YourForce: Why We’re Focusing on Finances

By Mike Prokopeak

Oct. 18, 2015

Mention a pension to anyone under 40 and you might as well be speaking French. We live in the  401(k) era. Pensions and direct benefits are going the way of the dinosaur.

That’s good news for employers struggling to shake off expensive legacy retirement plans, but it’s a mixed bag for employees.

On the one hand, employees can manage their money the way they see fit. Make smart choices and the golf course will beckon sooner rather than later. But pick the wrong fund or neglect to adjust along the way and they’ll find themselves working long past tee time.

Progressive employers aren’t just shifting the burden to employees; they’re educating and supporting workers on retirement options.

In our November coverage, we focus on financial wellness as a core benefits strategy and explore how technology can make investment choices easier — and better.

YourForce November 2015


Atlanta-based Cox Communications’ HR representative, Rosa Moran, left, was crucial in helping Cox residential retention representative LaCresha Brown access the Cox Employee Relief Fund, or CERF, when Brown learned she needed major surgery after transferring to Phoenix from Las Vegas to start a new position. Brown was out of work for almost two months, falling behind on rent and with little money for food. As a single mom in a new city with no support network, Moran encouraged Brown to apply for CERF assistance. CERF was established in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina by members of the Cox family and the James M. Cox Foundation; the fund has surpassed $4 million in employee grants. “I was incredibly stressed that I would be kicked out of my apartment and lose my job. I was preparing for the possibility that I’d have to go to a shelter,” Brown said. “Rosa made it possible for me to survive — she became my fairy godmother.”


Reader Feedback

Andrewmag166 had this to say about the Workforce story “A New H-1B:  To Be or Not to Be?”: BS, there are many highly qualified American engineers out of work. Engineers with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering, years of experience and many high-level certifications. A STEM graduate in America is likely to look forward to being homeless.

Readers commented on the story “Rub Some Dirt on It: Why Workers Are Forgoing Treatments.” William Bennett wrote:

Affordability and accessibility are two elements of health care that if omitted translate simply to rationed care. This is one reason corporate on-site or shared clinics have become so popular. It is a way for the employer to ensure employees have care even with the declining primary care base. Unfortunately, if employees and dependents don’t receive early detection and care, it is logical that claims, in the long run, will escalate and productivity will decline.

While Ralph Colao said: I started to see this years ago with the first implementation of [consumer-driven health plans]. When people have to spend their own money, they begin to scrutinize the need for care based on their individual perceptions of need and severity and cost/benefit. Based on the client reports I have seen, the greatest percentage seeking and completing preventive services has been 34 percent, and that was a group with a majority of women. I applaud the introduction of consumerism into our health plan designs. It’s important and necessary, as are incentives to drive consumer behavior and accountability for health among patients. However, this new concept has caught most patients/consumers unprepared on how to behave in this new world. It will take education, tools and information, patience and, yes, some pain. But employers need to understand that to fully reap all the benefits and total value of a shift to consumerism and proactive engagement in health, they must establish a work climate that supports total health, from the physical, emotional, financial, environmental and social perspectives. To truly be successful, it must be a true partnership between the employee and employer. Health plan design alone might impact short-term cost, but won’t change much in the long run and may even prove disastrous for the employer in the long run.

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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