Human Resources and Benefits

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Keeping Employees Engaged in Wellness Throughout the Year

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As the year progresses, New Year’s resolutions can easily become a fading memory. In fact, studies have found that only 20% of people actually stay committed to their resolutions after just 30 days, and only 9% accomplish them. 

It is likely your employee wellness program will see a similar decline in interest throughout the year, unless you take the steps necessary to keep employees engaged on a long-term basis. Here are a few strategies you can implement to keep your employees actively engaged in a healthy lifestyle all year long.

The Connection Between Wellness and the Workplace

On average, a full-time employee spends about half of their waking hours at work on most days. Given the amount of time we spend at work, it can be very beneficial for employees when a sense of self-care and well-being are encouraged. In addition, healthy employees are happier and more productive, which is a win-win for employers and employees.

Here are a few reasons why supporting employee health makes sense, according to the National Prevention Council.

  • “When employee health is poor, the indirect costs to employers – lower productivity, higher rates of disability, higher rates of injury, and more workers compensation claims – can be two to three times the cost of direct medical expenses.”
  • “A 1% reduction in weight, blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol risk factors would save $83 to $103 annually in medical costs per person.”
  • “Absenteeism costs are reduced by approximately $2.73 for every dollar spent on workplace wellness programs.”

These benefits won’t be realized overnight, but they are possible with the implementation and effective management of a workplace wellness program.

Tips for Keeping Employees Involved

Getting employees to participate in your wellness program is only the first step. Once they are committed, it is important to keep them involved throughout the year and help them make a life-long commitment to good health. Here are some ideas for helping employees stick with their goals.

  • Send regular emails with health tips, recipes, information on upcoming wellness challenges, etc.
  • Encourage employees to find what motivates them to keep their health goals, whether it is exercising with a friend, keeping an exercise and/or diet journal, participating in wellness challenges, compiling an exercise music playlist, etc.
  • Hold walking meetings when feasible.
  • Host employee wellness activities. For example, by hosting a 5K, employees have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of training prior to the event as well as participating in a fun competition.
  • Encourage employees to use their breaks and lunch hour to take a walk, stretch, and get some fresh air. Suggest employees stand up and walk around their office or work area while on the phone to cut down on time spent sitting.
  • Offer food choices that encourage portion control and healthy eating when hosting office celebrations and other events. Some ideas include mini cheesecake tarts rather than large slices of cheesecake; healthy dip recipes with pita chips and vegetables rather than salty, processed snack foods; fresh fruit rather than doughnuts.
  • Support employees in taking care of their mental and emotional health, and encourage them to find ways to deal effectively with stress. Some options include providing quick chair massages once a week or once a month, offering meditation classes, designating a quiet room to allow employees to recharge on a busy work day, and encouraging employees to use their vacation time.

The key is finding what works for your employees and remembering it takes time for change to happen. Encourage employees to make simple changes, step by step, rather than trying to make a complete lifestyle overhaul all at once. Remind employees to make changes that work with their current phase of life. And finally, remember a healthy, happy lifestyle is much more than a number on the scale. It includes making healthy choices that can be sustained long term as well as taking care of your mental and emotional health. A successful wellness program is one that helps build empowerment, confidence, and mindfulness.


employee benefits solutions

Personalizing Your Employee Benefits Offerings

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Your workforce is comprised of unique individuals with diverse backgrounds and interests. So why opt for a one-size-fits-all benefits package? Instead, consider providing benefits options that are as unique as your employees. Doing so could be the attraction and retention tool that sets your workplace apart. 

This article outlines the value of offering personalized benefits and explains potential customization options. 

The Value of Personalization

Different employees have different needs and values, making it difficult to satisfy everyone with the same benefits offerings. For instance, many workplaces are multigenerational – the needs of a 45-year-old married man with four children will likely differ from the needs of a 25-year-old single woman with no children. 

If your organization is trying to appeal to current and prospective workers, consider tailoring your employee benefits options. This could mean expanding existing plan options or adding more voluntary perks. Either way, the end goal should be giving employees greater control over selecting insurance benefits that are meaningful to them. 

Personalized Benefits Examples

Allowing employees to choose from many insurance benefits options might seem like an excellent solution, but that’s not necessarily the case. According to a Willis Towers Watson survey, 57% of employees prefer a moderate number of benefits options and indicated that too many choices would be overwhelming. This illustrates the need for your organization to think strategically about health plan and voluntary product offerings – each option must be deliberate and valuable to at least some employees. 

Here is a list of potential employee insurance benefits and perks that could appeal to a variety of workers: 

  • Robust retirement plans — According to a Willis Towers Watson survey, 67% of employees would trade a pay cut for richer retirement benefits.  
  • Affordable health plans — Consider offering tiers of health plans, with high deductible plans that appeal to healthier workers and more comprehensive plans for those with greater health needs.  
  • Family-building benefits — Simultaneously growing a career and a family can be challenging for working parents, but family-building benefits can help ease this burden. Family-building benefits help toward the cost of fertility drugs, medical treatments and procedures, surrogacy, and adoption. 
  • Caregiving benefits — These benefits could be extremely impactful as more employees are now caring for children, adults with disabilities, and older adults due to effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and other circumstances. 
  • Flexible scheduling perks — While not a traditional benefit, schedule flexibility is a highly sought-after perk that can help balance employees’ work and home lives. 
  • Mental health benefits — Mental health is a hot topic right now, and employees are looking for ways to better themselves and avoid burnout. 
  • Financial wellness benefits — Personal finance challenges can affect every aspect of an employee’s life, so having benefits to help navigate such issues can be a significant lifeline.  
  • Life insurance — Providing employees with life insurance options can give them and their families peace of mind. 
  • Chronic condition management solutions — Chronic conditions affect millions of workers, so offering programs such as opt-in diabetes management plans can help save participants’ health care dollars.
  • Voluntary plans Supplemental health insurance plans, including critical illness, hospital indemnity, and accident insurance, are especially valuable when paired with high deductible health plans like a health savings account (HSA). They can help individuals and families have extra protection should they be in an accident, admitted to a hospital, or diagnosed with a covered health condition or disease. 

While not all of the above insurance benefits options will appeal to all employees, this list shows some of the creative solutions you can use to demonstrate value to your workforces. 

The end goal should be giving employees greater control over selecting benefits that are meaningful to them. 

Tips for Personalizing Employee Insurance Benefits

Benefits personalization will vary by organization, but here are some general tips you can consider when assessing your own strategy: 

  • Survey employees. One of the best ways to discover employees’ benefits desires is by asking them.  
  • Conduct focus groups. Similar to a survey, consider meeting with employees in groups to solicit benefits feedback. 
  • Maintain ongoing benefits conversations. As employees age and grow in their careers, continue to ask them about their evolving benefits needs.  
  • Provide variety. Consider offering different types of health plans or management programs that address specific health conditions. 

Ultimately, personalized benefits will require meaningful conversations with employees. While it’s impossible to offer benefits that will meet all the needs of every single employee, maintaining open communication with workers can go a long way toward that goal. In addition, reaching out to employees will demonstrate your organization’s interest and investment in them. 


Employees want to know they matter to their employers. Providing world-class insurance benefits options can do just that. Moreover, offering a variety of meaningful options helps prove your organization’s commitment to your workers and their unique needs.

Contact your Leavitt Group insurance advisor to discuss potential benefits that can help satisfy the needs of your diverse workforce. 

reducing confusing on employee benefits

Reducing Confusion Surrounding Employee Benefits

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Health care is rarely straightforward for the average consumer. Many individuals need help making sense of their options, both during open enrollment and when receiving health services.

In a recent study by Quantum Health, 8 out of 10 people said they faced challenges when receiving care. The study also pointed out these challenges were worsened by the complexity of benefits. In other words, confusion toward health benefits can take a toll on employees in the workplace. Keep reading for an outline of key results from the study and employer takeaways related to these findings.

Key Findings

According to the study, many consumers have reported facing hurdles in the past two years when receiving care. These challenges include issues understanding coverage levels, locating providers, and navigating the insurance claims process. Issues like these were compounded for individuals with chronic conditions—90% of whom said they faced additional challenges, such as making sense of diagnoses or test results.

Other main findings from the study include the following:

  • Just 35% of respondents said it’s easy to navigate the health care system.
  • Fewer than half (45%) of respondents said it’s easy to use their health benefits.
  • The majority (60%) of all respondents said they spent work time dealing with health care challenges, averaging 30 minutes per issue.
  • Of those who experienced health care challenges, 57% said they suffered negative impacts from challenges, including:
    • Declined mental well-being (19%)
    • Declined physical well-being (17%)

These findings point to a critical need for greater health care literacy and “benefits 101” education.

Employer Takeaways

As an employer, you spend a lot of time tailoring your health benefits to ensure they meet the needs of your employees. But, if only half of your employees can effectively use the benefits—let alone understand them—then it might be time to refocus your efforts.

One of the best ways to help reduce employee confusion and maximize benefits value is through education. This entails promoting health literacy using multichannel resources, such as the following:

  • One-on-one meetings with HR
  • Comprehensive benefits guides
  • Digestible videos
  • Informative posters
  • Group presentations

Looking for ways to improve your benefit plan communications? Click here for helpful tips and ideas.

As the study illuminated, it’s not enough to simply provide world-class benefits; you must also ensure your employees can tap into that value by properly educating your workforces. Doing any less can lead to declined employee well-being, productivity, and morale.

self-funded health plans

Your Crash Course For Self-Funded Health Plans

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What is a self-funded health plan? 

According to the Self-Insurance Institute of America, Inc., “a self-insured group health plan, also known as a self-funded plan, is one where the employer assumes the financial risk for providing health care benefits to their employees. In practical terms, self-insured employers pay for claims out–of–pocket as they occur instead of paying a fixed premium to an insurance carrier, which is known as a fully insured plan. Typically, a self-insured employer will set up a special trust fund to pool corporate and employee contributions to pay incurred claims.”  

You can be partially or fully self-insured. For example, employers who choose to partially self-fund may decide to continue third-party coverage of mental health or prescription benefits, but self-fund all other medical claims. 

Self-insured group health plans are governed by a variety of federal laws including, but not limited to, ERISA, HIPAA, COBRA, the U.S. tax code, and federal anti-discrimination laws such as the ADA. 

How do self-funded health plans work?

Most employers with more than 200 employees self-insure at least some of their employee health benefits. This doesn’t mean employers with fewer than 200 employees don’t self-fund, but they do need greater stop-loss insurance protection than a larger employer. (See below for stop-loss insurance definitions).  

Generally, employers with fewer than 100 employees opt for the more traditional “fully-insured” employee medical benefits. 

In both situations, it’s assumed there’s a risk that employees will become ill and need expensive treatment. If your employees have relatively few claims and experienced few expensive illnesses, as a self-funded employer, you would see a positive impact on overall health care costs.  

On the other hand, if your employees have filed quite a few claims, you would see an immediate uptick in expense beyond what you may have expected.  

If you opt for a fully-insured plan, you will have a more predictable yearly cost; however, large employee claims costs from one year can affect your future premium amounts. 

Stop-Loss Insurance 

Employers with self-funded health plans typically carry stop-loss insurance to protect themselves against expensive claims. With stop-loss insurance, you self-insure up to a dollar amount called the stop-loss attachment point. 

After you reach the stop-loss attachment point, then your stop-loss carrier reimburses claims.  

Stop-loss insurance comes in two forms: individual/specific stop-loss and aggregate stop-loss. 

Individual/Specific Stop-loss Insurance 

This protects you against large individual health care claims. Essentially, it limits the amount you have to pay for each individual.  

For example, if you had a specific stop-loss attachment point of $25,000, you would be responsible for the first $25,000 in claims for each individual plan participant each year. Your stop-loss carrier would pay any claims exceeding $25,000 in a calendar year for a particular participant. 

Aggregate Stop-loss Insurance 

This protects you against high total claims for your health care plan 

For example, aggregate stop-loss insurance with an attachment point of $500,000 would begin paying for claims after your plan’s overall claims exceeded $500,000. Any amounts paid by a specific stop-loss policy for the same plan would not count toward the aggregate attachment point. 

What is the difference between self-funded and fullyfunded health benefits? 

ERISA vs. State Regulation 

Self-funded health plans are governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). ERISA preempts state insurance regulations, meaning that employers with self-funded medical benefits are not required to comply with state insurance laws that apply to medical benefit plan administrators. On the other hand, insured plans must comply with some of ERISA’s requirements but are primarily governed by the state where covered employees reside. 

The distinction between state and ERISA regulations is important when determining if self-funding is right for your organization. Multi-state companies with insured health plans must comply with the regulations of each state in which they have plans and covered employees. Multi-state self-funded plans need only comply with ERISA. 

Premiums vs. Unbundled Fees 

The risk an insurance company takes with an insured plan can be translated into a dollar amount for the employer. That dollar amount is the premium an employer pays each month for the insured group medical benefits. The premium amount includes the following: 

  • Current and predicted claims cost
  • Administrative fee
  • Premium tax paid to the state
  • Insurance company profit

Employers who self-fund their medical benefits do not pay the premium tax or insurance company profit. They do, however, assume the costs of paying for claims and administrative functions. Typically, employers with self-funded health plans will outsource plan administration to a third-party administrator (TPA) or insurance company who charges the employer a fee for performing administrative services.