Tag Archives: human resources

Employee Benefit Trends for 2017

The new year is finally upon us, and with a new regime change in Washington, things are about to get stirred up. From healthcare reform to sweeping departmental overhauls, most experts anticipate plenty of changes afoot and that those changes will undoubtedly have ripple effects throughout the nation. Businesses owners and corporate HR personnel should particularly take note of the evolving political and corporate landscape and the following 2017 trends for employee benefits if they want to attract and retain top talent:

2017 Employee Benefits Trends

  • Customization. As wonderful as a company’s package appears to be, some benefits are more attractive to some than others. Where it used to not matter what cookie cutter benefit package got implemented, the improving job market means that employers will have to work harder in this upcoming year to appeal to those top, high-value employees. This goes doubly true if your target personnel are in the Millennial age bracket who place high value on personalized solutions that meet their more diverse needs.
  • Financial Wellness Targeting Student Debt. For many employees, regardless of age, finances are the leading source of their stress (and for the Millennial generation, the financial burden of compounding student loans can be nearly unbearable). One way businesses are making themselves more appealing is by zeroing in on financial stress and offering comprehensive financial wellness programs designed to alleviate that adversary. In addition to recruiting and retaining top performances, employers who implement these types of programs will likewise enjoy the side benefit of less-stressed employees for a more engaged and productive workplace.
  • Vision and Dental Coverage. While both of these health insurance specialties have been around for awhile, these employee benefits programs are expected to grow and trend this year. This is especially true if you’re courting Millennial generation employees as 60% of 18 to 34-year-olds wear either glasses or contacts, and experts believe sudden onset of vision issues could increase due to issues surrounding prolonged exposure to digital screens (from personal smartphones to work laptops). Additionally, more and more young professionals are looking for employer-offered orthodontic insurance that can assist with more elective procedures, such as teeth whitening and straightening to create a work/life confidence boost.

To learn more about these and other trending 2017 employee benefits packages, company offerings that will motivate your employees and help your company attract the top talent, contact Lewis and Palmer Benefits today.


Changes to the Minimum Wage Rate for 2017

The arrival of the new year signifies more than New Year’s resolutions. Those who work low-wage jobs have much reason to celebrate in 2017. Many states are boosting their minimum wage to compensate hard-working Americans. In total, 29 states plus the District of Columbia are hiking their minimum wage rates beyond the $7.25 required by the federal government.

Changes to the Minimum Wage

Changes to state minimum wage laws in 2017 will lift many hard-working Americans out of poverty. In fact, 22 of the 45 states with minimum wage laws on the books will hike their minimum wage in the new year. The overarching trend is toward increased compensation for workers who have been struggling to make ends meet. All-in-all, slightly less than 50 percent of states with minimum wage laws on the books will increase their minimum wage in 2017. This represents a considerable leap from the 33 percent of such states that hiked minimum wage pay rates last year.

A Look at Some Specific Changes

Florida’s minimum wage workers earned $8.05 per hour in 2016. This pay rate will climb just a bit in 2017 to $8.10 per hour. Employees who are eligible for tips will now receive a mandatory minimum wage of $5.08. Those who work low-wage jobs in California will enjoy a minimum wage hike to $10.50 per hour as long as they labor for an employer with at least 26 employees. Minimum-wage workers in the District of Columbia will be compensated with a minimum of $11.50 per hour until July 1, when compensation climbs to $12.50. Workers in Massachusetts and Washington will receive a minimum of $11 per hour beginning January 1.

FLSA, the Minimum Wage and Tip Credits

Organizations subjected to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are required to compensate employees with at least $7.25 per hour. This level of compensation is mandatory regardless of whether the state’s laws permit a lower pay rate. Several states are altering the maximum tip credits an organization can count toward employee hourly compensation. If the rules of the FLSA apply to an organization, it can apply a maximum tip credit of $5.12 per hour. Those doing business in states with tip credit maximums that exceed the federal tip credit’s maximum can apply a higher tip credit as long as the difference between the state credit and tip credit is at least $2.13.

For more information about complete payroll, human resources and benefits administration, call the professionals at Lewis and Palmer Benefits. We have Professional resources that can help you manage your employees and business.

Employee Benefit plans to motivate your team

Nowadays, dangling an attractive salary in front of a prospective hire doesn’t always guarantee his acceptance of the position. Numerous studies have shown that employees are interested in more than a high salary or a competitive wage. They desire employee benefit plans in addition to their take-home pay.

Group Dental, Life, and Disability Insurance

An employee benefit plan that provides group dental, life and disability insurance will set you apart from the pack. Imagine a prospective hire who is offered half a dozen positions. Your offer includes a competitive salary along with an extensive employee benefit plan including life insurance, dental insurance and disability insurance. These added benefits are the “icing on the cake” that makes the difference between the prospect accepting your offer and deciding to work for one of your competitors.

Group dental plans can be employer or employee paid. They provide access to a quality network with elite services. Group disability insurance is necessary to replace an individual’s pay in the event that he becomes ill or suffers an injury that does not have a causal relationship to his workplace activities. Group life insurance provides employees with a priceless peace of mind. It allows them to rest easy, knowing their loved ones will be financially sound in the event of a premature death or dismemberment.

401(k) and Retirement Plans

Few employees have faith in social security to remain solvent. Even if social security remains solvent, its measly payments will not allow for a fulfilling retirement. Offer your employees a 401(k) and/or retirement plans and they will be much more inclined to meet their workplace potential. Plenty of employers don’t offer these benefits, making those that do that much more appealing.

Health Insurance

Employees are tired of worrying about health insurance and whether an injury will obliterate their personal savings. You can make your company quite attractive to prospective employees and improve your employee retention rate by offering health insurance.

As time progresses, more health insurance companies are pulling out of the Affordable Care Act. Health insurance costs put a serious crimp in the average employee’s budget. Make their life simple by providing health insurance through an employee benefit plan. Such an affordable plan will provide employees with access to all sorts of medical benefits and providers. This is the perfect “carrot” to dangle when attempting to recruit talented employees who are likely to field multiple employment offers.


Is your employee program in compliance?

Employee programs are notoriously hard for a small business to manage. In most cases, the laws governing the process change on a yearly basis. Not only do compliance efforts distract from your core business efforts, they can also have a severely detrimental effect on your bottom line if you are found be in non-compliance. Here are just some of the things a business owner or manager should be concerned with:

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – The baseline set of rules for employer/employee relations, this set of guidelines establishes record keeping standards, the minimum acceptable wage and how to compute overtime pay. In short, it is the Bible of employee benefits.

Overtime rules – Certain workers are guaranteed overtime protection – usually those in managerial positions who are not salaried. It is a potential minefield for the inexperienced as companies such as Microsoft and CVS have been fined for non-compliance.

Exemptions – Similarly, other employees are exempt from from minimum wage and overtime rules as they are salaried. Nevertheless, the employment rules for executive, administrative and professional employees are just as strict – and penalty fraught! – as those for employees lower in the pecking order.

Equal Pay Act – This law prohibits wage discrimination between men and women. The major determining factor considered is whether the job requires substantially equal skill, effort and responsibility under similar working conditions.

Child labor laws – Designed to keep children mainly in school and to prevent their exploitation jobs that that are deleterious to their safety and health, this set of laws has some of the stiffest penalties associated with infractions.

Some of the rules included in these particular laws can be somewhat arcane and hard to interpret. For more specific information on compliance issues involving benefits programs, please contact the experts at Lewis & Palmer Benefits. We can be found online at LPBenefits.com or reached directly at 954-308-7204.


Are you taking full advantage of your employee benefits program?

Employee benefits are often used as a draw card to secure the most talented employees. A good employee benefits package includes a health, dental, and vision insurance. Any company worth its salt should also offer a solid retirement plan, life, and disability coverage. However, you may have the best plan but not be fully aware of its benefits. Here’s what to look for when choosing a plan, and how to get the most out of your employee benefits program.

Health, Dental, and Vision Insurance

Choose an employee with health insurance benefits that cover maternity costs if you plan on starting a family, general checkups, pediatric care, mental health services, hospitalization, emergency services, free preventative care, as well as prescription medication. Your insurance may cover pre-existing medical conditions, so utilize that too here.

If you have good dental health, save by choosing a cheaper basic plan which includes general restorative and preventative services. Comprehensive dental cover is usually reserved for orthodontist services, so if you have that, feel free to use it. If a loved one needs dental care, be sure to add dependents to your plan. You also have the option to choose disabled dependents.

Your network of providers for vision insurance may include some of the most reputable professionals, so peruse the list thoroughly to select the best one. Choose a network with surgeons who can perform corrective procedures such as LASIK, if there’s a possibility you may be needing it.

Your 401 (k) Retirement Plan

If your employer offers a 401 (k) retirement plan, you should take advantage and invest a portion of your paycheck to the plan. It’s advisable to not accept the default savings rate when you are first employed. The default is usually 3 percent, but would usually not be enough to maintain your expenses and lifestyle upon retirement. Aim to save a higher percentage every year, and strive towards achieving a match to increase your balance. Stay at the company until you are vested in order to retain your match. If you do change employers and there’s a 401(k) balance, do not withdraw the money prematurely, as you will be penalized. Talk to us about options for rolling over your 401 (k) into another investment plan.

In some cases, we tend to overlook the benefits that are available for us. If you have these benefits as a part of your employment, make sure you take full advantage of them.



Does your employee benefit program motivate your organization?

While most entry-level employees simply concern themselves with the salary that they will make, more seasoned ones understand that the associated benefits package can also provide a significant boost to their financial health and overall well-being. With that said, it is up to the HR people in your organization to communicate this concept to each and every employee. Here is what they should focus on:

Health benefits – In addition to the standard healthcare, dental and vision insurance programs will leave your employees free to concentrate on their work duties and not be constantly consumed by worries about the health and welfare of their families. It is a benefit of immeasurable worth as priorities can be properly assessed and dealt with – employees will deal with their responsibilities while healthcare workers will tend to any sick or injured member of their family.

Retirement benefits – While long time employees will inevitably turn their attention to such investment vehicles as IRAs, 401Ks and annuities, it is also beneficial to point out their benefits to less senior employees. In both cases, their financial future is secured to some degree with a minimal loss of current income.

Insurance coverage – Similarly, life insurance, disability and long-term care aim to protect an employee against the unimaginable – permanent sickness, a significant injury and even death. It is another benefit that allows an employee to place another worry on the back burner so that they can focus on their more immediate duties.

Profit sharing – If you really want to motivate an employee to see your company grow and thrive, give them a “piece of the action” through profit sharing. Even a relatively minor position or small number of shares in the company can mean a significant boost to their earnings and to their concern for the welfare of the company. It is almost guaranteed that everyone will pull together as a team.

There is nothing particularly complicated about understanding employee benefits but their implementation is a significantly more complicated matter especially when the government gets involved. For more on this topic or for help in motivating the folks in your organization in other ways, please contact us at Lewis & Palmer Benefits. We can be found online at LPBenefits.com or reached directly by phone at 954-308-7204.