Create a Culture of Kindness to Boost Morale

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Create a Culture of Kindness to Boost Morale

University Hospitals is a Preferred Partner of ERC, offering Employee Wellness, Executive Health and Integrative Medicine services to ERC member companies.

As we begin a new year, consider making a resolution to create a culture of kindness in your organization. Giving and receiving kindness can improve our overall well-being and productivity by creating an environment that promotes team building and positivity.

Kindness – the warm-hearted gesture of a stranger genuinely smiling and holding the door, the friendly morning hello from a colleague, the sharing of hot cocoa with a friend in need. Whether random, planned, lasting, or just in the moment, the experience of kindness does something good to us, and inside of us.
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6 Tips for Benefits Open Enrollment in 2014

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With the changing health insurance and benefits landscape, there is a great deal of confusion occurring in the workforce, and the upcoming open enrollment season will be different than others in the past. Employers will be faced with the need to communicate and educate employees on health care reform and the benefits options available to them. In addition, organizations may be forced to identify alternative health care options or modify existing ones to cope with rising costs.

Here are six (6) tips for benefits open enrollment in 2014.

1. Review and modify your coverage.

Carefully review your health insurance policy changes each year and compare your current benefits package to your new one. Be sure to review all costs for health care services, spousal and dependent coverage options, as well as your premium costs. Consult health insurance related benchmark information from surveys as well as your broker on different options and modify accordingly. Perhaps even gather feedback from your employees on what they like and dislike about different health care/benefits options you are considering.
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6 Affordable Care Act (ACA) Reforms Taking Effect in 2014

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Although the employer mandate required under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) doesn't take effect until 2015, several reforms become effective in 2014. Here are the key reforms that you need to know.

1. Minimum Essential Coverage

Beginning in 2014, the ACA requires that health insurance issuers and sponsors of self-insured plans provide "minimum essential coverage" and report health coverage information to the IRS. This information will likely be used to verify data related to the ACA's individual and employer mandate.
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3 Health Care Cost Benchmarks

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With some organizations and individuals encountering significant changes to their health insurance costs and plans in 2014, the following metrics provide benchmarks on how organizations in Northeast Ohio have structured their health insurance plans and how much these plans are costing both employers and employees.

Although the needs of each organization vary, understanding how these benefits are being delivered to employees and at what price can help organizations gauge how competitive their benefits offerings are compared to other organizations in the region.

Plan Type

As the figure below illustrates, the most common type of health insurance plans offered are Preferred Provider Organization (PPO), Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP). In terms of controlling and sharing costs, HSAs have been experiencing the strongest growth in popularity. Many organizations have turned to HSAs as a way to better fit the financial and health related needs of certain employee groups. Although the numbers vary somewhat from those reported in the table below, according to ERC’s 2013 Workplace Practices survey, the number of organizations offering HSAs has jumped by nearly 30% over the past 10 years.
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Q&A: Holistic Wellness in the Workplace

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Holistic wellness approaches are gradually becoming more common in the workplace, with more organizations realizing that truly enhancing well-being requires a broader view of wellness. ERC continually sees employers gradually incorporating holistic approaches into their wellness and health care options, and citing very positive results.

Wellness is now recognized as much more complex than just physical well-being. Employees are "whole people" comprised of many aspects (physical, emotional, mental, etc.), and when one aspect is off-balance, the body and its health can be negatively impacted.
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3 Wellness Program Challenges and How to Fix Them

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As wellness programs have become a regular part of “the cost of doing business” (although ideally these programs will eventually yield a net reduction in the cost of doing business over time), it is still somewhat unclear what a “typical” wellness program should (or does) look like.

With over half of wellness programs set up and facilitated using internal staff, and no clear template to guide the way, developing, implementing and maintaining a wellness program is no easy task. Using data from the 2013 ERC Wellness Practices Survey, we outline some of the key pain points and take a closer look at what Northeast Ohio employers are doing to overcome these challenges.
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6 Answers To Your Health Care Reform Questions

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How are health insurance rates being affected by health care reform? Now that the notices have been sent and exchanges have launched, what's next for employers? Here are six (6) answers to commonly asked questions on health care reform currently.

1. How are health insurance rates being affected by health care reform?

Currently, health insurance rates have been only modestly affected by health care reform, although this trend is not expected to continue. A 2013 survey conducted by Towers Watson reports that the average total cost of health care is projected to rise by 5.2% in 2014, while a survey by PriceWaterhouseCoopers shows an expected 6.5% increase. Most national surveys have been reporting stable costs (if not slightly lower) from 2012, and our surveys of local employers have also seen stable and slightly lower average premium increases from the last few years.
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4 Important Workplace Wellness Trends You Need to Know

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Employee wellness continues to expand and change in the workplace as organizations use wellness programs to combat rising health care costs and support the development of healthy lifestyles in their workforce. Here's an overview of the state of employee wellness, and specifically 4 important wellness trends you need to know including an analysis of employer programs and practices, incentives, return on investment and drivers of effectiveness, and new things employers are doing in the area of wellness.

1. Programs & Practices

Health and wellness program offerings are expanding in the workplace, according to a few local and national surveys.

The Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) 2013 Employee Benefits Survey shows that when compared to 2009, more employers are offering health and lifestyle coaching and onsite fitness classes. In addition, the most common wellness options in which more than half of respondents offered were wellness resources and information, wellness programs, onsite seasonal flu vaccines, wellness publications, a 24-hour nurse line, and health screening programs.
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E-Cigarettes: Implications for the Workplace

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Electronic cigarettes, otherwise known as "e-cigarettes," are becoming a hot issue in the workplace these days.

Increased usage of e-cigarettes, is leading employers to review their policies with regard to smoking in the workplace. According to Crain's Cleveland Business, the rise in usage of these devices and expected increase in demand for these devices is causing local companies in Northeast Ohio to have concerns over how to handle these devices with their employees.

Experts suggest that employers should include e-cigarettes among tobacco-use products, as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not consider them to be tobacco cessation devices, and they aren't regulated.
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3 Strategies for Managing Your Healthcare Costs

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Rising healthcare costs are consistently cited in ERC’s research as a top concern among employers in Northeast Ohio. Interestingly, data from sources ranging from local (ERC) to national (Kaiser Family Foundation) have shown more moderate percent increases in health insurance premiums in 2013. The reasons for these increases, no matter how large or small, are multi-faceted and difficult to measure, but for a glimpse at how many area organizations managing these increases, we turn to the 2013 ERC Wellness Practices Survey.

1) Empowering employees

Much like in 2011, when the Wellness Survey was last conducted, the 2013 results suggest that organizations are still largely focusing on methods of cost control that empower employees to make better decisions related to their overall health. In particular, the top two methods of cost control, “educating employees to be better health consumers” and “creating wellness programs” (both used by about two-thirds of employers) rely heavily on employees to make well informed choices. It is also worth noting that while both of these options rely heavily on employees, they also give employers the opportunity to influence and structure the various programs that fall under these categories in order to fit the organization’s workforce demographics and culture to maximize the effectiveness of the programs.
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