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The 10 Healthcare Benefits You May Have and Not Know About

With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, covering 10 “essential” healthcare services became law. Add state-required benefits and extras insurance providers offer, and you may have benefits you don’t realize you have. Caroline Banton of GO Banking Rates has put together a list of 10 unexpected common forms of coverage.

1. Diet Counseling and Obesity Treatments — 16 states require dietary or nutritional screening, and bariatric surgery to reduce the size of patients’ stomachs is now mandated in 23 states. Seven states require coverage for recently diagnosed diabetes.

2. Psychiatric Therapy — If your company has 50+ employees in its plan, or if you’re in an exchange, CHIP, or most Medicaid programs, the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act forbids insurance companies from charging higher co-pays for mental health visits.

3. Discounted or Free Health Clubs — Increased competition caused by the ACA has some insurance companies sweetening their products by adding coverage for fitness tracking/management and help with health-club membership costs.

4. Chiropractic Services — Some states offer coverage of chiropractic as a rehabilitative service. You can check out your state at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website.

5. Autism Screening and Therapy for Children — With 1 in 68 children on the autism spectrum, the ACA requires insurance companies to pay for preventive services including screening at 18 and 24 months. 43 states and Washington D.C. require coverage of autism services.

6. Smoking Cessation Programs — Treatment for tobacco addiction is categorized as a “mental health services and addiction treatment,” so the ACA’s required coverage also applies to rehab and treatment for other additions. The American Lung Association has details on the coverage mandated by the ACA.

7. Gender ReassignmentHuman Rights campaign has information on over two dozen insurance companies that cover transgender-related health care.

8. Pre-Natal Folic Acid Supplements and Breastfeeding Supplies — The ACA requires covering breastfeeding support and supplies, as well as folic acid supplements. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists additional covered preventative services for women.

9. Acupuncture or Massage Therapy — Some insurers are covering alternative treatments such as these. Your best bet is to check with your provider.

10. Hair Prosthesis — Most insurance companies cover the cost of a wig if prescribed by a doctor. Beyond that, some states require coverage as an essential benefit.

Robby Berman

Robby Berman is a reporter, father, and musician who creates and discovers good stuff for the Internet world.

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Employee Support Is Strong for Closing the Gender Pay Gap

If companies wonder how workers feel about compensation adjustments that level out pay between men and women, a new Glassdoor study finds that 93% of American employees surveyed are in favor of seeing the wage gap between men and women closed. Worldwide, the number’s 89%.

Workers often don’t think their own companies are the problem. 7 in 10 people on average worldwide believed their own company paid equally, though women were less likely to make that assumption. In the U.S. there’s slightly less confidence in one’s own company, with 70% overall choosing to believe the best — 77% of the men and 70% of the women. A third of U.S. women surveyed believed their employers were part of the problem, nearly twice the number of men who thought so.

Around the world, women are concerned about whether or not they were being payed equally. In the U.S., about two thirds think they’re being fairly compensated, while a third feel they deserve to be paid more. (5% of women don’t think women deserve equal pay.)

Though the percentages shift slightly a bit across the countries in the survey — United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, The Netherlands and Switzerland — the story’s the same everywhere: More men feel they’re being paid fairly and don’t think their company has a pay gender gap; more women feel they’re not being properly compensated and that a gender gap does exist at their company.

The survey points to some things companies offering equal pay should do. Glassdoor suggests they promote their equal-pay practices since, for example, 67% of U.S. workers surveyed wouldn’t even apply for work at companies with a gender gap in pay. Worldwide, 81% of women wouldn’t apply. For companies that do still have a gender gap, that leaves a vanishingly small talent pool to draw from. (63% of workers older than 55 may apply to such a company, but 81% of people from 18 to 24 won’t.)

Employees are eager to see companies step up, with 45% of U.S. workers ready for new policies that close the pay gap, and two thirds looking for more transparency in how compensation is calculated anyway. About 20% think female employees should request raises more frequently to help close the gender gap in pay. And 39% approve of the government stepping in to force companies to pay men and women equally.

Dora Wang

Dora is an employee engagement reporter for TINYpulse. When she's not busy digging into and covering the latest workplace trends, she's wrangling with her three (yes, three) cats and rooting for the Seahawks.

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How Big Tech Companies Sweeten the Deal With Perks

The competition for the best employees in the technology industry is fierce. Salaries are already getting pretty much as high as they can go, so companies are looking at perks and benefits as the way to attract and retain top talent. It’s a strategy that makes sense since, as Glassdoor reports, 57% of the people they recently polled said perks and benefits are among the top reasons they take one job and not another.

This month, Glassdoor released a Top Employee Benefits & Perks list. Here are their top 20 companies, ranked by their overall benefits packages, along with one or two signature perks/benefits from each.

1. Netflix: One paid year of maternity/paternity leave for new parents. Parents can return part time or full time and take time off as needed throughout the year.

2. REITwo days off for going outside per year called Yay Days.

3. Salesforce: Six days of paid volunteer time per year. (If they use all six, they receive a $1,000 grant to donate to a charity of their choice.)

4. SpotifySix months of paid parental leave, plus one month of flexible options for returning. Costs for egg freezing and fertility assistance.

5. World Wildlife FundTake Panda Friday off every other week.

6. Airbnb$2,000 annually to travel and stay at an Airbnb listing anywhere.

7. PwC$1,200 per year for student-loan debt reimbursement.

8. PinterestParental leave is four paid months off, plus one month of part time, and two counseling sessions to create a work re-entry plan.

9. BurtonSeason ski passes and snow days to enjoy them after major snowfalls.

10. Twillio: A Kindle plus $30 a month to buy books.

11. TwitterThree catered meals a day. On-site acupuncture and improv classes.

12. AccentureGender reassignment to support LGBTQ rights and diversity.

13. Walt Disney CompanyFree admission for employees, friends, and family to Disney parks. Discounts on hotels and merchandise.

14. Facebook$4,000 in Baby Cash to employees with a newborn.

15. EvernoteEvernote Academy’s team-building courses, including macaroon baking.

16. Epic Systems CorporationPaid four-week sabbatical to pursue creative talents after 5 years.

17. AdobePaid time off for one week in December and one in the summer.

18. Asana: External executive and life-coaching services.

19. ZillowPays for breast-milk shipping for traveling employees.

20. Google50% of salary paid to employee’s surviving spouse or partner for 10 years.

Robby Berman

Robby Berman is a reporter, father, and musician who creates and discovers good stuff for the Internet world.

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Your Future at Your Job May Depend on the Box You’re In

It’s not like your boss wants to put you in a box, but talent management professionals might. According to Enterprise Investor, there’s a widely used nine-box employee rating system many of us have never even heard of. The amount of effort a company puts into developing an employee — say, you — may well depend on the box they’re assigned to.

The nine-box grid has two axes. The vertical axis rates an employee’s potential. The horizontal axis describes the employee’s current performance.

Where-Do-You-Fit-on-Your-Organizations-Nine-Box-GridII

Figuring out the box management thinks you belong in can help you see where you need improvement and understand what, if anything, may be holding you back at the company. Obviously, if you’re in the lower left corner, it’s time to look for another more suitable job.

Most employees are in one of seven boxes.

  1. Low Potential, Average Performance: The person in this box is a reliable, all-around employee who should be encouraged to specialize. The goal for this person is retention, not growth.
  2. Low Potential, High Performance: This is probably a specialist or expert in some area, and that’s where that person will remain. They can be helpful in the development or training of others. Keep this person engaged so they’ll stay with the company and continue developing their expertise.
  3. Average Potential, Low Performance: This person may represent an opportunity. Try re-evaluating whether or not the current position is a good fit, and see if more training or coaching shakes something loose.
  4. Average Potential, Average Performance: This may seem like a medium rank, but it’s actually the box for the solid employee who keeps the company running and should be nurtured, motivated, and rewarded.
  5. Average Potential, High Performance: This person is currently valuable to the company and needs to be kept engaged so they don’t leave. Stretching this employee’s skills and challenging them may be productive.
  6. High Potential, Low Performance: This box means someone with potential is in the wrong job, on a dysfunctional team, or under an ineffective manager. Figure out and fix the problem.
  7. High Potential, Average Performance: This person’s future deserves cultivation with assignments that stretch the employee, coaching, and skills development. This person needs to be engaged for retention; after all, they may be a company leader someday.

Dora Wang

Dora is an employee engagement reporter for TINYpulse. When she's not busy digging into and covering the latest workplace trends, she's wrangling with her three (yes, three) cats and rooting for the Seahawks.

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Employees Who Feel Appreciated Stay Longer

British performance-improvement agency P&MM has just released a report confirming the value of employee recognition programs. P&MM studied companies that have formal employee recognition programs. They collected and analyzed feedback from 12,331 full-time, part-time, and freelance employees with a range of responsibilities.

What they found was that employees who had never been formally thanked for their work by management or peers tended not to stay in their companies very long, leaving anywhere from an average of 4.7 years to 9.8 years. On the other hand, workers who had been formally recognized for their contribution stay far longer, with an average range of 8.16 years to 14 years, an increase of 3.7 years. In fact, say the study’s authors, “This sort of analysis provides a valuable insight for managers as it means that recognition program data can be used to highlight those staff who are a flight risk.”

High turnover is an expense few companies welcome. P&MM says that as much as a third of employees are likely to change companies in 2016, and that it can cost employers up to £30,614 (about $44,374 US) each time it happens.

P&MM’s analysis doesn’t suggest that just an occasional plaque or reward is a necessarily a panacea. However, P&MM’s John Sylvester says, “The data clearly indicates a propensity for individuals who are recognized to be more engaged at work, to go above and beyond and to have better relationships with managers and colleagues.’’

It makes sense. The emotional connection employees feel toward their companies is acknowledged to be a driver of high performance. And who would feel good about working hard and not being appreciated?

Sabrina Son

Sabrina is the editor in chief for TINYpulse news. She's dipped her toes into various works of writing — from retail copywriter to magazine editor. Her work's been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg BNA, and Tech.co.

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Studies Suggest How to Improve Onboarding

In December 2015, ADP released the results of a major employee onboarding survey. They’ve distilled their findings into an infographic packed with intriguing insights (click infographic to magnify it).

When asked if they think their companies have a good handle on onboarding, 91% of managers said no, as did 81% of HR administrators, and 75% of employees. Given that just 8% of managers make the process a priority, and only 49% of companies even bother to measure their success at it, it’s no surprise that 79% of employees feel there’s room for improvement in their companies. And according to a study by Learnkit, 89% of employees wish their bosses would make more of a priority of onboarding.

ADP suggests that the key to doing onboarding right is to humanize it by keeping three core concepts in mind.

  • Connection: Satisfaction and integration into the workforce that leads to retention.
  • Comfort: Personal bonds between employees and management that lead to productive working relationships
  • Culture: Clear workplace expectations and values that help employees succeed.

Heather R. Huhman writing for Entrepreneur distills the lessons of ADP’s study into five onboarding rules:

1. Make your employees feel like their needs and satisfaction are a company priority. Companies should approach onboarding with enthusiasm and a genuine interest in what the process is like for employees.

2. Make onboarding a rewarding learning experience. Make sure it contains truly useful material and teaches worthwhile skills rather than getting lost in dull process.

3. Feel free to customize onboarding for specific employees. While there will always be certain information a company needs to impart before onboarding is complete, pay attention to the idea that everyone’s an individual, and that people learn in different ways, at different paces, and enjoy learning at different times of day.

4. Take onboarding online so that new hires can share their onboarding experience with other trainees. By adding a shared element to the experience, work friendships are made, and the process can be more enjoyable.

5. Make employee engagement a primary goal. As onboarding curriculum is developed, keep in mind that making employees feel engaged is as important as the specific information that needs to be communicated.

Sabrina Son

Sabrina is the editor in chief for TINYpulse news. She's dipped her toes into various works of writing — from retail copywriter to magazine editor. Her work's been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg BNA, and Tech.co.

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What Else Should You Say When You Say Goodbye?

When it’s time to leave a company — unless Security’s escorting you straight to the door — your soon-to-be-ex-bosses are likely to want an exit interview with you. Depending on the circumstances, your feelings about this may range from, “So long, suckas,” to, “Sure, what can I do to help?” In any event, there are some interesting things to think about, as pointed out in a new article on Examiner.com.

The first issue, the trickiest, is the tone you’ll be taking during this final conversation with the company. It’s always a good idea, of course, to leave on a positive note, but just how to do this can require some strategy.

It’s often the case that the HR department will be interested in learning things from you that can assist them in employee retention going forward. Basically, they’ll be asking you for feedback. Given that you may want a reference from an old boss or — heaven forfend — you may need to come back some day, you don’t want to use the exit interview as your forum for venting. Forbes suggests preventing by composing the bluntest, most unguarded resignation letter you can before you have your interview, and then making sure it never sees the light of day again.

In any event, since you don’t want to be put in the position of having to lie, frame any critiques in a friendly, unemotional way, as Vivian Rank, a consultant for The Society for Human Resource Management told Forbes.,“The challenge is to provide non-emotional feedback. You don’t want to rail.”

In general, to achieve a happy ending, try to limit what you say to useful information. You may want to say why you’re leaving: a better salary, or a clearer path to advancement, for example. This is all good data for HR to have. Your company may also require transition operational information from you, as noted in the Examiner article — if you can find out what they need ahead of time, the interview will go that much more smoothly.

Robby Berman

Robby Berman is a reporter, father, and musician who creates and discovers good stuff for the Internet world.

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Trends in Employee Benefits 2016

Though it wasn’t necessarily obvious on January 1, there are some major employee-friendly trends brewing, according to some HR thought leaders. Competition for great talent is intense at the moment, and Inc. talked to some HR soothsayers about how they foresee companies upping the ante in 2016.

Help With Education Costs

Bruce Elliott, manager of compensation and benefits for the Society for Human Resource Management, sees stronger support for employee education. Last year, trendsetting PricewaterhouseCoopers announced that they’d pay up to $7,200 of an employee’s student debt; up to $1,200 a year for six years. Another interesting wrinkle is the approach taken by Starbucks, which announced a partnership with Arizona State University to pay for an employee’s pursuing a bachelor’s degree, full-time or part-time.

 

Family Leave Support

Private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company is paying for workers to bring their kids along on business trips. Companies are also taking notice of Netflix’s unlimited maternity/paternity leave in the first year or a newborn’s life or the first year with an adopted child.

Grovo’s VP of people, Joris Luijke, also sees companies becoming more deliberate about reintegrating employees back into work after an extended leave using flexible scheduling. He imagines companies allowing people to start part-time before diving completely back in.

 

More Support for Body and Mind

According to Luijke, we can expect a continued strengthening of 2015’s increased support of employees’ physical and mental well-being, ranging from reimbursement for a gym membership to providing a staff personal trainer, as Grovo does.

 

Health Care Everywhere

Ron Storn of Lyft expect new approaches to providing healthcare services to an ever-more scattered workforce. Lyft, for example, has 700 people working out of over a dozen regional sites.

Storm is excited about the services of companies like One Medical Group. They operate a 24/7 virtual care clinic employees can reach via a mobile app, and offer same-day appointments with doctors in over 40 cities.

 

Saying Sooth

Making predictions about business is always dicey, especially with the roiling stock markets we’ve seen since so far in 2016. But as long as companies are serious about acquiring and retaining strong talent, we can be sure they’ll continue to search for new ways to support prospective and current employees.

Naomi Thalenberg

Naomi is a reporter for TINYpulse, living and breathing everything employee engagement. She does this by always keeping her workstation fully stocked with dark chocolates.

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Many Companies Are Letting Their Most Promising Employees Get Away

There’s a growing awareness in business that some employees possess hard-to-spot hidden potential for helping a company succeed. The question is how can management identify them, develop them, and retain them? And because of that last point, the entire process is a ticking time bomb, since when talented employees feel under-appreciated, they leave.

The whole story is told in the results of a just-released survey conducted by HR consultants Penna. They surveyed 1,000 employees and 1,000 managers across the United Kingdom to find out what companies are doing to develop and hold onto their high-potential employees. Short answer: Not much. Eight out of ten companies are not doing anything to identify and develop employees’ potential, even though employees stay longer at companies that appreciate them.

On the management side, though 81% of managers think developing potential in their talented employees is very important, 30% said their company has no precise definition of what constitutes potential, and therefore no way to assess it. 79% said they know what it is, but have no processes or tools in place to identify potential. Another 31% felt they had no upper-management support for spotting those special workers, with a quarter of the managers feeling like it isn’t a priority for their company. The survey also found that when companies do search for hidden potential, they look only at 25–34 years olds, even when that age group represents a minority of their staff.

As for the employees, 24% claimed they had no clue if their bosses think they have potential or not. That’s too bad because 71% said they’d be more likely to stick around if they felt the company recognized what they had going for them. It’s a real issue for 37% of the respondents that their companies have no mechanism for discovering potential. And even when hidden gold is struck, only 23% said their bosses have done a thing to develop it.

Naomi Thalenberg

Naomi is a reporter for TINYpulse, living and breathing everything employee engagement. She does this by always keeping her workstation fully stocked with dark chocolates.

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Job Quits at Highest Level Since April 2008

A new government report released Tuesday on job turnover might be troubling for employers worried about turnover: More workers quit a job in November than in any month since April 2008.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey — also called JOLTS — 2.83 million people quit a job in November. By comparison, quits were at 2.66 million in November 2014.

A high number of job openings might be influencing the number of quits. Openings increased to 5.43 million in November, up from the 5.35 million openings in October. That was less than economists expected, but the number of openings has increased by nearly 600,000 since November 2014.

A healthier job market — the healthiest since the economic crisis that began in 2007 — may be influencing workers to quit a job without something else already lined up.

“People are happy to put their necks out to look around and get a new job,” Thomas Costerg, a senior economist at Standard Chartered Bank, told Bloomberg Tuesday.

Many economists predict that employers will have to make changes — like increasing wages — to prevent an increase in turnover.

The number of job quits vary by industry. The healthcare and social assistance and non-durable goods manufacturing industries saw the largest number of quits. However, quits in the real estate and wholesale trade industries decreased.

By region, the southern U.S. states saw the highest number of quits at 1.14 million.  Following that, the Midwest and the West had over 600,000 quits. Quits in the Northeast were estimated at 389,000.

The number of job openings by industry might give employers an idea about where quits might increase next.

Job openings in business services and education and health services were up by more 60,000 each between October and November. Openings in leisure and hospitality jobs increased by 23,000.

The rate of hiring was steady at 3.6% in November. The industry with the biggest pickup in hiring was leisure and hospitality. The increase was attributed to hiring in the lodging and food services industries.

The figures in the November JOLTS report, however, are preliminary and subject to change. The next report is due out in early February.

Neal McNamara

Neal has spent a decade working as a newspaper reporter, which is one of the worst jobs in America job according to some career websites, but he actually likes it a lot.

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