YourForce: It’s Benefits Season

By Mike Prokopeak

Sep. 20, 2015

It’s open season!

On benefits, that is. Every fall, HR departments look forward to open enrollment season with excitement — and trepidation.

This crucial period is not just an opportunity for employees to review benefit options, but also a golden opportunity for HR to renew relationships.

Managing such a crucial initiative can be daunting, but that’s why Workforceis here to help. Beyond our ongoing magazine coverage, we’ve launched a new event that will explore the future of benefit management.

Coming to Boston on Nov. 9, Workforce Focus puts you in direct conversation with fellow HR professionals for a one-day, in-depth examination of the technology transformation reshaping how we communicate and manage employee benefits.

For more information, visit

I hope you’ll join us there!

Reader Feedback

Responding to “Work in Progress” columnist Kris Dunn’s story in the July issue titled “Meet the Aggregator Killer,” reader Jonathan Duarte wrote:

So is your intent to send automated ‘cease and desist’ and copyright infringement emails with links to all the ‘old’ jobs? I haven’t aggregated and distributed much for job ad content in the last five years, but from what I can tell, the ‘old’ jobs probably isn’t the biggest issue. The bigger issue is probably the ‘lesser’ aggregators that mandate job seeker registration under the guise of ‘apply for this job’ and then never redirect or submit an application for the position, but instead put job seekers on automated job alerts and marketing automation email campaigns that they never opted into. 

Regarding the Workforce August story “Rub Some Dirt on It: Why Workers Are Forgoing Treatments,” reader Dan983 said:

Prior to HDHPs, employer population health plan member expense distribution ratios under PPO plans indicated the sickest 5 percent of members annually spend 60 percent of plan dollars and the top 10 percent account for 70 percent. This top 10 percent are not impacted by any deductible as ACA makes plans reimburse 100 percent after members have $6,600 in out-of-pocket cost. What about the other 90 percent? The bottom 50 percent only account for 2 percent of plan expenses. High-deductible plans cause members to forgo physician visits, screenings and prescription therapy. These plans have been dishonestly sold to employer plan sponsors. Now, by plan design, members are being lured into worsening states of chronic disease. Remember, the max employers can shift is $10,000 on the HSA option. What’s the max employers are liable for to pay the impact of chronic disease? Unlimited!

Our August Dear Workforce newsletter posed the question: “How Do We Make a Supervisor Deal With a Problem Employee?” to which reader Michael Toebe responded:

The supervisor obviously dislikes conflict engagement and might be intimidated by the offending person. Yet avoidance is not an effective conflict strategy. It allows the status quo to continue to great work culture, process and legal detriment. What could prove helpful is suspending judgment and asking the supervisor what concerns they might have in investigating the emotional drivers about the employee’s unsavory behavior. Learn the “whys” behind the resistance, question the limiting beliefs, ask if they feel they need additional resources to problem-solve and express confidence in their ability and ask for a commitment to be assertive (not aggressive) in addressing a critical problem and why it is critical. Set a date to talk again later that day or the next morning to review what happened. What the supervisor might need is understanding, support and encouragement. Or they might also need skill set development in conflict strategies, as in how to talk with, not at, the employee.

Workforce blogger James Tehrani asked: Is it OK to compliment people at work to which reader Denise Gamble replied:

I compliment people all the time. I’ve been told I have a gift for recognizing the good in others and for providing positive feedback. I am female and agree it’s considered more acceptable for women to compliment either gender in the workplace.

I’ve lost about 90 pounds this year and receive regular compliments. I’m fine with them. My appearance is so changed that often someone will blurt out, ‘Wow! You look great!’ It’s heartfelt and not creepy. Creepy is the guy that followed up with, ‘I’ll bet you look great in a swimming suit!’ (Fortunately, that wasn’t from a co-worker.)

Some thoughts based on my own experience: I believe it is OK to compliment people you work with on a regular basis if a) the compliment is authentic, brief and not related to gender, race, religion, etc. b) is not contrived or based on any underlying, self-serving motivation and c) part of your character.

We welcome your comments on these stories and others on our website. Be sure to follow us and give us a shout on Twitter at @Workforcenews, too. 
Hope to hear from you!

Mike Prokopeak is Workforce’s editor in chief.

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