Benefits in a Multi-generational Workplace

Benefits in a Multi-generational Workplace

With multiple generations working side-by-side in this economy, the needs of your staff in terms of employee benefits will vary greatly depending on their age.

You may have baby boomers who are nearing retirement and have health issues, working with staff in their 30s who are newly married and have had their first kids. And those who are just entering the workforce have a different mindset about work and life than the generations before them.

Because of this, employers have to be crafty in how they set up their benefits packages so that they address these various needs.

But don’t fret, getting something that everyone likes into your package is not too expensive, particularly if you are offering voluntary benefits to which you may or may not contribute as an employer.

Think about the multi-generational workforce:

Baby boomers – These oldest workers are preparing to retire and they likely have long-standing relationships with their doctors.

Generation X – These workers, who are trailing the baby boomers into retirement, are often either raising families or on the verge of becoming empty-nesters. They may have more health care needs and different financial priorities than their older colleagues.

Millennials and Generation Z – These workers may not be so concerned about the strength of their health plans and may have other priorities, like paying off student loans and starting to make plans for retirement savings.

 

Working out a benefits strategy

If you have a multi-generational workforce, you may want to consider sitting down and talking to us about a benefits strategy that keeps costs as low as possible while being useful to employees. This is crucial for any company that is competing for talent with other employers in a tight job market.

While we will assume that you are already providing your workers with the main employee benefit – health insurance – we will look at some voluntary benefits that you should consider for your staff:

Baby boomers — Baby boomers look heavily to retirement savings plans and incentives, health savings plans, and voluntary insurance (like long-term care and critical illness coverage) to protect them in the event of a serious illness or accident.

You may also want to consider additional paid time off for doctor’s appointments, as many of these workers may have regular checkups for medical conditions they have (64% of baby boomers have at least one chronic condition, like heart disease or diabetes).

Generation X — This is the time of life when people often get divorced and their kids start going to college. Additionally, this generation arguably suffered more than any other during the financial crisis that hit in 2008. You can offer voluntary benefits such as legal and financial planning services to help these workers.

Millennials and Generation Z — Some employee benefits specialists suggest offering these youngest workers programs to help them save for their first home or additional time off to bond with their child after birth.

Also, financially friendly benefits options, such as voluntary insurance and wellness initiatives, are two to think about including in an overall benefits package.

Voluntary insurance, which helps cover the costs that major medical policies were never intended to cover, and wellness benefits, including company-sponsored sports teams or gym membership reimbursements, are both appealing to millennials and can often be implemented with little to no cost to you.

J&J Sued Over Contracting with PBM that Overcharged Health Plan, Enrollees

J&J Sued Over Contracting with PBM that Overcharged Health Plan, Enrollees

A new area of potential liability for employers was recently opened when a class-action suit was filed against Johnson & Johnson, accusing it of mismanaging its pharmacy benefit manager plan, resulting in the health plan and its enrollees overspending millions of dollars on medications.

Health plans contract with PBMs to tamp down pharmaceutical costs, but reports have shown that they often send enrollees to pharmacies they own and which overcharge for medications sometimes by thousands of percent.

PBMs have been drawing increasing flak from states attorneys general as well as Congress and state houses, where multiple measures that would rein them in are in play.

If the lawsuit is successful, it could leave both self-insured and insured employers exposed to lawsuits by disgruntled employees who are forking out significantly more than they should.

 

The case

The class action, filed Feb. 5 in the US District Court for the District of New Jersey, accuses J&J of breaching its fiduciary duty under ERISA when it mismanaged its employee health plan by paying its PBM, Express Scripts Inc., inflated prices for generic specialty drugs that are widely available at a much lower cost.

The employees suing J&J cite a number of examples of how the company’s plan overpaid for prescription drugs. One of the most egregious examples cited in the lawsuit was an instance when the plan paid more than $10,000 for a 90-pill generic drug to treat multiple sclerosis, which can be purchased without insurance on different retail and online pharmacies for $28 and $77.

“The burden for that massive overpayment falls on Johnson and Johnson’s ERISA plans, which pay most of the agreed amount from plan assets, and on beneficiaries of the plans, who generally pay out-of-pocket for a portion of that inflated price,” the plaintiffs wrote.

“No prudent fiduciary would agree to make its plan and beneficiaries pay a price that is two-hundred-and-fifty times higher than the price available to any individual who just walks into a pharmacy and pays out-of-pocket,” they added.

It further accuses J&J of agreeing to terms under which plan beneficiaries were financially incentivized to obtain their prescriptions from the PBM’s own mail-order pharmacy, even though that pharmacy’s prices are routinely higher than the prices at other pharmacies.

The case accuses the company of:

  • Failing to regularly put PBM services out to bid.
  • Failing to negotiate favorable terms with PBMs and continually supervise PBM’s actions to ensure that the plan is reducing costs and maximizing outcomes for beneficiaries.
  • Failing to periodically attempt to renegotiate PBM contracts.
  • Failure to independently assess the PBM’s formulary placement of each prescription drug and closely supervise PBM’s formulary management to ensure the plan is paying only reasonable amounts for each prescription drug.
  • Improperly steering plan participants towards their PBM’s mail-order pharmacy, even though that pharmacy’s prices were routinely higher than what retail pharmacies charge for the same drugs.

 

The fallout

Legal observers say employers that offer their employees group health insurance that includes one of the nation’s large PBMs, could be targeted.

The driving argument would be that employers have been warned through news reports of how PBMs have been accused of not being transparent about their negotiated prices, and how they often pocket rebates that could be used to lower the plan’s and enrollees’ outlays.

Most at risk are employers that are in self-insured or level-funded plans. It’s not clear yet how much liability insured employers may have, but they too could be accused of choosing health plans for their employees that contracted with PBMs that allegedly overcharge for medications.

Benefits in a Multi-generational Workplace

Benefits in a Multi-generational Workplace

With multiple generations working side-by-side in this economy, the needs of your staff in terms of employee benefits will vary greatly depending on their age.

You may have baby boomers who are nearing retirement and have health issues, working with staff in their 30s who are newly married and have had their first kids. And those who are just entering the workforce have a different mindset about work and life than the generations before them.

Because of this, employers have to be crafty in how they set up their benefits packages so that they address these various needs.

But don’t fret, getting something that everyone likes into your package is not too expensive, particularly if you are offering voluntary benefits to which you may or may not contribute as an employer.

Think about the multi-generational workforce:

Baby boomers – These oldest workers are preparing to retire and they likely have long-standing relationships with their doctors.

Generation X – These workers, who are trailing the baby boomers into retirement, are often either raising families or on the verge of becoming empty-nesters. They may have more health care needs and different financial priorities than their older colleagues.

Millennials and Generation Z – These workers may not be so concerned about the strength of their health plans and may have other priorities, like paying off student loans and starting to make plans for retirement savings.

 

Working out a benefits strategy

If you have a multi-generational workforce, you may want to consider sitting down and talking to us about a benefits strategy that keeps costs as low as possible while being useful to employees. This is crucial for any company that is competing for talent with other employers in a tight job market.

While we will assume that you are already providing your workers with the main employee benefit – health insurance – we will look at some voluntary benefits that you should consider for your staff:

Baby boomers — Baby boomers look heavily to retirement savings plans and incentives, health savings plans, and voluntary insurance (like long-term care and critical illness coverage) to protect them in the event of a serious illness or accident.

You may also want to consider additional paid time off for doctor’s appointments, as many of these workers may have regular checkups for medical conditions they have (64% of baby boomers have at least one chronic condition, like heart disease or diabetes).

Generation X — This is the time of life when people often get divorced and their kids start going to college. Additionally, this generation arguably suffered more than any other during the financial crisis that hit in 2008. You can offer voluntary benefits such as legal and financial planning services to help these workers.

Millennials and Generation Z — Some employee benefits specialists suggest offering these youngest workers programs to help them save for their first home or additional time off to bond with their child after birth.

Also, financially friendly benefits options, such as voluntary insurance and wellness initiatives, are two to think about including in an overall benefits package.

Voluntary insurance, which helps cover the costs that major medical policies were never intended to cover, and wellness benefits, including company-sponsored sports teams or gym membership reimbursements, are both appealing to millennials and can often be implemented with little to no cost to you.

Voluntary Benefits Improve Employee Satisfaction and Retention

Voluntary Benefits Improve Employee Satisfaction and Retention

As the economy continues roaring, the market for top talent stays exceedingly competitive. Multiple studies have consistently shown that a robust set of employee benefits is a vital component of an overall compensation package.

But it’s tough for smaller companies to compete with their large counterparts, who have the advantage of economies of scale. As a result, many employers are increasingly turning to voluntary employee benefits, which allow them to provide valued, high-demand benefits to employees at little or no cost to the company.

 

How voluntary benefits work

Voluntary benefits are arranged by employers but either paid for by staff via payroll deduction or by the employers themselves. Businesses generally set up a menu of options that their workers can select from for themselves, based on their own needs.

The employer deducts any fees or premiums for these benefits from employee paychecks and forwards them in a single batch to the benefit vendors.

Once the employee enrolls in a voluntary benefit plan, payroll services companies routinely automate this process for employers, making ongoing benefits administration hassle-free for small businesses.

And best of all, because premiums and fees are often paid by the employees, even small companies can provide popular and highly valued benefits for little or no cost.

 

Popular voluntary benefits

There are several types of voluntary employee benefits on the market today, with more innovative new benefits and perks rolling out every year. However, the following are among the most in-demand by employees and commonly offered by their employers:

  • Dental and vision insurance coverage
  • Disability insurance coverage
  • Life insurance — can be term or cash value
  • Legal assistance/prepaid legal services
  • Identity theft insurance
  • Fitness/health club memberships
  • Long-term care insurance
  • Financial planning/counseling services
  • Accident insurance
  • Hospital indemnity plans
  • Pharmacy discount plans
  • Critical illness insurance (e.g., cancer insurance)
  • Pet insurance.

 

Employees can often buy these benefits and services via their employer’s group voluntary benefits plan much more cheaply than they could buy them on their own.

Voluntary benefits have been becoming more popular among employers in recent years as unemployment falls. One reason: More employers are offering high-deductible plans as health insurance costs continue to increase.

Critical illness and hospital indemnity policies have seen big gains in enrollment as workers turn to them to help cover those deductibles and copays if they have a costly health event like cancer or another critical illness diagnosis.

According to a recent LIMRA study, seven out of 10 employers surveyed reported that they believe offering voluntary benefits improves employee morale and satisfaction.

A 2023 Harris Interactive poll found that when employers offer voluntary benefits, 55% of workers, on average, report that they are satisfied with their employer’s overall benefit mix. Where the employer did not offer voluntary benefits, the satisfaction rating fell to 32%.

 

Best practices

  • Don’t overwhelm employees with too many benefit choices at the same time. Roll them out a few at a time, starting with life insurance, dental/vision and/or disability insurance. These are proven high-participation programs.
  • Match benefits to your employees’ life stages. Millennials have different needs and interests than baby boomers.
  • Put effort into your benefits education and communication plan.
Protect Your Workers’ Eyesight with Proper Design, Vision Benefits

Protect Your Workers’ Eyesight with Proper Design, Vision Benefits

One of the by-products of the digital revolution – with most people staring many hours each day at tablets, smart phones and computers – is eye strain.

According to The Vision Council, the average U.S. adult spends more than two hours a day looking at electronic screens. Looking at such screens for too long can result in dry and irritated eyes, blurred vision and eye fatigue, as well as headaches.

Besides the trouble for eyes, using these devices can also result in back and neck pain from that hunched-over position that many people use when on these devices.

Prolonged use can cause “computer vision syndrome,” which manifests itself in a number of symptoms like eye strain, dry eyes, blurred vision, red or pink eyes, burning, light sensitivity, headaches and pain in the shoulders, neck and back.

To help prevent digital eye strain, you should ensure that:

  • Your employees sit with their eyes about 30 inches from their computer screen,
  • Your employees rest their eyes every 15 minutes, and blink frequently, which helps keep the eyes moist. It’s been found that when people work on computers they blink about one-third as much as they typically would.
  • You have proper lighting in the office. Eye strain often is caused by excessively bright light, either from outdoor sunlight coming in through a window or from harsh interior lighting. When you use a computer, ambient lighting should be about half as bright as that typically found in most offices.
    If possible, turn off the overhead fluorescent lights in your office and use floor lamps that provide indirect incandescent or halogen lighting instead.
  • Upgrade your displays. If you have not already done so, replace your old tube-style monitor (called a cathode ray tube, or CRT) with a flat-panel liquid crystal display (LCD), like those on laptop computers. LCD screens are easier on the eyes and usually have an anti-reflective surface.
  • Adjust computer display settings, which can help reduce eye strain and fatigue. Ask your employees to adjust the brightness of their display so it’s approximately the same as the brightness of the surrounding workstation. They can also adjust text size and contrast.

 

Consider vision benefits

If you don’t already do so, consider offering your workers vision benefits.

First off, your employees would be more apt to get a much-needed pair of glasses that have anti-glare attributes for when they work on computers.

Computer glasses are specially designed for optimizing vision when viewing content on screens, and they can be provided with or without a prescription.

Wearing computer glasses can help users experience more relaxation, sharper focus and reduced blurriness and pixilation, which can cause discomfort unless corrected. The lens designs allow the eyes to relax, adjusting to intermediate-distance objects and reducing glare during prolonged use of digital devices.

Also, workers with vision benefits tend to get regular eye exams, which can identify serious chronic conditions, including diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, multiple sclerosis and some tumors.

Detecting these symptoms can lead to early diagnosis and better treatment of the conditions.