Selecting benefits and insurance products that make sense for you

By Carol Harnett, President, Council for Disability Awareness

Note: An earlier version of this post appeared in Carol Harnett’s employee benefits column for Human Resource Executive.

You don’t know me, but I’m someone people have come to trust when they want to have a conversation about employee benefits. I stand to neither gain nor lose anything based on the choices you will make during your annual benefits enrollment period. Except for this: Based upon my life experiences, I’d like to see you make the best choices you can.

It’s challenging for your employer to provide you with the types of suggestions I’m going to make. This is largely based on the fact your human resource leaders can’t give you direct advice.

There is one key assessment I believe is important to make when choosing your benefits, and that is how to understand risk.

I spent the first 10 years of my career training elite athletes who “sneer at risk.” They push themselves to the edge of what their bodies can do and return every day to do that again and again – even after experiencing major injuries. They, their significant others or their parents also go to considerable expense to make certain they receive the best training, medical care and rehabilitation available.

The rest of my career has revolved around how to get people to the best quality healthcare – both to treat and prevent injuries, illnesses, accidents, temporary and permanent disabilities, and more minor health conditions such as pregnancies, bad backs and torn-up knees. As a result, I’ve developed a contact list of medical specialists who make a difference in helping people recover in a way that, sometimes, makes a life-altering difference.

Here’s one of the things that’s been frustrating the heck out of me the last few years. I’ll receive a phone call from a friend or acquaintance seeking a referral to a physician or healthcare provider. Very often I know someone who could help them – and here’s where the “but” comes in. This person can’t see this individual because they selected a health plan that limited their provider and medical center choices. At the time, it seemed like a good call. Limited network –and high-deductible – plans are more affordable.

I’d suggest that the first question you need to answer when assessing your health plan benefit selection is, if you or your loved ones needed to see the best healthcare provider, would you want that choice available to you? There is no shame in saying “no.” You might have to travel to see this person or go to that center of excellence, and it’s simply something you know you couldn’t or wouldn’t do. Understand that part of yourself now, before you select your health plan.

The other thing that worries me when people are making their benefits choices is they don’t think about if they can afford to be out of work for a period of time. The reason? It comes down again to how we assess our risks. Most of us don’t think anything will happen to us, so we don’t worry that we won’t be able to work for a period of time. Or, we believe we’ll have enough vacation time to cover an unpaid absence. Or, we think our parents or friends will loan us money.

Let me give you a snippet from my own life. During my working years, I’ve had two mountain-biking accidents that placed me on the disabled list, plus two concussions, two stress fractures, two broken toes, three episodes of back pain and a torn MCL. You may call me unlucky; I will tell you I live life off the sidelines. And so do most of you – whether you realize it or not.

So, first, make certain you understand your employer’s paid-time-off or vacation/sick time policies. This will give you good information about how vulnerable you might be financially if you leave work to have a child, or to repair your bunions, or take care of a sprained back, knee or shoulder – never mind if something more complicated happens.

My recommendation to you will always be to take advantage of your employer’s short- and/or long-term disability insurance policies. They are inexpensive and cost-effective ways to make certain you can afford to be out of work (and help you pay for associated costs such as money toward your high-deductible, co-pay or co-insurance).

Once you’ve consciously checked the boxes on the two things people who work tell me are most important to them – their health and their income – take a serious look at other benefits associated with an income stream such as your retirement plan. Make certain you know if and when you are eligible to receive retirement income from your employer, and how you can contribute the most money possible toward retirement programs such as 401(k) and 403(b) programs. Just as none of us think we’ll ever become ill, injured or experience an accident, we also think retirement is a far-away concept. Make certain to at least make a start with contributions.

What about the rest of your employee benefits options? Trust me, there are some wonderful benefits out there. If you have children, dental and vision insurance may be high on your priority list. But, before making those selections before the ones described above, make certain you understand the benefits and limitations to these policies. You may find there is an annual or a lifetime cap on benefits that doesn’t make these choices a good investment for you.

The bottom line for me every year? I consciously make certain I have the best help available to me through my benefits selections if something were to happen to my health or my income. And then I make sure I can retire from this part of my working life at a point of my choosing. I wish you the same.




Beyond medical: How supplemental benefits help attract and retain talent

By Phil Bruen, Vice President, Group Life and Disability Products, MetLife

As the annual enrollment period takes place in workplaces around the United States, human resources teams and employees have benefits on their minds. During this time, it’s important for employers to educate their workforces on how the benefits they provide can help workers achieve their short- and long-term financial goals.

To do this, employees should use the information their company provides related to benefits and also seek guidance from those they trust most. Doing so, even more so than a major life event, can cause individuals to not just evaluate, but act on benefits that meet their needs.

Employers who are competing for the best talent find that providing benefits to support the financial well-being of their workforce is necessary. According to MetLife’s 16th Annual Employee Benefit Trends Study (EBTS), less than half of workers believe their employer understands their personal financial pressures.

The benefits offered to employees during their annual enrollment period go well beyond basic health insurance. Products such as dental and vision insurance, accident and critical illness coverage, and disability insurance provide additional financial support for costs beyond what medical insurance covers. Workers need to view all employee benefits as a critically important part of their health and financial wellbeing. Their benefits package is necessary to protect employees’ life goals, such as purchasing a home or sending children to college.

Why peace of mind matters

The recent MetLife study revealed that employees use their benefits to fulfill a need greater than a visit to the dentist or a more affordable way to get glasses. On the whole, today’s workforce relies on their benefits as a financial safety net—benefits give them peace of mind.

For example, 71 percent of employees say their benefits help them worry less about unexpected financial or health issues. Additionally, 65 percent say their non-medical benefits help limit their out of pocket medical expenses. Understanding these deeper advantages of benefits helps HR leaders serve employees better. It also pays off for companies as well as our research shows that benefits increase employee loyalty, engagement and even productivity.

But for many companies, the big question is how to offer more benefits without incurring outsized expenses. The answer rests in creating options for employees to customize their benefit offerings. The good news? Employees are ready to help, since 60 percent said they’d like their employer to offer a wider array of benefits that they can choose to purchase.

Getting beyond medical

When you think outside of the traditional health insurance box, some of the most important and sought after benefits fall into these three categories:

1. Disability insurance and income replacement. More than one in four adults who are currently 20-years-old can expect to be out of work for at least a year because of a disabling condition before they retire.[1] And yet less than half of Americans report they have enough savings to cover even three months of their living expenses.[2] Providing an option for short- and long-term disability insurance offers employees a simple way to keep unexpected events from turning into financial disasters.

2. Supplemental health benefits. Today’s employees want and need a solid health insurance plan. But for most individuals and families, that’s only a component of their overall healthcare. For example, 53 percent of employees consider dental insurance a “must-have,” and 37 percent say the same about vision care. Other key offerings that employers can consider include hospital indemnity, critical illness, and accident insurance, all of which supplement health plans, and provide employees with additional financial resources when they may need them most.

3. Retirement and financial wellness. Nearly three-quarters of employees report that saving for retirement is a priority—and nearly half say they’re already concerned about outliving their savings, according to the 2018 MetLife research. Traditional employer-sponsored retirement plans certainly provide the financial security and savings that employees want. But additional benefits such as lifetime income solutions, life insurance products and financial planning, and education services work to strengthen overall benefit plans and give workers additional ways to prepare for retirement.

In an increasingly competitive job market, employee benefits truly help elevate companies in the minds of their current employees—as well as the people businesses want to attract and retain. As HR executives find creative ways to build out their benefits, they also prepare their businesses and workforce for a better future.

[1] Disability Statistics, The Council for Disability Awareness, http://disabilitycanhappen.org/overview/ accessed September, 2018

[2] Chances of a Disability, Ibid, The Council for Disability Awareness, http://disabilitycanhappen.org/disability-statistic/ updated March 28, 2018

Looking for more information on supplemental benefits? Join Phil Bruen and Carol Harnett as they discuss consumer strategies this open enrollment season on the CDA’s BlogTalkRadio.




The basics of the Social Security Disability Income Program

By Ted Norwood, General Counsel and Director of Representation, Integrated Benefits, Inc.

The United States Social Security Administration offers two programs—confusingly named Social Security Disability Income and Supplemental Security Income—aimed at providing or supplementing the income of people who are unable to work.

SSDI (also called Title II benefits) provides disability coverage for individuals who have paid enough Social Security taxes. The second program, SSI or Title XVI, provides a smaller benefit for people who haven’t worked long enough to qualify for Title II benefits and established a financial need.

SSDI and SSI require the same medical requirements to receive benefits. However, SSI also requires claimants to pass a stringent means, or income, test that establishes the applicant’s need.

For the purposes of this post, I’m going to focus on the SSDI program. This benefit has greater relevance than SSI to the majority of employers and workers. In addition, this program frequently interacts with employee benefits, especially long-term disability policies.

But before I proceed, it’s important to remind you that I’m presenting basic information. If you have specific legal questions about SSDI, you should reach out to a lawyer. SSDI is a huge program with many regulations and significant administrative entities. My goal in this article is to focus on a few key elements that are important to employers and employees.

I find that most people know something about the SSDI program and many hold opinions on it already, but there is an abundance of misinformation. Before you can understand SSDI’s role in workplace absences, you must understand the program’s basics.

In many ways SSDI is like a private long-term disability policy that you have through the government. Like any insurance policy, the terms are important.

You must have worked to qualify

To receive SSDI benefits, you must have worked and paid the SSA’s taxes. If you are an independent contractor and don’t pay FICA taxes, you may not be covered. There are boring rules that you can access here if you want more information.

If you want to know if you are covered, you can simply contact SSA and they can tell you if you are insured and when your insured status would end if you stopped working.

You must qualify medically and vocationally

If you are covered, you may qualify medically for SSDI if you are:

  1. Not working
  2. Have limitations caused by medical conditions expected to last at least a year, and
  3. You are unable to sustain substantial gainful activity due to your limitations.

The SSA will deny benefits if they believe you can still perform a significant number of jobs that exist in the national economy or if you can perform past work (from the last 15 years).

Many Issues are surprisingly irrelevant to the SSA

Social Security does not consider income in its evaluation of disability. If a person who made a high salary can still perform lower income work, they are not disabled under SSDI. Likewise, a person who worked in labor, such as construction or manufacturing, may not be disabled if they are still capable of performing less demanding jobs.

SSDI also does not consider whether jobs are available or if an individual may or may not be hired for a job. The SSA only evaluates whether an individual could perform the functions of a job that exists.

The SSA considers problems finding employment to be addressed by unemployment insurance. But, to that end, applying for both unemployment and SSDI will usually have detrimental effects on the SSDI application. The SSA sees the receipt of both benefits as generally incompatible (with exceptions).

The SSDI Application Process

Individuals may apply for SSDI on the SSA’s website or at a Social Security office. A state agency will evaluate the application, review medical records and determine if the claimant is disabled under SSA’s rules. This usually takes three to six months with a 34 percent award rate.

If denied, a claimant can request reconsideration by the state agency. This essentially repeats the process, with a 13 percent approval rate.

If denied again, the claimant may request a hearing before an administrative law judge. There is a nine- to 27-month wait from hearing request to hearing with a national average wait of 17.3 months. The ALJ’s decision takes about another 60-90 days and ALJs awarded 47 percent of cases last year.

There is one more level of appeal within SSA – the Appeals Council – but the success rate is only 10 percent. After that, a claimant must file a civil case in federal court.

Obviously, it is a long process. This wait has a huge impact on the claimants. Waiting 30 months to get a payment is not uncommon. The SSA makes retroactive payments in a lump sum, but that is often cold comfort for claimants. The average wait time for all claimants is about 15 months before they receive a payment.

When Awarded SSDI

Disabled claimants receive an average monthly benefit of about $1300. There is a five-to-six month elimination period at the beginning of the period of disability.[The SSA provides annul adjustments for cost of living.

Two years after the end of the claimant’s elimination period, they will begin receiving Medicare.

There are some programs in place to support attempts to return to work, with mixed results. The SSA generally schedules continuing disability reviews (CDRs) every three to five years.

SSDI certainly has some warts, but overall American workers benefit tremendously from this program.

 




Why do some insurance policies still use pre-existing conditions?

 

By Larry Alkire, Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, American Fidelity Assurance Company

When Congress passed the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), the term—”pre-existing conditions”—became a household word. The ACA prevented health insurance carriers from denying you coverage, charging you more money, or refusing to pay for essential health benefits for any condition you had before your insurance coverage started. It also prohibited health insurers from denying you coverage or raising your rates once you’re enrolled in a plan based only on the health claims you filed.

No doubt, the ACA was a game changer for health care coverage. The legislated ban on healthcare “pre-ex” limitations opened the possibility for many people to get immediate coverage that they previously could not.

Health insurance, particularly employer-provided healthcare plans, typically have a larger enrollment of healthy people when compared to other employee-paid insurance. This is because employer-provided health insurance covers most employees and the company pays a portion of the insurance premiums. With high participation levels, the likelihood of anti-selection (a higher concentration of unhealthy participants) is reduced significantly—especially when compared to supplemental and voluntary insurance products.

Although pre-existing condition limitations are considered to be a negative for consumers, employee-paid supplemental coverage has a unique structure that features complex consumer/carrier tradeoffs.

Voluntary benefits that are commonly purchased by employees at work can include disability, life, long-term care, critical illness, and cancer coverage. Depending upon the type of insurance you select, the plan may ask no health questions when you apply (guarantee issue—typically for new hires and during open enrollment periods), limited health questions (sometimes referred to as simplified or express issue coverage), or a lot of health questions (full underwriting sometimes accompanied with verification).

The trend over the last few years is for applications for voluntary insurance to require less underwriting. However, with less underwriting comes a greater need for carriers to use pre-existing condition limitations. But is that a bad thing?

Actually, there’s a benefit to most consumers when insurers use pre-existing condition limitations. The “pre-ex” limitation allows carriers, particularly group insurance carriers, to bring insurance plans to many employers and their employees. It allows people to obtain coverage (on a guaranteed issue basis in many cases) by limiting insurance during the first year or two after they initially make the purchase to conditions that didn’t exist at the time of application, or people weren’t actively being treated for. This is usually true, even if you have serious pre-existing conditions.

Consider the alternative. Not having a “pre-ex” limitation could force insurance carriers to screen out people at a much more intensive level. Having less people in the plan makes the premiums more expensive.

Consider the following points when you’re thinking about “pre-ex:”

  1. Applicants usually know they have a condition that an insurance carrier would say makes them “uninsurable.”
  2. It is best to identify whether or not you have a pre-existing condition before you apply for insurance coverage. If you have a pre-ex condition, open enrollment is a golden opportunity to obtain coverage. You will not be covered for your pre-existing condition for the first year or two, but you will be for anything else that happens to you. (Keep in mind that you could be covered for your pre-ex condition one you are treatment-free for that condition for one to two years.)
  3. New applicants should always understand how the coverage works—and ask questions—before they buy it, and review their policy certificate again when they receive it.

The bottom line is that a pre-existing condition limitation often allows consumers with health issues to still buy supplemental and voluntary insurance. The limitation only applies to your specific condition and not all other conditions or injuries. And an open-enrollment-eligible plan is a great opportunity for an employee to take care of the needs they and their families have—even if they have serious health issues.




How to upgrade your workplace on-boarding for Gen Z employees

A smooth on-boarding process is a must for today’s employees; after all, you want their first days to be inviting, and you want them to understand the ins and outs of your workplace. That’s because you have to make sure your employees are engaged right from the start, given today’s often fickle workforce.

Although most on-boarding best practices work for all generations, there are some specific actions you might want to take to reach your newest Gen Z employees that will capture their attention and underscore the importance of your programs, from benefits to corporate best practices.

Start wooing them from the day you extend the offer.

There’s an unfortunate new trend going on in workplaces, and that’s candidates “ghosting” their new employer. In other words, they’ve gone through all the trouble of interviewing and being hired, and then they just don’t show up on the first day…leaving you with a void and that sinking feeling you have to go back to the drawing board. One way to avoid this is to stay in close touch from the minute you extend the offer, even if there’s a brief lag until their start day. Send them emails with some details on the company culture or to introduce them to team members – anything that will help ensure they feel the love right up until they show up for the first day.

Create “snackable content.”

Gen Z is much maligned for their short attention span, but it’s not entirely their fault. After all the world has sped up, and they have always been used to a quicker pace – their TV shows have even been faster-paced. But the truth is, they are less likely to read through lengthy, fact-packed documents. If you truly want to retain their interest, make the content short and sweet so that they can digest it in short sessions as their time allows.

Focus on culture and transparency.

Gen Z cares about the culture of the workplace they are joining; but it’s not just about Ping-Pong tables and the other trappings that many “cool” workplaces try to assume. They want to be sure that their employer is walking the talk in regards to corporate social responsibility. Companies can help cultivate their loyalty through letting Gen Z employees know from the start what your company does to embrace a culture that is good for the environment, both the working environment they encounter every day and the larger global environment that they care about.

As consulting firm Deloitte explains in its report “Generation Z Enters the Workforce,” “Major consumer brands have found they are better able to build customer loyalty through transparency. For example, Patagonia, an outdoor clothing company, has made its supply chain more transparent via the Footprint Chronicles to demonstrate alignment with its core values of sustainability and environmental stewardship. As employees begin to expect similar norms for their employment brands, the need for transparency will likely only increase.”

Cater to their information on-demand expectation.

Remember that this is the generation that has always had a “computer” in their pocket where they can immediately get the answer to any question. Make sure your intranet is intuitive so that new employees can easily find the answers to questions they have about benefits like disability insurance or retirement plans via a simple search that they can access from any device.

Use images to explain more involved concepts.

Gen Z is very visually oriented, so a picture can be worth even more than 1,000 words. Redeploy your employee training manuals into more visual options, from short videos to infographics that Gen Z workers can understand at a glance. If there is a more involved step in a process, such as how to sign up for benefits, create a short video tutorial. This is the YouTube generation after all.

Try gamification as a strategy.

Turning employee onboarding into a game isn’t just a smart strategy to keep them entertained – it helps with retention, too. And while it works for every generation – most of us tend to zone out when faced with too many words on a page — it’s especially important for Gen Z, who were raised on video games and appreciate being rewarded when they master something. Create quizzes that unlock fun secret games or allow them to level up by answering questions correctly.

As you incorporate multiple generations into the workplace, it’s smart to consider how all your communications strategies can be upgraded. Reaching Gen Z through engaging onboarding is one of the best ways to start off on the right foot.

 




What makes a millennial-friendly workplace?

Move over, foosball table and bean bag chairs. If your organization’s goal is to attract the next generation of workers – and it better be, given the fact that millennials are the largest generation in the workforce today, reports the Pew Research Center – you want to make sure you’ve designed a workplace that features the attributes they covet.

Of course, the good news is that the elements that make a workplace friendly to millennials actually will attract all generations; after all at our core most of us want the same things.

But the millennial generation isn’t shy about expressing their preferences, so here are some research-backed suggestions for creating the ultimate millennial-friendly workplace.

Millennials want: Training and development

The skills shortage is real, and millennials want to make sure that their abilities are keeping pace with today’s new workplace and its focus on ever-evolving expectations. In fact, nearly 90 percent of millennials say that “professional or career growth and development opportunities” is a key factor in their job satisfaction, finds a Gallup poll – and that’s surely one reason why more than three-quarters of companies are offering professional development opportunities as a way to retain employees, finds a survey by Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Millennials want: Feedback

Forget the annual review. “Why look in the rear-view mirror when you can be looking toward the future?” millennials wonder. In fact, nearly three-quarters of those under age 30 said they that would prefer feedback either weekly or monthly, finds a PwC survey. And that’s a bonus for everyone because it allows employees to make small tweaks to their performance on an ongoing basis, rather than waiting for a deluge of information, many of which refers to incidents or behaviors that may have happened a long time ago.

Millennials want: Top-notch technology

You better ditch those balky workstations and outdated pagers: Close to half (42 percent) of millennials say they would quit a job if they had to work with substandard tech, and an overwhelming 81 percent said that the available workplace technology was a consideration when contemplating a job offer, finds “The Future Workforce” study.

Millennial want: A workplace that lives its values

In one study reported by Glassdoor, employees named “culture and values” as the No. 1 workplace factor that matters to them most. Today’s younger generations are finely tuned into corporate social responsibility (CSR), and how companies behave, but the important thing to remember anymore is that they won’t just take your word for it: They are going to rely on their own research to find the facts. In fact, the Cone Communications CSR study finds that more than three-quarters of millennials do research to make sure a company is authentic in what it claims about environmental or social issues. While the study primarily pertained to consumers’ purchasing behavior, it stands to reason they will be equally diligent about sussing out the facts before taking a job.

Millennials want: Work/life balance

It’s almost become a cliché, but millennials crave their free time. In fact, flexibility is incredibly important to them as they create a balance that works for them. And while that mean ducking out for a spin class at noon or leaving early to take advantage of great weather for a hike, it also probably means they are answering emails on the weekend. Offering them the flexibility to make their own hours (within reason, of course, if it fits with your industry) can make a huge difference in their happiness in the workplace: An environment of flexibility encourages a positive impact on overall wellbeing, health and happiness, say 82 percent, and 81 percent also said it made them more productive, finds the 2017 Deloitte Millennial Survey.

Millennials want: A cool workplace

Ah, yes, back to those foosball tables and beanbags. Because, as it happens, millennials do care about their work environment. Turns out that 70 percent of millennials choose their jobs based on the office space, finds the Capital One’s Work Environment Survey. The good news? The most-desired workplace design element is natural light. So let the sunshine in.




Study shows LGBTQ Americans in need of retirement strategy guidance

A recent study from Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. (MassMutual) revealed lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ) Americans say they want to preserve their retirement savings but tend to take bigger risks when it comes to investing.

Forty-two percent of LGBTQ retirees and pre-retirees said the should become more conservative with their money as they come closer to retirement, as opposed to 28 percent who said they prefer a more aggressive investment approach.

However, 65 percent of those respondents say their investment strategy is actually more mixed, rather than conservative, compared to 52 percent of the general population — 31 percent of respondents admitted they could be taking more risks than they should be, compared to 22 percent of other retirees and pre-retirees.

“MassMutual’s study shows that many LGBTQ retirees and pre-retirees may benefit from consulting a financial advisor about their retirement investment goals, something less than half currently do, and may benefit from help leading into retirement and securing their finances through retirement,” said Catherine Cannon, Head of Personal Markets at MassMutual.

“Of those respondents in our study who do work with a financial advisor, six in 10 say their advisor has encouraged them to change their investment mix and 87 percent of those folks were advised to become more conservative as they enter retirement.”

Both the general population and LGBTQ retirees expect their retirement savings to last 25 years, however overall, LGBTQ retirees plan to retire later than the general population. In addition, the same respondents said they expect their retirement income will last as long as they need, which is two years fewer than the general population.

LGBTQ retirees also expressed more confidence than the general population that they will be financially prepared for retirement. However, despite this confidence, stock market volatility and downturn in the stick market are worrisome for the community as they approach retirement. About 75 percent of respondents expressed this concern, with 27 percent say they are “very concerned.”

72 percent of the general population expressed concern with regard to market volatility, while 21 percent said they are “very concerned.”

According to the study, LGBTQ respondents show greater comfort in taking investment risk, with just 20 percent willing to accept “below average” or “low investment returns” in exchange for greater safety. Overall, respondents seem to seek a balance between growth and preservation.

“One strategy that may help some LGBTQ retirement savers balance investment goals such as growth and safety is the use of target date funds (TDFs) when available through their employer’s 401(k) or other retirement savings plan,” Cannon said.

“TDFs automatically reallocate retirement savings between equities and fixed-income, gradually growing more conservative as the investor approaches and enters retirement. Some newer TDFs also are more personalized to investor’s individual needs, including a greater focus on managing assets in accordance with an investor’s individual risk tolerance.”




Want to hire Gen Z? Here’s how to find them…and impress them

Just when you thought you finally had this millennial thing down, a new generation is joining the workplace. Yes, welcome to Gen Z, soon coming to a workplace near you, if they’re not already there.

Gen Z (typically described as those born in 1995 and later) is the first generation to grow up as “digital natives,” that is, they don’t remember a time when they couldn’t access everything they need to know on their computer or device. Therefore the way you recruit Gen Z might be very different from other generations.

That’s why companies today are finding success with new modes of communication, reaching out to Gen Z in the language they speak. For example:

  • McDonald’s takes “Snaplications”: Gen Z spends a lot of time on social media, so why not reach them there? in 2017 McDonald’s launched a program that allowed teens to apply via Snapchat. According to Fortune magazine, “Snapchat users may see a 10-second video ad from McDonald’s employees discussing their experience working there. Then users can then swipe up on the app to be redirected to McDonald’s career webpage in the app to apply for openings.”
  • Advertising agency Havas asked intern candidates to text: Corralling Gen Z’s interest in texting and social justice, a global advertising firm asked prospective interns to text ideas about how to change the world for the better.
  • Investment bank Goldman Sachs uses Snapchat geo-filters: Using a feature called “Campus Story,” Goldman Sachs promoted careers at the investment bank with sponsored segments that would show only to users whose phone had been on a specific campus in the past 24 hours.

If you’re still recruiting the “old-fashioned” way, don’t worry: You’re hardly in the minority. But to appeal to Gen Z, you’ll have to make sure that you are communicating the right messages.

  1. Showcase your creative side.

Whereas employers used to implore employees to spend less time on social media, savvy companies realize that it can actually be a recruiting tool. That’s why some companies design their offices with “Instagrammability” in mind.” For example, a Wall Street Journal article reported that several new hires at LinkedIn were impressed with the pictures they saw on Google Images and Instagram, many of which featured interactive wall art as they sought to learn more about the company’s culture.

One of the images is a “Wheel of Dream Jobs” where employees can spin a huge wheel; another is a mural that has a nearby jacket employees can wear that makes them blend in with the wall. “The art the company has installed…is a major help as far as talent retention and getting people excited,” says Cherish Rosas, an environmental graphic design project manager at LinkedIn.

  1. Offer them variety.

You may have heard that fewer teens are taking summer jobs (or, depending on your business may have struggled to hire them yourself). That’s because today, about 70 percent of teens are self-employed, reports Harvard Business Review.

Because of that, Gen Z are used to autonomy and variety and will be attracted to a workplace that offers diversity in job functions. Consider hiring Gen Z with the promise of a job rotation or cross-training opportunities so they feel confident that they will get the mix of activities that will keep the job fresh.

  1. Never forget they are doing their own research.

Employers have to remember the power of social sharing sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn, where Gen Z employees are going to find out more about the vibe of the company. Whereas companies used to be able to control their online presence through a sparkling website, now they need to do far more to guard their reputation and ensure that the message they are saying about themselves matches what employees believe.

The only way to create that positive image that will attract Gen Z? You have to practice what you preach. The new transparency means that companies have to make sure their actions match their words, in order to gain the best talent.




Gen Z attitudes more accepting of risk and failure in the workplace

Failure is not only accepted by Generation Z but also welcome, according to a study released this week. In fact, Gen Z attitudes reveal 80 percent think embracing failure on a particular project will lead to innovation, while 17 percent think failure leads to more comfort when taking on risk.

The study, which was done at the 22nd EY annual International Intern Leadership conference this summer, asked 1,400 Gen Z folks about the future of work as they enter the workforce. According to the results, the Gen Z generation is more eager for innovation and accepts that failure is often part of the process.

“With the next generation of our workforce not afraid to fail in order to grow and innovate, organizations should create an environment that allows them to bring their ideas forward, fail fast, and then learn from that failure,” said Natasha Stough, EY Americas Campus Recruiting Leader.

“At EY, this means embracing values like inclusiveness, collaboration, openness and flexibility that best attract these candidates and encourage them to be fearless innovators once they join us.”

Motivation and goals in the workplace

Workplace perceptions and goals were also touched on in the study. More than two-thirds of participants believe that having a curious and open mindset is more important than a specific skill or expertise. In addition, this generation isn’t afraid to look outside of their comfort zone when presented with a challenge. In fact, 24 percent answered they would be excited and honored to do so.

Gen Z is also open to feedback and learning from their mistakes. Ninety seven percent of those questioned said they’d be receptive to feedback on an ongoing basis, while 63 percent said they’d prefer timely, constructive feedback throughout the year.

Gen Z individuals do differ, though, based on gender when it comes to workplace preferences and priorities. Potential for progression and growth was important for 39 percent of respondents when looking for an employer. Competitive salary, however, was a key priority for men, while women prioritized flexible work opportunities.

Technology and teamwork

Even though tech is becoming increasingly prevalent in the workplace, more than 90 percent of those surveyed said they prefer to have a “human element” to their teams, working either with just innovative coworkers or with co-workers and technology paired together. More than twice as many males though prefer to work with tech that allows them to do their job faster and take on higher levels of work, compared to just five percent of females who agree.

Seventy-three percent of females would be more apt to ask a coworker for help with a problem to which they don’t have the answer to however, while only 63 percent of males agree. In addition, more females like to work with coworkers who can challenge and motivate them compared to their male peers.

Diverse education and skills are also critical elements to a successful team environment, according to those surveyed. Having a millennial manager also remains the preference over Gen X or Baby Boomer for 77 percent of respondents – an interesting increase over 67 percent who agreed last year.

Lastly, Gen Z thinks the future looks bright, with 65 percent saying they feel confident that financially, they’ll be better off at work than their parents – the same is said for their overall happiness.

 




Baby on board? How HR can help pregnant employees adjust

Creating a family-friendly workplace is vital for retaining talent—after all, 70 percent of mothers with children under 18 are in the workforce, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. It’s also becoming increasingly common for women to work while pregnant: The Pew Research Center cites Census Bureau data that shows 66 percent of mothers who gave birth to their first child between 2006 and 2008 worked during their pregnancy, compared to only 44 percent who worked during pregnancy in the early 1960s.

Since not all managers might feel comfortable addressing the issue, HR can come alongside the team to play an important role in helping pregnant employees adjust to their upcoming maternity leave—and eventual return. Here are five solid strategies to consider.

Make sure employees understand their benefits

This is a good time to talk with the employee about whether she has any questions about how to get her maternity and post-partum needs handled. You might walk through:

  • Company leave policies
  • What Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) forms she’ll need to fill out
  • Benefits-related questions such as whether any retirement match continues while on FMLA and details on how to add baby to the insurance policy
  • Information on disability insurance….many people don’t know that pregnancy is the most common cause of short-term disability claims.

Help create a transition plan for the employee with her manager

HR can be a big help in working with the team to help decide how work will be handled in the employee’s absence. Among the factors to consider, depending, of course on the employee’s role are:

  • How and when to tell the internal team
  • How and when to tell clients
  • Who will take over the work, as in will you be hiring a temporary replacement or dividing it among the existing workforce
  • How to best document project statuses to ensure the right people are in the loop
  • A checklist of day-to-day duties that others might not be aware of
  • A plan for who will manage existing direct reports
  • Proposed availability (if at all) during maternity leave, understanding that some of these details may change
  • A plan for the return, including potential part-time work to make the transition smoother
  • A document detailing what happens if she should go into labor in the office, including information about where she plans to deliver; phone numbers of doctor, doula or midwife; emergency contacts, etc.

The goal is to cover all potential issues to coordinate a seamless exit and pave the way for a pleasant return.

Create a mentoring program or support group

Becoming a parent is overwhelming and can place a lot of stress on a young mom (or dad!) trying to juggle a job. Many companies find that the first few months are crucial for eventual retention, and if a parent feels supported and understood, they are liable to make it work out.

That’s why you should consider hosting a support group where parents can meet to discuss and share issues related to childcare and other pressing topics. (Remember that HR should serve in an advisory role, rather than as a facilitator, to keep the conversation open and honest—and helpful.)

Pairing a returning parent with an experienced co-worker can also make the transition easier. They likely have many questions related to everything from work/life balance and how to travel as a new parent to helping get their baby into a sleep routine.

Set up a mother’s room

Many young mothers come back to work planning to pump, and find themselves thwarted by a lack of private facilities. Ease the burden on new moms by setting aside a walled-in space (with a lock!) where moms can retreat when they need to pump. Include a comfy chair, a TV and a fridge to store milk.

Strike a cautious note

You want to be careful not to overstep your bounds and assume something that isn’t true, such as that a pregnant employee is just going to quit or that a new mom won’t want to travel—many women want to keep their workload as robust as ever. Take care not to make assumptions, but rather to keep the lines of communication open for the best chance of retaining employees after their little bundle of joy is born.

And of course, at all times HR must take care to follow all applicable laws and ensure others in the company do the same.