Help your employees get the most out of their benefits

Help your employees get the most out of their benefitsSmart business owners know that to attract and retain quality employees, they must provide a congenial working environment where employees can find opportunity for growth, success, and professional satisfaction.

Happy, healthy, productive employees make a business stronger and translate into profits and organizational success.

Obviously, base compensation is a key recruitment and retention tool and must be competitive, but owners who fear being priced out of the skilled labor pool are not alone. Employers are increasingly focusing on boosting benefit packages, in lieu of significant wage increases, to keep staff happy. The good news is, when promoted correctly, those benefits can begin to match salary as a key factor in employee satisfaction.

Along with making the investment in offering your employees more, internal communication and education about how and why to use these benefits will help increase adoption rate and employee satisfaction.

Wellness programs: Incentivize it!Wellness programs, which promote healthy habits and long-term positive change, are one of our top recommendations for bottom-line success. Quite simply, healthy employees are productive employees, and wellness programs create a fruitful partnership between management and staff. They are not without investment: smoking cessation programs, complimentary weekly healthy lunches, and gym membership reimbursement are just some of the ways you can invest. But like all good resolutions, the hardest part is sticking to it. Consider developing creative ways to encourage employees to take advantage of those offerings, plus routine medical screenings.

Take a vacation, really! — You offer paid time off, adding more days as a reward for Help your employees get the most out of their benefitsseniority and milestones. The problem is…your employees aren’t using it, even when they say they are. This is a uniquely American problem and it is nothing to be proud of. The productivity level of stressed out, always-on employees, no matter how dedicated and talented, will suffer, costing you in the long run. Make vacation and breaks away from the office a part of your company’s culture. Owners and other senior staff can set a good example by being conspicuously absent for vacation, even if secretly checking in via smartphone. The key is balance, which will never exist if nobody ever leaves the office. 

Take this free money, please! — Americans are woefully, frightfully unprepared for retirement, so much so that the Golden Years are much more likely to be the Leaden Years. According to the National Institute on Retirement Safety, the median retirement account balance is $3,000 for working-age households and $12,000 for “near retirement” households. If you offer a match in your 401(k)/403(b) retirement plan (and if you don’t, let’s talk about the tax benefits you’re missing out on), include that match when you cite a position’s salary. Help new hires and existing employees alike by making them realize that not participating is the same thing as voluntarily cutting pay.

We’ll pay you to learn! — Younger employees may not cite professional development opportunities as a top job benefit, but they’ll quickly grow to love it once taking part. Furthering the education and real-world experience of staff at all levels provides personal growth while making your business that much smarter. Don’t just say you offer professional development opportunities, make it part of your HR function to proactively encourage and schedule relevant conferences and classes for employees.

Looking for more ways to help your staff get the most out of benefits? We can help.

Matt Bauer

Sinclair Risk & Financial Management

Why your business needs a wellness program

Why your business needs a wellness programHere’s a business ideal, not always easily achieved:  Doing tangible good for others while doing good for your bottom line. You don’t have to be a flashy biotech firm or offer a solution to an intractable problem an ocean away to be improving the health of your fellow men and women.

We all want our products and services to benefit the greater community, but like charity, doing good starts at home. In the case of promoting health and wellbeing, it should start with your workforce.

Wellness programs in the workplace promote healthy habits and long-term positive change. They help employees lose weight, quit smoking, take care of themselves mentally and physically, and live more active lifestyles.

That all adds up to fewer sick days and worker’s compensation claims, and most importantly from your business’s macro level, improved staff morale and less turnover.

The high cost of low morale — Morale in the workplace is not easily measured on a 1 to Why your business needs a wellness program10 scale, but it doesn’t take complex data sets to know that when staff attitudes are poor, you’ll feel it acutely in reduced productivity, increased absenteeism, and problematic customer/client interactions.

Poor health directly impacts morale by taking key employees away from their posts as they struggle to fill in the gaps left by employees who are dealing with acute and chronic health conditions and injuries. This can lead to depression and loss of motivation not only for the directly affected employee, but for those who are left behind to pick up the slack.

The high cost of staff turnover – The daily effects of eating poorly and not exercising take time to turn into chronic problems. Similarly, excessive absences don’t translate overnight into permanent loss of key staff, but give it enough time and you will be losing employees for extended periods or completely.

With that loss, you suffer a blow to institutional knowledge, and gain the high cost of training new employees. A Center for American Progress study found that costs for bringing on a new employee range from 16% of annual salary to replace a low-wage worker (under $30,000 salary) to a whopping 213% of annual salary for highly compensated key employees and executives.

Employers must consider direct costs like advertising, interviewing, screening, and onboarding a new hire, as well as indirect costs such as lower productivity (at least initially) and impact on other staff, who may be missing an esteemed colleague who is unable to return to work.

Quite simply, there’s too much at stake for you to be without a wellness program in your workplace. The team at Sinclair Risk & Financial can help you get started.

Shannon Hudspeth, SPHR

Manufacturers: Are you insuring your building and property correctly?

Jonathan-BelekWould you insure your house for $500,000 when you only paid $200,000 for it? Of course not.

Here’s another question. Say that the house you purchased for $200,000 burns to the ground. Would you expect your insurance policy to cover the replacement cost of your house based on the $500,000 coverage you were paying for? Of course not.

It all sounds crazy, but manufacturers encounter such scenarios all the time because they don’t correctly insure the value of their building and property.

Here are some things you should know to determine if you are adequately valuing your building and property.

The first thing to understand is how property is valued. Insurance coverage is either valued on a replacement cost or actual cash value basis.  The difference between the two is depreciation. manufacturer building property insurance

Replacement cost is the cost to replace your property if it were new today. Actual cash value is the replacement cost minus the depreciation on your property. For instance, if your 10-year- old excavator is destroyed by a felled tree, your insurance company would replace it with another 10- year-old excavator, not a brand new one.

So, it is important your insurance policy reflects the depreciation value of your property. That way you’ll be adequately covered in case of a loss.  Many manufactures list the new cost of their equipment on their policies but never update it based on depreciation

Another thing to understand is the difference between blanket limit and stated insurance.

Blanket limit is coverage you’ll need if your business operates at multiple locations. For instance, if all your locations were destroyed your insurance would cover each property under the policy.

Stated insurance is when you have a single property that needs to be covered in case it burns down, or is destroyed by a natural disaster.

At Sinclair Risk & Financial Management, I’m known as the risk doctor and problem solver. Email me today at to talk about implementing an insurance plan that’s right for your business.

Jonathan Belek

Sinclair Risk & Financial Management

In 2016 OSHA fines may be going up, way up

Buried in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 is a provision that would bring a startling increase to Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) fines. Unchanged since 1990 and not indexed to inflation, OSHA fines are set to jump nearly 80% next year, with increases indexed to inflation after 2016.

The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 tied the increase of many fines to the rate of inflation but specifically exempted OSHA fines.

Now those fines will rise with inflation going forward, but the real kicker is the “catch up adjustment” provided for in the Bipartisan Budget Act. That “catch up” requires OSHA to adjust its fines by the rate of inflation since the last increase in 1990. What cost $1 in 1990 would cost roughly $1.78 today, a 78% increase. OSHA fines for willful violations, for example, which currently max out at $70,000, would rise to $124,600, below a 150% cap the Act provides for, but still a huge leap.

The Act requires the adjustment to occur before Aug. 1. There’s one potential saving grace caveat: The head of OSHA may propose a lower fee if he determines it will have a “negative economic impact” and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget concurs.

Don’t hold your breath.  In 2016 OSHA fines may be going up, way up

At the end of next year, and subsequent years, the Federal Office of Management and Budget will give guidance on further fee adjustments tied to inflation.

With the authority to enforce safe workplace standards in all industries, OSHA, an arm of the federal Department of Labor, can cause particularly acute headaches for manufacturing and construction businesses.

When it comes to avoiding OSHA fines — indexed to inflation or not — the best offense is a good defense. Are you following best safety practices in your workplace? Are you prepared for an OSHA “pop-in”? Check out our blog on that topic and call us for further assistance.

Jonathan Belek
Risk Management Consultant