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Apr 21, 2014 by Kelley M. Butler

Toxic workplaces override wellness investments

The health effects of a negative workplace culture and/or environment can be more dangerous than employers recognize. A recent article in Employee Benefit News quotes Jeffrey Pfeffer, a Stanford University professor specializing in organizational behavior, who said a less-than-ideal workplace culture may negate any positive effects from a health or wellness plan. 

In remarks at the Great Place to Work conference, Pfeffer told attendees that issues leading to poor employee health—like tobacco use and obesity—are often “consequences of the environments in which [employees] are working.” The irony, of course, is that such issues are some of the biggest targets for wellness programs.

Additionally, Pfeffer noted, an unhealthy workplace might even cause “up to 125,000 employee deaths each year and add up to $130 billion in excess annual company costs.”

Instead of offering only health and wellness programs, Pfeffer said that “a full revamp of workplace culture is also needed.” An environment with less stress and more sustainability could be the key.

Nearly half of employers turning to DC health

To fully comply with the Affordable Care Act by 2015, 47% of employers are making the switch to a defined contribution benefit model, according to a new research brief from Prudential.

Among the many reasons an employer might consider the switch to DC are lower administrative health care costs and more choice and financial freedom for employees.

This week’s hidden gem: Large employers divulge top 10 cost-cutting strategies

Employers tend to be tight-lipped about their best benefits strategies, so it’s refreshing each year to see joint survey results from Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health in which hundreds of large employers offer a sneak peek into their strategies.

Although this year’s results haven’t been released yet, HR Benefits Alert highlights employers’ top strategies from 2013, as well as the ones companies listed as their top strategic goals for this year.

Among this year’s goals: Offering telemedicine programs, implementing reference-based pricing for medical plans and (as the above report suggests) providing access to a private health exchange.

Apr 17, 2014 by Carol Yale
According to the 2014 Call for Clarity Survey, consumers are more confused then ever before when it comes to investments, mortgages, income taxes and insurance. Rather than building an understanding of financial security, insurance and financial communications are generating financial insecurity...
Apr 14, 2014 by Kelley M. Butler
IRS rules retroactivity for same-sex spouse benefits to June 2013 In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. Now, a new IRS ruling states that benefits administrators will be able to file past claims and move on activity that has been delayed...
Apr 11, 2014 by Jennifer Benz
In her latest column for Workforce magazine, our editorial director Kelley Butler makes the case that “only savvy employers with a commitment to thoughtful, clear and open communication will be able to launch and maintain a successful wellness program.” Neglect communications at your own peril,...
Apr 07, 2014 by Kelley M. Butler
Personalized plan recommendations: The next big thing in the HIX market? Stride Health is one of several new companies popping up to help consumers buy health insurance through the exchange market. By using filters such as age, gender and illness, the website projects users’ annual health care...
Apr 02, 2014 by Jennifer Benz
Today marks the 10th annual celebration of National Employee Benefits Day. Over the last decade—and certainly since I started working in employee benefits in 1999—a lot has changed. Most notably, in that short time, employers have moved almost completely away from paternalistic approaches in...
Mar 31, 2014 by Kelley M. Butler
How HSAs can help curb the ‘Cadillac’ tax The year 2018 may seem distant today, but the Affordable Care Act’s infamous ‘Cadillac tax’ is looming on the horizon. In a recent blog post for Employee Benefit News, Fidelity VP Jeff Munn writes that health savings accounts might be a sound strategy for...
Mar 27, 2014 by Jennifer Benz
When most people think of Las Vegas, they think slot machines, extravagant entertainment and hasty decisions. But the people that gathered in the meeting rooms at Caesar’s Palace last week thoughtfully discussed decisions with far-reaching consequences. At the second annual Human Resource Executive...
Mar 17, 2014 by Kelley M. Butler
How to make $1 million last through retirement According to Fidelity, the keys to making $1 million last all the way through retirement—assuming employees can save that much—is knowing when and whether to follow the 4% rule, and having the right investment mix. Other retirement planning nuggets...
Mar 13, 2014 by Katie White
According to the February Kaiser Health Policy News Index, more people last month followed news about the Affordable Care Act than the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Two of the most closely followed stories in February were around the announcement that some employers will have an extra year to...
Mar 11, 2014 by Kelley M. Butler
Obama allows two-year extension for canceled health plans under ACA The Obama administration has allowed individuals whose plans were terminated under the Affordable Care Act to be renewed for two years rather than one, according to a news report from Crain’s. This additional extension on health...

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