financial wellness

Why financial wellness benefits are vital for your company…

When you think about employee benefits, your mind probably goes right to medical coverage. But there are actually a lot of other valuable added employee benefits to consider, from retirement plans and disability to vision and dental coverage.

If you don’t consider these added benefits to be a priority for your business, you might want to rethink that. Employee benefits are actually more important now than they ever have been before. Below are some of the reasons you should consider value added employee benefits beyond medical for your small business, along with tips for implementing those benefits.

Why You Should Offer Value Added Employee Benefits

They Help You Attract the Best Employees

According to a 2015 CareerBuilder study, 55 percent of employees consider affordable benefits to be more important than salary when job hunting. That means that more than half of potential workers out there would rather work for a company that offers comprehensive benefits than one that offers a slightly higher salary but limited benefits.

So if you don’t offer any valued added benefits to your employees, you could really be missing out on some great potential team members.

If more than half of people would pass on the opportunity to work for your company just because of the benefits, that greatly reduces the talent pool for your organization. And that means you’ll have less of a chance to actually find the best people for each job.

They Help Your Team Stay Focused on Work

Even if you do manage to hire a great team, it’s more difficult for employees to stay focused and engaged at work if they’re worried about money or experiencing financial issues, which is more likely if comprehensive benefits packages aren’t offered.

According to MetLife’s 14th Annual Employee Benefit Trends Study, 46 percent of employees who are financially distressed believe that their money worries have a negative impact on their productivity. And employers tend to agree.

In addition, since two-thirds of Americans report that they would have trouble coming up with $1,000 to cover an unexpected medical emergency or other crisis, insurance can have a big impact on whether or not many workers have to actually experience those financial burdens.

They Convince Your Team to Stick Around Longer

If you’re able to attract the right employees to your business and compensate them enough so that they can actually be productive and focused at work, then you likely want to get them to stick around as long as possible. Luckily, value added employee benefits can also help in that area.

Fair compensation, which often includes added benefits, can make employees feel that they are fairly compensated for their work. And if they’re satisfied and stable in their jobs, they’re more likely to stick around instead of looking for opportunities with better compensation elsewhere.

This not only allows your business to hold onto the best possible employees, but also potentially saves you money on training and HR expenses.

How to Offer Value Added Employee Benefits

Talk to Your Employees

There are many different types of employee benefits out there. Generally, more than half of employees tend to see retirement plans, dental coverage and life insurance options as “must-haves,” according to MetLife’s Employee Benefit Trends Study. And vision care insurance and disability insurance are also considered to be important.

But as a small business owner, you have access to even more specific information about what your employees want if you’re willing to just talk to them. If you know exactly what kinds of benefits they consider to be important, you can prioritize those over others.

Keep Looking Forward

You’ll also want to be sure that your benefits plans will work for the future of your business as well. Don’t spend so much in the short term that you’ll potentially harm your chances of affording great options in the future. But you also need to consider how added employee benefits might help your business going forward they help your team grow and stay productive.

Re-evaluate Regularly

As your team changes and evolves, so should your benefits. You’ll need to constantly re-consider different types of benefits so that you can make sure your plan is always what’s best for your team. In addition, as your budget grows or fluctuates, you can make adjustments that fit within what you can afford while still offering the best possible plans to employees.-Annie Pilon

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Ready for Thanksgiving?

Our family’s Thanksgiving tradition has nothing to do with food or football, but has everything to do with our personal beliefs, values and expectations.

It’s an annual family discussion of issues related to Advance Care Planning, and it’s a tradition I encourage all families to adopt.

Advance Care Planning involves completing the necessary legal forms to document your health care preferences at end-of-life, and legally designating someone to represent you during a medical crisis if you can’t speak for yourself. The basic legal forms are a Health Care Proxy and New York Living Will.

Years ago, my family started this tradition on Thanksgiving, because it’s an American holiday that just about everyone celebrates, and it brings together family members from far and wide. At first, you might think it’s morbid to discuss such topics at a fun holiday gathering, but we’ve found that it brings us closer together. We each gain peace of mind from knowing that our own wishes have been expressed and will be honored, and from hearing how our loved ones want to be treated if ever they need someone to make health care decisions on their behalf. It’s yet another reason to give thanks.

After our Thanksgiving meal, and after the dishes are cleared, the adults in our family remain at the table and review our individual Advance Care Planning documents to make sure they reflect our current feelings. We have blank forms on hand in case new documents need to be completed and witnessed.

As a medical doctor and health plan administrator with a specialty in pain management and end-of-life issues, I am passionate about Advance Care Planning. I recommend that everyone 18 years and older completes the legally recognized Advance Care Planning forms and keeps copies on file with their physicians, lawyer and loved ones.

In addition to the Health Care Proxy and New York Living Will, there’s a document called Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (MOLST), and an electronic version called eMOLST. MOLST is recommended for people with serious or advancing chronic illness, and for those who want to further define their wishes for medical interventions, including resuscitation. The MOLST form is legally approved for use in hospitals and nursing homes across New York state.

I encourage your family to adopt our Thanksgiving tradition. Discussing and documenting each family member’s thoughts and views on this subject will save heartache and family turmoil in the future. Download a free step-by-step booklet and discussion guide on Advance Care Planning, as well as blank forms for the New York Living Will, Health Care Proxy and MOLST at compassionandsupport.org.

Patricia Bomba, M.D., is vice president and medical director/geriatrics for Univera Healthcare. She served on the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Transforming End-of-Life Care

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3 tips for end of life planning

Most people can’t or don’t want to think about the day they might be incapable of making even basic decisions, says Jessica Lillesand, senior advisory specialist at Wells Fargo Private Bank. Incapacity planning—laying out the manner you want to be cared for should you lose your cognitive ability—is difficult to face but an absolute must for someone with estate plans.

“Most people don’t give much thought to the issue” until it is too late to handle carefully, Lillesand says, and that can accidentally throw parts of an estate or financial plan out of the window—the exact opposite of what they want.

Lillesand had a female client, for example, with an intricate and long-planned tax strategy requiring residence in Florida. When she began to deteriorate and started needing assistance, her family kept trying to move her out of Florida, nearer to where they lived. She never shared with them her tax strategy and her family was left to guess her exact wishes.

So, here’s lesson number one: make your location wishes clear from the get-go, says Lillesand, and let your surrogate decision-makers understand your thought process. That way, they have all the information on hand to carry out your wishes when the need arises.

The common mistake is that “there is a fall or illness that puts a person into a rehab and everyone is in crisis mode,” she says. The family ends up making a decision based off of the information they have on-hand, which is usually not complete.

Which gets us to lesson number two: pick strong surrogates. The advocates you grant “durable power of attorney,” reminds Lillesand, “will be running your show”—from handling your finances, such as conducting complicated bank transactions; to legal battles, such as standing in your place in the case that a medical lawsuit is filed. This means, you not only have to trust your surrogate, but they also have to be capable of managing your sophisticated finances.

That’s a lot more responsibility than most people really sign up for, Lillesand says, which is why you need to talk beforehand and in considerable detail to the person you want to nominate for the position. To make the conversation more robust, be sure to bring up the day-to-day administrative and financial tasks that may need overseeing, she says.

To split the burden, so no one person is overwhelmed by the responsibility, you may also separately pick a healthcare surrogate, to become your voice on medical decisions, freeing up the competent administrator to focus solely on your complicated financial affairs. That can become a problem in itself. Many people, when it comes to their medical surrogate, pick someone close to them, who may not always be the one best-suited emotionally for tough medical decisions. You may, for example, pick your child to be your medical surrogate, but ask yourself whether they have the heart to advocate for your wish to withdraw from life-prolonging procedures or the intake of food, if the situation arises. Lillesand says, “the emotional challenge is tremendous,” and when you’re not fully there, this person needs to be able to communicate your wishes, even if they are brutally painful to execute.

Which brings us to lesson number three: don’t leave a child who is easily heartbroken the responsibility of cutting off your life.