Best Practices

Best Practices in Innovative Benefits

January 2020

To be successful, benefits must be relevant and responsive to the needs of employees – all employees.

Simply stating the company supports work-life integration isn’t enough. Business leaders need to ‘walk the talk’ and demonstrate their own commitment to achieving work-life equilibrium: this means taking advantage of the same benefits and leave options offered to employees.

Business leaders need to develop clear work-life policies, communicate the benefits of effective work-life integration to the organization and the individual, and strongly encourage employees to utilize available work-life supports.

Benefit Offerings: Strategies to Consider

Get Input from Employees

To be successful, benefits must be relevant and responsive to the needs of employees – all employees. To gather employee input, many companies hold regularly scheduled meetings or conduct ad hoc focus groups to discuss work-life priorities and frame benefits and work-life strategies It is important that data collection efforts fully engage employees across diversity dimensions and in different life- and career-stages.

Lead by Example

The behaviors of company leadership can have a significant impact on how employees view and embrace work- life integration. In a Harvard Business Review study of employees across global locations, only 25% of employees reported that their company leaders modeled sustainable work-life practices. Simply stating the company supports work-life integration isn’t enough. Business leaders need to ‘walk the talk’ and demonstrate their own commitment to achieving work-life equilibrium: this means taking advantage of the same benefits and leave options offered to employees.

Establish & Promote Work-life Policies

Unless properly managed, differences in beliefs and expectations about work-life integration can lead to discord and resentment. Business leaders need to develop clear work-life policies, communicate the benefits of effective work-life integration to the organization and the individual, and strongly encourage employees to utilize available work-life supports. In the absence of formal policies and a clear articulation of company expectations, employees reluctant to participate in new business practices may resent workers who take advantage of those practices, and managers may view those same workers as less committed to their job.

One-Size Does Not Fit All

In a 2019 Mercer survey, 54 percent of employees said managing their work-life balance is one of the top five things
their company can do to help them thrive at work. But the study found clear differences across gender, generation
and job level.

For example, the study found women value health benefits more than men do. Workers in managerial roles seek professional development and opportunities for meaningful work, while individual contributors value job security. Compensation is less important to Gen Y than to Baby Boomers.

To be successful, work-life integration strategies must be relevant and responsive to the needs of all employees. Not having the right work-life strategies can create discord among workers and exacerbate work-life deficiencies.

For example, after work happy hours or free on-site childcare may alienate older workers; providing benefits such
as long-term care insurance or supplemental insurance to cover gaps in Medicare will not attract or incentivize
younger workers.

Family and Caregiver Leave

Urgent Need for Family Leave

Only 14 percent of civilian workers in the U.S. have access to paid family leave; one in every four new mothers goes back to work just 10 days after giving birth; and people who make more than $75,000 a year are twice as likely as those who make less than $30,000 to get paid leave.

The majority of paid family leave policies reinforce class and racial divides by giving different paid family leave
benefits to different classes of employees, with those in salaried positions getting much more leave than those
in hourly jobs. This is reflective of a national reality where only six percent of low-wage earners have access to
paid family leave.

The need for paid family leave is urgent and growing. Every year, more than 40 million people, or 18 percent of the U.S. working population, spend an average of 24 hours a week providing unpaid care for a chronically ill, disabled, or elderly family member. As our population ages, these caregiving needs will only increase, with a
disproportionate impact on working women and people of color who make up the majority of unpaid family caregivers in this country.

U.S. Employers are totally unprepared for the family caregiver boom. When most people think about the unmet need for paid leave in the U.S., they think of new parents who need time to be with their infants, but just 21 percent of family leaves from work are taken for new babies.

Building Leave Equity for All Employees

“Like so many companies before us, my company, Rent the Runway, had two tiers of workers. Our salaried employees—who typically came from relatively privileged, educated backgrounds—were given generous parental leave, paid sick leave and the flexibility to work from home, or even abroad. Our hourly employees, working in Rent the Runway’s warehouse, on the customer service team and in our retail stores, had to face life events like caring for a newborn, grieving after the death of a family member or taking care of a critically ill
loved one without this same level of benefits. I had inadvertently created classes of employees—and by doing so, had done my part to contribute to America’s inequality problem.

But over the years, I began to reflect on how the system that I and others had constructed may have been perpetuating deep-seated social problems. Last month, I equalized benefits for all of our employees at Rent the Runway. Our warehouse, customer service and store employees now have the same bereavement,
parental leave, family sick leave and sabbatical packages that corporate employees have.” Jennifer Y. Hyman, co-founder of Rent the Runway

Increased Visibility on the Issue

Increased visibility on the issue puts brand and reputation at stake.

In 2018, AT&T, Cargill, CVS Health, Dollar General, EY, Ford Motor
Company, Gap Inc, Home Depot, IBM, Kroger, L Brands, PwC,
Starbucks, TJX, Walgreens, Walmart, H&M, Darden Restaurants, Marriott, and McDonald’s all introduced new policies, which means more than 4.8 million people gained access to new or expanded paid leave last year.

Trader Joe’s, UPS, Wegmans, Honeywell International, Wegmans, Rite Aid, Sears Holding, and Costco declined to disclose their paid family leave policies.

Follow this link to read the 2018 PL&US report.

Family Leave Benchmarks

Discovery’s parental leave benefit was expanded to a full 12 weeks of paid leave, and will now offer those same 12 weeks as part of a caregiver leave benefit designed to support families in the case of serious health conditions. Paid at 100 percent and created to assist all of today’s growing, evolving, and unique family structures, the caregiver leave benefit will extend the definition of family beyond children, spouses, and parents to also include care for qualified domestic partners, siblings, parent-in-laws, and grandparents.

Caregiver leave also will extend to military caregivers caring for seriously injured or ill veterans as defined under the FMLA. With the option to add up to two weeks of vacation time, caregiver leave will max at 14 consecutive weeks. As part of the company’s new policy, these 12 weeks—covering both parental and caregiver leave—can now be taken consecutively or divided as needed over the course of a 12-month period. Under the new policy and with the addition of short-term disability and up to two weeks of vacation time,
maternity leave will now max at 20 to 22 weeks, depending on delivery. With the option to add up to two weeks of vacation for all parental leave, paternity, adoption, and foster care placement, leave will max at 14 consecutive weeks.

Beginning in 2016, Deloitte professionals–from the parent celebrating the arrival of a new child, to the professional caring for a spouse or significant other, to the professional supporting aging parents–will have an extra layer of support from Deloitte’s new family leave program.

This bold new step in the broader caregiving space recognizes the changing family dynamics and emerging needs of Deloitte’s professionals. Men and women alike will now be eligible for up to 16 weeks of fully paid family leave to support a range of life events impacting them and their families.

“We recognized that if our people were able to balance their caregiving needs with their professional lives, they would be more productive and we would reduce turnover, and support the culture we aspire to have. As a result…we introduced our expanded and holistic Paid Family Leave Program [that] recognizes that caregiving goes beyond that of welcoming a new child.”

Take a look at the Managing Director in Deloitte’s Talent organization Carolyn O’Boyle’s testimony at the 2018 Senate Hearing on
Paid Family Leave.

Bristol-Myers Squibb’s inclusive new family care leave program broadens the definition of family to include all types of caregivers and family members of all ages who need care. Each eligible employee caregiver – from those caring for
an ill family member to new parents of birth, foster, or adoptive children – may take up to eight weeks of paid leave. The program is open to all U.S. employees, including hourly workers provided they meet the eligibility requirements for the program. Flexibility is a key feature of the program. All eligible employees can use their paid leave all at once or in intervals throughout the year, based on their personal situations and consistent with the policy terms.

Cisco updated its global leave program to be more inclusive for family members caring for a new baby, as well as provide extra emergency time off for its employees. The new policy terminates maternity and paternity leave, instead expanding the firm’s definition of parent to “main and supporting caregiver”—a gender-neutral term, the company says—for its full-and part-time employees. In the U.S., main caregivers will now receive 13 weeks of consecutive leave, up from just four weeks, and unlimited paid time off for all appointments. The updated policy includes the existing benefit of four weeks of leave with time off for appointments for supporting caregivers, as well.

The company’s expanded caregiver leave benefit has been rolled out to 37,000 U.S. employees, while more than 33,000 additional employees globally will receive the benefit in 2019. Cisco’s new leave policy also includes
additional time off for emergencies. The company says it recognizes that unexpected situations may arise and employees need time to give it their undivided attention. The emergency time off request, which can be for incidents like a tree falling through an employee’s roof or a family member falling ill, is approved by a manager at his or her discretion.

Patagonia: Beyond Extended Leave

Patagonia provides 12 weeks of fully paid parental, caregiver, and medical leave. Birth mothers receive an additional 4 weeks of paid leave. All regular full-time and part-time employees with at least nine months of tenure – mothers, fathers, birth and adoptive parents – qualify for the benefits.

Patagonia has long been known for its extensive family benefits package. The company provides 16 weeks of paid leave for birth mothers and 12 weeks for other new parents, as well as for employees caring for an ill family member and employees with an illness of their own.

The company has run an onsite childcare center for more than 30 years. It is run by teachers, some of whom are bilingual and trained in child development. Teachers who visit employees’ homes before their children enroll. Learning takes place outdoors as much as in. Parents often eat lunch with their kids, take them to the farmer’s market or pick vegetables with them in the “secret” garden. Patagonia buses school-aged kids back to the company’s headquarters, allowing parents to connect with them after school.

The company also allows employees who travel on business to bring a child with them and reimburses the travel costs for his or her nanny.

The child care program was not put in place to fight the war for talent, or because its executives wanted to fix the leaky pipeline of women leaving before reaching senior management levels. When Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia’s iconic founder, and his wife Malinda started the company, their employees were friends and family and they wanted to support them as they worked, and started their families. The solution was not to fix a problem, but to respond to what humans need, including a place to nurse newborns, and later, to provide safe and stimulating child care.

Patagonia: ROI of Extended Leave

Having run some of these programs for more than a decade, Patagonia can show that they work. The company retains 100% of the female employees who go on leave after the birth of a child. The company believes that the programs pay for themselves. “Parents who use our onsite childcare center have 25 percent lower turnover than those who don’t. When you consider replacement costs ranging from 35- 125 percent of an employee’s annual salary, those savings add up quickly.“ (company spokesperson)

Patagonia’s Ventura child care center, called the Great Pacific Child Development Center (GPCDC) costs about $1 million a year to run, not including tuition fees, or the costs parents pay. It employs 28 staff,
and another five at a customer service and distribution plant in Reno. The two sites serve 80 kids. The Ventura site recoups 91% of the cost ($500,000 through tax breaks, 30% through the value of retention, and 11% in employee engagement). As a percentage of all selling, general and administrative costs, it is

A recent analysis showed that male and female employees at Patagonia enjoy pay parity at all levels of the organization—from entry-level to executive positions. And there are equal numbers of men and women at all management levels, including on the board of directors. “While we can’t pin these outcomes to one program,” a company spokesperson reported, “Patagonia is a perfect case study for what happens when women don’t feel like they have to leave the workforce. You do get pay and opportunity parity.“

Follow this link to learn more about Patagonia’s Return on Investment in providing extended family leave and other benefits.

Tip: ERG Educates Employees on Benefits

While Novartis provides generous benefits to caregivers, the company recognized that not many employees utilize those benefits, or even know what is available to them. The CARES employee resource group (ERG) understood that employees had concerns about how they would be perceived when they needed to provide caregiving support to family members, depending on who the family member was and what the circumstances were. For example, they were worried that providing caregiving to a child might be seen as more important than caring for an elderly parent. The group also understood that associates can find themselves thrust into a caregiving situation with little or no warning or preparation. The emotional stress of caring for persons who are aging, chronically ill or disabled is debilitating for family members, especially when they are also managing career demands.

The ERG brought specialists into the organization and worked closely with HR to provide their perspective on being a caregiver. The ERG was able to provide important information and insights about the needs of caregivers and to bring attention to the challenges they face, at home and in the workplace. In recognition of the number employees in the workforce providing caregiving, and the toll of those responsibilities, the company implemented a reason neutral workplace flexibility policy to support caregivers.

Over the course of six months, CARES joined with a team of multiple cross-functional business units to create The Caregiver’s Guidebook. The collaboration included medical practitioners from corporate health, benefits and HR professionals, patient support services, legal, and the company’s in-house print production team. The Guidebook examines the company’s benefit programs through the lens of a caregiver and provides guidance on all areas of caregiving, not just elder care. It is designed to communicate internal and external caregiving resources to Novartis associates, and includes a wide range of information, from detailed guidance on how to write a will, to where to find a home health aide, or how to navigate the care of an elderly parent.

Financial Wellness

Financial Wellness Programs

American Express believes that financial distress negatively impacts productivity. The working hypothesis is “if you have your financial house in order you will be more relaxed, productive and engaged at work. And you have more control over your life.” By offering financial advising as a benefit the company is responding to an evident need on the part of employees. The
program builds loyalty, retains important personnel and hopefully attracts others. American Express launched its Smart Saving program in 2010 in response to a number of challenges.



American Express wanted to send the message that financial planning is for everyone, and that it is “quick, easy and free.” American Express uses home mailings, telephone interviews and e-mail surveys to evaluate the effect of the program so the company can see what percentage of employees actually take action after having been given information from a financial advisor. The results from the program have been substantial. Since the launch: 9% increase in 401(k) participation 5% increase in employees who deferred 5% to a retirement savings plan 7% increase in calls to the company’s financial counseling service Participation in financial counseling is now 8-10%.

354,000-member Mountain America recognized the impact of personal finances on workplace performance and provided a financial wellness program to its 1,025 employees as part of the CU’s benefits package.

The Program

The kickoff session (with 800 employees) was rated 9.7 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best. 99 percent of attendees said they would like to receive classes on other financial topics. Approximately 700 employees participated in the five follow-up sessions—97 percent said they would recommend the classes to friends or family members.

Mountain America CU employees made significant progress in merely the first five weeks of the program.


Prudential, with supporting research and analysis provided by EY, developed Prutection ScoreSM to help employers evaluate the financial wellness needs of their employee populations. For each risk, Prutection ScoreSM gauges how financially prepared employees are should a risk event occur by looking at the resources available to them—personal funds and insurance coverage—relative to the resources needed.


Resources are estimated using employee demographic information, Prudential Financial Wellness Survey data, and various government and industry sources. In developing Prutection ScoreSM, Prudential conducted a Financial Wellness Survey of over 5,000 employees who had medical insurance. Prudential developed national benchmark scores for each of the three more immediate risk categories— premature death, illness or injury, and out-of-pocket expenses—that we identify as germane to financial wellness. The benchmark Prutection ScoresSM indicate that full-time U.S. employees covered by
medical insurance are unable to fully cover their exposure to three key risks they face during their working careers:

Premature Death Benchmark Score: 71. In the event of loss of income due to premature death, the average employee would be able to cover 71% of ongoing financial needs for a spouse’s or partner’s lifetime and for children until adulthood.

Illness/Injury Benchmark Score: 71. In the event of loss of income due to illness or injury, the average employee’s household would be able to pay 71% of their monthly expenses using other income sources, such as spousal or partner income and disability insurance benefits.
Out-of-Pocket Expenses Benchmark Score: 48. Faced with out-of-pocket medical and non-medical expenses due to a critical illness or accident, the average employee’s household is equipped to cover just 48% of those expenses through liquid savings and insurance coverage.

While about a third of employees in the Prudential Financial Wellness Survey score high—90 or higher—in each risk category, only 4% score above 90 for
all three risks, and only 2% have scores of 100 or more for all three. This points to a significant opportunity to improve the financial wellness of American
workers. People typically are not eager to buy products they do not understand or appreciate. Research conducted by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College and sponsored by Prudential confirms that while many employees do not fully appreciate the benefits provided by life and disability insurance—and hence make suboptimal use of it—education could help them overcome their resistance to it and improve their financial well-being.

Among the Survey’s Key Findings: While employees do not think about life insurance very often, they do think about it during key life events such as getting married, having a child, or purchasing a home. Individuals have a narrow view of life insurance. They view it as a means to pay down current and future debts, but often overlook its ability to help cover their dependents’ day-to-day living expenses.
Employees Are Confused About Disability Insurance: Specifically, they underestimate the likelihood of prolonged disability, which they define narrowly as a catastrophic illness or injury resulting from a high risk occupation or lifestyle, and overestimate the level of coverage provided by their safety net, expecting to be fully covered for disability by workers’ compensation, short-term disability insurance, or Social Security disability benefits. They also struggle to evaluate the cost of disability insurance.

Drawing on behavioral finance concepts, the Center for Retirement Research devised and tested various hypothetical interventions that might be used
during online enrollment periods to help employees make smarter choices about insurance benefits. Several proved effective, including providing default
coverage levels, checklists, personalized estimates, information on monthly income that may be generated from specified coverage levels, and information
on the risk of disability.

Flexible Work

Flexibility Matters

84 percent of Millennials want more work-life balance and 54 percent want to work a flexible schedule (FlexJobs)
• 90 percent of the nation’s workforce say they would like to telework at least part-time, with two to three days a week being the sweet spot for the right balance of concentrative work (at home) and collaborative work (at the office) (Global Workplace Analytics)
• 76 percent of Millennials would take a pay cut to work for a company that offers flexible office hours (Qualtrics)
• Millennials and Gen Z may stay in a job for more than five years if their employers are flexible about where and when they work. (Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019)
• 90 percent of workers indicated that more flexible work arrangements will boost morale and increase their satisfaction at work (Staples)
• 77 percent of employees list flexible work as a top perk when evaluating job opportunities. (2018 Zenefits)
• 69 percent of women who off-ramp would have stayed at their companies if they had flexible work options. Harvard Business Review
• Workplace flexibility and fair pay are two frequently cited reasons employees join and stay with a company.’ 2019 Mercer survey

Best Practice Strategies

The key to a successful work-life integration program lies in establishing a workplace culture based on trust (on the part of managers) and personal responsibility (on the part of employees).

For managers, developing trust means letting go of preconceived notions that face-time and long hours equates to high performance. For employees, it means communicating individual work-life needs and responsibly utilizing the
options and benefits available.

The behaviors of company leadership have a significant impact on how employees view and embrace work-life integration. Business leaders need to ‘walk the talk’ and demonstrate their own commitment to achieving work-life
equilibrium: this means taking advantage of the same benefits and leave options offered to employees.

Establish clear work-life policies, communicate the benefits of effective work-life integration, and strongly encourage employees to utilize available work-life support.

Without formal policies and a clear articulation of company expectations, employees reluctant to participate in new business practices may resent workers who take advantage of those practices, and managers may view those same workers as less committed to their jobs.

Flexible Work Program Pays Off

Steps to Build a Flexible Work Program

  1. Conduct an employee survey to assess your workforce’s most pressing flex needs and gain internal support for your initiative.
  2. Appoint a top-level planning group to develop draft goals and guidelines for executing flexible work arrangements as well as defining the scope of the initiative.
  3. Create flex guidelines and resource materials for both employees and managers, outlining roles and responsibilities.
  4. Promote the initiative.
  5. Educate managers on how to evaluate, execute and manage flexible work arrangements.
  6. Educate employees on how to assess their needs and the business’s needs to negotiate terms for flex.
  7. Enlist successful flex work employees to serve as coaches to provide guidance and mentorship to those who are looking to work flexibly.
  8. Re-evaluate and fine-tune flex policies, both in terms of eligibility and implementation.

Dell’s flexible work program, which enables employees to work remotely and at variable hours, has saved the company an average of $12 million annually since 2014 due to reduced office space requirements.

The company’s flexible policies align with its culture, which prizes trust, accountability, and results over visibility and oversight. Today, nearly 60 percent of employees work flexibly, and the Net Promoter Score of employees who work remotely tends to be 20 percent higher than the score of those who don’t. (LinkedIn 2019 Global Talent Trends Survey).

Dell believes its flex program is so successful because HR partnered closely with IT and facilities teams from the very start. By making sure employees had the right training, technology, and workspaces for their chosen work style, the transformation was relatively seamless.

Flexible Work for Call Center Employees

In 2016, Humana overhauled its remote work policies and began to champion the benefits of work flexibility. Staff responded enthusiastically, with nearly half working remotely at least some of the time. There was just one problem: The call center team couldn’t benefit from these policies because calls could only be recorded at their desks.

When one call center leader raised this issue with the company, Humana began to explore emerging technologies that would allow the team to work from home. After some research, it launched a pilot program in 2018 that
equipped call center employees with new at-home technology that enabled remote work.

The tech changed everything. The call center team could suddenly enjoy the same perks as everyone else, and the company could save on desk space by replacing its assigned seating structure with a more flexible, shared workspace.

By making its flexible work policies more robust and inclusive, Humana has also found it easier to attract great candidates. What’s more, now that its workforce is empowered to work remotely, it doesn’t have to rely solely on
local talent.

Flexible Work on Global Scale

Sodexo introduced an initiative called FLOW (Flexibility Optimizes Work). This practice allows employees to work with their managers on an individual basis to craft flexible work options that meet their unique needs. So whether someone wants to work from their home office or just needs to take the occasional afternoon off to coach their kid’s Little League team, the flexible culture empowers them to make it happen.

By going with the FLOW, Sodexo has also been able to accommodate regional preferences with ease. As a global company, not all its employees think about flexibility in the same way, so a rigid policy just wouldn’t work for everyone. The FLOW approach, on the other hand, allows managers to tailor the company’s policy to address specific local requirements.

In Belgium, for example, managers encourage their employees to come in late, leave early, then work from home. This means no one has to face the dreaded rush-hour commute. And in India, thanks to options like half-time work and the ability to take up to two years’ unpaid family leave, the number of women working for the brand has dramatically increased.

Flexible Work—Collaborative Culture

Appen employs 350 full-time employees with flexible work options spread out across seven countries, and over one million global contractors who are 100% remote. What Appen found was that while the team liked the flexibility, it could sometimes leave them feeling isolated.

To combat this, the company set out to create a more connected, collaborative culture. In 2017, Appen started investing in different tools that could make this possible, like video conferencing, instant messaging, and document collaboration solutions. It also built an internal community forum where employees can do everything from troubleshooting common issues to shooting the breeze and getting to know one another.

To support this new way of working, managers at Appen take LinkedIn Learning courses that help them better manage their remote teams. Steps like this can help make changes really stick, since employees often follow their managers’ lead.

The results have been dramatic. In one year, Appen’s attrition rate dropped by 5%. Today, 80% of the company’s core workforce say they’re satisfied with their jobs.

Benefits & Practices Geared Toward Older Workers

Benefits for a Retiring Workforce

The 2018 Longer Working Careers Survey found a majority of employers either have adopted or plan to adopt one or more of the following strategies over the next few years:

Wellbeing Enhancements: 66% offer financial wellbeing or retirement planning programs tailored to older employees approaching retirement. Another 19% are either planning to offer these next year or considering these programs for 2020. 36% have modified working conditions to conform to preferences of older employees, and that is expected to increase to 43% by 2020.

Flexible Employment: 30% of respondents allow workers to change positions (e.g., shift from management to individual contributor), and this could increase to more than half by 2020. 27% provide part-time employment, and this could increase to 45% by 2020.

Consulting Arrangements: 49% allow their retired employees who are collecting benefits to work as consultants or contingent workers. Another 10% might add this by 2020. A similar percentage hires experienced retired employees in their industry on a consulting or contingent basis.

Phased Retirement: 9% offer formal phased retirement programs, but this could grow to 23% by 2020. However, informal phased retirement programs are much more common, since they avoid some of the administration and compliance challenges of a formal program. Employers offer these informal phased retirement programs more often to senior workers in professional roles, and less so to those in sales, administration or hourly positions.

Phased Retirement

The nature of retirement is changing, and many workers do not wish to experience a sudden end to work, followed by the equally sudden onset of full-time retirement. Instead, many workers wish to ease into retirement, transitioning out of the workforce with a reduced workload.

A phased retirement often refers to a broad range of flexible retirement arrangements, both informal practices, and formal workplace policies, which allow employees are approaching normal retirement age to reduce the hours worked or work for their employers in a different capacity after retirement.

It is seen as a benefit by many older workers, as it allows them to gradually ease into retirement while maintaining a higher income than they would receive if they quit work entirely. From the employers’ point of view, phased retirement programs can be used to retain skilled older employees who would otherwise retire (especially in sectors where there is a shortage of entry-level job applicants), to reduce labor costs or to arrange the training of replacement employees by older workers.

Phased Retirement Programs

Formal phased retirement programs can take many forms. Examples cited in a 2017 report by the Government Accountability Office include:

• One program that allows workers who are at least 55 years old with 10 years of service to cut their hours by 20% with a 20% cut in pay, but keep health insurance and pension accrual benefits.
• Another that allows employees 60 and older with five years of service to reduce their hours by 20% to 50%, or even more if they’re willing to lose their health insurance benefit.
• An employer that allows workers 55 and older with seven years of service to negotiate their own “glide path” to retirement, ramping down from full time to full retirement while retaining benefits.
• Yet another company that allows any employee to switch to less stressful or complex duties or phase to part-time work, retaining health insurance if they work at least 25 hours a week.

Case Studies: Phased Retirement

Approximately 25% of the workforce at Herman Miller is over age 55. To retain that talent, the company has a program that allows employees to take 6 to 12 consecutive weeks off during the year. They aren’t paid during that time, but they keep their benefits and length of service. The company also has a “flex-retirement” plan that allows for an exit stretched out from six months to two years. In return for the planned reduction in hours, employees put together a knowledge transfer plan to teach the ropes of the job to their replacement.

Southern California Gas employs more than 8,200 people; in 10 years, half of them will be eligible to retire. Instead of watching knowledge walk out the door, the utility lets older workers scale back hours while maintaining full pay through part-time wages plus accrued vacation and sick leave. In turn, they mentor younger colleagues. For older employees who have been working decades, this lets them ease into retirement for a year or so rather than abruptly end their careers.

Intuitive Research and Technology is focused on retaining experienced workers with the specialized skills needed for the engineering and analytical contracting it provides, and that means offering all sorts of flexible work schedules. About 8 percent of the workforce is in some sort of phased retirement program. Some of these workers sign on for specific projects, while others may work many hours for a few weeks and then be off for nine months. The phased retirement arrangements are open-ended, with no required retirement date.

To meet the needs of employees age 55+, Scripps enables employees to plan for their retirement byphasing into it with staged benefits and flexible scheduling. Employees who want to retire gradually can reduce their current work schedule to maintain medical and dental benefits and pay the same
premiums as regular active employees. Individuals may select their retirement options, including flexible working hours, to fit their lifestyle.

Bon Secours changed several of its benefits to make them more appealing to older workers who want to ease into retirement. The company changed how its pension plan calculates payouts. It based benefits on the five highest-paying years of service instead of the last five years of service. That move
allowed people who reduced their work schedule retain their top pension benefit. It also extended health coverage to part-time employees and allowed employees to use day-care centers for their grandchildren. Employees can also keep their employer-provided health insurance benefits as long as
they’re working at least 16 hours a week.

Hartford created a reverse mentoring program to help senior leaders learn about social media from younger workers. Junior mentors were required to apply for the program and were screened on qualities required for effective mentoring. Senior leaders committed to structured sessions with their mentors. The program is such a success, it has spawned ideas for reverse mentoring on other topics, such as sustainability and green corporate practices.

Of Newport News Shipbuilding’s 21,000 employees, about 2,900 are Apprentice School alumni. Many of them are now in leadership positions at the company.

Case Studies: ‘Returnships’ for Older Workers

Barclays expanded upon the success of its apprenticeship program (which appointed over 2,000 apprentices) to offer apprenticeships targeted to candidates over age 50 who are returning to work or looking for a new
career. The bank said it considers mature workers from unrelated fields, and that the only experience needed is practical experience. This is not a PR stunt; the bank states it values older workers who have life experience
and can better relate to the financial needs of mature customers. Barclays already has a Digital Eagles offering, a team at Barclays established to help customers with online issues. An extension of this is Barclays’ Silver
Eagles, a team of tech-savvy older workers geared up to help mature customers with online banking. The new apprenticeship program builds on this effort to capitalize on the life skills of experienced employees. The bank predicts that bringing in apprentices over 50 years of age will make the institution more accessible, and ensure a better fit with more mature customers.

Goldman Sachs’ returnship program was specifically designed for individuals who have left the workforce for two or more years and are ready to return. This paid program offers returning workers opportunities in a variety of divisions. The returnship offers a guided period of exploration, and provides individuals with an opportunity to sharpen their skills in a work environment that may have changed significantly since their last experience as an employee. It also gives participants the ability to explore a new area of expertise and learn new skills. The program was launched in the US in 2008, and given its success, was expanded globally.

Data provider Return Path initially launched its program of internships for returning mid-career professionals to increase the representation of women in the company, particularly in technical roles. The initiative was so successful the company established the program as a standalone nonprofit organization called Path Forward, designed to set up similar programs for other companies. The nonprofit helps corporate HR departments set up mid-career internships for a flat fee. The internships are to be 20-week, paid positions available to individuals who have been out of the professional workforce for at least two years to care for children, a spouse, or a parent. The goal is that employers will hire interns as full-time workers at the end of the temporary stint. Return Path reports more than 80 percent of participants across six of the companies were offered continued employment at the conclusion of the program.

The nonprofit offers mature workers a one-year fellowship, typically in a professional capacity at another nonprofit, to help them re-enter the job market. This is a temporary arrangement and pays just $25,000. However, it’s an arrangement that fits the needs of all participants, and it has broader ramifications: as the population ages, keeping older workers in the workforce could boost the economy, alleviate retirement insecurity, and ease strain on the social-safety net. The organization estimates that 31 million Americans ages 44 to 70 want to find work with a bigger social impact. However, it is generally harder for older workers to find new jobs than younger workers, and a bad economy has exacerbated the trend. In 2011, the average job seeker over age 55 was spending 35 weeks looking for a job, compared to 26 weeks for younger job seekers, according to federal statistics. Encore fellowships help older workers beat these odds by getting their foot in the door.

Fidelity’s customers wanted call center representatives with a first-hand understanding of common life decisions, so Fidelity hired retirees to staff its 401(k) call centers and offered flexible work arrangements to attract and keep them.

As a way to attract mature engineers to its firm, Burns and McDonnell offers 100 percent vesting in its employee stock ownership plan when workers reach age 62, regardless of years of service.

Atlantic Health System allows retirees in the 1000 Hour Club to return to work either on a part-time or per diem basis three months after retirement. A retiree can work up to 999 hours annually and still collect retirement benefits.

Case Studies: ‘Returnships’ for Returning Workers

Centrica’s HitReturn program is targeted toward senior-level professionals who are seeking to return to the workforce following a career break of two years or more. Launched in partnership with Mars and Vodafone, it is the first cross-company partnership in the UK. The pilot program offers 12-week, paid
returnships, which provide participants the opportunity to work on professional assignments and to receive expert coaching. Each of the three participating companies also provides a mentor, as well as access to all relevant internal networks. Job opportunities are based in the head offices of the three companies in areas including marketing, legal, finance operations, technology, and human resources. Participation in the program does not guarantee a permanent job, but landing a permanent job is a strong possibility.

In an effort to retain older workers, CVS Caremark’s ‘snowbird’ program transfers several hundred pharmacists and other employees from northern states each winter to pharmacies in warmer states. The older workers help the southern CVS locations keep up with the surge in business during the colder months. The older workers are offered a flexible schedule, and their duties include training and mentoring newer employees. “A good number of our pharmacy customers are going to be mature customers, and as part of our focus on diversity, we want a work force that reflects our customer base,” said David Casey, CVS’s vice president for work force strategies. As part of its Talent is Ageless program, CVS Caremark partners with community agencies to recruit, hire and train workers ages 50 to 99. Since the program began, the percentage of the Caremark workforce age 50+ grew from 6 percent to 18 percent.

Phased Retirement Considerations

Here are the core elements that make up phased retirement programs; each represents a set of decisions you’ll need to make when implementing one.
Eligibility: Who will be eligible to participate in the program? For example, you could require that participants be at least 55 years old and have worked at your organization for 10 years. Or you could eliminate the age criteria and simply have a “years of service” requirement.
Duration: How long will the “phasing out” period last? Some organizations allow for an indefinite phased retirement period, with periodic reviews by both manager and employee, while others cap the amount of time employees can participate.
Impact to Benefits: How will the reduction in hours impact the benefits employees can receive? Allowing phased retiree participants continued access to health benefits in particular—including long-term care and disability coverage—is highly recommended as an incentive to encourage participation.
Impact to Compensation: How will participation in the program impact employees’ compensation (base pay, bonuses, stock options) and retirement benefits (401K matching, pension calculation, Social Security)? If your compensation and retirement benefit policies are structured to maximize employees’ earnings in their final years, you may want to tweak those policies in order to lessen any negative impact to program participants. For example, some organizations, such as St. Mary’s Medical Center in Huntington, West Virginia, have changed their pension calculations to include the five highest years of service rather than the last five years of service. This helped remove barriers to entry for many of its hospital staff.

TIP: Regardless of how you design your program, you’ll need to engage your legal counsel to ensure it complies with state and federal laws such as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), as well as the IRS.

Education & Learning Related Benefits

Today’s Employees Value Learning

According to research by Deloitte, the number-one trend for 2019 is the need for organizations to change the way people learn; 86 percent of respondents cited this as an important or very important issue. (Deloitte Research)
According to a Gallup survey, 41 percent of millennials would change jobs in order to have professional development programs, compared to only 23 percent of baby boomers (source: Gallup 2017 State of the American Workplace)

According to a study by LinkedIn, employees who spend time at work learning are 47 percent less likely to be stressed, 39 percent more likely to feel productive and successful, 23 percent more ready to take on additional
responsibilities, and 21 percent more likely to feel confident and happy. The survey also found the number one reason people quit their jobs is the inability to learn and grow. (Bersin/LinkedIn 2018)

Learning as a Benefit

Accenture’s Connected Learning program includes 37,000 online courses and 2,300 learning boards curated by subject-matter experts that provide employees with anywhere, anytime development opportunities from design thinking to AI. Employees also have opportunities for certification in areas including project management and data science. By the end of 2020,
Accenture will invest $1.4 billion in training for its U.S. workforce while creating 15,000 highly skilled new jobs.

Amazon will commit $700 million over six years to provide 100,000 employees with access to training programs in areas such as healthcare, machine learning, manufacturing, robotics, and computer science. The training, which could reskill up to one- third of the company’s U.S. based workforce, is voluntary, and most of the programs are free. As an example, the company is setting up classrooms in some of its fulfillment centers and launching a 16-week certification program that will enable warehouse workers to train for roles as data technicians—with no prior IT experience required. If they successfully complete the course and are hired by one of the company’s data centers, they can double their wages from $15 an hour to $30 an hour. Another program aims to give nontechnical workers the skills to become successful software engineers. In addition, Amazon Career Choice offers employees tuition reimbursement to pursue postsecondary educational degrees at night, even if the course of study is not related to a future job at Amazon. The efforts will help employees qualify for higher-paying jobs and
create a huge group of internal candidates who can take on roles in some of the company’s fastest-growing areas. (Amazon)

Through McDonald’s Archways to Opportunity education program, eligible employees at participating U.S. restaurants receive an opportunity to earn a high school diploma, receive upfront college tuition assistance, access free education and career advising services and learn English as a second language. McDonald’s also has plans to launch a career navigation app in the
U.S. that will allow eligible employees and the communities in which McDonald’s serves the chance to explore careers at McDonald’s and in other industries like healthcare and IT.

Access to Education

Anderson Global provides up to $12,000 toward student loan repayment. It will contribute $100 a month for five years. At the end of that time period, the company will contribute a lump sum of $6,000.

Through a partnership with Guild Education, Taco Bell team members have access to Guild’s academic and financial aid coaches and discounts to Guild’s education partners—a network of 80 online non-profit universities and learning providers, offering Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, programs such as high school completion and English-as-a-second-language and a wide selection of certificates, as well as up to $5,250 a year in tuition assistance.

Learning Fund reimburses up to $10,000 per year for tuition and books for courses, graduate programs, and certain certifications that meet the reimbursement eligibility criteria. The Learning Fund will also reimburse up to $1,000 per year for short-term learning opportunities and skill development such as conferences and workshops, professional and technical training courses, online learning, and professional memberships.

Aetna pays 100% of eligible expenses for degrees or job-related school courses. For full-time employees, Aetna will pay up to $5,000 a year toward a degree, and up to $2,500 for job-related courses and certificates. For part-time employees working 20 to 39 hours a week, Aetna offers up to $2,500 for courses that are part of a degree program and $2,500 for
career-related courses.

Aetna also gives its full-time employees up to $2,000 per year for their student loans with a $10,000 lifetime limit. Part- time employees working 20 or more hours per week are eligible for $1,000 per year with a $5,000 lifetime limit. You must have earned your degree within three years of applying to qualify. The company also offers a tuition assistance program to help employees who are currently in school.

Fidelity Investments helps its employees pay off student loan debt, and it also offers tuition reimbursement to employees. Fidelity offers up to $10,000 in contributions for student loan repayment.

Tuition Repayment and Reimbursement

Nvidia’s program reimburses the lesser of $500 per month, or the total required monthly payment on student loans if it’s less than $500. That comes to a maximum total of $6,000 in student loan repayment assistance per
year, with a lifetime maximum of $30,000. Payments are made directly to the student loan servicer.

Employees at Unum are given 28 vacation days a year (compared with the national average of 15), and they can use up to five of those days for their loans. The average Unum employee has $32,000 in student debt and makes
$350 monthly payments. Vacation money is based on their hourly salaries, so an employee making $60,000 a year would make $230 in a workday. Trading five of those workdays would mean $1,150 in student-loan assistance a year. And since 30% of Unum employees are plagued by student debt, that’s no small sum.

Abbott contributes 5% of an employee’s pay into a 401(k) as long as that employee is contributing 2% of their paycheck to their student loans. Abbott even got special approval from the IRS for their policy. The policy is
growing in popularity, with 1,000 Abbott employees (out of nearly 29,000) opting for it.

At First Republic, as long as the loan is taken out in their name, employees can alleviate their kids’ student debt without spending a penny. In their first year, employees receive $1,200; in the following year, they get $1,800. They then receive $2,400 a year until the loans are paid off, making the policy one of the most generous on the market.

Education Reimbursement

Cigna’s Educational Reimbursement Program (ERP) is designed to support employees’ growth and development, and increase productivity and engagement by providing tuition reimbursement for external learning pursuits. In 2018, approximately 2,500 employees participated in the ERP and educational reimbursement was valued at $11.6 million, increasing 15% from 2017.

Cigna also offers 2 learning opportunities with no out-of-pocket expenses for employees. The Health Care Compliance Certificate Program is offered online through Quinnipiac University School of Business and School of Law. The company also offers a Customized Accelerated MBA Program in partnership with University of Hartford. The 2-year, cohort-based program is specifically designed to align with Cigna’s strategic priorities and is available on-site at the Cigna Learning Center in Bloomfield, CT or 100% online. All costs–tuition, books, and fees–are covered at 100% through Cigna’s ERP in accordance with Cigna’s ERP policy.

The ERP leads the Cigna Scholars Program which offers employees contemplating or currently enrolled in a higher-education program the opportunity to collaborate through mentoring, networking, and peer-to-peer support across the organization through a web-based platform.

Access to Education and Learning

Chegg: This education technology company offers employees with student debt $1,000 per year with no lifetime maximum. Its Equity for Education program gives employees in entry- to manager-level jobs an additional $5,000 annually for student debt. Employees need to be with the company for two years to qualify. Directors and vice presidents are eligible for an additional $3,000 annually under this program. Chegg also offers employees up to $5,250 per year for continuing education.

CommonBond: CommonBond, a student loan refinancing marketplace, offers employees $100 per month toward their student loans until all of their loans are paid off.

Estee Lauder: Employees of Estee Lauder are eligible for a $100 monthly student loan repayment benefit. The company caps the lifetime benefit at $10,000.

Fidelity Investments: Fidelity’s Step Ahead Student Loan Assistance Program offers employees who have been with the company for at least six months up to $2,000 per year for their student loans with a maximum $10,000 lifetime benefit.

Gradifi: Gradifi helps other companies establish student loan repayment employee benefits, so it only makes sense that it would extend this perk to its own employees. It offers $250 per month, up to $10,000 total.

LendEDU: Online loan marketplace LendEDU offers employees $200 per month toward student loan repayment with no maximum cap.

Tuition Assistance—Student Loan Repayment

Penguin Random House: This book publisher offers employees $100 per month in student loan repayment assistance with a maximum lifetime benefit of $9,000. Only full-time employees that have been with the company for at least one year are eligible.

PricewaterhouseCoopers: Professional services company PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) offers employees up to $1,200 per year in student loan repayment assistance with a $10,000 maximum lifetime benefit.

SoFi: The online lender offers employees up to $200 per month in student loan repayment assistance with no lifetime caps.

Staples: Staples offers qualifying, high-potential employees $100 per month in student loan repayment assistance for a maximum of 36 months.

Carhartt: Clothing retailer Carhartt offers qualifying full- and part-time employees $50 per month toward their student loans with a maximum $10,000 lifetime benefit. Nonunion members are eligible for student loan repayment assistance after 30 days of employment while union members must wait until they’ve worked for the company for 90 days.

Bereavement Leave

The Grief Index estimates that at any given time, one out of four employees are grieving. The trauma associated with the loss of a loved one can last for months or even years, and can cause stress, depression, substance abuse, and an inability to focus—all of which are likely to impact an individual’s ability to function at work, and result in poor decisions, reduced productivity, lost business, and increased incidence of workplace
accidents and injuries.

According to the National Council for Palliative Care, 87% of workers believe their employer should offer paid bereavement leave, and 56% of survey respondents reported they would consider quitting their job if they felt that their employer did not adequately support them during a time of loss. The survey also found that nearly a third of respondents who had suffered a loss felt that they had not been treated compassionately by their

An assessment of employee reviews posted on Glassdoor uncovered numerous reviews expressing dissatisfaction and negative perceptions related to the amount of bereavement leave offered.

Facebook brought attention to the issue with its announcement that the company would offer employees 20 days of paid bereavement leave following the loss of an immediate family member, and ten days of paid leave for the loss of an extended family member. The announcement came on the heels of the sudden death of thehusband of Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg. The company’s benefit package is a benchmark in other areas as well. Facebook employees receive six weeks of paid leave within a 12-month period to spend time with a family member who has a long-term illness, and three days to take care of a family member with a short-term illness.

The Grief Index gathered input from over 25,000 workers to understand more about the impact of grief in the workplace. Findings pointed to significant negative consequences associated with insufficient bereavement leave, including absenteeism, reduced productivity, lost business, and increased workplace accidents and injuries.

• 85% of management-level decision makers ranked their decision-making capacity from ‘very poor’ to ‘fair’ in the weeks and months following their loss
• 60% of those participants reported their decision-making had a negative financial impact on their employer
• 90% of participants with physical jobs reported a much higher incidence of job-related injuries due to reduced concentration in the weeks and months following their loss
• 75% of all study participants reported that a reduced ability to concentrate affected them significantly beyond the company’s allocated leave time
• 50% of participants reported their value to the company or business was dramatically reduced for at least 30 days following their loss
• 20% of participants reported being affected for substantially longer than 30 days following their loss

The Grief Index estimates that grief-related impacts cost US businesses more than $100 billion each year. Having policies in place to ensure the employee is in the right frame of mind to return to work and resume full responsibilities is not only important for the well-being of the employee. Effective and compassionate policies can also reduce the longer-term costs of absenteeism, sickness, and diminished performance and productivity.

Bereavement Benefits

Facebook brought attention to the issue with its announcement that the company would offer employees 20 days of paid bereavement leave following the loss of an immediate family member, and ten days of paid leave for the loss of an extended family member. The announcement came on the heels of
the sudden death of the husband of Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg. The company’s benefit package is a benchmark in other areas as well. Facebook employees receive six weeks of paid leave within a 12-month period to spend time with a family member who has a long-term illness, and three days to take care of a family member with a short-term illness.

General Mills will provide up to four weeks’ paid time off for employees following the death of an immediate relative.

Employees at Zillow are eligible to take 20 paid days of leave following the death of a close family member, and five days of paid leave for extended family members.

Other Innovative Benefits and Perks

Integrated Benefits Platform

The Issue: AT&T believes the consumer can best defend against the high cost of healthcare — but only if they have the proper tools and support. An early adopter of high-deductible, consumer-driven health plans, the company soon discovered by examining claims and plan selections in tandem that many employees were not choosing the plan that made the most sense for them, from both a cost and coverage perspective. Employees needed more help in navigating the healthcare system to find high-quality, cost-effective providers.

The Solution: AT&T implemented an integrated benefits platform, “Your Health Matters,” to give employees access to decision-making tools and other health benefits resources in one place. The platform evolved since implementation to integrate a cost-comparison tool and a second-opinion program. All of AT&T’s health plans are HSA-eligible, and three levels are offered: Gold, Silver and Bronze. However, ongoing analyses showed that some employees remained over-insured. On the new platform, employees’ actual claims experience was imported into the decision-making tools to help employees pick the right plan, based on their past healthcare use. Employees also completed a questionnaire to establish their risk tolerance and the results produced a score for each plan, ranking them in order of “best match” for the employee and their healthcare needs. To encourage appropriate migration into lower-cost plans, AT&T matched employees’ HSA contributions for the Bronze plan, up to $500 for individuals and $1,000 for family coverage.

The Results: Employees have more choice and more financial responsibility—and more support. The new decision-making support tool, along with the HSA matching contribution, resulted in a 30% increase in enrollment in the Bronze plan in the first year. In the upcoming plan year, when the match will be doubled for the Bronze plan and a new match added for the Silver plan, AT&T expects a similar increase in Bronze plan enrollment and a 20% increase in Silver plan enrollment. Though the program was initially designed to be cost-neutral, AT&T’s medical trend has dropped below the national trend.

Creating a Culture Focused on Health

The Issue: PepsiCo has long been committed to helping its employees maintain a healthy lifestyle. Though the company had implemented several programs aimed at improving employees’ health and well-being over the years and providing them with tools to navigate the complex healthcare system, engagement levels with these programs were not at the desired level.

The Solution: PepsiCo partnered with an engagement platform aimed at increasing participation in PepsiCo’s programs with a highly personalized and targeted approach. This engagement vendor acted as a hub for all of PepsiCo’s health plan point solutions, consolidating access in one location. The vendor received data feeds from health plans and point-solution vendors and used the information to customize outreach to members. Based on claims data, it identified appropriate programs for employees using an algorithm that calculated the probability that a member would need a specific type of care. The approach to engagement was subtle: When a member logged into the portal, typically to find information about his or her health plan (for example, spend against the deductible), the page was customized to highlight the programs the employee was most likely to need. Did this “soft sell” approach work? The numbers say yes. One of the specific programs PepsiCo was looking to increase engagement in was the transparency tool. Prior to implementation, there were 18,000 total visits from January to June 2016; after implementation of the engagement vendor, total visits increased by 61% to 29,000 visits from January to June 2017.

The Results: After the first six months of the program, around 32% of eligible employees and around 6% of eligible spouses were registered, and engagement in some programs increased: average telemedicine visits per month increased 25% and average monthly registrations for the telemedicine program increased 33% during the first six months of 2017, compared to the same period in 2016. The percentage of members completing a wellness questionnaire and a wellness screening increased 4% and 2%, respectively, during the first six months of 2017, compared to the same period in 2016. The engagement vendor was also used to target messaging to members who enrolled in a diabetes management program but who had not activated their program-specific glucometer. Within three weeks of launching a targeted campaign, 38% of these members activated their device and began to utilize the program.

Behavioral Health/Substance Abuse Benefits

Boeing’s long-term strategy to improve access to treatment for behavioral health and substance abuse issues recognizes that many different doorways to care are needed. Several years ago, the company placed Employee Assistance Program counselors in onsite occupational health clinics that offer an array of services and are well-utilized; employees can see a counselor without concern that others will know the type of service they are receiving.

Another doorway can be a patient’s visit to a primary care physician (PCP) — but only if the PCP recognizes the problem and knows what to do about it. Led by one of Boeing’s senior ACO partners, a simple, ingenious solution was pioneered for Boeing ACO members, giving all PCPs in the network the ability to consult directly—and in real time—with a psychiatrist’s office to discuss concerns or questions arising during a patient’s office visit. The program is based on clinical evidence indicating that the collaborative care model is twice as effective as standard care for people with depression and anxiety.

Over two years, patient symptoms improved (and held steady), and they had a higher level of satisfaction with their care. Unlike the standard process for triage or intake today, the program is based on the premise that the first stop for a person with concerns about a behavioral health issue should be with the most qualified professional to ensure he or she gets the right guidance at the first contact.

The program will provide ACO members with same-day telephone or video access to a psychiatrist or doctoral psychologist for free. Whether it’s a new concern, confusion or dissatisfaction with current treatment, or help coordinating care with other doctors, members will get expert support and follow-up. The pilot is targeted for a summer 2018 launch, with the expectation to roll out a refined model more broadly in 2019.

Employee Incentives to Keep Down Costs

Walgreens implemented a care coordination model that included incentives for both plan carriers and plan members. The company worked directly with its carriers to establish care coordinators, which replaced the typical carrier customer service as the “hub” of care direction. To ensure that these coordinators got involved when providers referred members for care, preauthorization was required—initially for a defined set of services, but ultimately virtually all referrals would require authorization.

Care coordinators were given access to select providers that met in-network and quality standards. The coordinators could see what the costs of using those providers would be. If a member was referred to certain provider to get an MRI at a cost of $2,000, the coordinator could refer the member to another quality provider that charged only $1,000. When members were directed to a more cost-effective provider, they could earn a cash incentive of up to $250.

To ensure that the carriers had a stake in the success of the program, it was built on a shared-savings model—the carrier was to receive a percentage of savings relative to an agreed market trend. This way, both carriers and members stood to benefit when plan providers and patients considered cost at the time of referral. A unique aspect of this program was that it took the burden of price comparison away from the consumer and put it on the carrier, via the care coordinators. Even a savvy consumer is more likely to go with a doctor’s recommendation than to go online to comparison-shop, particularly for serious diagnoses or intense treatment programs. But the care coordinator model ensured that there would always be a provider evaluation and comparison process, regardless of whether the member opts to utilize available transparency tools.

The Results: In its first year of operation, the care coordination program is expected to save up to 4% of total medical claims. Seventy percent of the total annual budget allocated for employee incentives for those choosing more cost-effective care has been given out through the first eight months, suggesting that employees are actively engaged in the program. The potential for savings will increase when the program extends pre-authorization to all medical services.

Other Benefit Perks

IBM offers free unlimited 1:1 sessions with independent financial consultants for all personal financial needs (IBM MoneySmart).

Rubicon offers health insurance with premiums that are 100 percent paid for by the company, performance bonuses, flexibility to work from home and the ability to take an unpaid sabbatical of up to six months after just three years with the company.

In addition to other generous benefits, employees at Evernote receive an annual $1,000 vacation stipend.

CoverMyMeds offers unlimited vacation, leadership training, an on-site chef who serves free nutritious lunches—every day—community involvement, and a program called CoverMyQuest – employees can have the opportunity to pitch a passion, idea or lifelong dream for chance to win one of eight $4,000 mini grants.

Salesforce provides all employees seven days of paid time off and an up to $5,000 match every year to spend giving back to causes that are meaningful to them. The top 100 volunteers are granted $10,000 to donate to a nonprofit of their choice.

Amazon partners with Rethink Benefits, a program that helps children with autism and other developmental disabilities build the skills they need to reach their fullest potential. Families can access resources and support at no cost, including online resources and up to three hours of live clinical coaching each year.

Among a host of other benefits, Adobe offers employees:

Bereavement Leave: Provides up to 20 days (4 weeks) of full paid-time (base salary), per calendar year.

Leaves of Absence: Parental leave, medical leave, family care leave, military leave, organ/bone marrow donation leave, and Welcome Back program.

Two Company Week-Long Shutdowns: In addition to company holidays and individual employee PTO, Adobe has two company-wide breaks each year, for a summer and a winter holiday. The dates of these periods change each year.

Personal and Family Services: Adoption assistance, surrogacy assistance, fertility support, breast milk transportation, Employee Assistance Program (EAP), voluntary insurance benefits (pet, home and auto, longterm health care needs), Survivor Outreach Services, and Autism Spectrum Disorder Support Program.

The company also partnered with Aetna and Kaiser to provide an extensive employee assistance program that offers a range of services including counseling and relationship support, CareKits for pregnancy, child and adult
care, and legal services.

J&J Benefits for Veterans

Working in partnership with the company’s HR and global benefits community, Johnson and Johnson’s Veteran’s Leadership Council (VLC) gathered benchmarking data and collected input from its members and other veterans in the J&J workforce to identify coverage gaps and opportunities for improving upon existing benefits. Armed with the information, the VLC employee resource group (ERG) developed specific recommendations for expanding the benefits. The group also played a central role in moving the proposed changes through the approval process and communicating the new policies once they were adopted.

Under the expanded leave benefits, service members receive their full J&J salary while deployed, (in addition to their military salary), and are eligible for paid time off following deployment to acclimate back to civilian life. Vacation time accrues when the deployed employee is on leave for an extended period. Their demonstrated leadership in developing and implementing the new policies earned the ERG recognition from the CEO at the company’s annual board meeting and a prestigious award from the Department of Defense (DoD). Most importantly, the new benefits fulfill the ERG’s underlying mission to support the needs of J&J employees who serve in the armed forces.

Intel’s Customized Health Benefits

The Issue: Intel’s health benefit program had long been focused on all three elements of the triple aim: quality, cost and user experience. The company had previously implemented high-deductible health plans, biometric screenings and on-site primary care, strategies that helped achieve a consistent low single-digit trend, nearing zero — until costs began to rise again.

The Solution: As a company that deals in data, Intel undertook a deep analysis of claims in 2011 and found that although it was spending $500 million per year on healthcare for 132,000 people, just 800 people accounted for $100 million. These high-cost individuals were managing chronic conditions (often multiple conditions), engaging with multiple doctors and specialists and managing multiple prescriptions. But the program was lacking coordination of care to help these employees navigate the system, avoid wasted spending and achieve improved health outcomes. To address this issue, Intel went out to the marketplace in locations where they had a critical mass of employees and forged partnerships with health systems, essentially creating their own Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). These arrangements were structured around pay-for performance based on measures supporting the triple aim. In this new Connected Care system, physicians keep in touch with the patients and coordinate with other service providers associated with the patient—including Intel’s on-site primary care clinics. Secure data sharing between providers was a key component of the program.

The Results: Compared to the other Intel plans, Connected Care plans are achieving better outcomes and higher member satisfaction and are already showing a slightly better year-over-year trend, with overall lower total cost per member—especially higher-risk members.

Benefits for Veterans

Supportive HR Policies for Veterans and Active Military Source: Value a Veteran

Some policies are required as part of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) of 1994. Other policies are recognized differentiators that get noticed by those who continue to serve in the Guard and Reserve. You’ll want to develop these policies early on so you can market them to the veteran on your website and in other materials.

Here are some best practice policies to consider:

Offer a pay differential to offset any lost wages during active duty service. Certain military salaries lag civilian compensation. An absence for active military service, whether it be it a two week Annual Training requirement or a 12 month mobilization, can put your veteran-employee in a financial bind. USERRA does not require employers to offer a pay differential, but many of the topranked “military-friendly” employers do.

Distinguish between an absence for vacation and an absence for military service. USERRA prohibits companies from forcing an employee to use up his/her vacation time to complete military requirements.

Review your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for inclusion of services that support the needs of veteran-employees. Those with service-connected disabilities or who have recently returned from an extended deployment to a war zone may desire to seek out mental health counseling or rehabilitation services. Other appropriate services include stress/anger management counseling, guidance on how to reunite with families, and how to pace their transition to a civilian job. Assume the veteran-employee is unaware your company offers these benefits, and ensure their family is made aware of them as well.

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