Gen Z is Coming: Are You Prepared?

Soon, Generation Z—those born between 1996 and 2010—will be entering the workforce. Is your company somewhere they can thrive? Is it somewhere they would even want to work?

If you want to attract this budding workforce, you need to understand Gen Zers’ motivations.

For instance, Gen Zers have never known a life without technology. This means if your business still touts outdated tech, Gen Zers likely won’t give you a second thought.

Consider areas where your company’s tech falls short and brainstorm how you can improve. Getting new hardware may be sufficient, but another option is hiring a tech expert to conduct an audit and make suggestions. (Hint: This might be a good job for a Gen Zer.)

Beyond prizing their tech, Gen Zers also value their company’s culture. Like their millennial predecessors, Gen Zers want vibrant, collaborative spaces—think bright colors, open workspaces and natural light.

However, Gen Zers also identify as scrappier than millennials. They have a “self-made” attitude and value healthy competition.

With that in mind, your workplace and culture should accommodate some isolated spaces for Gen Zers to hunker down and get things done.

For more tips on attracting this valuable workforce, talk to one of our experts!

Making Emotional Intelligence Work for You

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to understand and manage your emotions, as well as others’. It’s similar to empathy, but the ability to manage the emotions effectively is key.

Many businesses are flocking to high-EQ individuals for their attractive leadership style.

Leaders with high EQ are able to communicate their feelings effectively, look at a situation from all perspectives and maintain a positive outlook regardless of the situation.

Do We Need EQ Here?

Effective managers tend to have higher EQ than others, so you may already have leaders like them on board. They have good people skills, can self-regulate and lead by example. Managers who operate by more authoritarian practices get a much different view of their workplaces than high-EQ leaders.

Authoritarian managers are identified by their lack of self-awareness, making them hard to confide in. You want employees to feel comfortable talking to their managers.

If your managers have high EQ, they will likely have a better rapport with employees and be able to manage their needs more effectively.

Most importantly, fostering high EQ invites more democratic corporate management, which is critical for effectively managing differences in opinion. You don’t have a shouting match when your leaders are able to have a mature discourse.

2020 Updated HSA and HDHP Limits

On May 28, 2019, the IRS released Revenue Procedure 2019-25 to announce the inflation-adjusted limits for health savings accounts (HSAs) and high deductible health plans (HDHPs) for 2020. These limits include:

  • The maximum HSA contribution limit
  • The minimum deductible amount for HDHPs
  • The maximum out-of-pocket expense limit for HDHPs

These limits vary based on whether an individual has self-only or family coverage under an HDHP.

HSA Contribution Limits for 2020

The IRS limits for HSA contributions increase for 2020. Eligible individuals with self-only HDHP coverage will be able to contribute up to $3,550 for 2020, while eligible individuals with family HDHP coverage will be able to contribute up to $7,100 for 2020.

The $1,000 catch-up contribution limit that applies to HSA-eligible individuals who are age 55 or older will remain unchanged.

HDHP Cost-sharing Limits for 2020

For self-only coverage in 2020, the HDHP minimum deductible will increase to $1,400 and the out-of-pocket maximum will increase to $6,900. For family coverage, these limits will increase to $2,800 and $13,800, respectively.

Action Steps

Because these limits change for 2020, employers that sponsor these plans may need to make plan design changes for plan years beginning in 2020.

Final Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2020

Recently, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its final Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2020. This proposed rule describes benefit and payment parameters under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that would be applicable for the 2020 benefit year. Standards included in the rule relate to:

  • Annual limitations on cost sharing
  • The individual mandate’s affordability exemption
  • Direct enrollment in the Exchanges
  • Special enrollment periods (SEP) in the Exchanges

HHS also sought comments on issues to address in the future, such as the practice of “silver loading,” the automatic re-enrollment process through the Exchanges and any additional measures that would reduce eligibility errors and potential government misspending. HHS noted that it intends to take the comments received in response to the proposed rule into consideration in future rule-making.

Notable Changes for 2020

The out-of-pocket maximum (OOPM) will increase, and the ACA’s affordability exemption threshold will decrease for 2020.

  • OOPM: $8,150 for self-only coverage and $16,300 for family coverage
  • Affordability threshold: 8.24% of household income

The final rule also enhances direct enrollment through the Exchanges and establishes a new SEP for the Exchanges. For more information on other changes, contact us today.

Wellness: How to Fuel a Workout

You have to put gas in your car to make it go, right? The same concept can be applied to your body and working out. You can’t expect your body to get you through a workout if it’s not properly fueled. Here’s what you should be eating before, during and after a workout for optimal results:

Before Your Workout

One hour before your workout, eat 1-4 grams of carbs per 2.2 pounds of your weight. Some examples of a good pre-workout snack include a piece of whole-grain toast with peanut butter and banana slices, fruit and Greek yogurt, or a peanut butter and banana protein smoothie. Finally, get hydrated before working out!

During Your Workout

If your workout lasts less than 45 minutes, you really only need to focus on replenishing the fluids you’re sweating out. If your workout is focused on endurance, consume 30-60 grams of carbs per hour to fuel your workout.

After Your Workout

What you eat after your workout is just as important as what you eat before. Make sure to consume 15-25 grams of protein within one hour of finishing your workout to replenish the nutrients lost in your muscles during exercise. Continue to hydrate and consume protein to help keep muscle soreness at bay. If you had a particularly intense workout, consider drinking water or sports drinks enriched with electrolytes to fully replenish your body.

Department of Labor Enforcement Actions Rise

U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta recently said he “fully expects” Department of Labor enforcements to increase once new inspectors are trained. Acosta’s comments are consistent with the significant rise in enforcement actions employers have seen in recent years.

Increased DOL Enforcement Actions

In the 2016 fiscal year, OSHA conducted 31,948 inspections, and the EBSA recovered $352 million in enforcement actions. Compare that to the most recent data, where the EBSA recovered $1.1 billion. Despite the increased action, Department of Labor guidance on complying with rules and regulations has decreased.

What Does This Mean for Employers?

Employers should be aware that the uptick of enforcement actions will continue. Therefore, they should take action to assess their compliance responsibilities to avoid costly fines and penalties.

Similarly, companies should take time to become familiar with the newly proposed overtime rule to identify which employees may be affected if the rule becomes final.

Lowest Unemployment in Decades

Job numbers continued to rise in April, bringing unemployment to its lowest in 50 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Secondly, most job gains occurred in the health and business services fields, with strong growth in construction as well.

Job growth shows no signs of slowing down with over 150,000 jobs being added each month.

Experts warn to expect more modest job creation over the next few months, despite the upward trend.

Growth by the Numbers

Unemployment fell across all categories tracked by the BLS.

Notably, unemployment rates for women and Hispanics dropped to record lows for the first time since 1953 and 1973, respectively.

However, not all workers are feeling the economic gains. According to experts, long-term unemployment is still high, and the number of part-time workers looking to work full-time is steady.

Employer Takeaway

In conclusion, the job market is tightening up. Now is the time to attract talent and keep your current workforce.

Talk with us today to explore strategies for doing both.

Vote on Health Care Won’t Come Until After 2020 Elections

President Donald Trump stated in a series of recent tweets that a vote on a Republican Party (GOP) replacement health care plan for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) won’t take place until after the 2020 elections.

GOP’s Health Care Plan

President Trump’s tweets stated that the ACA’s deductibles and premiums are “far too high” and that a replacement is needed. He continued to state that the GOP’s replacement plan for the ACA will have “far lower premiums (cost) [and] deductibles” and will be “much more usable.” He also affirmed that the GOP’s plan would support those with pre-existing conditions.

These tweets came one week after the president directed the Department of Justice (DOJ) to support a federal court ruling that the ACA is unconstitutional.

What does this mean for my organization?

While the recent developments may seem like major health care change is on the horizon, employers and employees can expect things to remain the same for the time being. You can expect that health care will be a hot topic on 2020 campaign platforms.

As such, all existing ACA provisions will continue to be applicable and enforced. Although the individual mandate penalty will be reduced to zero beginning in 2019, employers and individuals must continue to comply with all other applicable ACA requirements.

DOJ Supports Federal Court Ruling Invalidating the ACA

On Dec. 14, 2018, a federal judge ruled in Texas v. Azar that the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA) is invalid due to the elimination of the individual mandate penalty in 2019. In response, on March 25, 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a letter with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals agreeing with the lower court’s ruling. This means that the DOJ believes the lower court’s ruling should stand, and the ACA should be struck down as unconstitutional.

Following the ruling, however, the federal judge issued a stay and partial final judgment in the case. As a result, the ACA will remain in place pending appeal. The Department of Health and Human Services also confirmed that it will continue administering and enforcing all aspects of the ACA.

All briefs and responses in this appeal are due by mid-May 2019, and oral arguments will be scheduled shortly thereafter. Following oral arguments, a decision on the appeal will be issued. However, many industry experts anticipate that the Supreme Court will likely take up the case, which means that a final decision will not be made until that time.

While these appeals are pending, all existing ACA provisions will continue to be applicable and enforced. Employers and individuals must continue to comply with all other applicable ACA requirements. This ruling does not impact the 2019 Exchange enrollment, the ACA’s employer shared responsibility (pay or play) penalties and related reporting requirements, or any other applicable ACA requirement.

EEO-1 Filing Deadline Has Been Extended!

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has extended the deadline for employers to submit EEO-1 Reports for 2018. The reports are now due by May 31, 2019.

What is the EEO-1 Report?

The EEO-1 Report is a federally mandated survey that collects workforce data from employers. The data is categorized by race, ethnicity, sex and job category. The EEOC uses this information to enforce federal prohibitions against employment discrimination and discriminatory pay practices.

The EEO-1 Report is an annual survey required under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act (Title VII). Under the law, employers with 100 or more employees and certain federal contractors must use the EEO-1 Online Filing System to submit employment data by March 31 every year. The EEOC extended the 2019 deadline because the federal government shutdown delayed the online system’s opening for 2018 reports. The EEOC expects the system to become available for 2018 submissions in early March 2019. 

What’s Next?

Employers should monitor the EEO-1 website for more information about EEO-1 filing requirements and about when the filing system will be open for 2018 Reports. In the meantime, employers filing EEO-1 Reports for the first time should register to receive a company login, password and further instructions from the EEOC.

If the preparation or filing of an EEO-1 Report would create undue hardship, an employer may send a written request for an exemption or for special reporting procedures to the EEOC. Employers may also obtain a one-time, 30-day extension of the EEO-1 filing deadline by emailing a request to the EEOC.

BLS Data on Worker Access to Family Leave in 2018 Now Available

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released a The Economics Daily (TED) report on civilian access to paid and unpaid family leave in 2018. These statistics provide insight into family leave benefits trends across the country. For this report, family leave included leave to care for family members, maternity and paternity leave.

Paid Family Leave Access

In March 2018, 16 percent of workers in the private sector and 17 percent of civilian workers had access to paid family leave. In the public sector, 25 percent of state and local government workers had access to this type of leave. Leave access varied by the size of the employer.

Unpaid Family Leave Access

In March 2018, 89 percent of civilian workers and 88 percent of private sector employees had access to unpaid family leave. Ninety-four percent of state and local government workers had access to this type of leave. As with paid family leave, access to leave varied by employer size.

For access to the BLS data, click here.

The Key to Employee Engagement

According to a Gallup poll, 70 percent of U.S. workers aren’t engaged at work. This statistic should alarm employers across the country, as low engagement means employees are not committed to their own success in the workplace, let alone the organization’s.

Investing in employee engagement might seem unjustifiable for a business that is focused solely on profits, as it might not recognize the benefits of engaged employees. One simple and cost-effective way that you can improve employee engagement at your organization is by improving and expanding your communications strategies.

Typical benefits and workplace communications can be bland and difficult to understand, but they don’t have to be. The key messages for each topic in an effective communications plan should be simple, relatable and actionable—and presented in a variety of content formats that you can use to communicate through multiple channels.

By implementing a multichannel communication strategy, where you use posters, emails, flyers and videos to communicate company and benefits information, your message will reach more employees. This will help employees feel more informed about your company, which, in turn, will improve their workplace engagement.

For more information on multichannel employee communications, contact Arista!

8 Ways to Better Time Management

Feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day? It might sound strange, but you might want to slow your pace. When we try to operate at warp speed, we sometimes make more mistakes and often feel more stress.

Check out these tips to make the most of your time without pushing yourself too hard.

1. Log your time.

Take a week to track how you spend most of your time at home and at work. In particular, pay attention to time spent on social media and recreational screen time such as video games, TV and web video. The average Facebook user spends 20 minutes per day on the site. That can add up. At work, look at how much of your time is focused on dealing with email vs. getting things done.

2. Set limits.

Once you know where you’re spending your time, set limits for yourself. Look for apps that can let you set time limits for certain online activities. Or just use a timer to limit time writing emails or using social media.

3. Make clear goals.

Give yourself an easy way to set and track goals and tasks. Whether you have an online planner or just a written to-do list, update it every day.

4. Use your calendar.

Whenever you take on a new project, try to think right away about how long it will take and when you can spend that time. If you use a calendar like Outlook, schedule time to work on projects in advance.

5. Be mindful.

Practicing mindfulness can help you become more aware of how you are spending your time. And some research shows mindfulness can actually extend your perception of time as it passes.

6. Learn to say no.

For some of us, this can be really hard. If you care about your job, you want to please your co-workers and managers. So pushing back about a task can be difficult. But if a project or task is going to really overextend you, it’s worth having a conversation with your manager about your time. Likewise, in your personal life consider your time before committing to projects.

7. Find your focus.

Interruptions can disrupt your concentration. When you really need to concentrate on something, try to get yourself away from distractions, turn off any notifications and put away your phone.

8. Ask for help.

This can be another hard one for certain people. But sometimes a task or project might be easier for someone else at a given time. If you’re asking for help, be respectful and if possible offer to reciprocate if you can.