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Wellness & Cost Containment: Blog

Like healthcare reform, the field of wellness is in the midst of its own transformation which we refer to it as “wellness reform”.  As the nation strives to control the rising cost of health care, wellness has been positioned to join the call to action to improve health outcomes. Unfortunately, improving health is more than just incenting individuals to change their behaviors. For this reason, there has been a great deal of discussion and debate in the field of wellness.  Many agree we need a fundamental paradigm shift in how we present wellness in order to improve and sustain employee health and wellbeing and improve business outcomes.

 

Our Organizational Wellness blog will address the many trends in wellness today. We will discuss the Shifting Paradigm below so join us here in the discussion. Also, tune in for up-to-date employee wellbeing and engagement information.

Posted by Maribeth Spellman | Mon, October 16

In August 2017, Judge John Bates of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a memorandum in the AARPs lawsuit against the EEOC. In his decision, the judge sided with AARP, finding that the EEOC had provided inadequate justification for its decision to allow plans and insurers to offer incentives of up to 30% of the cost of self-coverage in exchange for an employees’ participation in an employer-sponsored wellness program. The AARP argued that the 30% premium differential... » read more

Posted by Michael Kilfoyle | Sat, October 07

One thing has remained constant since our firm began conducting the Vermont Employee Benefits Survey in 2001 – change.  This year is no different as employers continue to struggle with high health care cost increases and look for new ways to contain costs and still offer a health insurance package that is valued.  Employers are also looking at wellness offerings through a different lens, while HR technology is creating a shift in thought and operational processes.   Paid time off is becoming ever more important as millennials and digital natives enter the workforce and demand different... » read more

Posted by Karin Tierney | Mon, September 25

Successful onboarding of your new employees is a best practice as a part of an overall talent management strategy for the organization. With a tight labor market, recruiting is challenging and turnover is costly.  Effectively welcoming and integrating your new employees into the organization goes a long way to ensure their success.  Unfortunately, many transitions are not successful.  After spending a good amount of time and effort during the recruiting process to build a relationship with a candidate, an organization can falter if it does not continue to nurture that relationship once the... » read more

Posted by Brenda Sabin | Thu, June 29

As a general rule, wellness incentives are subject to the same federal tax rules as any other employee reward or prize. They are generally taxable. The IRS has no specific exemption for wellness incentives such as incentives to employees who complete a task (example: a health care assessment form) or paying for gym memberships for example.  Because there are numerous legal requirements for wellness programs in their design and implementation, the taxation piece often is overlooked.

Employers wrongfully assume that because wellness programs are part... » read more

Posted by Maribeth Spellman | Thu, June 29

Have you ever observed, or if lucky, been a part of, an organization that is engaging, productive and innovative? Have you ever wondered what the common thread is – what is the element in these organizational cultures that allows them to be so successful.  The science would tell you that the common thread is trust.

In his book, Trust Factor, Paul J. Zak, the Director of the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies at Claremont Graduate University, makes a compelling case that when we experience an interaction in which we are trusted by another, our brain releases the chemical... » read more

Posted by Stacey Sharp | Mon, April 10

Each newsletter our experts cover a wide array of topics. This month's newsletter discusses performance management, paid family leave, an article on millenials and our upcoming events.  If there are topics you woud like to see covered, please contact us today ! 

To view this quarter's newsletter, please download this pdf

Posted by Michael Kilfoyle | Tue, March 28

There is a lot of talk right now about millenials and their impact on the workplace.  You’ve probably heard the major stat that millenials will make up more than 50% of the workforce by 2020.  And no doubt you’ve heard all their negative characteristics – entitled, narcissistic, impatient, addicted to technology, unfocused, and undisciplined, to start.  Each generation seems to get a bad rap, but this one in particular seems to really be taking it on the chin.

All this potential impact and all this negative talk got me to thinking about whether or... » read more

Posted by Maribeth Spellman | Tue, March 28

It is no secret that performance management is evolving.  Gone (or almost gone) are the days when the annual performance review was the benchmark for evaluating employee performance. Indeed, managers don’t like giving them and employees don’t like receiving them; and in many organizations, they function almost solely as a means to grade an employee against their peers and determine the level of their compensation. The annual appraisal is a snapshot in time, static, lacks agility, is rarely a meaningful reflection of employee performance and is certainly not focused on building... » read more

Posted by Stacey Sharp | Mon, January 23

Each newsletter our experts cover a wide array of topics. This month's newsletter discusses private benefit exchanges, a different twist on engagement, the top 6 HR issues to watch in 2016, daily wellbeing and synergy between financial wellness and voluntary benefits. If there are topics you woud like to see covered, please contact us today ! 

To view this quarter's newsletter, please download this  ... » read more

Posted by Maribeth Spellman | Tue, December 20

It’s the holiday season, and with total holiday sales expected to exceed $1 trillion, you can expect consumers to feel the pinch when their credit card bills arrive in January. According to the Employee Financial Wellness Survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which tracks the financial wellbeing of full-time employed U.S. adults across the country, “many employees never fully regained stable footing” after the Great Recession. In fact, 52% of... » read more

Posted by Maribeth Spellman | Wed, November 09

In May, the EEOC issued final rules that describe how Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) apply to wellness programs offered by employers that request health information from employees and their family members. The rules allow limited incentives for employees and spouses to participate in such programs, but also include important privacy protections.

The recorded webinar ... » read more

Posted by Stacey Sharp | Sat, October 01

Each newsletter our experts cover a wide array of topics. This month's newsletter discusses private benefit exchanges, a different twist on engagement, the top 6 HR issues to watch in 2016, daily wellbeing and synergy between financial wellness and voluntary benefits. If there are topics you woud like to see covered, please contact us today ! 

To view this quarter's newsletter, please download this pdf. 

Posted by Brenda Sabin | Mon, September 26

In May of this year, the Department of Labor (DOL) released their much anticipated rules on the minimum salary level for white collar exemptions to the overtime rules.  This new rule, effective Dec 1st of this year, more than doubled the current minimum salary amount from $455 per week ($23,600 annually) to $913 per week ($47,476 annually).

This means that an employee in a position you consider to be exempt from overtime must meet this new minimum salary amount as well as meet the current exemption tests for an exemption. The exemption sometimes... » read more

Posted by Lori Smith | Wed, June 29

The word culture as it pertains to organizations has been a hot topic for many business experts in recent years. Though many definitions of culture exist, anthropologists state that societies that flourish have “cultures” where groups have shared beliefs, customs, rituals, language and myths. Organizations are like mini-societies and as Edgar Schein, PhD, a corporate culture expert, states, “culture is the hidden force that drives most behaviors, both inside and outside the organization”. Essentially, organizational culture is how an organization is personified... » read more

Posted by Stacey Sharp | Thu, March 31

Each newsletter our experts cover a wide array of topics. This month's newsletter discusses private benefit exchanges, a different twist on engagement, the top 6 HR issues to watch in 2016, daily wellbeing and synergy between financial wellness and voluntary benefits. If there are topics you woud like to see covered, please contact us today ! 

To view this quarter's newsletter, please download this ... » read more

Posted by Lori Smith | Tue, March 15

A great deal of buzz has emerged on the topic of “daily wellbeing”. Much of this conversation is based on determining one’s so called, “daily experience” which measures the cumulative effect of both positive and negative experiences throughout our days. To date, most research evaluating individual wellbeing and life satisfaction has been based on asking people about their lives over the span of years and decades.  Though overall satisfaction with life and wellbeing certainly matters, it’s important to understand that we create meaningful change in moments and days, not years and decades... » read more

Posted by Greg Paradiso | Fri, March 11

The word “engagement” is used by HR professionals in many different ways.  Most commonly it is the feeling of being satisfied in your work and proud of your organization.  But are there other ways to view engagement?

The dictionary definition of engagement is “an agreement to meet or be present at a particular place and time.”  A highly experienced compensation consultant I once worked with referred to the effect of certain compensation programs as “retention hooks” - a way of hooking employees to your organization.  Is this... » read more

Posted by Lori Smith | Mon, December 28

2015 was a year of many changes in the field of wellness.  As the demands of work and life have become more complicated, many employers looked to wellness to keep employees happy, healthy and well. In 2015, many employers learned that wellness is much more than the simple absence of illness and/or disease. They have grown to believe that supporting well environments have proved crucial to impact employee engagement on many levels.

I believe that this trend will continue in 2016. Employers will adopt strategies to help individuals engage in positive behaviors that improve their... » read more

Posted by Stacey Sharp | Wed, December 23

Each newsletter our experts cover a wide array of topics. This month's newsletter discusses why the 'User' of HR Technology is more important than ever, the Cadillac Tax, embedded deductibles, defining wellness for organizational wellness and using voluntary worksite benefits to stay competitive with attracting and retaining good employees. If there are topics you woud like to see covered, please contact us today! Contact@hbhriq.com

To view this quarter's newsletter,... » read more

Posted by Lori Smith | Mon, November 02

Creating Your Best Day, Every Day: Component #2 and #3 Clarify Goals, Outcomes and Schedule Action

This is where the real work begins!  Now is the time to roll up your sleeves and ask yourself how you will plan for success.  How will you determine your goals and objectives and be strategic in the approach to experience best days at work?  Like all sound business initiatives, there is a need for an operating plan or “blueprint” with clear goals and objectives accompanied by an action plan with appropriate interventions to meet those goals. Also, remember that long-... » read more

Posted by Stacey Sharp | Wed, October 28

Each newsletter our experts cover a wide array of topics. This month's newsletter discusses the most important piece of Voluntary Worksite Benefits, creating your best day, every day, the future of employer sponsored health care, the promise of private benefit exchanges and the impacts of offering domestic partner coverage. 

Click here to view our PDF.

Posted by Lori Smith | Mon, October 19

This first component for “creating one’s best day” has to do with the critical starting point. In order for each of us to to pursue better days at work, we need to make a conscience effort to do so.  For this reason, the first and most important task is to Identify  Intentions. On an individual level, this simply means that we pause to understand our purpose and our goals to experience our best days. In other words, we have the power to craft our own positive mindset. We have the choice to bring our best selves to work each and every day to in order to perform and function at a... » read more

Posted by Lori Smith | Wed, September 30

In September, I co-presented with Porter Knight on Creating Your Best Day, Every Day: Strategies for Individual and Organizational Wellbeing. In this workshop we unveiled Seven Key Components that we believe are the key elements that drive positive change. These components offer a conceptual framework to transform organizational culture and unlock employee productivity to create workplaces where employees are well and enjoy their best days every day. These components are:

  1. Identify Intention
  2. Clarify Goals and Desired Outcomes
  3. Schedule... » read more
Posted by Lori Smith | Thu, June 04

What Does Employee Engagement Have to Do with Wellness?

My answer to this question is; it has everything to do with wellness. Before I explain why, it is important that we understand what we mean when we discuss employee engagement.

Many definitions exist for “employee engagement” but this one resonates best with me:

“Employee engagement is a heightened emotional and intellectual connection that an employee has for his/her job, organization, manager or coworkers that, in turn, influences him/her to apply additional discretionary effort to his/her work.” (Source:... » read more

Posted by Lori Smith | Mon, March 16

Today, a great deal of discussion is happening in the world of workplace wellness. Traditional approaches to wellness have been challenged on their effectiveness to control health costs and motivate behavior change. With all the rhetoric, one thing is certain; the face is wellness is changing. With all this change, there is great confusion and many questions.

Health is complex and the definition of health continues to evolve.  It is clearly evident that life and work are not the same as they were a decade ago. For this reason, wellness has been shifting to adapt to this new reality... » read more

Posted by Dr. Jennifer Stone | Fri, February 27

Dr. Jennifer Stone is the Founder of Goals Groups International and works closely with HR Intelligence to bring organizational wellness and employee well-being to new levels.  We are pleased to welcome Jennifer as guest blogger.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could change the things in our lives we need to change? We’d eat right, get plenty of exercise, avoid overspending and sleep well. We’d be productive and on-target with our goals. We’d do the things that we know we ought to do.

But here is a fact:... » read more

Posted by Tom Myers | Fri, October 10

In our employment settings, we hear an awful lot about the current use of engagement type surveys and their intended use to improve workplace culture as well as the bottom line. I’m sure you’ve already participated in completing one of them for your employer somewhere along the line. One of the most widely used types of engagement surveys is the Great Places to Work® survey. This well-known assessment is administered internationally and built on more than 25 years of data and research. It is taken over by 10 million people worldwide annually working in large,... » read more

Posted by Lori Smith | Tue, September 23

I have been in wellness for twenty years now and Dr. Dee Edington was one of our most influential leaders in my early years. His work for the past three decades include best practices in research and consultation while collaborating with the University of Michigan Health Management Research Center. His expertise mostly focused on the individual and health management cost containment strategies. His work is still regarded as some of the best in our field but today, but now, Dr. Edington is urging many of us in wellness to broaden our thinking beyond health management and this traditional... » read more

Posted by Stuart Offer | Tue, September 09

We often talk about food as it relates to losing or gaining weight. In addition we have discussed foods for energy and foods for pleasure and face entertainment. One area we have not spoken much about is food as medicine. Cancer is the nation’s second leading cause of death, exceeded only by heart disease. Experts blame one-third of all cancers on diet and lifestyle choices. From all the media attention, we should know by now that many lifestyle and diet choices can actually contribute to and increase our vulnerability to cancer. However, emerging research suggests that some foods may... » read more

Posted by Tom Myers | Wed, August 27

These days, we hear a lot about the terms, employee “engagement” and “a passion” for one’s work.  These words are used in ubiquitously our homes, in our schools, and within our work places.  However, what exactly does it mean?  How do you define it what and how can it apply to you and your work life?  

To begin, Employee Engagement is defined as, “the emotional and functional commitment and connection an employee has to his or her organization”.  Additionally, Passion is defined as “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something”.  Now keeping... » read more

Posted by Stuart Offer | Mon, August 11

It is not often that I can surprise myself, this past weekend I did just that.  I will get back to this in a moment.  As a wellness educator, a personal trainer and lifestyle counselor I am always trying to get folks to add more activity and exercise into their day and life.  For many of you life can seem so busy it feels like you are the Ring Leader of a 3-Ring Circus.   You may be thinking “I can’t even find enough time to get a good night’s sleep, how am I going to find the time for exercise, or the motivation?”  Finding and keeping motivation is no easy task.  If you can’t get... » read more

Posted by Lori Smith | Mon, June 16

The word culture as it pertains to an organization has been a hot topic for many business experts in recent years. Though many definitions of culture exist, anthropologists state that societies that flourish have “cultures” where groups have shared beliefs, customs, rituals, language and myths. Organizations are like mini-societies and as Edgar Schein, PhD, a corporate culture expert, states, “culture is the hidden force that drives most behaviors, both inside and outside the organization”. Essentially, organizational culture is how an organization is... » read more

Posted by Lori Smith | Thu, April 10

Wellness, like health care, is under reform.  In essence, a paradigm shift is occurring where employee engagement is becoming the centerpiece of wellness efforts and innovation and productivity are replacing a reduction in health care costs as the drivers of wellness.  This blog is created to help you understand this new world of wellness.

Recent studies like the Rand,... » read more

Posted by Stuart Offer | Thu, February 06

By Dr. Stuart Offer, Wellness Coach and Educator, Hickok & Boardman HR Intelligence.

One day I came down to my family room to find my little dog Spike sun bathing on the floor in front of a large window.  My first thought was “how great that looks, we see so little sun here in the winter”.  I looked at Spike and he looked back at me with the calmest and most soothing expression, he was clearly in his pleasure zone.  Well, for once in a long while I had nowhere to go and nothing pressing to do so, you guessed it,  I laid down right next to Spike so I could feel a little of what... » read more

Posted by Stuart Offer | Thu, February 06

By Dr. Stuart Offer, Wellness Coach & Educator, Hickok & Boardman HR Intelligence.

Did you ever hear someone say “I love what I do” or “I would do this job even if I didn’t get paid”?  If this does not describe you, hearing this could make you as frustrated as having an itch you just can’t reach.  I have found that every person has a unique purpose and talent.  It may not be so obvious but if you look you will find it exists, for everyone.  It took me the greater part of my life to find my unique purpose and talent, more about this later. 

What if you could tap into... » read more

Posted by Stuart Offer | Thu, February 06

By Dr. Stuart Offer, Wellness Coach and Educator, Hickok & Boardman HR Intelligence.

What would you think if I told you that the top scientists in the US are about to release a wonder drug that could rewind your biological clock by ten to fifteen years?  In addition, this wonder drug was scientifically proven to increase your lifespan and make you look, feel and act at least ten years younger than you are today.  To add even more excitement, there are absolutely no side effects.

 How much would you be willing to pay for such a wonder drug?  At what length would you go to... » read more

Posted by Stuart Offer | Thu, February 06

By Dr. Stuart Offer, Wellness Coach & Educator, Hickok & Boardman HR Intellegence.

One of my primary job responsibilities is conducting workshops on the many subjects of worksite wellness to Vermont businesses.   It should be no surprise that excessive stress (including financial stress) consistently ranks as one of the top employee issues.  Over two millennia ago Confucius stated “if you love what you do, you'll never work another day in your life.”  I can relate to this phrase as I really love my job.  Regardless of whether you love or hate your job, stress, fatigue and... » read more

Posted by Stuart Offer | Thu, February 06

By Dr. Stuart Offer, Wellness Coach & Educator, Hickok & Boardman HR Intelligence

Here we are in the thick of winter where the weather can truly challenge your motivation to exercise.  If you are like most, your instinct is to get a stack of books and curl up beside the wood stove.  Now, don’t think for a minute that just because the temperatures outside is dipping to levels that would make a penguin smile you no longer need to get your body moving. Need some motivation to get outside and get active?  How about losing those extra 5 to 10 pounds you packed on over the... » read more

Posted by Stuart Offer | Thu, February 06

By Dr. Stuart Offer, Wellness Coach & Educator, Hickok & Boardman HR Intelligence.

I recently read an article that took my breath away, literally. According to the U.N.’s Livestock’s Long Shadow report livestock are responsible for 14 to 22% of greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide, more than all the planes, trains and automobiles on the planet. And it’s going to get worse as the standard of living rises in developing nations around the world. Global meat production is expected to more than double from 1999/2001 to 2050.

Living here in Vermont we may view the landscape... » read more

Posted by Stuart Offer | Thu, February 06

By Dr. Stuart Offer, Wellness Coach & Educator, Hickok & Boardman HR Intellegence.

It is not often that I can surprise myself, this past weekend I did just that.  I will get back to this in a moment.  As a wellness educator, a personal trainer and lifestyle counselor I am always trying to get folks to add more activity and exercise into their day and life.  For many of you life can seem so busy it feels like you are the Ring Leader of a 3-Ring Circus.   You may be thinking “I can’t even find enough time to get a good night’s sleep, how am I going to find the time for... » read more

Posted by Stuart Offer | Thu, February 06

By Dr. Stuart Offer, Wellness Coach & Educator, Hickok & Boardman HR Intellegence.

We often talk about food as it relates to losing or gaining weight. In addition we have discussed foods for energy and foods for pleasure and face entertainment. One area we have not spoken much about is food as medicine. Cancer is the nation’s second leading cause of death, exceeded only by heart disease. Experts blame one-third of all cancers on diet and lifestyle choices. From all the media attention, we should know by now that many lifestyle and diet choices can actually contribute to and... » read more

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