Employee Benefits: Student Loans are "The Albatross Around Your Neck." We Can Help.

th.jpg

Student loans are the albatross around the neck of young employees and a good way to solve it is a real struggle for employers.  Once camp says to pay a portion off for them while they work, while another says that they help consolidate.  Is either a good answer?

 In short we have a problem!! 


A few quick facts:

About 45,000,000 people have student loans

Most debt is about $30,000-$35,000 upon graduation

More is owed on student loans than credit card ANDauto loans

Typical debt on Parent PLUS loans is about $35,000

 

So how can Workplace Benefits Solutions help?  We have a program that finds Federal Government Subsidiesto help pay monthly payments.  Saving 50% on the payment isn’t a surprise… kind of expected.  

 How does this help employers?

-      Employees are helped without a direct cost to the company.

-      Providing a real need benefits to your employees.

-      Employees are focused on work… not their finances.

-      Free up money for other needed expenses or investments.

 

What does this process look like?

1.  We need to have a conversation about your needs.

2.  Decide how best to implement for your company… we have 3 different methods.  3.  You pick what works best for your needs.

4.  We educate your employees on the process.

 

WBS knows that not every employer will do this plan so if you need some help give us a call and we can help you too.

HR Technology: Helping HR be better and easing compliance strains.

At WBS we know that HR departments struggle with additional workload, less resources to do their work and then compliance, that huge gorilla, breathing down their necks.  So where does that leave a HR department?  Over worked, burned out, stressed and not satisfied or happy at work.  How do we know?  We have been working through this with our clients to help make HR and compliance easier.  

Here are a few ideas to help.

  • Technology really helps. Look for a technology platforms that fits your needs and budget. This will help streamline HR processes and make your HR department more efficient.

  • Help the right people in your organization know there is a need. Sometimes the person that can help the most is the person that doesn't know their is a problem. Make sure to tailor your message to fit your needs. Also have a solution or two that they can consider when you meet.

  • Have the data to back up the need, but do it with a smile. HR has a big role in compliance. Make sure that the need to stay in compliance is stressed during the meeting. When running a business making the money is the priority but fees and penalties can be a quick drain to the bottom line.

  • Look for help outside your organization. Look for the value added items that your current vendors can offer you.... but you have to ask about them.

WBS decided had you help our clients even more. 

  1. We decided to help by purchasing a HR Admin platform for our clients. We provide this platform at no cost to our clients.

  2. We decided that our clients needed ongoing information about everything HR. So, we send a weekly email about compliance, benefit trends, employee wellness and so on.

  3. We also decided that our clients need to be as paperless as possible and keep information secure. So we now also provide and enrollment system for them to use at our expense.

Why would we decide to do all this?  Because its important!  This all allows our clients to get back to running your business.

See what our clients say about how they have been helped on our website.  

Website: helpwithmybenefits.com

HR: Employee Financial Wellness Plans ... a real benefit to employees.

IMG_2156.JPG

When I go out to my clients I see a lot of things that, as a business owner, would drive me nuts… cell phone usage on company time being the main culprit.  This is just the most visible item that distracts employees.  Just as business owners think about the finances of their business, employees think about their own personal finances, too

 I have sat with many employees that are in so much financial turmoil from loans on cars, credit card debt, a mortgage or rent, the costs of having a family, or student loan debt.  There doesn’t seem to be a way out.  It’s no wonder employees fret when considering voluntary benefits and then don’t participate in the retirement plan the company sponsors either.

 With money problems on their minds, I wonder if these concerns affect their job performance; I bet they do.  I have been an advocate for having employers help employees with their finances; however, this is a tightrope walk of not getting too involved in the employee’s personal business.

 

These are a few of my thoughts about Employee Wellness Plans:

-      Any financial wellness and education have to be offered solely to benefit the employee.  The employees know if there is an ulterior motive.

-      Some employees will feel as if “the man” is trying to get into their personal business.  So, have a person with nothing to gain be the instructor.

-      Allow a block of time on a weekly basis that allows employees to participate.  I’m not saying on the clock, but be flexible.

-      Facilitate the effort by allowing it to be done at the business.

-      Allow for follow ups with the instructor. There are always questions that come up later.

-      Take an interest in the outcome.  Encouragement from you goes a long way.


I have great clients and I know that they want the best for their employees.  Taking your employee’s financial wellness seriously creates an environment that employees have better tools to take care of their money, where being your employee is a blessing for that person and whether they stay or go, the employee is better off for being there. 

 Maybe the best thing of all is that the employee will not be distracted by their problems and can do a better job, too.  Now… I just need to find a solution for those blasted cell phones.

jonathan_davis_health_benefits_west_texas.jpg

Jonathan Davis

jdavis@wbsinsurance.com

254.826.7700

HR: Ways to Protect Your Business When Terming an Employee

IMG_2091.jpg

While there is no guarantee that departing employees will not sue or seek unemployment benefits, there are steps you can take to reduce your risks.

 

Being able to provide documented evidence of the decision-making process and rationale behind the decision to terminate is one of the most important ways you can protect your company. 

Workplace Benefits Solutions' all-in-one HR system helps employers keep a thorough record of the circumstances leading up to an employee’s termination and the clear policies and procedures all in one easy to access place so that the employer can defend the decision during any lawsuits or other claims.

The following is a list of documents that should be included in each employee’s personnel file:

 

Employee handbook acknowledgment

Having your employees sign a form acknowledging that they received the handbook and understand its provisions is a must. Keep a copy of this acknowledgment in each employee’s personnel file.

 

A progressive discipline policy

Using a step-by-step discipline process in response to poor performance or rule violations can help employers combat unfair termination claims. Disciplinary performance discussions should be signed by the employee, and a copy should be placed in the employee’s personnel file.

 

Documentation of performance failure

When terminating an employee for performance issues, make sure you have documentation of performance failures and warnings.  Past performance reviews should mention performances issues to show that the termination was not motivated by discrimination.

 

Warnings and suspensions

Make sure that all warnings and suspensions given to employees are documented and placed in their personnel files.  Employees should sign these warnings, acknowledging that they are aware of the issues and possible consequences.

 

Statements for infractions

Infractions that are reported by managers and co-workers should be documented in an employee’s personnel file. The person reporting the infraction should complete a form detailing the issue, so there is documented proof, instead of having just a few notes from HR.

 

Record absences and tardiness

Since employers must prove misconduct, it is important for employers to record all unapproved absences and instances of tardiness in an employee’s personnel files.

 

Termination letter

Provide a termination letter to employees that confirms the details of the termination and what employees should know (such as COBRA eligibility or whom to put down as a contact for future references).  A copy should be kept in the employee’s personnel file.  

Save yourself time by asking Workplace Benefits Solutions for an easily customizable sample termination letter and employment termination policy.

 

Employment dates

The employee’s date of hire, termination date and last day should be documented in his or her personnel file. This information is especially important in the case of COBRA administration since there are many deadline and notification requirements that employers must follow.

 

Performance reviews

Some supervisors give employees inflated performance reviews since they are afraid that honest evaluations will damage their working relationships and employee morale. If you terminate an employee due to performance issues, but performance reviews show an average or fair rating, this could open the door for legal troubles.

 

Workplace posters

States require employers to post certain unemployment benefits posters at their workplace. A failure to furnish these required posters in places where they are easily visible to all employees can result in penalties for your company.

 

After partnering with Workplace Benefits Solutions, our clients rest easy knowing they finally have a place to keep up with compliance issues and can rely on our support when questions arise.

joe-tallant-wbs-insurance.jpg

Joe Tallant

joet@wbsinsurance.com

HR Admin: Did You Know an HRIS is the Cure for Scurvy?

IMG_2072.JPG
“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.”
— Benjamin Franklin

I know that many businesses are resistant to changing their HR processes because it’s the only department that doesn’t bring in any revenue and reducing paperwork seems too small a change to make that big of an impact company-wide.

One of the leading causes of death to sailors in the 1700s was scurvy – a wasting disease that we now know is caused by a lack of vitamin C. Therefore, in 1795, when it was mandatory for all naval vessels to include lemon or lime juice in the grog, incidences of scurvy reduced dramatically. So as the British sailors’ resistance to scurvy was increasing and making them far healthier overall, the French sailors’ for instance were weakened by scurvy .So much so that one of the Royal Navy’s physicians claimed this ability to stave off scurvy led to double the sailors’ and thus the Royal Navy’s performance and eventually led to the defeat of the French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar in 1805.

 Forty years before this small change that had a significant impact, a British naval surgeon published a book that stated that scurvy could be eliminated just by supplying sailors with lemon or lime juice. James Lind, the naval surgeon, cited several cases from his experience at sea as a surgeon. Even with his proof, Lind was ridiculed and ignored by colleagues and the navy.In time many well-educated men and women, who had been unwilling to change their minds could no longer dismissed James Lind’s solution.  These people believed it was too simple or too small a change to make an impact.

However, just like the healthier sailors were able to focus on their primary jobs and dramatically contribute to building an empire, so too can businesses eliminate those things that sidetrack their employees from focusing on their vital priorities.  

If overflowing paperwork and compliance issues have infected your HR people, Workplace Benefits Solutions' all-in-one HR tool is crafted to reduce error, save time, relieve stress and simplify HR administration.

Joe.jpg

Joe Tallant

joet@wbsinsurance.com

325.692.6600

Employee Benefits: How to Skin a Cat

 
IMG_2048.jpg
 

My last few weeks have been very busy talking to a whole lot of agent that I know and several meeting with new prospective clients.  I have been hearing about the ways that these agents and companies have gone about “skinning their cat” when it comes to employee benefits. 

             In these discussions I hear things that better crystalize my role as a benefits Broker.  

3 Things that Matter in Benefits:

~ Have the right clients ~

Sometimes I meet with a prospect that I know isn’t a good fit for the agency.  When this happens it reminds me how important that my view of benefits aligns with my client’s.  I want a client that really cares about their employee and is concerned about their well-being.  I work hard to create a benefits package that maximizes the client’s budget. The bad client is only concerned with the least he can offer.  In turn, the employees are also only concerned with the least they can offer to the employer.  It’s ugly for sure.

 

~ Strategy & Education is Important ~

 The market is changing all the time.  We work hard to try to implement strategies to help contain costs to our client’s medical plans.  With that, it is important to use a mixture of employer paid and voluntary benefits to meet the needs of employees.  The strategy is useless unless the employees know the plan.  So educating the employees about how their benefits work and how to make claims is just as important.   

 

~ Help the HR Staff to be Better at Their Jobs~

A few years ago we started realizing that our clients in the fewer than 100 employees segment had either an overworked HR staff or a person responsible for payroll, which by default, became the HR staff.  We are in the helping others business and our HR people needed the help.  We went out and found a HR platform that we give to our clients.  It can take care of the employee from the time of application through termination and COBRA.

 

Getting into the market and seeing what is out there is important.  We see some people that have really butchered the cat when they tried to skin it and we help them.  But Ii’s also good to see the work of some my competition that are really good at what they do too.  These great competitors make me strive to be better at what I do to stay ahead of them. 

Jonathan copy.jpg

Jonathan Davis

jdavis@wbsinsurance.com 254.826.7700

Being a better You: 6 Things I have Learned and Where I Learned It.

IMG_2022.JPG

Over the course of the last few years as I have driven many miles.  I began listening to several different podcast & audio books in my truck as a way to pass the time.  Basically, I would listen to anything I found it interesting or helpful.  So, I would listen if I thought it would help my agency somehow, if I thought a client might need me to know about it, if I thought it would be a good information when meeting someone new or if I thought it could help me a better person. I listened to a lot of stuff and these are my takeaways that I find true.

6 things I believe are worth passing on.

1.     It’s about others:  You have to be doing it for others.  You will have success this way too, but if you are doing it for selfish reasons people see it and know it.  Servant leadership.

2.    There are a thousand ways to skin a cat.  This is the most interesting part of my job and what I enjoy hearing about the most.  People are smart, I like hearing about how they capitalized on their efforts.

3.    It you are standing still you will be run over. All you need to do is look around.  No one is doing business the way they were 5 years ago.  You better be agile and willing to adapt.

4.    Old warhorses are old for a reason.  I regularly visit with a small number of retired businessmen.  Their knowledge and advice is worth a lot.  They just see things coming way earlier than others.

5.    My best clients work alongside their employees.  When employers segregate themselves from their employees they aren’t leading… they are dictating.  Never works.

6.    Prioritize your problems, then work the problem. You can’t fix everything at once. Analyze all your issues and take care of the biggest bleeders first.

 

My favorite Podcasts:

How I Built This

Planet Money

Business Wars

TED Radio Hour

 

The Books I enjoyed most in 2018.

The Last Arrow: Save Nothing for the Next Life- Erwin Raphael McManus

Extreme Ownership- Jocko Willink & Leif Babin

Building a Story Brand- Donald Miller

Peak Performance- Brad Stulberg & Steve Magness

 

Hard to believe we are already 6 weeks into 2019.  I hope that these things have reminded you that you can be a better you and that you should never stop trying to be a better you. Stick to your goals and objectives for the year.  Work hard and bring those around you along so they can be part of your accomplishments.  What fun is a party if no one is there to celebrate with you.

Jonathan Davis, Principal Agent.  254.826.7700  jdavis@wbsinsurance.com

Jonathan Davis, Principal Agent.

254.826.7700

jdavis@wbsinsurance.com

There has to be a "WHY" to Offering Benefits

th-1.jpeg

Benefits are no longer considered a perk in today’s business world… it’s an expected part of compensation.  Employees and their leaders provide essential services to sustain the business’ long-term success. Once you put a good team in place that is performing well, it can cost the business to lose an indispensable employee. 

 

Why is offering benefits important?

 

1.     If you have 50 or more full time employees, you must offer an affordable health plan or be penaltized.

2.   Attract and retain your essential employees.  In the tight labor market these employees have choices.

3.   Can help boost morale.  Not having benefits will really have employees griping when medical attention is needed, but not affordable.

4.   Beat out the competition in the race for the best talent.By offering a health plan plus voluntary benefits, you can beat out 43% of your competitors that do not offer benefits. 

At WBS we know that offering employee benefits is a real cost to the company, but we also believe the value to the employee will even out over time. At WBS we work hard to curb the costs of coverage with many unique strategies that increase the value of the benefits to the employee and employers.

 If you would like to discuss them please contact me.

natasha@wbsinsurance.com  325.692.6600

natasha@wbsinsurance.com

325.692.6600

Being a Better You: Lions, Tigers and Ducks???

IMG_2005.JPG

I recently came across a blog by Darren Hardy, a success mentor to CEOs and High-Performance Achievers, had published. He was discussing building great teams and what animal species you would want to emulate to form a team. Lions, Eagles, Tigers, and even Salmon were guesses that were mentioned, but it was Ducks that were held up as the species to mimic when creating a team.

 You read right – Ducks.

 Ducks work together to accomplish feats unimaginable and impossible for almost all other animals. They fly hundreds, if not thousands, of miles because the work as a team.

 As you know, ducks fly in a V-formation and as each duck flaps its wings it creates an uplift for the duck behind it. This effect is perpetuated through their V-formation.

 By working together, the whole flock adds 71% more flying range than if each bird flew alone.  Imagine if your team worked together so well.  All the while everyone is working with stress and strain. 

 Another awesome thing about ducks is when a duck gets sick or wounded, two ducks will fall out of formation and follow it down to help protect it.They will stay with that duck until it is able to fly again, or it dies. Then they launch out to join another formation or work together to catch up with the flock. Isn’t that perfect? 

 Are we standing by our people when they are in need or do we turn a blind eye and say, “That sucks for you, duck.”  Being a part of a team is being there in the good times and the bad.

 Like ducks, people naturally gravitate towards organizations that will shelter and protect them and make life better than if they were left to fend for themselves.

 Let us at Workplace Benefits Solutions become the part of your team that protects your team members in good times and the bad, so you and your team can fly farther.

Joe Tallant  joet@wbsinsurance.com  254.692.6600

Joe Tallant

joet@wbsinsurance.com

254.692.6600

HR Admin: Why should you reconcile billing after open enrollment?

IMG_1953.JPG

 Open enrollment is a crazy time for HR and then we have the New Year beginning.  As the New Year starts then also comes the budget meetings, kickoff meetings, employee performance meeting … you get it, there are a lot of meetings.

 All the craziness going around the office can also lead to a few things slipping through the cracks and sometimes these cracks can be big and expensive hassles.  One item that my clients struggle to find the time to do is reconcile their bills after open enrollment.  Because of all the changes being made during open enrollment this is a very important task that the time needs to be taken to complete.

 

Reconcile the first billing cycle very closely after open enrollment:

-       Open enrollment is the time almost all the changes are made to the bills.

-       Check for changes, terms, adds and employees moving their coverage tiers.

-       Use the deductions information provided by your Broker or the enrollment platform as your guide.

-       Make your Broker aware of discrepancies that you may find quickly.  Within the first 30 days corrections are easy to make.

 

Why reconciling is a cost issue:

1.    Changes to medical plans can be done no later than the 3rdworking day of the month.  After that time the employer is responsible for the termed employee’s premium for the remainder of the month.

2.    When retro terming an employee the carrier has full discretion of what they allow.  Some carriers are lenient while others are strict.

3.    If a term is sent too late the premiums will not be returned and the employer will have to eat the cost.

4.    By making sure that the employee’s deductions are correct right off the bat neither the employer nor employee will have to make up the cost of the mistake 6 months later. This is a big burden on some employees especially.


Employee benefits are important and the administration of the benefits is too.  If you need help let us know, we know that when you offer employees benefits you also need a guiding hand with administration too.  WBS provides the tools an HR department needs to be efficient and effective.

Jonathan E. Davis  jdavis@wbsinsurance.com  254.826.7700

Jonathan E. Davis

jdavis@wbsinsurance.com

254.826.7700