Benefits

4 Flexible Work Arrangements Your Boss Should Consider

In the age of rapidly advancing technology and constantly evolving work-life balance priorities, workers expect more flexibility than ever before. And, given the current talent crunch many businesses are facing, companies that do not embrace at least some flexibility may end up a casualty of the talent war.

In a recent poll on RefreshLeadership.com, the Express Employment Professionals blog for business leaders, readers were asked, “What does flexible work mean for you?” The top answer provided was “freedom to adjust schedules to accommodate personal/family needs.”

Additionally, according to research by Zenefits, an HR software developer, 73% of employees surveyed said “flexible work arrangements increased their satisfaction at work.” And 78% said “flexible work arrangements made them more productive.” The research also revealed that 77% of employees “consider flexible work arrangements a major consideration when evaluating future job opportunities.”

So, for many companies trying to attract and retain top talent, creating a more flexible work environment may be the key. Here are four of the more popular flexible work arrangements, along with a few pros and cons of each.

Telecommuting
One of the most common flexible work arrangements, telecommuting allows employees to work from home or other locations outside of the office via email, telephone, and/or internet.

  • Pros: Better work-life balance, employees are more focused and efficient without the distractions of a busy office. Avoiding long commutes. Employers may not need to maintain as much office space.
  • Cons: Less interaction between coworkers, including fun or teambuilding opportunities. Employers have less oversight over how employees are managing their time and staying on task.

Flextime
In most cases, businesses require employees to be in the office during a “core” period (i.e 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.) However, during the hours outside that period employees choose their own schedule.

  • Pros: Freedom to schedule work around life and family events. Employees have more freedom to work when they feel the most productive. Employers can better address peak or odd business hours.
  • Cons: Similar to telecommuting, face-to-face time with coworkers is reduced. Complicated logistics of keeping track of everyone’s differing schedules. Opportunities for employees to abuse the privilege.

Compressed Week
In this arrangement, employees “compress” a full 40-hour work week into fewer than the standard five days. A common example would be working four 10 hour days Monday – Thursday with Fridays off.

  • Pros: Extended hours during busiest workdays. Employees have more time away from work to pursue personal interests.
  • Cons: Longer work days can be more grueling. Employees may find it difficult to arrange childcare during atypical hours. Vendors and other outside contacts likely still work a traditional work week.

Job Sharing
Job sharing involves two employees who work on a part-time or reduced hours basis to perform a job that is typically performed by one employee working full time.

  • Pros: The two employees’ skills may complement each other, creating more well-rounded performance. Time off can be staggered so the position is always covered. Employees have better work-life balance.
  • Cons: Inversely, the two employees may not be compatible and work slips through the cracks. Pay and benefit structures in such an arrangement can be more challenging for employers.

In the end, the type of flexible work arrangement a company implements—if any at all—comes down to their individual business needs. What works for one workplace may not be suitable for another. However, no matter which arrangement you choose, communication with employees is vital in order to ensure everyone benefits.

Top 3 Things to Consider When Choosing an Insurance Plan

Choosing your insurance provider while unemployed can turn into a full-time job.

Hand Writing Insurance Crossword ConceptChoosing an insurance plan isn’t easy. Especially if you’re unemployed. The options can seem endless, particularly when you don’t know where to start. Start off with figuring out how the Health Insurance Marketplace works. But what else do you need to know before you choose an insurance plan?  Here are our top three questions to ask that will make your search easier.

1. Will it satisfy the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act?

The individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) states that if you don’t have ‘qualifying’ insurance for nine months out of the year prior to enrolling in insurance, but are classified as being able to afford it, you have to pay a penalty because you were uninsured after the ACA’s rollout. This fee will be applicable for any month you, your spouse, or any dependents did not have ‘qualifying’ health coverage. As noted on the HealthCare.gov website, the amount of the fee will be either 2.5% of your household income (capped at the total yearly premium for the national average price of a Bronze plan purchased on the ACA marketplace), or $695 per adult and $347.50 per child under 18 (capped at $2,085). You will pay whichever amount is higher.

So what types of health coverage don’t qualify for the individual mandate? They include: having coverage for only vision care and/or dental, workers’ compensation, coverage for only a specific disease or condition, and plans that only offer discounts on medical services.

Compare your options at the ACA marketplace for your state by inputting your zip code at HealthCare.gov. If your state doesn’t have a state marketplace, you will be redirected to the Federal marketplace.

 2. Can I afford a higher deductible?

Next, you should ask yourself what type of deductible you can afford. If you choose a higher deductible, you will have to pay more before insurance kicks in, but your monthly insurance premium cost should be lower. Choosing a low deductible means your premium will generally be higher. It’s the same as car insurance — if you can afford a higher deductible, you could save money. If you choose to enroll in a health maintenance organization (HMO), you usually won’t have to pay any deductibles or copays so long as you stay in network. However, these benefits come with reduced freedom in choosing your doctor.

 3. Will I be moving soon?

Before you choose a plan, make sure that you aren’t going to move any time soon. If you enroll in a health insurance plan from the ACA marketplace and then move to a new state, you’ll need to switch to a plan offered by the new state. Moving to higher income areas may also result in having to re-enroll. Moving is categorized as a qualifying life event, meaning that you can sign up for new insurance right away. That means getting to do all of the paperwork over again.

Have any more insurance questions? Let us know in the comments below!

3 Reasons Why You May Never Retire

In today’s changing work culture, retirement is no longer a certainty.

Elderly couple together at the kitchenTraditionally, retirement was something that was more or less expected. You put in the extra hours while you were young so that you would have the freedom to do whatever you wanted in your later years. However, various cultural and economic factors have led to a change in this traditional retirement model.

According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as noted by Bloomberg, approximately 20% of Americans over the age of 65 are still working.  Twelve percent don’t ever plan on retiring. Given the immense size of the baby boomer generation, this means that the U.S. work force is older than ever before.

Why might you end up working past the traditional retirement age?

1. You Have No Savings

Bloomberg mentions that baby boomers more frequently don’t have any retirement savings to speak of. They were hit by both the tech bust of the late ‘90s and the financial crisis of the mid 2000s, losing what little savings they had just to pay the bills.

Our white paper covers the Baby Boomer retirement situation more in depth.

Millennials are already encountering similar difficulties. As noted by CNBC, a recent survey from finance website NerdWallet found that millennials generally need to save 22% of their pay to have a successful retirement. Other experts say it should be something more like 15 %.

One thing they all agree on is that the earlier you start preparing for retirement, the better. However, millennials are generally unable to save such a high percentage of their income. This is due to a combination of a fairly high cost of living combined with the need to pay off expensive student loans as quickly as possible.

2. You Love Your Job

Many people simply enjoy working.  It gives them a sense of purpose— that they’re truly accomplishing something. They love their work family and environment, and managers go the extra mile to make the office feel like home. The money and benefits don’t hurt either. Work is what you know, work is what you like, and work is what you’re good at. So why not stay in the workforce just a bit longer?

3.  You Have Heavy Debt

Many people choose to stay in the workforce so that they can continue to pay off their debt. They can’t budget enough savings. Given the increased costs of education and housing, as well as the aforementioned tech bust and the financial crisis, it can be hard to allocate funds to a retirement account. Instead of paying off loans and saving at the same time, many workers choose to pay off their loans first. This results in a fairly significant loss of savings.

Retirement isn’t for everyone.

And that’s okay! Some people can’t afford to retire in the first place. Others find retirement dull. And still others want to keep working because they love it.

Regardless of whether you’re just starting out or are looking for a career change later in life, we’re here to help. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, OK, Express Employment Professionals is a leading staffing provider in the U.S. and Canada. We employed a record 510,000 people in 2016. If you have any questions about the job search, feel free to contact your local Express office or create an express account to apply for jobs online.

Do you plan on working past traditional retirement age? Let us know your reasons why in the comments below!

Are Benefits Keeping Workers Unemployed?

unemployment_benefits_webAmerica’s unemployment rate has been too high for too long, even as the economy continues to recover. A new white paper from Express Employment Professionals explores the connection between benefit programs and their impact on employment.

“Getting people back to work should be our number one goal in America,” said Bob Funk, CEO of Express. “When there are concerns about whether our social programs are keeping people from working, then we have to ask some serious questions.”

Moral Hazard Trap
According to the Social Security Administration, in less than a decade, disability claims have risen by 44 percent for people formerly in the workplace. The top 10 states with the largest percentage increases between 2000 and 2012 were Texas, Utah, New Hampshire, Idaho, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Nevada, Washington, Alabama, and Wisconsin.

The white paper, “A Safety Net or Trap,” showed that those who did find work while receiving welfare, unemployment, and government assistance rarely found pay that was more what they were receiving for not working.

While the benefits are necessary to help those who are out of work, if the job a person can find pays the same or only slightly more than the benefits they receive—or if they don’t like the work available to them—they could choose to stay unemployed.

Why work when you can receive the same amount for not working?

Solutions That Work
At Express, we don’t believe this is fair. People shouldn’t be faced with such impossible choices.

“Express believes it should be a national priority to eliminate barriers that come between people and the jobs they want or need,” Funk said. “So it’s time to ensure our government benefit programs do what they should do: help people so they can get back to work.”

To read the entire white paper, visit ExpressPros.com.

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Volunteering Could Help You Find Your Next Job

BrandItBlue_May2014_webWhether you’re a job seeker who just graduated, or someone who’s been out of the workforce for an extended period of time, the experience section of your resume may be what’s holding you back from your next job. But don’t worry. There’s something you can do to not only add to your work history, but to separate you from the crowd of people applying for the same jobs.

A 2013 report by the Corporation for National and Community Service found that “volunteering was associated with 27% higher odds of employment.” This same report also found that volunteering is most likely to help the jobless who do not have a high school diploma and those who live in rural areas. Just how can spending time working for a local nonprofit or charity for free help in your job search? Here are three ways it can help lead to a new job.

  1. Volunteering helps you make connections and build a network.
    If it’s truly all about who you know for your job search, then spending time serving in your community is a great way to meet new people from different industries and companies around your area. And, you won’t have the sometimes awkward pressures that come along with a pre-planned networking event. Enjoy your time sorting donated food or cleaning up a park, or think about striking up a casual conversation to get to know people. You might meet the person who helps you land your next job. Remember this is also a time to demonstrate your work ethic so while you get to know people, don’t forget to focus on the task at hand.
  2. You can learn new skills that can be added to your resume.
    Never been in a leadership or management role? Struggled with finding creative solutions to a problem? The next time you volunteer, there’s a good possibility that you’ll have the opportunity to lead a team in completion of a project, or help find an answer to a problem the nonprofit or charity is facing. And if you’re missing some recent activities in the experience section of your resume, volunteering is a great addition that can make an impact on a hiring manager. Which leads to point number three…
  3. Employers want people who like to serve others.
    Going through the numerous job applications, resumes, and cover letters a hiring manager sees each day, they are looking for a job seeker to stand out. When your resume includes your history of volunteering, and your cover letter describes your passion for serving others, you’re more likely to see an increase in the number of job interviews on your schedule.

If you’re not sure about volunteer opportunities in your community, or what type of work you’d like to be involved in, check out what’s happening on Saturday, June 14 at Express offices across North America. Brand It Blue Day is a day of service to help in the fight against hunger, and you can be a part of it. Summer is an especially difficult time of year as most of the school meal programs for children end, leaving millions of children at risk of going hungry.

To find out how you can be involved with your local Express office, visit ExpressPros.com/BrandItBlue.

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

What’s Your Meeting Face Saying?

MeetingFace_WebI once worked for a boss who required everyone to put on a “good meeting face” during team meetings. And I’ll admit the first time I heard this, I struggled to wipe a smirk off my own face. But did you know that a significant amount of our communication with others is understood through the non-verbal cues we give – like our facial expressions? In fact according to Psychology Today, when words and non-verbal communication don’t match up, people tend to interrupt the meaning based more on the non-verbal cues we send than what we’re actually saying. So it turns out, my boss’s advice to pay close attention to what my facial expression was right and it’s stuck with me for a long time. Here are a few do’s and don’ts of meeting faces.

The Don’ts: Meeting Faces to Avoid

  • Don’t frown – It may seem like a given, but you’d be surprised how many people unconsciously frown during meetings. Frowning sends the message you don’t approve of something or you’re unhappy. So as the saying goes, don’t forget to turn that frown upside down.
  • Don’t squint– Squinting can be a hard expression to read. When you furrow your brows it can convey a look of shock or confusion.
  • Don’t stare off into space – I struggle with this one. When you’re in a meeting it’s important to be attentive and focused. You don’t want it to look like you’d rather be somewhere else.

The Do’s: Sending the Right Messages

  • Do maintain eye contact – Eye contact is an important part of non-verbal communication so be sure to look up often to let the meeting organizer or speaker know you’re all ears.
  • Do smile – Smiling can help others feel calm and comfortable around you. And for meetings like brainstorming sessions, a calm relaxed environment is exactly what your coworkers need to be effective, productive and innovative.
  • Do remember it’s not just about your facial expressions – Communicating well with others during meetings isn’t just about your meeting face. It’s also about your body language, tone of voice, your attitude and preparation.

So, come to every meeting prepared and ready to engage. Look interested. Focus on the person speaking or the supporting presentation materials. Taking notes is a great way to show interest if you’re the timid type, just be sure to look up from time to time. Nod your head in agreement occasionally to show you’re on the same page.
If you’re concerned your meeting face might need some help ask a co-worker you respect to watch your “meeting face” demeanor, and follow their advice and feedback.
How do you make sure you’re meeting face is sending the right message?
Share your comments below.

3 Questions to Ask About Employee Benefits Before You Get Hired

3 Questions to Ask About Employee Benefits Before You Get Hired Getting a new job requires some detective skills, including understanding your total compensation package prior to accepting a job offer. While most of us need our job to provide a regular paycheck to take care of our living expenses, we also need to consider the benefits program offered by a potential employer. Here are a few questions you might consider asking your prospective employer to help you make a better decision in evaluating a job opportunity.

  1. How much of my total compensation will include a benefits package?
    While your salary is important, don’t forget to consider the amount spent on employee benefits. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in March that private industry employee benefit programs accounted for 29.5% of total compensation. This compensation includes paid sick leave, holidays, and vacations, as well as employer contributions to health and life insurance, retirement savings, and into Social Security and Medicare in the U.S. It is appropriate in your job offer process to ask for a clear outline of the benefits program offered. A job opportunity may look more or less attractive based on the benefits, so it’s critical to have the full picture before making your decision.
  2. May I review your health insurance program?
    If you are expecting your employer to provide a health insurance option, make sure you have a firm understanding of the program. You’ll need to consider what you’re currently paying and what you’ll be expected to pay under the program offered by your potential employer. If you’ll need to use that health insurance to provide care for your family or dependents, make sure to uncover the costs with that type of program and their eligibility. When you review the health insurance program look for information on co-pay amounts, pre-existing condition rules, deductible amounts, and prescription drug programs.
  3. What are your most unique employee benefits?
    While you should have uncovered all of the benefits offered in your employee summary, there may be a few employee perks you’ll find important. This is also a good question to uncover a little more about the culture of the company you’re considering. Companies may offer an employee gym, onsite child care, flexible work schedules, or other unique programs that may make a position more attractive, even if the salary is smaller. And don’t forget to find out about smaller benefits that can really add up like paid parking, discount dry cleaning services, or an economical onsite dining option.

Looking for a new job can be stressful, but when you do get a job offer make sure to slow down and evaluate the entire offer before accepting a position. It’s possible to negotiate your salary and benefit options before you’re hired, but it can be much harder to negotiate, or not possible, after you’ve accepted the position.