining from awarding raises and bonuses…and employee morale was a side effect of those changes.  So, imagine my surprise when a member of management saw nothing wrong with keeping a long-standing added benefit from the employees and giving it to a Temp instead.  Not only are the employees being denied a potential monetary benefit, but now is the added perceived “threat” that the Temps will be replacing them – further driving employee morale down.

When employee morale starts to decline, it is natural that employees will turn their whole focus to money.  They will begin to feel that the company doesn’t appreciate them so why give 110% anymore.  When raises, perks or other benefits are taken away from them, they begin to perform at just the minimum to perform their job since that’s all they feel they are being compensated for anyway.

When a company starts to show favor to the Temps they have hired, even for a short period of time, you have now started down a very slippery slope that will be that much harder to turn around and come back from.  Temporary employees are a benefit to the company to meet production needs, but…a company needs to remember not to turn their focus away from their long-term, loyal employees if they want them to continue to work for them.

So should Temporary employees be treated equally to a company’s Employees in all aspects?
My opinion – If you really feel that a temporary employee should receive the same (or more) benefits as your regular employees, then maybe you should consider them for employment with your company.  Otherwise, recognize that your loyalty should be to those employees with you year-round not on a situational basis.

What are your thoughts?

Do Not Use Overtime as a “Performance” Award!

thumbsWhether you are a seasoned or new manager – repeat after me:

 “Overtime is not an award for performance.”

Reality: “Overtime” is that necessary evil businesses have to face when a critical job simply needs to get done and it can’t be done within a normal allotted period of time.  Yes – employees like overtime because it means more money in their pockets…and companies hate it because it cuts into their bottom line profits.

So do not get into the habit of viewing overtime as that “extra something” you can provide an employee for doing a great job.

Its sounds like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?…yet, I recently came across a manager who told me just that – he wants to use overtime to reward certain employees.  As he went on to explain, the red flags started popping up like crazy!

When you view overtime as additional compensation you can “provide” to an employee, here are some of the potholes you will encounter:

1)      You will begin to view those employees that can’t work overtime as “non-committed” and even lazy.  It’s a quick judgment call managers tend to make without taking into account the reasons why some employees simply can’t work more than those 40hrs a week you originally hired them for.  This manager actually told me he saw no problem with cutting back on the hours of the employees that wouldn’t volunteer in order to give more overtime to those that would!

2)      You will tend to play “favorite” with certain employees who are always volunteering to work overtime.  This doesn’t give others the chance to earn some overtime or show you how they can be a dedicated employee.  Think about it – its typically a factor brought up during an employee’s performance review.  They become resentful when you point out how they never went “above and beyond” the job…yet, you may be to blame – not them.

3)      Interactions between the employees you “award” overtime and those you do not will become increasingly tense and volatile.  But here we go again – you as the manager will blame the employee for their reaction to the environment that you created.

4)      Overall employee job satisfaction will begin to diminish and you will find them simply doing the bare minimum that is needed to get their job done and not be fired.  Forget trying to get 110% out of them…why should they?  They aren’t being “rewarded.”

Money is one of the biggest driving factors in employee performance and job satisfaction…and nowadays, all employees want to make more money.  But, be smart about how you go about coming up with “creative” ways to make that happen.

A reward for one should never be balanced out with a punishment for another.

“Cough…Cough… I’m Sick” – But Are They Really?

sickWhether its because the weather is just awful outside and they don’t want to leave the house, they are feeling stressed from the job and tell themselves they need a “mental health day” or they truly have personal issues that need to be taken care of but are afraid to reveal to you, absenteeism in the workplace is one of the most disruptive issues managers have to face.
Come down too hard on the employees and the company is viewed as “cold and uncaring.”  Be too lenient and now you run the risk of these “fake” sick days coming up at the most inopportune time.
It is estimated that an absent employee costs an organization 1.75 to 2.5 times his or her daily salary. And about two-thirds of those employees who call in sick at the last minute aren’t really sick. Instead, they’re skipping work to deal with personal or family issues.  If you work in an area that has seasonal peaks in production or sales, this can really throw a wrench into the mix.
But how can you combat the last minute, no-show problem?
Most successful absenteeism programs are grounded in three basic elements: 
1) a clear company policy, 
2) careful documentation of absences and their reasons, and 
3) consistent application/enforcement of that policy.  
I want to put special emphasis on that last element because that is the one the gets most managers in trouble.  The only way to be successful is to apply this (and all other policies) fairly and uniformly.  If you start create “special circumstances” based on an employee’s request, you will now find your other employees wanting the same treatment and expecting their own special circumstances.  Before long – your “absenteeism policy” might as well be thrown out the window!
Your Employees need know the rules they need to follow – especially: how much notice is required, who and how they are to communicate their need for time off to (i.e. Need to notify their immediate supervisor by phone, text or email and NOT just leave a message with a fellow co-worker), and how many days “sick’ before that employee has to bring in a doctor’s note to show they are healthy to return to work without restrictions.
Your Supervisors need know how to handle those who break the rules.  As the HR professional, you need to instruct them on how to document these absences and their reasons….and WHY they need to document them.  Explain to them that when it comes to the point where they want to write up an employee for “excessive absenteeism,” this is the documentation they need to include in order to prove their case…not just a “they take a lot of days off.”  This also is a talking point to bring up during performance appraisals, especially when the employee is trying to negotiate a higher raise…its an area of responsibility that they can control – and they need to be reminded of that.
However – if you begin to notice a pattern of absenteeism, don’t ignore it or simply write it up.  Remember: not every employee will share their personal reasons even with the co-worker they trust the most and it is your job as the HR professional to take notice of these “signs” that there may be more going on and then counsel them to try to find out.  An employee should never feel fearful of honestly telling their employer why they need time off.  All companies over 50 employees, as well as many smaller businesses, have “Leave” policies whether it be FMLA or simply Personal Leave.  Many employees, especially in this market, are so afraid to ask for leave for fear of loosing their job – and sadly, many managers will use this fear to their advantage.  Protect your company and the employee by getting involved to determine the root cause of the situation and educating both sides on what can and can’t be done.  This way – the leave can be planned and work schedules adjusted to accommodate without disrupting production or sales like a last minute call-off would do.
Absenteeism can be controlled…set the rules, enforce them and keep open communication with your employees…and watch things turn around.

Wellness Programs….They Do A Company Good Too!

WellnessIt’s not the latest corporate “fad” or a substitute for performance raises.  Wellness Programs truly are a tool for companies to use to increase productivity among their employees and decrease health care costs…and more should be embracing it!

Baseline Magazine did a recent study with the following facts (and the numbers might surprise you!):   70% of employers are currently offering some sort of Wellness Program

       85% of employers are offering Flu Shots at no cost to their employees

       79.9% of employers pay for employee Health Screenings

       52.5% of employers offer a Weight Management Program

       67.5% of employers offer a Smoking Cessation Program

       58.6% of employers have walking/fitness challenges (including company-sponsored teams for 5K walks and marathons)

       36.4% of employers have an on-site fitness center

So you’re first reaction is going to be: “Sure, the big corporations can afford to spend that kind of money on their employees…not the small businesses.”  Well, hate to break it to you – but you would be wrong.

Will it mean some upfront costs by the employer? Sometimes…

Will the company reap the benefits of this “wellness program” right away? No…but it WILL in time.

The biggest challenge in benefits every year is tackling the always rising insurance costs.  How do we keep them down?  Maybe change insurance companies, maybe raise the deductibles, maybe switch to a lower plan….always a headache coming up with different options to look at just to keep the cost of offering insurance to our employees (regardless of whether the company pays for it or the employee does) at a managing amount.

Insurance companies look at various factors during your renewal and compare them to the “national average” that they have set up: # of office visits, # of urgent care visits, # of ER visits, pharmacy costs, etc.  When employees aren’t taking care of their health, they are visiting the doctor more and getting more prescriptions.  So…if a company helps an employee pay attention to their health, the assumption is the number of visits and costs will go down – hence, keeping your annual renewal from skyrocketing!

Now – back to the “cost to the company” argument: Did you know that many of the insurance carriers are now offering some of these programs FREE to your employees??  That’s right – call them right now and ask.  Health Screenings, Weight Management Programs, Smoking Cessation…yep, that knocks 3 of the 6 off the list.  Flu Shots are generally offered at a discount for groups of 20 or more by local clinics and even the pharmacy chains…some will even come on-site to do them!  By starting these now, by next renewal you will see a drop in visits and claims…which will help your renewal cost.

And of course there’s the “employee morale” angle – especially with the Walk/Run fitness challenges.  There are so many of these that go on in every city, why not get your employees involved – works towards strengthening their teamwork skills and gives them pride.

No more excuses…add a Wellness Program to your company’s portfolio of benefits.