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Benefits/Compliance Articles   Communication Articles

EEOC proposes rule expanding wellness incentives to spouses
Employee wellness programs are frequently a source of ulcer-causing angst for employers, but the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is making moves to treat some of the underlying issues.

Late last week, the EEOC issued a proposed rule to amend Title II of the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) that would “allow employers who offer wellness programs as part of group health plans to provide limited financial and other inducements … in exchange for an employee’s spouse providing information about his or her current or past health status.”
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OFCCP Announces Proposed Rules to Modernize Sex Discrimination Regulations
On Tuesday, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) announced a proposed rule to revise and modernize a sex discrimination guidance it issued in 1970 and clarify federal contractors’ obligations with respect to sex discrimination. As OFCCP explained, “[t]his update, the first in more than four decades, would reflect present-day workplace realities and align OFCCP’s rules with current law under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
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IRS Proposes ACA Penalties for Non-coverage
The Internal Revenue Service recently drafted ACA regulations that offer some insight into what will be the associated monetary penalties for individuals who do not take up health care coverage.

Under the proposed guidelines, which will be reviewed at a public hearing in May, IRS officials laid out guidelines for what will be deemed as “minimum essential coverage” under the ACA. Officials also offered a breakdown of fines.
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What are reasonable accomodations for unpaid leave under the FMLA?
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers with 50 or more employees to permit those who meet statutory eligibility requirements to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave in a 12 month period. At the same time, many employers provide, as a matter of policy, a specified length for unpaid leaves of absence. But what of the employee who has exhausted (or is not yet eligible for) such leave? Does an employer have a legal obligation to grant a request for unpaid leave to an employee who is not eligible for FMLA leave or after it has been exhausted? Where its policies provide for leave in excess of FMLA, may an employer place a limit on the length and terminate an employee who remains unable to work after?
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Complete year-end nondiscrimination testing ASAP
The end of the year brings celebration and holidays. It is also time to stop procrastinating on the annual to-do list. For HR professionals, mid-year nondiscrimination testing needs to be at the top of that list.

Waiting to test until the completion of the year can have severe negative consequences. Any pre-taxed benefits enjoyed by highly compensated employees in discriminatory health and welfare plans must be included in gross income and taxed accordingly.
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Experts: Fight over ACA is just beginning
The 16-day government shutdown ended with no major concessions from the Obama administration, which successfully fought off Republican efforts to repeal, delay and defund the Affordable Care Act. The brokered deal was yet another stop-gap measure: the budget has only been funded through January 15 and the debt ceiling raised to February 7, but with ACA’s existence unchallenged – for now – in the legislature, attention will turn towards its implementation.
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Considering the Spousal Surcharge
One of the ways employers are looking to contain healthcare costs is by levying surcharges on spouses who opt for coverage through their partners' insurance policies. This strategy may be effective, but HR must carefully communicate the reasons for these changes and prepare for employee pushback.
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New FCRA Forms Take Effect January 1, 2013
Employers must adopt new Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) forms by January 1, 2013, in light of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 shifting FCRA rulemaking authority from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
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5 Ways to Effectively Communicate With Employees
Effective communication with employees takes effort, repetition, thoughtfulness and most importantly needs to come from the heart. Communication needs to be something business leaders seek to do whenever they can rather than considering it a check box before getting back to the "real work" of running the business.

Currently, I serve as the CEO of a local marketing solutions company that was created by combining two business units that were previously part of a bigger company. I was tasked to manage this complicated company carve out with the objective of transforming a legacy print business to a thriving digital business. A major challenge was the employee base was more than 5,000 people with offices in 34 states, which meant regular and effective communication across the organization was critical to success.
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3 Business-Related Skills To Master Emotional Contagion
The future of firms and companies belongs to those who have undertaken a personal and group educational path designed to develop the most valuable sort of skills: self-control, self-awareness, and conflict-resolution skills.
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How to Communicate With Your Employees
How many times have you read: "Employees are our most important asset"? How can you say that employees are our most important asset and yet not be open and inclusive in the process of obtaining buy-in on critical and basic decisions? Some companies even make it difficult for employees to understand quarterly financial results when those same employees are stockholders. Why is it that if employees are truly so important to the success of most modern enterprises, they are frequently the last audience considered for important announcements and the first audience targeted for cost reductions? It is a dilemma that you will face regularly.
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Mobile Sales Platform Reappropriated as Employee Training & Alert System
Originally a mobile sales enablement platform, Infor’s K-Tango has recently been appropriated by fast-food company Sonic as a training and alert system for the chain’s nationally dispersed workforce. Sonic had “very little budget to use toward a mobile solution,” says e-learning manager Stephany Wilson, but they “needed a solution that allowed [them] to make updates” in real-time.
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Effective employee communication: The benefits of best practices
Employers spend millions of dollars to offer a benefit and sometimes a surprisingly small amount to ensure that employees understand and appreciate it. Communications—what you say, how you say it, when you say it, who you say it to—can make a world of difference in how employees or members feel and think about their benefits, workplace, and employer.
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Employee Communications Is More Than Just Talk
Do you consider employee communication a high priority? Studies show that companies with highly effective internal communication programs are more likely to provide a significant return to shareholders and are also more likely to have higher levels of employee engagement and lower employee turnover rates.
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11 Tips for Communicating, Engaging with Gen X and Y
Benefits can be the loyalty glue that help employees of all generations stick with an organization, but only if those benefits are well-communicated and well-understood, consultant Ron Leopold told audience members at a panel discussion on multigenerational engagement held during the 2012 Benefits Forum & Expo.
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Employee Engagement Articles   Retention/Attraction Articles

How to not stress your employees to death
Employers say that stress is the No. 1 workforce risk issue. And now employers have more reason to be concerned: A recent study found that people who report stress in the workplace lose three years of their life.

Considering that other studies show that as many as 83% of people experience significant workplace stress, creating a productive work environment while reducing the negative effects of stress is critical to any successful organization.

When it comes to employee engagement, most executives don’t understand the source of the problem they are collectively spending an estimated $720 million to $1.5 billion a year to fix.
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Answering the Engagement Question
Despite the estimated $450 billion to $550 billion annual losses due to disengaged employees, it appears top-level executives dedicated to measuring and improving employee engagement have no idea how to answer this critical question: How do people become engaged—or disengaged—in the first place?

When it comes to employee engagement, most executives don’t understand the source of the problem they are collectively spending an estimated $720 million to $1.5 billion a year to fix.
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Rewarding Best Behaviors
More reward programs are recognizing employees for valued behaviors and getting good returns.

In February, the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based global HR association surveyed its members and made an interesting discovery. While the number of employers with recognition programs increased from 86 percent in 2011 to 88 percent in 2013, the purpose of some programs had changed. Rewarding employees for specific behaviors grabbed the No. 4 spot, falling behind length of service, above-and-beyond performance and peer-to-peer recognition.
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4 Reasons Your Career Management Program Falls Short
Despite the high value that employees and employers place on career advancement opportunities, many organizations say their career management program efforts are falling short, according to a new survey from consulting firm Towers Watson.
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Is Your Company Confusing Employee Engagement with Employee Satisfaction?
Like many business terms, employee engagement is one attracting a lot of attention, focus, discussion and even controversy. And like any good business term, it has now devolved into a buzzword, where many of us talk about it but have no idea what it really is. Now some evidence suggests “engagement” is not all what it is cracked up to be.
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Sometimes Negative Feedback Is Best
If I see one more article or blog post about how you should never be "critical" or "negative" when giving feedback to an employee or colleague, I think my head will explode. This kind of advice is surely well meant, and it certainly sounds good. But avoiding negative feedback is both wrong-headed and dangerous.
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Why Your Employees Are Just Not That Into You
Are you frustrated with employees who seem to be more “It’s all about me” than “How can I help my employer?” Do you wish your employees shared your commitment to your organization’s goals and success? If you can relate, join the club. As you undoubtedly know if you’ve been in management, HR, or OD for any length of time, employee engagement research has repeatedly shown that the majority of employees do not report being highly engaged.
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You Can Get Better Job Candidates by Not Relying on These 3 Sources
Sources for job candidate are not all created equal. There are some talent pools out there that consistently give you rock-star employees, but others that only seem to lead to bad hires.

If you’re having trouble finding and keeping quality employees, maybe it’s time to take a closer look at what candidate sources you’re using.
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Be Warned: Employees Want More Money in 2015, and Some Are Willing to Quit To Get It
Looks like employees are feeling a little more confident about asking for more money this year — and a substantial number say they’ll quit if they don’t get a raise.

That’s the bottom line of a recent Glassdoor survey. The fourth-quarter survey, conducted online by Harris Poll, reveals employee expectations around pay raises and job search activity this year as well as sentiment around pay inequalities.
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Recruiting In the Age of Job-Hopping
Many companies are still playing catch-up when it comes to the growing trend of job-hopping. Recent studies show that individuals change jobs or industries an average of 11 times within their professional lifetimes. Employers need to stay ahead of this curve to recruit and retain the best employees available.
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Don’t Forget the Critical Role That Healthcare Benefits Play in Recruiting and Retention
From the employer’s perspective, most of the recent publicity relating to offering health care benefits has been focused on the added cost and burden of providing those benefits to a firm’s employees. However, many employers and especially small businesses seem to have failed to realize that offering healthcare benefits is one of the most powerful attraction and retention factors on the planet.
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4 Things You Can Do Right Now to Help Keep Your Best Employees
The first quarter of the calendar year is the best time to consider employee retention efforts. Everyone is back from their holiday vacations, and work is in full swing. Your employees have had a little time off, and during that time your best employees have been assessing their careers, work, health/family issues and planning ahead.
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How to Attract - And Retain - Staff When You Can't Pay Big Bucks
A strong employee benefits package is a powerful tool for attracting and retaining the best workers. In a 2011 Harvard Business Review Analytic Services survey of human resource leaders, 60% said an attractive benefits package is "very important" in recruiting and retaining quality employees, versus only 38% who said a high base salary is very important.
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Execs say benefits more about retention than attraction
In a pair of recent interviews, executives from two of the 10 companies top-ranked for employee financial wellness by the Principal Financial Group both stressed that benefits programs should be tethered as closely as possible to retention and customer satisfaction. Good health care and retirement options are attractive to new hires, they say, but the real return on investment comes with nurturing someone through the company.
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Wellness Articles   Miscellaneous Articles

9 questions to ask wellness technology vendors
Commentary: Employers today face two key challenges: 70% of U.S. employees are disengaged and health care costs have increased by 80% in the last decade. And the same disengaged, unsatisfied and uncommitted employees are more likely to be unhealthy and unproductive.

But it is possible to break down the wall between engagement and wellness with a platform that addresses the whole employee. Just make sure to ask these 9 questions before you select a technology partner.
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9 Tactics for Workplace Wellness Success
Technology has taken over the wellness space in recent years. Employers and consumers have purchased breaking-edge technology in health and mobile spaces to improve wellness through everything from biometric screenings to incentive design. Now, many employers are getting back to basics and focusing on improving the company’s culture of health and workplace environment to change unhealthy behavior.
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5 Strategies to Prevent Injury During Snow Removal
Most of us are aware of the risk of slipping and falling during icy conditions. Often, we don’t think about the most common injuries that occur during snow removal including: back injuries, shoulder impingement, and heart attacks. It is essential to be proactive to protect your body.
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Simple Tips To Get Kids To Eat Better, Exercise More
If childhood obesity expert Melinda Sothern could wave her magic wand and help kids live healthier lives, she'd want parents and children to dine together every night. "Research is clear that family meals equal healthier weights, emotional stability and better school performance," she says.
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Eat right, sleep tight and keep life from pushing your buttons
I have been hearing more and more women in particular who are beginning to suffer seemingly simple health problems, such as fatigue and low energy (even with regular sleep), weight gain, brain fog, insomnia, low tolerance for stressful situations and anxiety. According to James Wilson in his book “Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome,” it’s estimated “that up to 80 percent of adults experience adrenal fatigue during their lifetimes, yet it remains one of the most under-diagnosed illnesses in the United States.”
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Nine Ways Successful People Defeat Stress
Feeling stressed? Of course you are. You have too much on your plate, deadlines are looming and people are counting on you. You are under a lot of pressure. This is life in the modern workplace. It is more or less impossible to be any kind of professional these days and not experience frequent bouts of intense stress. The difference between those who are successful and those who aren't is not whether or not you suffer from stress, but how you deal with it when you do.
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Wellness Games Encourage a Fitter Workforce
This spring the city of Charlotte challenged its employees to log their workouts on a website that tallied points for each department. A total of 469 municipal employees took part in the six-week challenge—nearly double the number of participants in years past. This year’s group logged 8,800 hours of exercise—equal to almost half an hour per employee per day.
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Cyber security: What are criminals doing with your information?
Nearly 90% of American adults were Internet users as of January 2014, according to the Pew Research Center. This trend has been spurred along by decreasing personal computer costs, a spike in online-enabled mobile devices and greater speed and access in communication activities and banking.

The rise in Internet usage corresponds to an increase in data stored online, including all sorts of sensitive personally identifiable information, including names, dates of birth and social security numbers. While fraudsters and scammers have always been around, these bad guys now have greater access to data than ever before.
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Doubt: The Creative Company's Secret Ingredient
Creativity begins with doubting the mental models that govern the day-to-day – namely, the deeply held beliefs your group, your company or your organization lives by.

Many companies are facing a dilemma. Creativity has never been more essential to competitiveness than it is today, as digital technology and other advancements make the lifespan of any successful idea shorter and shorter. At the same time, companies continue to struggle with creativity, especially when it comes to making it practical and systematic
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5 Tips For Boosting Your Brand
There are more angles to building (and destroying) your company’s brand these days than ever. With various social media outlets in play – as well as the traditional means of getting customers’ attention – businesses have to be more tuned in to the image they’re projecting in order to be successful.

Get customers, keep customers, make a profit. With social media, brand building has never been easier, harder and more important.
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Workplace Investigation Dos and Don'ts
It's an event that no human resource professional looks forward to: While balancing performance evaluations, open enrollment, and other daily tasks, you check your email and learn that the secretary to a key executive is complaining she is being sexually harassed by her boss. Now, you need to investigate.
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Recognize Your Blind Spots
more than ever before—when the internet and social networks show us who’s doing what, all over the world, in real time—it’s hard not to feel that if so-and-so is selling 100 widgets, you have to sell 1,000. If they can deliver it in three days, you have to cut your delivery time to three minutes. If they just redid their website, you need to hire Mark Zuckerberg away from Facebook to revamp your homepage. You have to do it bigger, and faster, and it has to come in more colors—otherwise you’re toast.
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The Ups and Downs of Electronic Medical Records
The case for electronic medical records is compelling: They can make health care more efficient and less expensive, and improve the quality of care by making patients’ medical history easily accessible to all who treat them. But as health care providers adopt electronic records, the challenges have proved daunting, with a potential for mix-ups and confusion that can be frustrating, costly and even dangerous.
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