Employee health insurance coverage is in the news these days, so the Global Human Resources Outsourcing (GHRO) team thought we’d take a look the situation regarding coverage for an increasingly important part of the U.S. workforce – contingent workers.
Contingent workers – such as temporary employees, project consultants, contractors, seasonal workers, freelancers, and other non-core employees – now represent 30 percent of the entire U.S. labor force, according to the Advisory Council of the U.S. Department of Labor. The number of contingent workers employed in the U.S. is predicted to quadruple over the next 10 years.
Hiring employees on a contingent basis is emerging as an increasingly commonplace practice for today’s cost-conscious companies striving to improve workplace productivity and profitability, while minimizing costs and overhead. Particularly in light of the significant budget cuts and layoffs that have taken place over the past few years, contingent employment has become an integral part of the overall business strategy of many companies..
Unfortunately, the majority of companies today don’t provide competitive benefits programs to their contingent employees. The Department of Labor Advisory Council reports that less than 18 percent of part-time workers have employer-provided health or retirement benefits, fewer than eight percent of temporary workers have such benefits, and no independent contractors receive these benefits.
This is largely due to the rising costs of medical and other insurances, coupled with the high costs, overhead, and risks of administering benefits for non-core employees. The time, costs and risks involved with managing benefits for non-core workers is much greater than for permanent employees because of the temporary nature of these types of employment arrangements.
One solution to the dilemma is benefits outsourcing.
Outsourcing the HR and benefits administrative processes to a specialist is enabling more companies today to offer a competitive benefits package to their contingent staff and, as a result, better capitalize on their contingent staff resources.
A payroll and HR administrative service provider acts as the client company’s employer of record for their contingent workforce.
Among all the services that a payroll, benefits and HR administrative specialist should offer, benefits administration can be critically important. It involves management of medical, dental, vision, disability, and life insurance, COBRA, 401K, and other employee benefits plans.
Look for a specialist that:
- Has a solid industry track record.
- Offers a comprehensive, diverse level of HR and benefits administrative services.
- Provides tailored HR and benefits administrative service packages, so that the company pays only for the services needed.
This type of service provider will be much more likely to accommodate your company’s specific HR and benefits administrative needs.
You need it, but so do your contingent workers – an increasingly important part of your staff.
Who doesn’t want more time off around the holidays? When the vacation time runs dry, employees may resort to unusual reasons to miss work. One employee said a chicken attacked his mother. Another got a finger stuck in a bowling ball. Another employee said she couldn’t come in the day after Thanksgiving because she burned her mouth on a pumpkin pie.
The excuses may be strange, but the phenomenon of playing hooky from work is very real. CareerBuilder’s annual survey on absenteeism revealed that 29 percent of employees skipped work at least once this year by lying about an illness. Even though that’s nearly one in every three employees surveyed, the overall number is down 3 percent from last year.
Aside from extending the holiday cheer, the most popular reasons employees erroneously call out sick are because they just don’t feel like going to work, they need to relax, and they need to catch up on sleep. Stress may be the real force behind these increased sick days; of employers, 27 percent believe stress and burnout are causing more fake sick days. If that’s the case, it might be worthwhile to teach employees that their honesty will be appreciated, because stress can adversely impact their health if left unchecked. That can be a legitimate reason to miss work!
Although most employers say they believe an employee who calls out sick, 29 percent admit to checking up on an employee’s story, usually by requiring a doctor’s note. Other employers called the employee at home or went as far as to drive by the employee’s residence. At the end of the day, 16 percent of employers admit to firing an employee over unverified sick time.
While that may not be the best way to spread holiday cheer, it may be something to remember when an employee claims Grandma got run over by a reindeer.
ObamaCare continues to make waves in its latest string of legislative challenges. The latest challenge to the health law, a Lynchburg, Virginia case brought by Liberty University and five individuals, alleged Congress could not force Americans to purchase health insurance. Judge Norman Moon dismissed the case, finding that the “challenged provisions are well within Congress’ authority under the Commerce Clause” of the Constitution. The plaintiffs in the matter plan to appeal.
The Virginia ruling proves one thing: The lower courts’ decisions show no consensus about the constitutionality of the health law. In October, a Michigan federal judge dismissed a Christian law center’s argument and upheld ObamaCare’s constitutionality. A pair of Florida lawsuits, one filed by 20 U.S. states and one filed by a Virginia attorney, could fare better. In October, a Pensacola judge found that the government’s expansion of power was without precedent—a decision that allowed the states’ challenge to go forward. The judge is scheduled to hear further argument on the matter later today.
So what’s next for ObamaCare—a final decision from the U.S. Supreme Court? That might be what it takes to finally lay this controversial issue to rest. Then, individuals and small businesses can make concrete preparations for the myriad changes ahead.
While many of us have feared—or even faced—an end to company parties as we know them, the holiday party is not dead yet.
In the face of layoffs and cutbacks, 2009 marked a rough year for the holiday party, with many businesses canceling their celebrations. Some canceled because of legitimate budget concerns, while others canceled because of fear of appearances. Is it the best idea to throw a party when so many people are out of a job? The City of Costa Mesa didn’t think so. Even though the city’s annual picnic was totally funded by employee contributions, it was considered distasteful to celebrate with large layoffs pending. The picnic was canceled. What was not considered, however, was the positive effect a holiday party could have on employee morale.
They may be less extravagant and boisterous than in previous years, but despite the tough economic times, there’s spirit to be gained from holiday celebrations. It’s these tougher times, when everyone is feeling stressed, that parties become most important for morale. Holiday parties provide a way for companies to acknowledge their employees’ dedication. Parties also gather employees together out of the office to celebrate their camaraderie. In Costa Mesa’s case, a holiday party would have shown the remaining employees how much their hard work means—and would have provided a welcomed reprieve from office woes.
These hidden benefits of holiday parties may explain why some employers are fighting so hard to keep them. A nationwide recent survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management showed that 61 percent of employers are planning a holiday party for 2010, the same figure as in 2009. Caterers say that after a two-year slump, their number of holiday events has returned to normal, but the revenue earned from those events has drastically decreased. This suggests holiday events have grown smaller and more modest, but they’re still happening. Maybe the answer isn’t canceling parties, but scaling back so the nonmonetary benefits can still be enjoyed.
Holiday parties extend well beyond a night of fun and laughter—their benefits can help employees feel good about themselves, each other, and the work they do. Parties need not be extravagant to be effective; especially in these troubled economic times, even modest holiday parties can boost employee morale. So the 2010 holiday party is not dead, but in fact, is making a recovery. That’s good news when employees need to feel the holiday spirit the most.
Health care changes are afoot—lots of them. We’ve all heard about the health care reform passed by the Obama administration, dubbed “ObamaCare.” Such reform includes sweeping changes like mandatory health coverage, extended dependent coverage, and limited spending on flexible spending accounts, to name just a few. But what do all these changes really mean for your small business?
To start, by 2014, small-business owners and their employees must purchase a government-approved health insurance policy that offers unlimited lifetime and unlimited annual coverage. New guidance issued by the administration mentions a potential waiver for businesses whose compliance would result in a significant increase to premiums or decrease in service availability. Still, according to Obama administration estimates, these mandates could increase health premiums by seven percent.
The impending health care changes not only affect employees, but also employees’ children. Under the new system, coverage must be provided to dependent and nondependent children up to age 26, regardless of children’s employment or marital status. One estimate figures this mandate could cause a two-percent increase to premiums, if not more for small-business owners.
And what if the small-business owners switch health plans are no longer grandfathered? Then the owners and their employees must bear the entire cost of preventative-services coverage. This mandate is expected to increase premiums by roughly 1.5 percent; however, the administration is considering allowing employers to shop for less expensive health plans without penalty.
What’s more, by 2012, employers must begin reporting the cost of employer-sponsored health coverage on their employees’ W-2s. These amounts aren’t taxable, but reporting them could put a tax on your payroll department!
These mandates are just a sample of changes expected for health care in the coming years.
To combat rising premiums, under the reformed health care system, small businesses that pay at least 50 percent of their employees’ health insurance premiums may qualify for a tax credit. In 2010, the maximum credit is 35 percent of employers’ contributions to health insurance premiums. By 2014, the maximum credit increases to 50 percent. However, by 2016, businesses may no longer claim the tax credit and must shoulder the health care changes alone.
With so many health care changes on the way, who’s to say what these new mandates will cost, what additional insurance benefits must be provided, or even what kinds of insurance will be available to provide those benefits? As a small-business owner, you’re already juggling so much paperwork. Don’t get lost in the shuffle. GHRO is here to guide you through the health care changes as they happen. As the ultimate partner for HR outsourcing, we’ll help you make smart decisions for your small business. We can even reduce your employee benefits costs by customizing the right package at the right price for your small business. To discover a complete solution to your employee benefits needs, call GHRO at 888-308-0338.
With rising health care expenses looming on the horizon, many companies are thinking about ways to reduce costs. Between furloughs, layoffs, and salary cuts, companies may have overlooked one small investment that can reap big returns: an employee wellness program.
Since the late 1970s, cost control and health trends have provided a push toward wellness programs in the workplace. Employee wellness programs have continued to increase in popularity thanks to their mutual benefit to employers and employees. Through such programs, employers can increase the work performance and productivity of their most precious commodity: their human resources. In return, employees can enjoy a healthier lifestyle and a more positive work environment.
Employee wellness programs concentrate on the physical well being of workers, such as medical requirements and general health. Wellness programs offer a variety of health-related solutions, which may include weight loss plans, stress management training, smoking cessation programs, nutrition coaching, physical fitness advice, behavioral health therapy, and physiological testing, like blood pressure screenings and cholesterol checks. Even alternative therapies like massage and meditation are catching on.
Here are five reasons why an employee wellness program might be the right choice for your company.
Education and training courses promote healthier employee lifestyles, which decreases absenteeism due to behavioral health and sick leave. A complete work force can help a company enjoy maximum productivity.
Reduced Health Care Costs
With health care and insurance costs skyrocketing, the minimal expense of a wellness program and its positive effect on employee health has shown to decrease company health care and insurance costs. Dollar for dollar, the investment is well worth the return.
Improved Morale and Loyalty
Healthier employees make for happier employees! Well-cared-for employees are more likely to feel appreciated by and connected to their employer, which promotes feelings of pride and responsibility in their work. Happy employees foster a pleasant and positive work environment—an invaluable resource to any company. Happy employees are also more productive and more likely to demonstrate company loyalty, which results in less turnover and reduced recruitment costs.
This is arguably the greatest advantage of an employee wellness program. Employees at their healthiest have higher energy, improved concentration, and increased productivity. Coupled with reduced absenteeism and increased workplace morale, this means employees are happier, healthier, and ready to consistently perform at optimum levels.
Lower Overall Costs
All of the above reasons combined result in lower overall costs to the company. While it’s difficult to quantify what is gained through increased morale and loyalty, tangible results like decreased absenteeism, reduced health care costs, and increased productivity provide a measurable—and sizable—reduction in overall company costs.
Did you know that as part of its HR Total Solutions package, Global Human Resources Outsourcing offers a complete and comprehensive HR partnership, which includes employee health and wellness programs? With GHRO Total Solutions, your company will also have direct access to unlimited services, such as asset protection, cost containment strategies, and turnover reduction strategies. With nearly one hundred years of combined HR experience, GHRO’s team is committed to facing any HR challenges your company encounters. When your company is ready to meet those challenges head on, visit GHRO’s website to receive a free quote.
Our society is becoming so inundated with tasks and work-related duties that unhappiness at the office is encroaching on employee health. We all know that having happy workers limits turn-over and the higher the job satisfaction, the more likely employees are to put forth their best effort. By creating a fun and home-like working atmosphere, you’ll make work fun, enjoyable, and ease stress at the same time!
Google was voted the number one company to work for in 2007. It’s no surprise considering life at the search engine giant is very relaxed and stress free; employee benefits abound. While some companies stress time lines and attire, Google emphasizes recreating the home experience at work. Employees can do laundry, work out at the gym, receive a massage and learn a new language. Feeling a little under the weather? Visit Google’s on-site doctor. Buying a hybrid? Google will give you $5,000 towards the purchase price. Expecting a child? They’ll reimburse you up to $500 in take-out food. If you ask any employee what they do at Google they’ll typically respond a personal embodiment of the company’s mission statement- “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” This kind of motivation by employees is rarely seen, but envied by most.
Google’s goal, as often recited by employees, is ambitious (to say the least). Thankfully, Google just happened to find the right people to take it on. By creating a comfortable work environment, employees are not burdened with stress. Instead, employees are motivated to collectively achieve a similar goal; indexing information and making it useful. Google wouldn’t be the tech giant it is today without its bevy of happy employees. The appeal of a work environment that mimics their homes stimulates productivity and increases employee moral, making Google one of the most sought-after employers in the world.
Even if you don’t have the resources of a Silicon Valley titan, you can easily follow Google’s ideology, making your employees happy too. The first step may just be rethinking how you see your company. Simply making the mission statement more accessible and personal will help employees insert more of themselves in to their work and ease stress levels. Extend the home experience to work and rethink the office; would you want to live in it? If you wouldn’t mind spending an evening or weekend at the office because it’s hospitable and welcoming, you’re on the right track. Make the office a place your employees love to be, rather than the place they dread to go.
Employees need to come first in a company, as they are the heart and soul of your business. Creating a comfortable work environment that mimics a home eases stress, raises morale and increases productivity. Even simple changes can greatly affect employee health and happiness in a positive way, which will certainly lead to long-term growth for your business.
To the relief of consumers, a large percentage of United States companies are bringing their call centers back to American shores. Many have found it difficult to interact with call center operators, as the operators often find themselves easily confused by slang and vernacular used by native English speakers. Because of this disconnect in communication between caller and operator, callers are becoming less likely to use information or help hotlines and often ending their phone calls more bewildered than they began– without the help, clarification, or instructions they were seeking in the first place.
In response to the widespread disappointment from American consumers, companies are bringing their call centers back home meaning ease in communication as well as an increase in jobs available across America. While companies have previously found it very profitable to outsource jobs, the payoffs are now nowhere near as high as they used to be. Inflation, as well as a rise in the pay expected in foreign countries, has pushed the cost of outsourcing to popular “call center countries” such as India and the Philippines through the roof. Once companies began to take the cost and quality of service provided through their call centers into consideration, many began to bring their business back home to the States.
Another bonus for American firms seeking a solution to their call-center dilemma: they are now able to contribute further to strengthening the American economy. Experts currently estimate that hiring someone in Nebraska to work at a call center costs only 15% more than hiring an employee in India. Take into account any potential tax-breaks the company may receive for hiring new (American) employees, as well as the impact that employee could have on their local economy, and the benefits of an American-run call center begin stacking up.
American consumers are voicing their opinion about their feelings about outsourcing customer service overseas. Reports have been conducted that have found customers expressed more favorable feedback when they perceived a call center in the U.S.
A few facts about American Call Centers:
- Consumer satisfaction is 1/5 higher when calls are (or are perceived) to be handled within the United States.
- Consumers are more likely to have their problems solved when the person handling their call can understand the issue and properly articulate the solution.
- The opportunity cost of employing operators in other countries is beginning to far outweigh the benefit.
- U.S. companies are looking for cost-effective, economy-building labor solutions across the board. Housing their call centers at home, rather than abroad, brings more employment opportunities for unskilled laborers and strengthens the lower classes.
While outsourcing call centers may have not been a viable option in the long run, companies are still looking for cost-effective options for their businesses. Human resource outsourcing, such as benefits outsourcing, employee and labor relations, employee leasing, government compliance, HR audits, HR consulting, HR management, payroll services, and recruitment services, are becoming popular ways for companies to save time and money, allowing them to bring you better products and services for less.
The astronomical cost of health insurance and related benefits is forcing small and mid-size businesses to cut back on full-time employees. However, in order for companies to continue meeting productivity goals, stay competitive in today’s marketplace and remain profitable, they are turning to Human Resources Outsourcing as a solution to offset the rising cost of employee benefits.
Due to soaring medical costs, it is now estimated that employee benefits make up approximately 30 percent of the total employee compensation dollar. As a result, the days of employers offering first dollar health coverage are long gone.
Presently it is more likely that employers will offer options such as employee contribution, co-pays, deductibles and co-insurance as part of their benefits packages. Yet during these troubled economic times the price tag of these measures is still too high for many small and mid-size companies.
When a company turns to human resources outsourcing as a solution and hires a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) to assume the responsibility of employee benefits, they are able to provide competitive benefits packages while saving a substantial amount of money. This is because many insurance carriers offer PEO reduced prices for employee benefits while offering a full range of healthcare plan options.
By offering comprehensive employee benefits packages, smaller companies are better able to attract, recruit and maintain more qualified employees.
PEO’s not only help small businesses with employee benefits but also assume many other HR responsibilities including:
- Employee/Labor Relations
- Employee Leasing
- Government Compliance
- HR Audits
- HR Consulting
- Safety and Worker’s Compensation
Many small and mid-size companies are finding that by outsourcing their recruitment, HR management and other services that a PEO provides they can expand their core business with greater success.
By leaving the HR management to experts who have years of experience in not only finding a skilled labor force, but also in training and maintaining them, small and mid-sized companies can focus on productivity and growth while cutting costs at the same time.
Pangea 3 is a legal outsourcing firm in Noida, India specializing in outsourcing young Indian lawyers eager to get assigned to lawyers in the United States. With most of the world’s legal outsourcing firms setting up shop in India and only a significantly smaller percentage establishing firms in other countries such as the Philippines, companies like Pangea 3 are actively recruiting Western lawyers who are willing to leave Wall Street for New Delhi.
They are relocating them in order to manage the growing population of English speaking lawyers who work for a fraction of what a law firm in the West would charge. Greg McPolin, managing director of Pangea 3’s litigation services group is one of these Western Lawyers who divides his time between India and New York. He says his company is “getting more resumés from United States lawyers than we know what to do with.”
Legal outsourcing in India has grown from a few tiny firms who were more of an experiment than a serious investment to becoming a mainstream addition and is currently how law is practiced around the world. Large multi-national corporations, Wall Street banks, Energy giants, Insurance companies and most other leading industries are using outsourced lawyers from India to do everything from research and constructing legal briefs to due diligence and contract law.
However, for the more sophisticated public relations aspect of the law business Indian firms are continuing to bring in more seasoned lawyers form Great Britain and the United States.
Christopher Wheeler, a former assistant attorney general for New York State, knows first hand that Western Lawyers are finding it very attractive to be a valuable commodity in India’s rapidly expanding legal outsourcing business sector. Mr. Wheeler took that leap and is now managing a team of 110 Indian lawyers who primarily work for law firms in the United States for pennies on the dollar.
By the end of 2009 there were more than 140 legal outsourcing companies in India. This was a remarkable jump from 2005 when there were no more than 40 in the entire country.
Forecasted revenue for India’s legal outsourcing firms are estimated at $440 million in 2010 and is rumored to surpass the billion dollar mark by 2014.